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18 Best Things to do in Colombo for First Timers

Tourist Places in Colombo

 

Ever planned on having a vacation? Still haven’t picked your summer getaway? Well, try consider putting Colombo on your travel list! 

Colombo is known to be the gateway to the majestic sights and experiences of Sri Lanka. Colombo is the executive and judicial capital of Sri Lanka that is filled with rich colonial heritage and diverse races, religion and cultures. Colombo featured its assortment of luxurious hotels and beautiful colonial era-buildings that are just awe-inspiring to look at. The city also boasts its multi-ethnic and historical landmarks and structures such as churches, towering mosques and grand temples which aren’t that far from the public streets! Sounds exciting? Well here are 17 more things that you can do with your stay at Colombo.

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17 THINGS YOU CAN DO IN COLOMBO

1. Visit the National Museum

Location: The national museum is located at the Albert Crescent in Colombo

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM

Fee: 30 LKR for nationals and 1000 LKR for foreigners

National Museum Colombo

What better way to start your journey in Colombo than taking a visit in the city’s National Museum? Visiting the museum gave us that old pre-colonial era vibe as we browse through the country’s ancient relics, historical memorabilia and so much more! It is without a doubt the best way of educating ourselves about the city’s past as the National museum had inspired us to learn and study more of Colombo’s ancient heritage and interesting history. Enjoy and relax along with the museum’s comforting ambience as you tour around the different galleries.

National Museum Colombo
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2. Pray at the Gangaramaya Temple

Location: The temple is located at the Jinaratana Road in Colombo City

Openings:  5:30AM- 10PM

Fee: 200 LKR per adult

Gangaramaya Temple

I’m not a super religious person myself, but by exploring the 19th century Gangaramaya Temple during our stay at Colombo gave us a strong spiritual sense, that there is so much more when it comes to religion. Yes that’s how powerful the temple is! The Gangaramaya Temple is well known to be a cultural symbol and one of the most distinguished Buddhist temples and place of worship in Colombo. Gaze upon the towering Buddha figures and magnificent artworks and miniature paintings displayed on the temple’s walls.

Gangaramaya Temple
Gangaramaya Temple

3. Colombo Tea and Herb Tour

Location: There are tours offered at the Regent Spice and Herbal Garden-No. 6, Kirigalpoththa, Palapathwela, Matale

Openings: It’s a 4 hours short trip which starts approximately at 10 am and ends around 4 pm.

Fee: 8637.44 LKR

After a tiring journey, we’ve discovered this relaxing and fun activity offered to us by our guide. It is Colombo’s famous Tea and Herb Tour, which offers a wide variety of tea flavors to choose from. During the tours, we witnessed personally the extravagant procedure of making Ceylonese from the plantation and how it was processed in an in-house workshop, and trust me it was a more interesting experience than your usual visit in a tea shop. We also did this “blind tasting session” wherein one of us will be blindfolded and we are going to guess or differentiate a wide variety of teas by either tasting their sweet flavor or smelling their fragrant aromas.

4. Scuba Diving

Openings: Diving season starts from November-Mid April. 

Fee: Scuba diving has an approximate fee of Rs. 17,691

Colombo is surrounded by large bodies of water, so we might as well explore a bit of it. We thought of finding a diving spot near the shores of the city. If you want to get up close and personal with the country’s marine life, there are a lot of scuba diving spots found along the coast and shorelines of the city. It was one of the most thrilling experiences that we ever had. Scuba diving at Colombo is an opportunity that you just wouldn’t miss out on. Explore the underwater flora and fauna and meet the different sea creatures that can be found on the country.

5. Golf at the Royal Colombo Golf Club

Location: The golf course is located at Model Farm Road, Colombo

Openings: Club House remains open from 6AM-11PM and the admin office from 8AM-5PM

Fee: Each set of rounds has an approximate of (216-838) LKR

Royal Colombo Golf Club
A train passes in the middle of the golf club

Well not all of us are into scuba diving, so our guide suggested that we try out golfing at the Royal Colombo Golf club. This is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable golf courses that I had ever played on. Relax and unwind by playing a couple rounds of golf while enjoying the awe-inspiring scenery of the golf course filled with colorful flowers and a wide green filled. Golfing can really make the best out of your journey.

6. Hike to Viharamahadevi Park

Location: The park is located next to the National Museum, Colombo

Openings: 6 AM- 8 PM

Fee: The park entry has a fee of 20 LKR for adults 

Viharamahadevi Park
Viharamahadevi Park

Also known as the “garden city of the east” and the oldest park in Colombo, the Viharamahadevi Park is famous for its commercial stores for visitors. It is also a place of significance as the park was a site of a number of historical events that happened in the city. But we kind of find it as a fun place to and visit for morning walks and engage in conversations with the locals. The stores also sell good quality souvenirs, if you’re planning to take home a piece from your visit.

7. Independence Memorial Hall

Location: The hall is located at Independence Avenue, Colombo 7

Openings: 10AM- 5PM

Price: There are no entry fees.

Independence Hall Colombo

We all need to have break from the hustle and bustle of the urban city. Well the Memorial hall is the best place to stay at. It was built in 1948 as a memorial and to commemorate the country’s independence from the British colony. Knowing this, it kind of reminded us its resemblance to the Statue of Liberty, which commemorates the American independence. Historic and significant structures like this are worthwhile to visit and take pictures of.  The structure is filled with historical relics and symbols that showcase the land’s rich and cultural history that you can browse along as you explore the hall, the best part? It’s FREE!

8. Colombo Dutch Museum

Location: The museum is located at Prince Street, Colombo

Openings: 9AM- 5PM

Fee: No entry fee is needed to visit the museum

At this point, you might have realized that the city is full of colonial themed structures. As you step into Colombo’s Dutch Museum, everything will become clear for you. The massive building houses historical furniture, glassware, weaponry, coins, documents, paintings and much more all relating to the Dutch Colonial era.

9. Colombo Street Food Tours

Location: The tour goes along the roadside stalls across Colombo city.

Colombo street food Tour

You must be famished after all of the fun and thrilling experiences with the city’s main attractions. You can dine with the colonial aesthetic with the Colombo Street Food tours that boasts the city’s fine delicacies. We had sampled all sorts of culinary delights that the city has to offer. You have to give it a try, most of the sustenance will certainly fulfill your cravings for some exotic dishes.

10. The symbolic Tuk-Tuk

Openings: Sunday to Saturday from 8 AM- 10 PM

Price:  Most of the Tuktuks of are metered and the approximate fare is (40-60) SLR per Km traveled.

Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka

No, this is not a place or a tasty treat. This is the symbolic Tuktuk, which tourists usually rent in order to tour across Colombo. The Tuktuk is a very amazing tour experience, as you can use it to see all of best attractions in the city or to visit the places mentioned here. We also booked tours like in the south of galle via a tuk-tuk safari tour  and it was great

11. Buy at the Pettah Market

Location: The market is located at Keyzer St, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Openings: 9am–7am

Pettah Market

This is Colombo’s biggest and busiest marketplace. It is packed with different fragrant spices, beautiful fabrics and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that just made our groceries a steal for the very cheap prices offered by the friendly local vendors. If you’re planning to drop by to buy some goodies. Each street has it’s specialty so it makes it easy to find what you need. Be careful though cause this is a really busy street so if you’re not used to crowd, well, this is a good introduction. 

Things to do in Colombo

12. Visit the Red Mosque (Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque)

Location: The Red Mosque is located between Bankshall Street and Second Cross Street

Openings: 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM

Red Mosque Colombo
Red Mosque Colombo

            With the mosque being situated between two of the busiest streets in Colombo, expect to have a lot of local activity in the area. The Mosque is beautiful with its striped red and white aesthetic. Almost that resemblance of a layered cake, a design that is truly reminiscent. If you want to take a picture of the Mosque, make sure to be aware of your surroundings and move away from the hectic traffic of market vendors and buyers. The local markets nearby offer an assortment of bags, shoes, electronics and much more!

13. Have an Ayuverda Massage

Location: One of the spas can be located at 33 Wijerama Road, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka

Openings: 8AM to 8PM

Fee: Rs. 5000- Rs. 7000

Ayurveda Massage Colombo
Ayurveda Massage in Colombo

            After a long and exhausting travel, visiting Colombo’s fascinating places, maybe it is time for a soothing massage. Sri Lanka is well known for giving the best massages on Earth. The reason what made their massages heavenly, is that their doctors will give you a short consultation on what type of massage you will be needing. We were all there and I told one of the doctors that I was suffering from a terrible back and wrist pains since I type a lot! I was given a full body massage that focused more on the back and shoulders, wherein they placed heat stones on me. The experience was wonderful, because the treatment truly suits what you really need!

14. Seema Malaka Temple at Beira Lake

Location: Sir James Pieris Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Openings: 24 Hours

Fee: free

 Tip: It’s beautiful to catch the sunset here and it’s quite close to the Gangaramaya Temple. You may want to visit the temple and then catch sunset here. 

16.  See the Lotus Tower

Openings: Still under construction

Fee: under construction

Lotus Temple Colombo
Lotus Tower

This is currently the tallest  self-supported structure in South Asia and you see it as you drive around colombo. If I make it back to Sri Lanka, I would love to see this but for now it’s under construction so you can admire it’s beauty from afar. 

17. Admire different architectures around Colombo

Things to see in Colombo Things to see in Colombo

 

Things to see in Colombo

18. Replica Of Aukana Buddha Statue

Avukana Buddha statue

Location: Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka

Opening Times: 24 Hours

Recommended Tours in Colombo

 

 

WHERE TO STAY IN COLOMBO

After your fruitful journey around the famous attractions that Colombo has to offer you need a place to stay at. Listed below are the best hotels that can be found within the city in their appropriate price range that will suit your budget.

Cheap Places in Colombo($1-$25)

1. Mahasen by Foozoo ($19) ( check rates and availability here

15a Mahasen Mawatha, Colombo 00500, Sri Lanka

+94 717 174 444

2. Star Anise Boutique Capsule ($9) ( check rates and availability here

No 15 1/1 Mudalige Mawatha Colombo 1, Colombo, Sri Lanka

+94 112 451 777

3. My Little Island Hostel – Colombo ($7)  ( check rates and availability here) 

Galle Road Marine House, 594/1, Colombo 3, Colombo 00300, Sri Lanka

+94 777 352 424

MID RANGE

1.City Beds ($30-$65)  ( check rates and availability here

City Beds Colombo
City Beds Colombo

2. The Penthouse Above Sea ($62) 

46 Station Road, Dehiwala, Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka, Colombo 10350, Sri Lanka

+94 771 235 050

3. Rockwell Colombo ($55) ( check rates and availability here

No, 14, Borella Cross Road (Off Ward Place), Borella, Colombo, Sri Lanka

+94 112 680 769

4. Grand Oriental Hotel ($33) ( check rates and availability here

20 Regent Flats, Chittrappalam road (Opp Lake House), Colombo, Sri Lanka

 +94 112 393 420

Luxury ($70-$200)

1. Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo ($73) (check rates and availability here

Cinnamon Lake Side Colombo

115, C. A. Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka

+94 112 491 000

2. Hilton Colombo Residences ($140)(check rates and availability here

Hilton Colombo

200 Union Place, Colombo 00200, Sri Lanka

+94 115 344 644

3. Mövenpick’s ($160)  (check rates and availability here

Movenpick Colombo
Movenpick Colombo

24 Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo

+94 117 450 450

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