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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Colombo City Guide - Travel Tips for a Holiday in Colombo City
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Colombo City Guide - Travel Tips for a Holiday in Colombo City

As the island nation's bustling capital, there's plenty to do and experience in Sri Lanka. Here are some practical guidelines on how to make the most of a getaway in Colombo.


Getting Around

Travellers who are based in Colombo will find that a plethora of local transport options are at their disposal in the city, with the public transport options being the most affordable and efficient. Colombo is well-connected by a network of buses and trains while three-wheelers and taxi cabs are also on hand to provide speedy transfers to any part of the city. Those who intend to use the public bus service should carry cash and change as there are no travel passes or any other means of payment available to passengers. It is necessary to book only metered tuk-tuks or three-wheelers when travelling around Colombo as unmetered vehicles are likely to overcharge tourists. Cabs and three-wheelers can be booked by using local apps that are free and easily downloadable on smartphones.



Some of the best things to do in the Sri Lankan capital include walking around the Pettah Market. Even if one is not interested in purchasing the bargain goods and products sold at this maze-like market, the sheer experience of exploring this larger than life thoroughfare is a must for first-time visitors. Divided into separate sections which specialize in food, consumer electronics, clothing, accessories etc, the Pettah Market is bursting at the seams with colour and vigour. No tour of Colombo would be complete without spending an afternoon at the Galle Face Green or Viharamahadevi Park. Other recreational hotspots in Colombo include the Diyatha Uyana where walking trails and a playground are on-site for families. Golf fanatics can tee off at the Royal Colombo Golf Course, one of the oldest greens in the country.



When it comes to cultural attractions dotting Colombo, the Gangaramaya Temple reigns supreme as a spiritual and a historic point of interest. Don't forget to drop by the National Museum and the Old Parliament Building to discover the history of this bustling metropolis. An architectural tour of the many local buildings designed by iconic Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa is another profound experience visitors can engage in during a visit. Other attractions worthy of exploration include the Colombo Port Maritime Museum, the Shri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil and the Wolvendaal Church, which showcases the city's colonial heritage. The National Art Gallery highlights the local art scene while the Colombo Lotus Tower offers breathtaking views of the city from a vaulted vantage point. Families should also stop by the Dehiwala Zoo and the Colombo Planetarium as they are prime educational attractions in the city. Independence Square is another must-visit hotspot for first-timers as it also encompasses a park and jogging tracks.


Wine and Dine

Home to some of the country's finest restaurants and cafes, wining and dining in Colombo's eateries is one of the true pleasures of a getaway in the big city. The Gallery Café and Park Street Mews are among the top dining venues for tourists as they offer both local and continental menus. Those who are in search of local street food should look no further than Galle Road and the other major highways of Colombo where vendors with pushcarts sell everything from fried chickpeas and prawn wadey to short eats and pastries. Those looking for authentic Sri Lanka cuisine and seafood delights cannot go wrong with the Beach Wadiya, Nuga Gama and Rasa Bojun restaurants.


Shopping Hubs

Shopaholics heading to the Sri Lankan capital will be happy to find that the island nation's biggest malls and retailers have set up shop in Colombo. From decades-old malls, the likes of Majestic City, Liberty Plaza and the Crescat Boulevard to newer addition to the city's retail landscape such as the Colombo City Centre and the sprawling One Galle Face department stores, the choices are seemingly endless. The best souvenir hubs in the city include Paradise Road, the Barefoot Gallery and Ghandara while fashion boutique chains the likes of No Limit, House of Fashion, Beverly Street, Cool Planet and Fashion Bug allow visitors to purchase high-quality clothing, accessories and lifestyle products at affordable rates. Urban Island and the Design Collective are other shopper's hotspots that are easy to reach from the Mandarina Colombo Hotel or any other hotels in Colombo Sri Lanka.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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