Colombo, Sri Lanka – Discover what to do in Capital

Colombo Sri Lanka representa o contraste de uma civilização em reconstrução talvez, não recupere o nome “a cidade jardim do oriente”, mas ganha o título de uma cidade que retrata o velho e o novo Sri Lanka.

In this city everything comes alive, the colors, the smiles, the movements of the automobiles and especially the sculptures and the magnificent temples.

A place to stay in the memory of any traveler. Throughout this article, you will be able to feel all the emotions and reactions of a people that re-emerged after a tsunami in 2004 and yet did not lose spirituality.

Colombo, the Capital of Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Colombo, the Capital of Sri Lanka

Colombo in Sri Lanka is much more than a busy place with people coming and going, this city reveals funny and exciting stories.

Come traveler boarding with us on this journey that apart from being hectic and exciting is full of colors and feelings.

Where is Colombo in Sri Lanka?

Colombo is a meaningful historical, port and population city, considered the largest in Sri Lanka. Also, it is the administrative capital of the country.

It is located on the west coast of the country and has a land area of 37.31 km².

A place surrounded by waters, always sought by devotees to perform their sacred baths. You will see the water reserves even in the central regions! Come with us!

See all the sights and things to do in Colombo

Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and may be the first or your last destination option on your trip.

It may be that you choose Negombo (beach town, near Colombo and the main airport of the country), but do not forget to visit Colombo, a city with a lot of beauty and culture to know.

Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka

By Colombo being large, the main attractions are far away so you will need and some transportation not to waste time.

Soon we will address this, so you do not be fooled and find the best means of transportation in the capital.

Visit the grand temples that are both cultural and religious at the same time, some including relics and others are separated for their time of meditation.

In the next few lines, we will give you all the information you will need for your tour to be complete and unforgettable and about what to visit and what to do in Colombo.

Colomb Fort

The Colomb Fort although it has this name, it is not correctly a fort is more like a business, artistic and cultural area of Colombo Sri Lanka.

It is situated in the central part of the city, it is the historical area of Colombo. And it is close to other monuments: the Galle Face Green, the Dutch Hospital and a train station.

Colombo Fort Train Station - Happymind Travels
Colombo Fort Train Station

In one place, huge modern buildings vie for your attention with these well-preserved historical monuments.

It is also the location of the most important train station for you to buy tickets.

Although, as was said in the article on transport in Sri Lanka, tickets quickly run out, so we suggest you buy online at 12go.asia.

Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, The Red Mosque

The mosque of Mosquée Jami Ul Alfar draws attention to the vibrant and geometric colors. The charm is due to the shape, it is impossible to arrive in Colombo and not be surprised by this monumental sculpture that occupies almost one block from the city.

Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, Colombo | Happymind Travels
Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, Colombo

The mosque has five prayer calls so at any of these intervals you will see many religious rushing in to keep from praying.

Galle Face Green

The Galle Face Green is considered to be one of the most beautiful and amazing places in Sri Lanka. It is cut by an avenue and occupies an extensive area with many options to plunge into its waters.

Galle Face Green - Colombo, Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Galle Face Green – Colombo, Sri Lanka

In this place is already in the phase of building another port only this time more modern then it will give an even more modern touch to that region.

Old Parliament

After leaving Galle Face Green in contrast to the developed buildings of a bustling Columbus, you will see a neo-baroque building.

Although it has an ancient appearance, it was inaugurated in the early nineteenth century to house the parliament of the time of the Council of Ceylon.

Old Parliament in Colombo, Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Old Parliament in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Then the parliament was transferred to Kotte, and the building serves to guard the memories and bronze statues of the old statesmen.

National museum

The National Museum is a place that holds precious memories of past centuries. It is considered the most important museum in the country.

There is the place where the crowns and thrones of the monarchs of antiquity. Inside the museum has a library that groups a collection of manuscripts and millennial publications.

National Museum in Colombo | Happymind Travels
National Museum in Colombo

You will have restraint when climbing the stairs because they are blocked. Even so, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes getting to know the objects, tools, and artworks of that colonial era.

Dondra Matar Lighthouse

The Dondra Matar lighthouse is one of the highest towers in Sri Lanka. And since the colonial period, it serves as a guide for vessels: it transmits signals of radio waves to the other lighthouses of Sri Lanka.

Dondra Lighthouse Killing in Colombo during sunset | Happymind Travels
Dondra Lighthouse Killing in Colombo during sunset

The tower has seven floors, around 54 m high. Imagine the view from the top? Calm down, because for you to get the steps, you will need to ask for permission from the Ports Authority. The view is stunning.

Beira Lake

Beira Lake is one of the main attractions to get away from the hustle and bustle of Colombo. It is a haven for cycling, sightseeing the contrasts that result in beautiful photos!

Seema Malaka Temple on Beira Lake, Colombo | Happymind Travels
Seema Malaka Temple on Beira Lake, Colombo

The place offers the conditions to go by boat or to practice activities and water sports to the sound of migratory birds that pass through this region.

It is also worth going to the lake and spends a few hours admiring the fauna and flora that they receive from all travelers with incredible presentations.

Independence Memorial Hall

The Independence Memorial Hall is situated in the Cinnamon Gardens area and is an elegant and sophisticated monument. It was built to honor the independence of Sri Lanka, so it is filled with statues and exhibits from former governors.

Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo

The good thing is that to visit you pay nothing and you will not find crowds. Be sure to visit the basement where the artistic and literary works of this remarkable moment are.

Gangaramaya Temple

The Gangaramaya Temple is a cultural and religious complex. Bathed in the water this place is much more than a temple of Buddha worship, it holds vivid memories of Buddhism and a very exotic elephant.

It is located about 40 minutes from Colombo airport and near the Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil.

Templo Gangaramaya em Colombo | Happymind Travels
Templo Gangaramaya em Colombo

The Gangaramaya Temple is divided into a museum, a chamber of relics, a fig tree that illuminated the Buddha, the replica of a magnificent temple that existed between the 8th and 9th centuries, the temples of meditation and the vocational school.

It’s a place that preserves the 28 Buddha sculptures and their incarnations.

Buddha Statues at the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Buddha Statues at the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo

The temple museum is a historical place and filled with Buddha statues, valuable objects made of ivory and even antique cars you will find.

Although there is no entry fee, they do accept donations. Another tip is that if you take pictures, never take selfies or stand with your back to the statues. They consider it an offense. And of course, wear appropriate clothes.

Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil

Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil is believed to be one of the largest and oldest Hindu temples in Colombo Sri Lanka.

The place itself is endowed with a bright and lively architecture. Dedicated to Shiva and Ganesha, the temple is the preferred place to celebrate weddings in Colombo.

In addition to the sculptures of the gods on the logo outside, the temple reveals more riches inside: the roof is covered by an astral map.

Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil in Colombo

It is a place symbol of culture and religiosity for all who visit it.

Know that around you will find snake charmers. Just like you see in the movies and television reports, and the performance is very curious.

Snake charmer at Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Snake charmer at Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil in Colombo

It is common to find near the Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Temple above all to the sound of the flutes that are said in passing is a bit out of tune to make the serpent tread a path from the basket and follow the rhythm of the music.

It may not work, but you do not need to be afraid that the lovely will soon take over. You will pay about R $ 4.16.

Wolvendaal Church

The Wolvendaal church is one of the most important Dutch buildings in Sri Lanka. It’s a distinctive 1749 Greek architecture relic.

It is well worth the visit and be dazzled by the rustic and exotic furnishings.

Igreja Holandesa de Wolvendaal em Colombo | Happymind Travels
Wolvendaal Dutch Church in Colombo

Museum of the Dutch Period

The Dutch Period Museum is a building that was the governor’s residence in the 17th century and is now the Colombo Cultural Museum.

Its well-preserved architecture is still noticeable in every detail in colors and formats.

The originality is remarkable even in the objects that the place houses ranging from crafts, coin species, conserved ceramics, antique furniture.

It pays to go and stay on the second floor to enjoy a beautiful view. Some strategic places within the monument are like a refuge during monsoons or unbearable heat.

The traveler does not pay anything to enter. However, it is necessary to tip the official guide.

Sunset in Mount Lavinia

Mount Lavinia is a perfect place for you to see that unforgettable sunset in Colombo in Sri Lanka.

It is a beach with plenty of water activities and beautiful places to dive.

Mount Lavinia landscape in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Mount Lavinia landscape in Colombo

Many times the sea is choppy, so take the time to surf and cool off. Just take care and prefer the areas allowed for diving.

A tip, try at least the whole day for precisely at dusk, straight from the Indian Ocean, the most brilliant and spectacular sunset of your trip in Colombo Sri Lanka.

Viharamadevi Park

Viharamadevi Park is a quiet and cozy place. It is close to the National Museum. Until 1950 he called Victoria Park, but after this period he was named after the mother of King Dutugemunu.

Viharamadevi Park in Colombo, Sri Lanka - Happymind Travels
Viharamadevi Park in Colombo

The place is rich in plantations, and always the day before the celebrations they bring the elephants to spend the night in the park chewing the palm trees.

Remember that we speak of the snake charmers at the temple gate? In this Viharamadevi Park, you will find several of these snake charmers.

Kottu

Since you started your trip in Colombo how about experiencing Kottu? Or rather, enjoy the bustle and see how it is the preparation of this traditional food as much as curious and very famous for Sri Lanka.

Cozinheiro a preparar o prato ritmado de Kottu | Happymind Travels
Cook preparing the rhythmic dish of Kottu

Legend has it that Kottu came from a last-minute tuneup for some travelers and that the seller had some leftover roti and other patches of vegetables and meats.

At the end of the day, a group of travelers arrived and wanted food. And who said he lost the sale?

Kottu, typical dish in Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Kottu, typical dish in Sri Lanka

It was there and prepared the most rhythmic and diverse dish that could exist. The preparation is audible, and you hear it for blocks away.

Legendary or not, the fact is that the Kottu roti dish is a delight and you will undoubtedly be delighted.

How to get around in Colombo?

To move around in Colombo, especially for those who travel to Asian countries for the first time, the rickshaw or tuk-tuk seems to be the perfect option. But in Sri Lanka, it’s not like that …

By experience, it seems to be the cheapest means of transportation, but it is pure deception because it is the exact opposite. Drivers double or triple the price and are not easy to negotiate.

Uber tuk-tuk in Colombo Sri Lanka | Happymind Travels
Uber tuk-tuk in Colombo

Avoid this means of transport in Colombo and use the Uber or bus.

The prices they (Uber) charge are well priced and sometimes medium. With this, you already escape the negotiation.

And riding Uber tuk-tuk is the same sensation of riding a rickshaw in Asia or a traditional tuk-tuk, but without that forced trading.

But do not think that this happens all over the country, that is, this abuse of rickshaw drivers. It’s only in Colombo and Negombo.

Because of this, use Uber’s APP and stay smart in Colombo.

How to travel from Colombo to Negombo or main airport?

Arriving in Sri Lanka by the Colombo airport, you will soon want to get to the city quickly, whether in Negombo or Colombo. But calm down and do not get in the first mode of transportation that comes along.

When getting off at Colombo Airport, you will find several rickshaws drivers waiting to take you to Colombo Sri Lanka. Refuse. Therefore, the price and distance do not compensate, and your trip will become more expensive.

Ignore and cross the street, and you will see a bus station that leaves the airport for Negombo or Colombo. It is the best option is the most economical, but also the most time-consuming.

Uber is another option available if you want to make an Airport trip to Colombo or Negombo.

But remember that you only pay one way. The return is paid by the Uber driver. Make no mistake, then, they can also try to cheat you.

Some drivers of UBER can take advantage of you, by asking for the money in hand even if you already paid it through the app.

This is a trap for them to create confusion with you. It happens mainly in these big trips like from Colombo to Negombo or to the Airport.

So to avoid this embarrassment always ask the driver to show the application and confirm the payment was made successfully.

If you would like more information about transportation in Sri Lanka, we have an excellent and complete article with all the other options for you to move around in Colombo Sri Lanka.

Where to stay in Colombo?

Hotels in Colombo Sri Lanka are according to your plan. One thing is sure whichever you choose will be close to the most important attractions, and if you still desire transport, you will always have a uber tuk-tuk or a bus available.

BunkYard Hostel

BunkYard Hostel

BunkYard Hostel is a hotel to meet other travelers. It attracts by its decoration with vibrant colors and typical clothing stores.

It also draws attention to the excellent location near the airport, the Gangaramaya Temple, Viharamahadevi Park, among others.

Although not central always have a bus at the door available to take you to the center of Colombo Sri Lanka.

Imagine you in a hotel that most resembles your home, you arrive and feel so comfortable, really cozy, right? After that tiring ride, reinvigorate the comfortable beds (bunk, double or single) and recharge your batteries.

Now dividing your kitchen with other people are experiences that we recommend to all backpackers who travel alone. If you want interaction, a creative and welcoming place choose this hotel.

Colombo City Hostel

Colombo City Hostel | Happymind Travels
Colombo City Hostel

Colombo City Hostel is a place that is worth more for the money you pay. It does not offer you many perks, but it serves very well the basics of a hotel.

Let’s suppose that you are traveling in Colombo, tired and need a hotel. This place is perfect for that very tiring day, where you can rest quietly, and eat something.

This, because this hotel offers excellent accommodation, many possibilities to meet new people and enjoy the typical gastronomic flavors.

It is close to the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple and many Sinhalese bars and restaurants.

Ceylon Hostel

Ceylon Hostel is close to Colombo’s main airport. Is it the ideal place for you to meet other travelers and drink that late-night drink or maybe a typical Sri Lankan tea?

This hotel offers comfortable dorms, and without too much stewardship, the gastronomy is varied, but also not very exaggerated. The place attracts for simplicity and value for money, so it does not get too expensive.

Clock Inn

Clock Inn Hotel

Clock Inn is a hotel for you to forget about all the adrenaline of Colombo and to be balancing on the warmth and sophistication that this place has to offer to all travelers.

It is close to the Colomb Fort, so it is close to many attractions without saying it is an experience and privacy without equal.

It offers from a private area where you can catch a bit of sun or exchange money on some emergency.

If you value the experience and comfort, choose this hotel that is worth the price and the quality they offer.

You will always have rooms available with air conditioning, indoor and outdoor area. Savor the breakfast that is served from 7 am to 10 am with orange juice, toast, simple omelets or vegetarian with peppers.

Our suggestions are based on the evaluation of the best hotels in Colombo Sri Lanka. Choose accommodations according to your planning, your budget and what you want to experience.

Where to shop in Colombo, Sri Lanka?

Colombo, Sri Lanka has many markets and shops for you to do your shopping.

Enjoy visiting the markets, buying spices and more. Check out!

Pettha Market

Pettah Market is a place where you can find several types of markets for you to buy clothes, food, spices, accessories and even see some of the snake charmers around!

It is situated near the Colomb Fort region in the Pettha quarter and closes to a train station.

Pettah Market in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Pettah Market in Colombo

It is very traditional and a big place, located in the historical part of the city. There you will find streets full of sellers selling everything from clothing, accessories, food, but the very same are spices, fruits.

A place with narrow streets full of sellers selling everything: clothes, accessories, some fruits, and spices.

There you will find many exotic fruits: wood apple, bitter melon among others.

Enjoy and buy the exotic fruit spices for your trip. The prices in there are usually better than if you buy elsewhere.

Even if you do not buy anything, it pays to walk around and realize the routine of sellers and buyers negotiating unbelievable prices.

Barefoot Cafe

Barefoot Cafe shop is a network of shops to buy quality souvenirs in any city in the country, most notably in Colombo and Galle.

You will find postcards, the sarongs (obligatory clothing to visit the temples and mitigate the heat).

What are the best restaurants in Colombo?

Se a fome apertar, saiba que você está em terra de uma culinária rica e diversificada. Conheça os melhores restaurantes de Colombo Sri Lanka.

The Fat Crab

Dining at Fat Crab is a great place to start your dining experience. They serve seafood, mainly seafood and lobsters.

Lobster dish at Fat Crab restaurant in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Lobster dish at Fat Crab restaurant in Colombo

It is located on an avenue in front of the sea where you can taste a mixed dish with five mixed prawns on the spit, lobster, cheese crab, spices and a few more pieces of fish.

Indeed, this meal will give you the energy you need for your trip to Colombo.

Java Lounge

Java Lounge Cafe em Colombo | Happymind Travels
Java Lounge Cafe in Colombo

The Java Lounge restaurant is a great place to have that espresso or even have lunch. But it’s better for a quiet breakfast away from the Colombo frenzy.

The pastry is good, the location is very nice, but be prepared that prices are usually higher than you’ll find elsewhere.

Ministry of Crab

The Ministry of Crab restaurant is located inside the old Dutch hospital and today is the commercial center with other restaurants and shops.

Interior of the Old Dutch Hospital in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Interior of the Old Dutch Hospital in Colombo

It is a tourist restaurant with advertisements all over the world, including at the entrance to the airport, and famous for the enormous prawns and crabs.

Some of the first weigh up to 500 grams and the second weigh up to 2 kilos. Can you imagine the size?

The dishes options are limited the differential is in the sauces that they serve: curry, garlic or chili (most tasty of all).

The place itself is not over-priced. However, you will not find these dishes for lesser prices elsewhere.

Ministry of Crab in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Ministry of Crab in Colombo

Another differential of this restaurant is the guarantee that the seafood is fresh and not frozen like elsewhere.

Now there is a restriction: travelers who enjoy good beer can not drink between the hours of 14h and 17h. If you are a beer lover, go before this time.

Drink orange juice with coconut

Colombo is marked by tall coconut trees and rich in fruits. While in Sri Lanka, you can not help but try the orange juice with coconut, an incredibly tasty traditional drink that you will find in the streets of Colombo.

Orange and Coco Juice near Pettah Market in Colombo | Happymind Travels
Orange and Coco Juice near Pettah Market in Colombo

It will be normal for you to see many people drinking the delicious coconut juice, then scraping the inside of the coconut with the spoon of the shell itself. It’s delicious.

It is effortless to find everywhere in Sri Lanka, including in Colombo, points that sell coconut juice, drunk directly from the fruit.

This is unbelievably good. But you will love the coconut juice with green orange (typical in Sri Lanka), it is a drink madness!

The weather and the best time to visit Colombo

Colombo, Sri Lanka has a climate with tropical and moderate temperatures. During the year the temperatures oscillate, and the minimum rotates around 22 ° C and a maximum of 31 ° C.

The humidity of the air is muffled without many variations, and the rains are always present throughout the year. Rest assured that they are fleeting and soon you continue your ride.

Avoid traveling in monsoon periods that are climate changes that result in rains, windmills in some cases flooding. They occur more precisely between May and August and between October and January.

The best time to travel from the middle of December to the middle of February. If you would like to know more about the monsoons that occur in different places around the island, read our full article on climate Sri Lanka.

How many days to stay in Colombo?

We sincerely recommend that you stay at least 2 days and get to know all the attractions.

But to take advantage even, it will take 3 days to delve into the culture of Colombo Sri Lanka.

Typically Colombo Sri Lanka is the entrance and exit of the country and even if you choose to stay in Negombo which is close by, do not forget Columbus. It is programmed to know this cultural wealth for at least one day.

If you choose to stay early in the trip, buy backpacks, clothes, adapters, cell phone chips, everything you need to have a quiet trip around the country.

On the other hand, you leave Columbus for the end of your trip, enjoy our tips, get to know the attractions and make the last purchases for souvenirs.

Did you see how Columbus Sri Lanka modernized but did not lose the principles that made it known? It has revealed to us a natural, cultural, artistic and religious place.

Even though it has not been the cradle of religions, it still reserves many precious statues and monuments that are revered by Buddhists, Islamists, and Hindus.

If you would like to know more about Sri Lanka, check out our full article on all the major attractions and outline the best route around the country.

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