Posted 25 January 2023 in Travel Wanderlust
Everything to do on your trip to Colombo in Sri Lanka
Colmbo, the capital of India’s neighbouring country to extreme south Sri Lanka, offers the perfect traditional and cosmopolitan vibes to tourists. With its rich culture, history and picturesque views, Colmbo can prove to be an astounding place for you to soak up Vitamin D as you bask in its sunny beaches.
From striking beaches to urban parks where you can be at one with nature, Colombo will offer you a chance to explore the beauty of this island nation. Colombo has the best of both beaches and green mountains, making it a popular tourist spot for adventure seekers like trail hikers as well as for tourists who love to relax and enjoy one of its many beach resorts.
Colombo can be your perfect getaway with friends, your family or can be an accurate place to spend time with your loved one. Amidst serene landscape, coastal areas, luxurious resorts with private beaches and infinity pools, hoards of outdoor activities and a bevy of architectural monuments, Colombo should top the five must-visit places on your bucket list.
Places to visit in Colombo
- Lotus Tower: One of the newest attractions in Colombo, Lotus Tower is the tallest free-standing building in South Asia at 368 metres. Tourists can reach the topmost part of the tower to see the spectacular view of the surroundings, the glistening sea, the horizon and essentially almost all of Colombo. The sunset looks mesmerising from this viewpoint.
- National Museum of Colombo: If you wish to know about the rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka on your trip, then visit the National Museum of Colombo, the official museum of Sri Lanka. Old artefacts, coins, arms, jewellery and craftworks have all been preserved here chronologically to uphold the cultural and national heritage of the country.
- Sri Lanka Planetarium:This is Sri Lanka’s first and only planetarium to date, located at the University of Colombo. Tourists can enjoy the night sky and the domed ceiling among other exhibits. The planetarium is open to the public from 8 AM to 4 PM daily, except Mondays.
- Viharamahadevi Park: This great green patch of the park includes a library, a park, a war memorial statue and a 15-foot long cast brass statue of Lord Buddha. Both adults and children can spend quality time here. Children can find the zoo entertaining while adults can visit the park and take a stroll around.
- National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka: This zoo is less about caging animals and more about animal conservation and welfare. With over 3000 animals, it is one of the oldest zoos in Asia. There are separate enclosures for elephants, birds and snakes. The zoo is open all day to the public.
- Mount Lavinia Beach: Mount Lavinia is a suburb of Colombo, and all beach resorts are located in this place. You can check-in hotels here as you will be closer to the sea. The place is a couple of minutes drive away from downtown Colombo. The beach may turn harsh at times, so caution should be administered while swimming. There are impeccable restaurants here too, along the coast.
- Gangaramaya Temple: This temple complex is dedicated to Lord Buddha, constructed in the 19th century. Many sacred relics belonging to Lord Buddha himself, along with jewels and coins, are put up on display here. Not only as a place of worship, but this temple also offers to educate people about Buddhism as a religion.
- Pettah Floating Market: Constructed along a canal in 2000, Pettah Floating Market is in Central Colombo. You can pick up things to eat, shop for clothes, trinkets, local-made jewellery, crockery and many more here.
Read more about - Seventeen things you should definitely do when you travel to Colombo and get amazed on your trip
Places to stay in Colombo
Colombo receives thousands of travellers each year. During their stay, tourists can either choose budget-friendly or luxurious places where they can splurge. The city offers numerous hotels and resorts of all budgets. Some of the best places to stay in Colombo are as follows:
- The Kingsbury Hotel
- Marino Beach Colombo
- Shangri-La Colombo
- Le Grand Galle
- Amari Galle Sri Lanka
- Cinnamon Grand Colombo
- Reef Villa & Spa
- Taj Bentota Resort & Spa
- Riff Hikkaduwa
- Jetwing Colombo Seven
Food and cuisine in Colombo
Sri Lankan food is an eclectic blend of exotic spices and rich, fresh meat. Colombo, being the capital of the country, has a plethora of restaurants where tourists can try authentic Sri Lankan cuisine as per their choice. Some of the well-known Sri Lankan food eaten almost everywhere in the country are as follows:
- Rice and curry: Don’t get carried away by the name, rice and curry are not as simple as they sound. This dish includes rice and an assortment of curry, be it vegetables or meat. It can be crab, mutton or lentil curry. It is served with papads and pol sambol, a coconut dessert.
- String hoppers: Locally known as idiyappam, string hoppers are steamed noodles made of rice flour, eaten during breakfast or dinner. The dish is served with Kiri Hodi, coconut gravy, and any choice of meat or vegetables along with a small serving of pol sambol.
- Kiribath: This dish is made with coconut milk rice in the form of rice cakes, served with spicy sambal of dried red chilli and onion. This sambal served to strike a perfect balance with the sweetness of the Kiribath. This dish is usually eaten in Sri Lanka during festivities and other special occasions.
- Lamprais: Tourists must try this dish especially during their first time in Colombo. Lampraisa has a Dutch influence on the dish. It is made by steaming rice in meat stock, along with shrimp paste, meatballs, mixed meat curry, caramelised onions and brinjal page in a banana leaf. The addition of so many flavours gives a kick to the dish and makes it brimming with a burst of flavour with each bite.
- Ambul Thiyal: As an island nation, seafood is important to Colombo. Ambul Thiyal is a sour fish curry, usually tuna, prepared with a variety of unique spices, the blend of which makes the taste of the dish rather flavourful and tasty.
- Unlike most other Asian countries, Sri Lanka does not provide visas on arrival. You have to apply for visas and have them in your possession before you start your journey. You can also apply for your visas online at a very nominal rate. The validity of the visas is 30 days.
- Buddha is worshipped in Sri Lanka, and the locals can find it offensive if Buddha symbols are used for decoration. So, if you happen to have a Buddha tattoo on any exposed body part, then keep it covered to avoid getting questioned, or in some extreme cases, be put behind bars as it is illegal, and disrespect to Buddha is not accepted.
- Tuk-tuks or e-rickshaws are local transport vehicles. If they realise that you are a tourist, then they might try to con you. Use local buses and avoid tuk-tuks until you are aware of the correct fare.
- Ditch 5-star restaurants and relish Sri Lankan cuisine from local eateries as much as you can. It is here where you can get the authentic and traditional taste of every food.
- You will find many thrift stores and handiwork item stores and you will be tempted to purchase them. They will make the perfect souvenirs for people back at home. However, make sure you purchase only from government certified stores to avoid getting conned.
- Arrack, Sri Lanka’s local alcoholic brew is made of coconut flowers and should be tried if you wish to taste a locally made spirit.
- Most ATMs in Colombo do not issue money to foreign cards. Do not rely on ATMs and try to carry as much cash as you can.
How to reach?
- By road: It is inaccessible to reach Colombo by bus from India. Being an island nation, it is completely cut off from the mainland of India by the Indian Ocean. The only way to reach Colombo from India or other parts of the world is either by flight or by sea. However, once you are in the city, you can avail buses to travel within, as buses are the most used and cheapest modes of public transport available in Colombo. If you are short of budget, then you can come to Trivandrum Airport, India and take cheap flights to Colombo. Alternatively, you can opt for cheaper flights from Madurai Airport.
- By rail: There is, unfortunately, no land or rail connection between the two countries, the only direct route is the one taken by ferries from Talaimannar Port and Rameshwaram Port. To get about in the city, tourists can use trains as well. Train fares and bus fares are almost similar. The train stations can be confusing and not all trains stop at every station. Before getting on a particular train, make sure that you have the train schedule/timetable so that you get on the correct train to get off at your desired train station. Train transport in the city is divided into four different lines in Colombo - Mainline, Coastal line, Puttalam Line and Kelani Valley Line.
- By air: IndiGo offers several connecting and direct flights to Colombo from some of its major cities. Daily flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Pune are available for tourists to book.
Weather in Colombo
Colombo has a tropical monsoon type of climate, with hot, humid summers; cloudy, muggy, wet monsoons and cool, pleasant winters. During March, April and May, the average temperature can soar as high as 31°C. The climate, during this time of the year, is extremely humid, with almost no wind activity during the day. The sea brings a warm breeze and makes the entire city’s air thick with perspiration. It is only after dusk that the weather becomes much more bearable with a cool breeze blowing from the sea.
June, July, then again in between September and November, the rains hit Colombo. The city receives heavy rainfall in all these months. Winters are pleasant in Colombo, with the average temperature not dropping below 20°C.
Best time to visit Colombo
Ideally, the best time to visit Colombo is from December to March and July to September. The weather, during this time of the year, is not only pleasant but also free from rain and harsh rays of the sun. Tourists from all over the globe flock to Colombo and witness its untouched natural beauty.
However, if the summer and scorching sun do not bother you, then visiting the city during April, May and June may not be a bad idea as well. If you manage to come to the city during this time, then you can enjoy sightseeing and touring the city and its surroundings without its typical crowd during the peak season. Beaches will also practically be empty at this time, so you can enjoy the sunset with fewer people around. Hotels will be much cheaper at this time, and they will also be available instead of being overbooked. Make sure to carry sunscreen for your face and body with a high SPF, and pack light, breezy clothes to beat the summer heat.
In July and September, Colombo receives the heaviest rainfall. Steer clear of these months, as the heavy rain all day will prevent you from visiting any places to sightsee or even visit the beach. You will be stuck inside the hotel room all day.
Colombo is the dream vacation destination for people who long to experience the wonders of a tropical paradise. With stunning beaches, delectable food, hospitable people, great colonial heritage sites and tourist activities galore, there is something for everyone.
Related travel blogs