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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for Top 10 Things to do in Colombo – An explosion of culture and history
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 10 Things to do in Colombo – An explosion of culture and history

Colombo is Sri Lanka's largest and most populated city, and as such contains an exciting number of attractions. Here are the top 10.

1

Independence Memorial Hall

The Independence Memorial Hall was built to commemorate Sri Lanka gaining independence in 1948. The massive stone monument is set amidst a beautiful park and a statue of D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of the nation and the leader of Sri Lanka Independent movement, stands before it.

2

The National Museum

The National Museum of Sri Lanka is the largest museum in the country and houses an extensive collection of artefacts from ancient Sri Lanka, including the crowning jewels and throne of Sri Lanka's last reigning King. The museum building itself is a thing of antiquity having first been constructed in 1876 by the then British Governor of Sri Lanka.

3

Gangaramaya Temple

Gangaramaya is a temple complex that is crammed with an enormous number of ancient Buddhist artefacts from a multitude of Buddha statues made of stone, wood, plastic and even gold, to an entire hall displaying strange and fascinating gifts the temple has received over the years from devotees. There are a museum and a library to explore as well.

4

Colonial Buildings

The National Museum is one of many huge, monumental buildings scattered around Colombo that date back to the Dutch and British era of Sri Lanka, and are worth checking out. Other such historic structures include the Old Parliament Building, located opposite Galle Face Green, which now houses the Presidential Secretariat, and the Wolvendaal Church, which was built in 1749 by the Dutch and is the most important Dutch building in the country!

5

Old Dutch Hospital

The Old Dutch Hospital Complex is located opposite the World Trade Centre and is packed with fantastic little restaurants, cafés, bars and even a couple of souvenir stores. It's a great respite from a long, busy day of sightseeing!

6

Pettah

Pettah is an absolute madness of colour, sound and smell. The marketplace has countless shops, stalls and open markets selling everything from clothes, accessories and shoes to toys, electronics and houseware to vegetables, fruits and drinks. Everything is sold at fantastic bargain prices if you are open for a bit of haggling.

7

Beira Lake

Beira Lake, located close to Gangaramaya, was used during the colonial era to transport goods into the city – the lake is connected to numerous other lakes and to the Indian Ocean through a network of canals. Visitors can take a swan boat ride around the lake, see pelicans and storks up close or walk over a bridge to visit the Simamalaka Shrine.

8

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a long, grassy stretch next to a sea promenade that is extremely popular among Sri Lankans. It's a fantastic place to go for a stroll, watch the sunset on the pier, try out the local street food, people watch or even fly a kite! If you want to spend some time in Colombo, there are numerous great hotels in the Galle Face Green area, which are located quite close to several of the attractions mentioned here! Some of the best luxury apartments Sri Lanka has to offer, like Capitol TwinPeaks, are also located in close vicinity.

9

Viharamaha Devi Park

Viharamahadevi Park is the only central park in Colombo and one of the best ways to spend a relaxed afternoon in the city! The park is breathtakingly beautiful and even features a children's playground, complete with slides, pony rides and candy floss, an aquarium, a lake with a suspension bridge and a war memorial.

10

Street Food

Colombo's street food is phenomenal and simply cannot be overlooked. In addition to the numerous stalls that line Galle Face Green, Colombo Street food can also be enjoyed from roadside carts, stalls and small shops. Must try foods include Kottu, fried rice and Wadé.

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