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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 10 Cool Things to Do in Colombo
Joanna James Joanna James
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10 Cool Things to Do in Colombo

As the country's capital, Colombo is not only a bustling metropolis but also a cultural and recreational hotspot in Sri Lanka. Here are 10 exciting activity options for visitors heading to Colombo.


Discover the Independence Square

More than a mere recreational hotspot, the Independence Square is an iconic cultural attraction all visitors must explore in Colombo. Centered around a stone memorial hall, the structure celebrates the island's independence from British rule and serves as a symbol of national freedom and sovereignty. Surrounded by scenic gardens ideal for a morning jog or an afternoon stroll, the site is also used for many national celebrations including Independence Day festivities and religious events as well.


Pay Homage to The Gangaramaya Temple

Renowned for its aesthetic beauty, the Gangaramaya Temple is no ordinary spiritual epicentre in the Sri Lankan capital. As one of the country's historic Buddhist temples, the venue is a place of worship open not only to Buddhists but those of all faiths. Tour the peaceful confines of this iconic temple and discover its collection of antiquities and Buddha statutes which numbers in the hundreds before paying a visit to the museum and the library on-site.


Tour the National Museum

No visit to Colombo would be complete without taking in a bit of local history and heritage at the National Museum. Home to the country's most prized historic artefacts and relics including ancient royal regalia and an exquisite throne, the sprawling institution is housed in an imposing colonial structure dating back to 1876.


Enjoy an Evening at Beira Lake

Located near the Gangaramaya Temple, The Beira Lake is not only one of Colombo's largest bodies of water but one which is connected to a series of other lakes that lead to the Indian ocean. The canals of the Beira Lake were employed by Portuguese colonizers to transport imports and exports centuries ago but visitors can enjoy the breathtaking sights and tranquillity of the river from the Simamalaka Shrine which occupies an island on the lake that can be reached via a pedestrian bridge.


Get Lost in Pettah

Tipped to be not only a retail experience but a cultural experience in its own right, walking around the maze of shops in Pettah is a must a for all first time visitors touring Colombo. With literally hundreds of stores selling everything from electronics to clothing items jam-packed next to one another in a labyrinthine fashion, it is easy to get lost in this city retail hotspot.


Dine at the Old Dutch Hospital

Once a functioning hospital, one of the oldest structures occupying the Fort region of Colombo is now a thriving dining hotspot. Home to some of the city's best restaurants the Old Dutch Hospital is a relaxing venue to grab lunch or dinner when touring around Colombo. Several shopping outlets are also located within the converted hospital space so don't forget to shop around.


Travel Like a Local

Hopping on a tuk-tuk or three-wheeler to explore Colombo is an activity in and of itself. As one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to get around the city, one can hail a tuk-tuk from nearly any street corner in the capital. Visitors based in centrally located hotels in Colombo the likes of the Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo or similar accommodation providers will find that most attractions in the city are within a perfect distance to be reached via a three-wheeler.


Dig into Short Eats and Street Food

Available via street side vendors and local tuck shops, sampling Sri Lanka's popular variety of snacks dubbed "short eats" is another must for food lovers vacationing in Colombo. From Fish Patties to delectable Samosas and Kimbula (crocodile shaped) Buns, the choices are endless and mouth-watering as well.


Shop for Souvenirs

As the best place to purchase quality souvenirs at reasonable price points, tourists can rely on Colombo's souvenir hubs to provide a wide range of choices when it comes to gifts and keepsakes to take home. From Laksala and Lakpahana to The Barefoot and Paradise Road, touring Colombo's souvenirs Meccas is a treat for art enthusiasts and collectors alike.