20 Things To Do In Colombo

Things To Do In Colombo

Colombo, the bustling capital city of Sri Lanka, is a melting pot of cultures, histories, and experiences. From ancient temples and colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and vibrant markets, this city has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, or an adventurer, you’ll find a plethora of activities to keep you engaged and entertained. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the top things to do in Colombo, showcasing its unique blend of tradition and modernity. So, let’s dive into the heart of Sri Lanka and discover what makes Colombo a must-visit destination.

Things To Do In Colombo

  1. Visit the Gangaramaya Temple

Gangaramaya Temple is one of Colombo’s most iconic landmarks. Situated near Beira Lake, this Buddhist temple is a mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture. The temple complex includes a museum, a library, a residential hall, and a meditation center. Visitors are often struck by the temple’s rich collection of artifacts, including relics, statues, and an impressive array of Buddhist art. The temple is also a center for religious education and provides a serene environment for meditation.

  1. Explore the Colombo National Museum

The Colombo National Museum, established in 1877, is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts that showcase the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. The museum’s exhibits include ancient sculptures, manuscripts, and a vast array of artwork. One of the highlights is the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs. The museum’s lush gardens provide a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

  1. Stroll Through Viharamahadevi Park

Viharamahadevi Park, located in the heart of Colombo, is the city’s largest and oldest park. Named after the mother of King Dutugemunu, this park is a green oasis amidst the urban landscape. The park features beautiful flowerbeds, a large Buddha statue, and several fountains. It’s a popular spot for picnics, jogging, and leisurely strolls. The park also has a playground and mini zoo, making it an ideal destination for families.

  1. Shop at Pettah Market

Pettah Market is one of the most vibrant and chaotic places in Colombo. This bustling bazaar is a sensory overload with its colorful stalls, noisy traders, and the constant buzz of activity. You can find almost anything here, from fresh produce and spices to electronics and clothing. Bargaining is a common practice, so be prepared to haggle for the best prices. Pettah Market is also an excellent place to sample local street food.

  1. Relax at Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a popular seaside promenade that stretches along the coast of Colombo. It’s a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to relax, fly kites, and enjoy street food. The area offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and is especially beautiful at sunset. Many food vendors line the promenade, offering a variety of Sri Lankan snacks like isso wade (prawn fritters) and achcharu (pickled fruit). Galle Face Green is also home to the historic Galle Face Hotel, which dates back to the 19th century.

  1. Discover the Dutch Period Museum

Housed in a 17th-century Dutch governor’s residence, the Dutch Period Museum offers a glimpse into Colombo’s colonial past. The museum’s exhibits include furniture, coins, and ceramics from the Dutch period. The building itself is a fine example of Dutch colonial architecture, with its courtyards and verandas. A visit to this museum provides an insightful look into the historical influence of the Dutch in Sri Lanka.

  1. Experience Colombo’s Nightlife

Colombo’s nightlife scene is vibrant and diverse, offering everything from chic rooftop bars to lively clubs. Popular spots include the Sky Lounge at The Kingsbury, which offers panoramic views of the city, and Bally’s Casino, known for its exciting gaming and entertainment options. The city also hosts various live music events, making it a great place to enjoy some local and international tunes.

  1. Take a Tuk-Tuk Tour

For a unique way to explore Colombo, consider taking a tuk-tuk tour. These three-wheeled vehicles are an iconic part of Sri Lankan culture. A tuk-tuk tour can take you through bustling markets, historic sites, and hidden gems that you might miss on a conventional tour. It’s a fun and convenient way to get around, and your driver can provide insider tips and stories about the city.

  1. Visit the Independence Memorial Hall

The Independence Memorial Hall, located in Independence Square, is a national monument commemorating Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule in 1948. The hall is a beautiful example of traditional Sri Lankan architecture, surrounded by lush gardens. Visitors can explore the memorial museum, which details the country’s journey to independence. The tranquil setting makes it a great place for reflection and relaxation.

  1. Savor Sri Lankan Cuisine

No visit to Colombo is complete without indulging in Sri Lankan cuisine. The city boasts a variety of restaurants offering everything from street food to fine dining. Must-try dishes include hoppers (a type of pancake), kottu roti (chopped roti with vegetables and meat), and seafood curry. For a truly authentic experience, visit one of the local markets or food stalls. Colombo is also home to several tea houses, where you can enjoy Sri Lanka’s famous Ceylon tea.

  1. Visit the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

The Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, also known as the Red Mosque, is one of Colombo’s most striking landmarks. Located in the Pettah district, this mosque is renowned for its vibrant red and white striped facade, resembling a candy cane. Built in 1909, the mosque’s unique architecture draws visitors from around the world. Although non-Muslims are not allowed inside during prayer times, they can still admire the exterior and take in the bustling atmosphere of the surrounding market area.

  1. Explore the Colombo Dutch Hospital

The Colombo Dutch Hospital, dating back to the 17th century, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. This historic site has been transformed into a modern shopping and dining precinct. Visitors can enjoy a variety of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and cafes set within the beautifully restored colonial architecture. The courtyard is a popular spot for live music and events, providing a lively yet relaxed ambiance.

  1. Walk Along the Colombo Fort

Colombo Fort is a historic area that once served as a fortified bastion during colonial times. Today, it is a bustling business district with a blend of old and new architecture. Take a leisurely walk to explore landmarks like the Old Parliament Building and the iconic Clock Tower. The area also features several quaint cafes and restaurants where you can take a break and enjoy the cityscape.

  1. Visit the Seema Malaka Temple

Seema Malaka Temple, situated on Beira Lake, offers a tranquil escape from the city’s chaos. Designed by renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, this temple is used for meditation and rest rather than worship. The floating pavilions and serene surroundings make it a perfect spot for reflection. Visitors can also enjoy the picturesque views of the lake and the Colombo skyline.

  1. Tour the Colombo Port City

Colombo Port City is a modern marvel in the making, transforming the coastline into a futuristic urban space. While still under development, parts of the area are open to the public. Visitors can witness the progress of this ambitious project, which includes plans for residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. It’s an exciting glimpse into Colombo’s future and a testament to the city’s rapid development.

  1. Discover the Aesthetic Beauty of Geoffrey Bawa’s Residence

Geoffrey Bawa, one of Sri Lanka’s most influential architects, left a significant mark on Colombo. His residence, known as Number 11, is a masterpiece of tropical modernism. The house is open for guided tours, offering insights into Bawa’s design philosophy and personal life. The beautifully curated spaces, lush gardens, and eclectic art collection make this a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.

  1. Enjoy Water Sports at Mount Lavinia Beach

Just a short drive from Colombo, Mount Lavinia Beach is a popular destination for water sports and beach activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, jet skiing, and windsurfing in the clear blue waters. The beach is also lined with numerous seafood restaurants and bars, making it an ideal spot to relax and unwind after a day of adventure.

  1. Visit the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is a significant Buddhist temple located just outside Colombo. This ancient temple, believed to be over 2,000 years old, is known for its beautiful frescoes and elaborate architecture. It is said that the Buddha visited this site during his third visit to Sri Lanka. The temple grounds are peaceful and offer a spiritual retreat for visitors.

  1. Explore the Colombo Art Biennale

For art lovers, the Colombo Art Biennale is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar. This event, held biennially, showcases contemporary art from local and international artists. The exhibitions and installations are spread across various venues in the city, providing a platform for artists to engage with the public. The biennale also includes workshops, talks, and performances, making it a comprehensive cultural experience.

  1. Take a Scenic Train Ride to Kandy

While not within Colombo itself, a scenic train ride to Kandy is a must-do when in the city. The journey offers breathtaking views of lush tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, and picturesque villages. Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic and the beautiful Kandy Lake. The train ride provides a memorable way to experience Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and rich culture.


Colombo is a city that never ceases to amaze with its rich cultural tapestry and dynamic urban landscape. From the spiritual serenity of the Gangaramaya Temple to the bustling energy of Pettah Market, every corner of Colombo offers a unique experience. Whether you’re exploring its historic landmarks, savoring its diverse cuisine, or simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, there’s no shortage of things to do in Colombo. As you plan your visit, let this guide serve as your roadmap to discovering the best that this captivating city has to offer. Embark on your Colombo adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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