20 essential things to see and do in Colombo
September 25, 2018
- Galle Face Green
A long stretch of land alongside the Indian Ocean, the Galle Face Green is a public walkway and playground. Located close to the old Parliament of Sri Lanka, some of the best hotels in Colombo are also stretched out on the opposite side of this promenade.
- Beira Lake
The beautiful Beira Lake occupies 65 hectares, is located in the heart of Colombo and is surrounded by the city’s business district. During the colonial era, the lake played an important role of transporting goods within the city.
- Gangarama Temple
Located at the center of Beira Lake, this is one of the most esteemed temples in the country. The beautiful brass work, stone carvings and other Buddhist art that decorates the Temple is an attraction for locals and tourists alike. The complex houses a place of learning, a museum, a library and a residential hall.
- Dehiwala Zoo
More towards the outskirts of Colombo, the Dehiwala Zoo is home to some intriguing and magnificent animals. It hosts a comprehensive array of bird and animal species along with an aquarium, covering exotic and vibrant marine life.
- Dutch Museum
It is an honor indeed to have a Dutch period Museum still in existence today and Sri Lanka is the only former colony in the world to have preserved one. Originally the residence of Ceylon’s Dutch Governor, this unique museum has been used as a Catholic seminary, a police station, a military office and a post office. Exhibits at this museum include Dutch colonial furniture and other artefacts.
This was the first ever purpose built convention center in Asia – Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the BMICH is inclusive of modern conventional halls and high tech equipment.
- Independence Square
Independence Square is the well maintained park around the Independence Commemoration Hall and is one of the most visited locations in Colombo. Residents of Colombo are often found here for recreation and walking. One of the unique features of the Independence Commemoration Hall are the skilfully crafted lions guarding the monument.
- Lotus Pond Theatre
Also known as the ‘Nelum Pokuna’ Performing Arts Theatre, this state-of-the-art performance center is ideal for large scale theatrical productions. The Lotus Pond Theatre has a massive auditorium as well as an open-air amphitheater. Located in the heart of the city, its easy access makes it the ultimate choice for local and foreign productions.
- Mount Lavinia Hotel
One of the British Governors of Ceylon – Sir Thomas Maitland had a desire to build a love nest; thereby resulting in what is known today as the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Its rich history, Victorian-era ambience, gourmet cuisine (especially seafood varieties) and exceptional service is on par in making this luxury beach resort an exceptional venue.
Constructed by German engineers and established in 1965, the Planetarium is seen in the shape of a lotus in full blossom and can seat about 500 visitors. The Planetarium features and artificial sky to get a glimpse of the nighttime sky through a colossal universal projector.
- National Museum
Being Sri Lanka’s largest, the National Museum in Colombo boasts an exclusive collection of relics from the several kingdoms that ruled the island. Also housed are artefacts and memorabilia from the prehistoric ages. The establishment of the museum took place during the reign of British Colonial Governor, Sir William Henry and was recently refurbished to bring it to a premium standard.
- City Tour by Bus
Ebert Silva Holidays and Sri Lanka Tourism holds monopoly of the city tour of Colombo which is a part of the night sightseeing program. Passengers aboard this double decker open-air bus are taken on a guided tour of Colombo – the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
- Colombo Fort and Pettah
Pettah is an extension of Colombo Fort (the business hub), spreading its arms into the city’s north. The bazaar caters to wholesale and retail businesses with everything ranging from textiles to groceries to stationery and toys.
For centuries, Ayurveda has been practiced in Sri Lanka and India. The treatment makes use of natural herbs and remedies to strengthen the power of resistance in one’s body, thereby combating chronic illnesses. All this is done in a manner that pampers and relaxes the guest at a luxury spa.
- Gem Museum
An intriguing place to visit in Colombo is the Gem Museum with its unusual entrance that looks more like an opening of a gem mine. At the museum, one can learn about some precious stones that are often set into earrings, pendants and bracelets. Beautifully crafted ready-made jewelry is also a great attraction here.
- Colombo Gold Center
A few years ago, the St. John’s Fish Market was transformed into the Colombo Gold Center, and when this happened, some of its original characteristics were retained! While gems, gold and silver are cleverly displayed at sophisticated air-conditioned shops on the ground floor, vendors on the upper floor sell fishing equipment and other chemical supplies.
- Mount Lavinia Beach
While you are exploring the former lover’s nest at Mount Lavinia Hotel, don’t miss the city’s most popular beach destination – Mount Lavinia. This stretch lies along a windswept headland – into the Indian Ocean, thereby producing a lovely beach line for city residents to enjoy.
Shopping in Colombo means a visit to modern shopping malls and specialty retail outlets that offer quality goods at amazingly affordable prices, with special offers always on the go. For more bargains without the high standard surroundings, visit the street vendors and outdoor markets. In terms of goods, check out the clothing, gems, handicrafts, jewelry and of course, the world famous tea industry.
- Night Bazaar – Green Path
A nighttime fair that is open from time to time alongside Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha in Colombo is an interesting attraction for tourists and travelers as a hotspot for shopping and experiencing the best of Sri Lankan street food.
- Royal Colombo Golf Club
Located in the heart of the city, the Royal Colombo Golf Club is surrounded by high end residential areas. As opposed to what its surroundings may sound like, the Golf Club is much of an exquisite and peaceful environment for relaxation, unwinding and a bit of tee-off. The picturesque landscape and a glimpse of some rare flora and fauna species on the golf course provide for a lovely country-side environment.