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Colombo Travel Essentials


4.7 /5 (34 ratings) Rate This Destination


Ideal duration: 3 days

Best Time: December to March Read More

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"The Heart of Sri Lanka"

Colombo Tourism

Discovered initially by traders two millennia ago, Colombo is Sri Lanka's largest economic corridor and tourist destination. As the island nation's capital city, Colombo is a cosmopolitan gateway to the wonders of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial heritage, splendid tropical landscapes and delectable cuisines. The city is well connected to other places in Sri Lanka by rail and road.

It is in Colombo that you can find it all; from the Lotus Tower, South Asia's tallest freestanding structure, world-class casinos like Bellagio and Ballys, and cinnamon plantation hiking trails. The city identifies with the classic form of urban tourism and offers a great experience of sightseeing, shopping and nightlife. Taking an open deck bus tour is the best way to sightsee around the city on a day of pleasant weather.  Against the ocean at Galle Face Green Promenade, Galle Fort and Lighthouse showcase astonishing Victorian relics in a snazzy neighbourhood with cafes. Pettah Market, acclaimed as a shopaholic's abode by tourists and locals, features vibrant oriental themes and colourful shops.

Also, be sure to visit Mount Lavinia Beach and enjoy a beautiful day with the sunset at the end too. The Snow World Theme Park and Viharamahadevi Park are great places if you are travelling with kids. For the adventure enthusiast in you, indulge in some scuba diving in Chief Dragon and The Sierra. Colombo seamlessly blends adventure, luxury, culture, and history from regalia of 17th-century Kandyan Kings, colossal Buddha figures and Thambili-coconut drinks to amusement parks, malls and bustling bazaars.

Must Know Before You Travel to Colombo

  • Where to Stay:
    -Galle Face Green area is known for its upscale hotels with stunning views of the Indian Ocean. It's a popular choice for those seeking luxury accommodations.
    -The Fort area is the central business district and offers a mix of upscale hotels and business-friendly accommodations.
    -Bambalapitiya and Wellawatte areas are close to shopping districts, restaurants, and the beach, making it a convenient choice for a lively stay
  • Getting Around Colombo is easy with plenty of tuk-tuks available which costs around LKR 100 for the first km, then around LKR 80 or 90 for every subsequent km
  • Casinos: Gambling is legal in Sri Lanka. However, choose to visit an upscale larger casino for a better experience

Top Hotels In Colombo

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Currency in Colombo

The Sri Lankan Rupee is the only currency which is accepted in Colombo. All major cards like Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted.

Exchanging Money in Colombo

  • Most of the banks are authorised currency changers and usually give the best rate.
  • Many finance companies are authorised as well, along with a few other limited liability companies.
  • You can check the full list at 'ecd. lk'
Read more about exchanging money at Colombo.

Daily Budget for Colombo

The expenses in Colombo might sound very high at first but that's mostly because the LKR is a rather weak currency. You can expect to spend around LKR 3000 - 4000 per day at a low cost budget, LKR 5000 - 10000 on a mid range budget, and anything north of LKR 15000 for a high end budget.

Do's and Don'ts in Colombo

  • It is advisable to dress appropriately when touring the city, especially in formal institutions and religious sites. 
  • Public displays of affection are also looked down upon.
  • When taking photographs, be sure to ask about what is allowed to be photographed and what is not.
  • It is considered extremely rude to face your back towards a statue by the Buddhists, so even if you click a picture, make sure you're facing the statue.
  • Incomes in Sri Lanka are fairly low, so you should try and tip wherever you can.

History of Colombo

Colombo has a natural harbour and has a rich colonial history due to ease of trade. It was occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. After a treaty with the King of Kotte, the Portuguese established themselves along the coast, with the condition that they would defend that region from invaders. After several conflicts and failed attempts to take over the Kotte kingdom, they finally conquered the region with the help of reinforcements from the main base in Goa in 1593.

The Dutch entered the scene after signing a pact with the King of Kandy, King Rajasinha II, to fight off the Portuguese together in exchange for a large part of the trade and goods of the island in 1638. After repeated attempts, this was finally achieved in 1656 when the Dutch conquered Colombo. However, the Dutch did not hold true to their word and retained control over some regions, including Colombo.

Major developments in the city took place when the British came in 1796. The British declared it the British Ceylon in 1815 and started constructing houses and buildings for civilian use. The British colonial rule finally ended in 1948, and Colombo and Sri Lanka underwent tremendous changes. When the Sri Lankans formed the government again, several changes were made from top to bottom. The entire area around the old city, like Kotte and Dehiwala, is now part of the city.

Nightlife in Colombo

From trancing bars, cafes, and themed pubs to night bazaars, glam casinos and discos, the nightlife in Colombo turns your weekdays into weekends with a plethora of luxurious as well as pocket-friendly spots to enjoy at. Roulette rolling, splendid themed buffets, grilled street food, chic beach parties, traditional clothes and apparel up for a bargain, trendy live bands, gaming arcades and enthusiastic crowds - you name it, and this city has it.

Here are the top five nightlife destinations in Colombo: -

  • Bally’s Casino 
  • Galle Face Green Night Market
  • Bellagio Casino
  • ON14 Rooftop Bar
  • Sky Lounge

Shopping in Colombo

Colombo is known worldwide for its stunning Sri Lankan handlooms, batiks, Ceylon tea, gems, bazaars and Ayurvedic therapies. Learn about the best ways to enjoy shopping in Colombo: -  

  • Buy traditional handicrafts, linen, trinkets and sarongs at Paradise Road, Barefoot Garden Cafe, the oceanfront Galle Face Green Night Market and Kala Pola Art Market.
  • Colombo City Centre and Lakarcade Mall are malls offering chic urban and ethnic clothing, arcade games and spas. 
  • Dutch Gallery features colonial antiques, while Majestic City is the place to go for sapphires, homeware and books. 
  • Enjoy a unique shopping spree at the Pettah Floating Market, boasting hundreds of over-water kiosks, delicious street food and farmers’ markets. 

Pro Tips:-

  • As prices are quoted many folds higher for tourists, humble bargaining goes a long way.
  • Check authenticity before buying gems and valuables.
  • Always carry cash while shopping in Colombo.

Read more about Shopping in Colombo.

Best Time to Visit Colombo

Colombo Photos

Colombo, Sri-Lanka
The Galle Face Green is a beautiful beach park located in Fort Colombo popular for kite flying, fishing, football, beach volleyball, jogging, and relaxing by the beach
The Colombo Lotus Tower is the tallest tower in South Asia, standing at 356 meters.
The Fort area in Colombo is the country's biggest building and the best place to see Colombo's colonial buildings and monuments

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FAQs on Colombo

What is the best time to visit Colombo?

Although it can be visited throughout the year, the best time to visit Colombo is in the dry season, lasting from January to March. The temperature recorded during these first three months of the year is 23 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for exploration. Additionally, during these months, various festivals are celebrated in Colombo, such as Duruthu Poya, Thai Pongal, and even Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. The only exception to this otherwise perfect weather is during the rainy season, which lasts from May to October. April is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, and December is comparatively the coldest month of the year with an average of 25 degrees Celsius. May has been recorded as the wettest month of the year as it rains for most of the month with almost no dry day at all. Hence, it is usually not advised to travel to Colombo during its wet season.
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What is the local food in Colombo?

The fact that Colombo is a coastal city plays a huge role in the influence of sea food in the local cuisine. People here like eating a lot of rice with fish or prawns. Other forms of poultry such as chicken, beef and lamb are also popular. International fast food joints are all present in the city. Restaurants such as Curry Leaf, and Seafood's Cove are worth a try.
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How much does a package cost for Colombo?

The packages for Colombo start at INR 13788 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What are the top hotels in Colombo?

There are 653 in Colombo which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Colombo are Colombo Home Stay, Royal Park Luxury 3 Bedroom Apartment @18, Hello travel- sea view cozy place Colombo, Nugegoda Apartment, Bodi's Loft, Ceylon Boutique Homestay Colombo. You can see all the hotels in Colombo here

What are the things to do in Colombo?

The top things to do in Colombo are Galle Face Green, Pettah Market, National Museum of Colombo, Fort-Colombo, Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara, Gangaramaya Temple. You can see all the places to visit in Colombo here

What are the places near Colombo?

The top places near to Colombo are Kandy which is 94 km from Colombo, Galle which is located 104 km from Colombo, Anuradhapura which is located 165 km from Colombo, Nuwara eliya which is located 102 km from Colombo, Sigiriya which is located 151 km from Colombo

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Colombo Reviews

Your rating

Mani Maran

on Gangaramaya Temple 3 years ago
This is an awesome place,one can get relaxed by getting positive vibes around this temple! Many of the people come to god to solve their problems! There is another way to get solutions to their probl (Read More)ems, that is online astrology site ! This website provides lot of best astrologers for predicting your future and enhancing your life!

on Beira Lake 6 years ago
Me and my friend roamed around whole colombo searching this place. But didnt reached there. The way that google showed was closed and some construction is going there. We then circled all the way ar (Read More)ound. Saw the lake but no way to get in. Really terrible experience

on Galle Face Green 6 years ago
It's good place to reach around 5 pm when the sun is setting. Nice wind and the green view over the bridge really nice to watch
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