Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s multicultural capital. Not only that, but the city serves as the country’s economic, political, cultural and transportation hub. Many visitors come to Colombo only during transit, which is a shame because the city has a lot to offer! We’ll show you all the worthwhile sights and why it’s well worth staying in Colombo. Let’s get going!
Colombo in a Nutshell
Sri Lanka is an Indian Ocean island nation located south of India. Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital and situated on a natural harbor. Tradition and religion are a defining feature of the cityscape, as they are in other Asian cities. It’s a predominantly Muslim city, but there are also a lot of Buddhists.
The months of March to December are ideal for a trip to Colombo. During this period, you can expect pleasantly warm temperatures, perfect for exploring the city. We don’t recommend visiting during the summer months because the rainy season bring about heavy rainfall.
Make sure to try Colombo’s cuisine. India has a particularly strong influence on the culinary specialties, which is why they have a lot in common with them. These include typical rice and curry dishes, traditionally served with chicken or pork. They’re available in almost every restaurant.
Another local delicacy, especially in Colombo, is vadai – a healthy, donut-shaped snack made from potatoes, lentils, and various spices. A cup of tea complements the dish. It’s Sri Lanka’s national drink, so you’ll frequently come across it in the capital. Making tea is considered a traditional ritual and in many restaurants, it’s even brewed in front of the guests – it’s not only delicious, but also fascinating.
Getting around the capital is easy for backpackers – choose between buses, cabs, ubers, trains, or even tuk-tuks. The transportation network is well-developed, and you’ll usually reach your destination fairly quickly. Finding your way from the airport to your accommodation shouldn’t be a problem either since affordable buses regularly depart from there. If you don’t want to use public transportation, you can also rent a car or motorcycle. If you decide to drive yourself, keep the following in mind: The traffic in Sri Lanka isn’t comparable to what we may be used to. For example, you’ll have to drive on the left, and the roads are built differently than in the West.
The people of Sri Lanka celebrate many important holidays in Colombo. For example, on January 14, Tamils celebrate the Hindu festival of Thai Pongal. On this day, the locals give thanks for the rice harvest. From April 13 to 14, Sri Lankans celebrate Sinhalese and TamilNew Years. Since these cultures use the lunar calendar, their New Year falls on this date. At the same time, they celebrate the change of the zodiac signs and the end of the harvest. Thus, they hold a big festival that lasts for almost two weeks and takes place across the country, including Colombo. Music, traditional food, and spiritual rites are all part of the program. In October, the community comes together once more for Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. The streets are illuminated, and the atmosphere is one-of-a-kind. Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to attend one of the festivals during your trip – it’s a unique experience!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Colombo
Are you ready for the top 10 places of interest in Colombo? Then come with us on a tour through the city!
First, let’s introduce you to Colombo’s most popular tourist attraction. The Gangaramaya Buddhist temple is the most well-known sight in the city. On the outside, it’s completely surrounded by Buddha figurines. Inside, a traditional monastery and a large Buddha statue await you. The locals use it as a place of prayer. For many travelers, the Gangaramaya temple is a spiritual place of rest. You can learn a lot about Buddhism and its traditions here. It’s definitely a place worth visiting.
The Kelaniya Temple is located a little outside of Colombo, but still easily accessible. With its terracotta-colored front, the Buddhist temple invites you to learn more about Buddhist traditions. There’s no lack of magnificent ornaments – this place will certainly fascinate you!
Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil
The Sri Kailasanathar Swamy Devasthanam Temple, Colombo’s oldest temple, is a Hindu shrine. It’s elaborately decorated and, therefore, worth seeing from the outside. Inside, numerous works of art, such as intricate carvings, colorful figurines, and traditional paintings, await you. Shrines and various sacrificial bowls allow you to immerse yourself into the world of Hinduism.
Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
Now that we have introduced you to some Buddhist and Hindu temples, the Muslim side of Colombo shouldn’t be neglected either. Even non-believers may enter the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, which is unusual in Sri Lanka. You may visit this mosque at any time besides on Fridays or during prayer times. Otherwise, you are always welcome at here. It’s decorated with red and white stripes, and it’s an excellent opportunity for you to learn about the city’s Muslim culture.
Pettah Bazaar District
Let’s go to the city’s livelier area – the bazaar district of Pettah. It’s a very vibrant place where you’ll find various stalls among the hustle and bustle. You can buy everything here, from clothes to souvenirs and spices. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, a visit to Pettah is worthwhile if only for the flair and unique atmosphere.
Viharamahadevi Park is a large green space with a river running through it. The well-kept park also has a Buddha monument, animals, and a playground. This place invites you to rest for a while and go for a stroll. We think it’s a welcome change from the city’s hustle and bustle.
World Trade Center in Colombo
Yes, you read that right. Colombo has a World Trade Center as well. It’s a 152-meter-high structure with twin towers. It is as a symbol of modern Sri Lanka, and visitors can buy a variety of products from different brands here.
Colombo National Museum
We continue our discovery tour with the Colombo National Museum. Here, you can learn about the country’s history from ancient to colonial times. Here, you can admire various artifacts, paintings, and weapons – they allow you to get up close and personal with Colombo’s and Sri Lanka’s past.
Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is a promenade in Colombo, nestled between palm trees and landscaped lawns. There’s even a tiny beach on the property, in addition to several snack bars offering inexpensive treats. In addition, the promenade occasionally hosts festivals, making it a bustling and cosmopolitan destination.
Mount Lavinia Beach
In a suburb of Colombo lies Mount Lavinia Beach. If you have had enough of exploring the city, this is a great place to take a rest. In the evening, you can watch the beautiful sunset or just walk along the beach. Swimming is also allowed, but watch out for the current, as it is a bit stronger here than everywhere else.
If you want to get to the heart of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim traditions, visit the capital’s numerous sacred temples and the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque. The Colombo National Museum is a must-see for history lovers. A stroll through Pettahis also worthwhile – here, you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Taste the city’s culinary specialties or walk along theGalle Face Green promenade. We are sure that you will get your money’s worth in this multicultural city. Start packing, then! We hope you have a nice trip!