15 things to do in Colombo:
1. Visit to the National Museum
Covered by Bayan trees sits the largest museum in Sri Lanka; a depiction or the country’s past through guns, swords and art throughout the time. My favorite part was the exhibition of the antique demon masks so make sure to check it out.
2. Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
Located on a small island in Beira Lake sits this modern but yet characteristic Buddhist temple; composed of the temple, the Pagada, a Bodhitree and a museum and library as well. Check the website to check the schedules and try to make it out to the Puja which are generally held twice a day in the afternoon and evening. Follow link for more info and schedules. Entrance fee: 100 LKR Hours: 8:00AM-8:00PM
3. Kelaniya Raja Maha Vijara
Another Buddhist temple in Colombo famous for its image of the reclining Buddha and because on the Eighth year after the Enlightenment, the Lord Buddha has visited this sacred site, which had been the Third and the last visit to Sri Lanka by the Gauthama Buddha, it is 7KM from Colombo .
4. Colombo Dutch Museum
The Dutch Period Museum in Colombo was once the residence of the Dutch governor and today it has been restored into a museum depicting how life was during the Dutch reign of Sri Lanka.
5. Beira Lake
The lake is in the heart of the city and is surrounded by many large businesses but make sure to stop by and possibly visit Gangaramaya temple which is very close from here and spend some time either boating or sitting by the lake.
6. St. Lucia’s Cathedral
The biggest church in Sri Lanka has an exterior inspired by St Peter’s in Rome, a plain interior but very majestic and worth a quick visit.
7. Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque
You must check out this huge red and white-striped mosque located in Pettah, you can’t enter unless you are muslim of course but you can head out to Pettah market and stop by the grandiose mosque.
8. Viharamavedi Park
The central and most famous public outdoor park in Colombo, very close to the National Museum; you can buy some snacks and head out there to relax after the museum and have a light lunch. You will also see several local vendors roaming around and maybe some locals playing some music as well.
9. Pettah Market
Colombo’s largest and most chaotic market selling fresh food, produce and clothing; good way to check out the busy side of the city. My favorite was the produce section, even if you are not buying any groceries it is definitely worth a walk.
10. Colombo Fort
The Colombo Fort district of town is a historical area that is today the financial business district of Colombo. It was the Portuguese who first began to develop the fort, but thereafter the Dutch took it over. Now it’s a mix of modern structures such as the General Hospital, the Post Office and the old Lighthouse.
11. Cinnamon Gardens
Named for its previous setting of a cinnamon plantation, the Cinnamon Gardens is now a nicer area of town with upper scale restaurants, galleries and shops. Head out here for some dinner and window shopping or to buy some unique souvenirs but they will be more expensive than the market’s just FYI.
12. Foodie Paradise at Galle Face
A long stretch of lawn facing the sea with the best street food in town, I recommend checking it out evening time for dinner. There is always something going on for the leisurely and entertainment activities. You will find the traditional Sri Lankan dishes and snacks around here.
13-15. Mt. Lavinia
-Come here to delight yourself on amazing seafood by the beach, amazing prawns I must say! There’s a row of restaurants you can choose from and you can cool off with a quick dip in the ocean which is only a few steps away.
-Head out to Turtle Conservancy Center; you pay 500 Rupees that are used to maintain the center and you get to help clean the tanks, touch the turtles, feeds them and sometimes even help release the hatching baby turtles into the ocean.
Where to stay:
I can only recommend places I have stayed at and my entire stay in Colombo was at the same spot in Mt Lavinia, a two minute walk to the beach
Colombo Beach Hostel: this place not only has the best installations the staff is awesome! Located about 10 km from Colombo, away from the busy and hectic life of Colombo center. This place is QUIET and only steps away from Mt Lavinia Beach, the best in Sri Lanka. The hotel, because even though it is affordable I wouldn’t call it a hostel, the installations are very new and with a modern feel. An awesome common area which is basically the whole rooftop of the building with a kitchen, dining area, open area with benches and floor cushions and some sofas on a covered section as well. Equipped with speakers and everything you might need, whatever you need the staff will make sure they’ve got you covered. I highly recommend it if you need some time out from all the craziness going on in the city and who wouldn’t want to head out to the beach anyhow! You can follow the link for more info on rates and location there are both dorms and private rooms available.
Food you must try:
Kottu: roti (a flatbread) called Godhamba roti and vegetables, egg, and/or meat, and spices mixed and grilled together
Watalappan: a dessert that consists of coconut custard pudding and made of coconut milk and condensed milk, spices and eggs. Sri Lanka’s version of a Mexican Flan or a French Creme Brulee.
Lunumiris: a spicy sambal paste served as a condiment. It consists of chili pepper and sea salt
Coconut Rotti; a sort of pancake or flatbread stuffed with coconut and honey
Hoppers; string hoppers used instead of rice with curry and regular hoppers fried in a wok and are topped with a fried egg.
Parippu Dhal Curry; most traditional curry in the country
Lamprais: a word that combines the two Dutch words for “lump” and “rice,” is a combination of meat, rice and sambol chili sauce, wrapped into a banana leaf packet and steamed.