Colombo is the heart of Sri Lanka, from where the entire country is governed. Situated on the western coast of the island, Colombo has a rich colonial heritage and includes a collection of religions and cultures.
The busy city is just 37.31km² in size, which explains the congested roads and street markets. Yet, Colombo has the capability of offering a wide selection of experiences from tuk tuk rides, street food, golf, Pettah market, shopping malls and high tea at one of the five star hotels beside the Indian Ocean.
While exploring the city, you will notice the contrasting landscapes: some areas where people reside in mansions with lush gardens and just the next street is probably occupied with urban slums. While one side of the road is lined up with fine dining restaurants and exclusive designer brands, the opposite end is lined up with street food options and small grocery shops.
Being in Colombo gives you a gist of what life is like for a normal urban Sri Lankan and here are some things that you should do while you are in Colombo.
- City tour
An exciting double decker bus awaits your arrival to take you around on a Colombo City Tour. You can get a glimpse of both old and new Colombo when you visit places like Independence square, Colombo lighthouse, National Museum, Colombo Fort, Crescat Boulevard, Pettah Market, Fruits & Vegetables Market, Independence Arcade, Gangaramaya Temple and much more.
- Seafood in Mt. Lavinia
This laidback suburb of Colombo gets its name from Lovinia, a dancing girl who had a secret affair with a Sri Lankan governor. The coastline of Mt. Lavinia is lined up with a collection of exclusive restaurants such as Loon Tao, Mount Grill, Governor’s Restaurant and Seafood Cove. These restaurants serve the best seafood and are a must-try for tourists in Sri Lanka.
- Spa Massages
Relaxing spa treatments are quickly gaining popularity as a form of leisure in Colombo. To cater to this demand, high end hotels and other private companies have introduced professional spa centers offering a variety of treatments from Swedish to Balinese to Shiatsu. Indulge in one of these at Azmaara Spa, Angsana Spa, Spa Ceylon, or Baan Thai Spa, and experience ultimate relaxation of mind and body.
- Sample the nightlife
Walk around the streets of Colombo at night and you will see a buzzing atmosphere with casinos, cafés to chill out, and you can try your luck at roulette or baccarat while partying until dawn at some of the coolest clubs in town. While you’re out exploring the streets, don’t forget to taste some Sri Lankan Kottu Rotti – an expert blend of sliced rotti mixed with veggies and your choice of meat.
- Tuk tuk ride
Also known as three-wheelers or auto rickshaws, tuk tuks are the backbone of transport in Sri Lanka. Not too expensive and a very convenient way to reach your destination quickly. For first timers in a tuk tuk, be sure to hold on!
- Gangaramaya Temple
This temple is one of the most esteemed temples in Sri Lanka and is beautifully decorated with exquisite brass work, stone carvings and other forms of Buddhist Art. The Temple complex also includes a museum, library as well as a residential hall.
Surprising one isn’t it? You are probably wondering what Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of “shopping” as a bucket list activity. Well the Pettah Market is the best place for textiles, lacing and authentic Sri Lankan spices. But for more comfortable shopping, and premium quality retail clothing, designer clothing stores are located all over Colombo – No Limit, Fashion Bug, Odel, as well as international brands such as Giordano, Levis, Mango, and more. In addition to clothing, handbags, footwear, household items and handicrafts are also great souvenirs from Colombo – Sri Lanka.