Colombo (Sinhala: කොළඹ, Tamil: கொழும்பு) is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Former capital of the nation, Colombo is still perceived as the capital of the nation by many and is located just beyond the suburb of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the official capital. Due to being on a stragic in the Indian Ocean, Colombo host one of the busiest port of South Asia and was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. Today the city is the central point of the country's activities and is home to a majority of country's restaurants and entertainment venues. Just like another typical South Asian biggest city, Colombo is congested, noisy, busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings.
Colombo is the commercial and financial capital of Sri Lanka after the administrative capital was moved to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, a suburb east of the city. "Colombo" could refer to either the city proper, or to Greater Colombo that includes the areas of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia.
Weather wise, the best time to visit is during the North East monsoon season, which is November to April.
There is air service to and from Colombo, provided by the national airline Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Other airlines, include Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates.
- Bandaranaike International, Canada Friendship Rd (at Katunayake, close to Negombo), ☎ . Sri Lanka's 1st international airport, on the coast north of Colombo. The journey to Colombo will take about an hour by taxi.
- Mattala International (Hambantota Airport), Airport Road, Mattala (From Hambantota Town 23km North), ☎ . A new international airport that opened recently is on southern part of the country.
Long-distance train services are starting to improve after decades of neglect due to the civil war. Sri Lankan Railways resides over an increasing network with the central station Colombo-Fort as main hub. There are daily services from Badulla and Kandy as well as over-night trains from Batticaloa and Trincomalee. As of early 2013 there are still no services from Jaffna or any other northern cities.
Apart from the government-owned SLR there's ExpoRail with a high-end service on the Badulla-Kandy-Colombo stretch. Prices are about twice as much as the government trains but still affordable for a tourist, the ticket includes an onboard meal.
Fort Station is in the heart of the city, located next to Colombo Fort and Pettah and close to the meeting points of the A1 and A4 highways. The station provides access to businesses and offices in Colombo Fort, as well as the markets at Pettah. - - Maradana Railway Station is a major rail hub in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The station is served by Sri Lanka Railways, with many inter-city and commuter trains entering each day. It is the terminus of several intercity trains. - Maradana is home to the suburban-Colombo network's centralised traffic control centre.
- Slave Island Railway Station, Station Passage. Coastal Line. Platforms 2. - Tracks- 2. (also known as Kompanna Vidiya Railway Station) is a railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It serves the Slave Island area in the centre of the city. It is served by commuter rail. The station building is significant for its historic architecture.
- Colombo Terminus Station. It was the primary railway station in Colombo, 1865-0908. It was retired from service at the beginning of the twentieth century and replaced by Maradana Station. The preserved building is now home to the National Railway Museum.
- Fort Railway Station, Olcott Mawatha Rd (-Connections : Buses, via Central Bus Stand, Pettah.). is a major rail hub in Colombo. The station is served by Sri Lanka Railways, with many inter-city and commuter trains entering each day. Fort Station is the main rail gateway to central Colombo; it is the terminus of most intercity trains in the country - - Tracks: 11.
The Sri Lanka Transport Board is the nationalized bus service. Buses are the principal mode of transport in the country. If you cannot speak or understand Sinhalese, however, travelling by bus might prove more difficult than train travel but is entirely feasible and may be much quicker. Prepare for severe over-crowding and make sure to confirm your destination with the driver and conductor of the bus. Route No 187 connects the Katunayake Airport to the city of Colombo, and buses are available throughout the day. The three primary bus terminals — Bastian Mawatha, Central, and the Gunasinghapura Bus Terminals — are in Pettah.
- Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal, Olcott Mawatha (A1 Highway). handles long distance services whereas
- Gunasinghapura Bus Terminal (Gunasinghepura Bus Stand), Colombo 11, Saunders Pl..
- Central Bus Terminal (Central Bus Stand), Prince St. handle local services
Passenger services with India have to Tuticorin are out of operation probably to never return at least not on this line. As a pricy alternative Indian Ocean Cruises operates a cruise liner to Colombo as part of its itinerary along the West Coast of India and to the uninhabited Lakshwadeep Islands.
Getting into Colombo from Katunayake Airport
It is highly advisable to confirm the cost of any mode of transport before using it, and trying to "hand a smaller amount than asked" as indicated below.
The international airport is closer to Negombo than to Colombo, so if you're arriving late, it might be a better option to head to Negombo for the night instead. Do an online search for those hotels. Star class hotels and budget guest houses are available. Ceylon tourist board (Controlled by Government) has a of hotels.
Taxi services are available at the airport. Immediately after exiting customs, there's a taxi counter on your right. Tell them your destination and they will print you a voucher with the price. As of July 2013, an A/C van from the airport to Colombo 1 (Fort) cost Rs. 2904.
Other popular taxi services
Most 4 or 5 star hotels have their own counter just outside the arrivals hall. You can get a taxi from one of these places. They will provide an air conditioned car.
This is the cheapest way to get into Colombo, but will take some effort and time. The public bus (number 187) to Colombo Fort leaves from the airport bus depot which is located outside the airport. You can get there by free shuttle or walk (about 10 - 15 mins). To catch a free shuttle bus, come out of the airport, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the building. You will not find any signs, so be sure to ask airport personnel. You will see an old white bus with a sign that says main terminal. Catch it and it will drive for 5 minutes and drop you off at the bus depot. From the bus depot, catch any bus marked 187 to Colombo at a cost of 40 rupees (although the bus collector may try to make tourists pay more 'for luggage' etc., in fact the typical luggage a tourist may carry is not supposed to be accommodated in public transport, thus despite what some "know it all" may write here be prepared to not even be allowed in the bus if there is a crowd waiting to take the bus) to Colombo Fort station. Beware that only the big white buses (similar to the airport shuttle) will be 40 Rupees, the smaller buses with aircon will charge foreigners definitely more. Given that "more" might mean 70-100 Rupees, it's not that big of a deal, even though they might ask for 300 Rupees in the start, just hand them over a smaller amount and tell them it's not your first visit here.
The journey into Colombo Fort could take anything between an hour and fifteen to two hours. The bus will stop at major towns en route . They also have collapsible seats along the aisle which will get used as the bus becomes busy so, try to get a seat at the front. The one opposite the door is preferable! Ask the conductor to tell you when the bus gets to the Fort station (as opposed to the Colombo bus depot). Note that some buses do not go as far as the Fort station and stop at the bus depot, which is about 5 min walk from the station. Others go via the depot to fort station and then double back to the bus depot.
Once you reach Colombo Fort, you can get a three-wheeler (tuk-tuk) to get to your destination. You will pay a little premium for catching a tuk-tuk from the bus station or outside Fort station (on the main road so there will be a choice of tuk-tuks) but it should not cost more than Rs 150 to go to hotels near Galle Face (e.g. Cinnamon Grand, Taj or Galle Face Hotel).
You can also catch a bus to Galle Face (less than Rs 10) but you will not be welcome on board with large luggage; however, a backpack may be accepted.
For further information on bus timetables, routes and prices please visit where you can search for the best route for you.
This is probably the most unknown way to get into Colombo, but completely possible. Take either the free Airport to the bus station and then follow the road (Canada Friendship) to the Katunayaka South station (around 1 km, if you don't have luggage) or, if you've luggage, best just to take a Tuk Tuk right from the airport to the train station. Should be 100 Rupees, if you're good at haggling you might get them down even a bit more. Then, at the train station, get a ticket to Colombo Fort, you'll be arriving right next to where the buses drop people off. Cost is 30 Rupees. Trains are sometimes delayed, but driving relatively frequently, around 1 per hour, more during rush hour. It will take around 1 hour to get to Fort station, so definitely quicker than by travelling by bus, if you manage to just catch a train without much waiting. Check online timetable (look for Katunayake, as "Katunayake Airport" station is not in use) on one of the free computers in the terminal when arriving about the next train, if it suits you, it's an easy way into the city for very little.
Tri-shaw (three wheeler, tuk-tuk)
You can also take a tri-shaw aka tuk-tuk from the bus depot(reach there by free airport shuttle bus) as on May 2011 it takes about 1500 LKR to take you from airport to Galle Road and with some bargaining it can reduce up to 1000 to 1200 LKR. On average it will take about an hour to reach Galle Road (these rates are highly unrealistic as even the meter taxi tuk tuks that cost about 40% less than the normal ones cost around 1400 for the same journey, a normal one, specially for a foreigner would cost substantially more.) So do be careful as you may be embarrassing your self following these exaggerations as to how cheap things are in Sri Lanka.
Getting around by Tri-shaw (Three wheeler, tuk-tuk) is most convenient. Most three-wheelers do not have any meters fitted with them and so you have to always negotiate and agree on a price before you take a trip. But it's best to hail a meter taxi (identified by the words "Meter Taxi" on its windshield) that is traveling in the direction that you need to go instead of hiring one from the parking area or the tuk-tuk stand. The meter taxi, costs 50 rupees for the first kilometre and 30 rupees for every additional kilometre plus waiting fees.
It is also easy to travel by bus.
The Sri Lankan Tourist Development Authority also operates its own fleet of 'tuk-tuks' around Colombo which are tourist friendly and metered to ensure that travellers are aware of the price being paid. Tourist board tuk tuks are distinguishable by their unique paintings. These three-wheelers can be booked 24 hours a day by calling 0712 500 800 or 0772 299 299.
Taxis are also a good mode of transportation. There are 'TATA Nano' cars in service nowadays and the charges start from Rs. 40 per kilometre with air-con and it is also a safe and convenient way to travel. Taxis are much safer than a three-wheeler. The tuk-tuks also offer their service for a fee of Rs. 30 per Km and do not forget to go for the ones with the "Metered TAXI" name board in front. Others may not have the meters running.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, Lankamatha Road, Ragama suburb of Colombo (From Ragama Railway Station 2km NE or bus to stop 'National Basilika Ave'). It is a Roman Catholic church with basilica status. The church is home to the venerated statue of Our Lady of Lanka.
- St Luke's Anglican Church, Borella district of Colombo-8.. The church plays an important role within the history of the Church Missionary Society on the island.
- St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, Polwatte (159, St. Michael’s Road, Colombo 3) (Cameron Pl corner. East 100m of Kollupitiya Jumma Mosque). It was dedicated on the 29th of September 1887 and is a landmark in Kollupitiya, a suburb of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. A magnificent building of stone, mortar and wood, it stands as a testimony to its rich history of prayer, worship and mission.
- St. Andrew's Scots Kirk church, No. 73, Galle Road, Colombo 3 (Close to High Commission of India, Colombo). It was founded in the late 19th century, and prospered during the colonial and post-colonial periods, it was a centre for the Scots element in Colombo, the capital city of what was then Ceylon.
- St. Lucia's Cathedral, St Benedict's St and St. Lucia St, Kotahena (in the north east of Colombo. North 200m of Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium). is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
- St. Paul's Church (1853), Galle Rd, Milagiriya district (Dr Lester James Peries Mawatha St corner. Take bus to stop 'Milagiriya'). It is one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka. - The church was first built by the Portuguese as a Roman Catholic place of worship and was known as Nossa Senhora dos Milagres
- Buddha Jayanthi Chaithya stupa, Colombo Harbour. A Buddhist shrine, built with reinforced concrete.
- Gangaramaya Temple, 61, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 2 (Hunupitiya Lake Rd corner), ☎ . is one of the most important temples in Colombo, - The temple's architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture
- Sri Bala Selva Vinayagar. Hindu temple- in Colombo 10. Devoted to Shiva and Ganesh.
- Sri Muthumariamman. Hindu temple in Colombo 13
- Shiva Subramania Swami. Temple on Slave Island
- Sri Ponnambalam-Vaneswaram temple. In Koch-chikade, three km north of Fort.
- Kalani Raja Maha Viharaya.. Located about 9 km away from Colombo, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple had been built more than 2000 years ago and contains images of reclining and preaching Buddha along with frescoes depicting incidents from his life.
- Memm Harnafi. Mosque found at Dr C.W.W Kannangara Mawatha, grey colour.
- Church of St. Anthony. Situated beside the sea where Sea Street and St. Anthony’s Mawatha meet.
- Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, Second Cross Street in Pettah. It is a historic mosque. The mosque is a popular tourist site in the city. - Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque was built in 1909 by the Pettah Muslim community to fulfill their required five-times-daily prayer and Jummah on Fridays. It is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.
- Victoria Masonic Temple, Galle Face, Colombo 03. It is the meeting place for the Masonic Lodges. It was built in 1901 during British rule. It was designed by E. Skinner, an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and built by the Colombo Commercial Company. The building was built in neo-Georgian style mixed with elements of Eastern architecture.
- Wolvendaal church., 363, Galle Road, Colombo 06. One of the oldest churches built during the Dutch era in 1749. The interior is decorated with Dutch furniture with the wooden carved pews, chairs, pulpit and lecterns.
- The National Museum of Colombo, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sat-Thu.: 09:00-17:00.. Department of National Museums. Also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, it is the largest museum in Colombo. Among its exhibits, it contains regalia of the 17th century Kandyan Kings. Child 300, Adult: 500 Rs. (2013).
- The Natural History Museum, Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, ☎ . Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 09:00-17:00.. This museum features Sri Lanka's floral and fauna in dioramas. Child 150, Adult: 300 Rs..
- The Dutch Period Museum, 95 Prince Street, Colombo 01, ☎ . Sat-Thu.: 09:00-17:00.. Nice but very small museum documenting Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. Houses Dutch-inspired artifacts. Child 300, Adult: 500 Rs. (2013).
- Independence Memorial Hall ((also Independence Commemoration Hall)), Independence Square(formally Torrington Square) (Cinnamon Gardens). 09:00-17:00.. is a national monument in Sri Lanka built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule with the establishment of Dominion of Ceylon on 4 February 1948. It also houses the Independence Memorial Museum. Child 150, Adult: 300 Rs. (2013).
- Central Bank Currency Museum, 58, Sri Jayawardhanapura Mawatha, Rajagiriya. from 08:30 to 16:00. Monday to Friday on all working days except public and bank holidays. Established on 20 April 1982 at the Central Bank Head Office in Colombo Fort. The museum is open to the general public. - The Central Bank Currency Museum traces the history of the usage of coins and notes in Sri Lanka from 3 BC to date and has on display a large number of ancient coins and notes which were used in the country dating back from 3 BC. Foreign coins and notes received from other Central Banks are also on display at the museum free.
- The Sapumal Foundation, 32/4 Barnes Pl, ☎ . Colombo 7. The Sapumal Foundation was once home to the late Harry Pieris. Visitors are able to see his studio and art materials that have been left undisturbed over the years. This gallery also contains 200 paintings that follow the development of Sri Lankan art. Special art classes are also available at the gallery.
- The Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Centre, ☎ . 18 Guilford Crescent, Colombo 7. M-F 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. The Art Centre has exhibitions, art shows and stage events. Visitors also able to purchase various antiques as well as paintings and crafts by contemporary Sri Lankan artists.
- Alfred House, Thurstan Rd.
- Clare House.
- India House. The official residence in Colombo for the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka. Built in 1926-27 for the Imperial Bank of India and taken over by the Government of India in 1956. It is a colonial style villa/bungalow, with large gardens located along Thurstan Road. It is guarded by personnel from the Border Security Force.
- Jefferson House. The ambassadorial residence in Colombo for the Ambassador of the United States in Sri Lanka. It was built in 1914 in the Cinnamon Gardens a suburb of Colombo.
- Lakshmigiri Mansion (Saifee Villa). A bungalow at 102, Thurstan Road in Colombo.
- Modera House. A large bungalow. A 19th century stately home, located in Mutwal north of Colombo. Now it is part of the De La Salle College.
- Morven Mansion.
- Saravasti Mansion.
- Storm Lodge., 142 Galle Rd, Colombo-03. A mansion, owned by the Colombo Swimming Club.
- Rock House Colonial era Mansion.
- Sirimathipaya Mansion.
- The Lighthouse.. A large bungalow. Owned by the Sri Lankan Government and houses the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies- located in the Cinnamon Gardens a suburb of Colombo, it was built by D. Peiris.
- Whist Bungalow (Pradeepa Hall). A large bungalow. A 19th century stately home modeled on Neoclassical style, located in Mutwal north of Colombo on the cost where the Kelani River used to meet the Indian Ocean. It is now used as a reception hall for weddings.
- Winyatts Mansion.
- Galle Face Green Promenade, Galle Road, Colombo 03. Visit at sundown for a spectacular view. The half kilometre long promenade stretches 13 acres between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean; it tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers, and families. Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking which make it very crowded. The Galle Face Green Promenade was reopened to the public in May of 2001. It is also the only largest open space in the city. Free.
- Colombo Zoological Gardens, Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Dehiwala (By Bus: From Colombo port, No. 101 stops at Dehiwala junction, and get the Bus No. 176 or 118. - By Train: get to Dehiwala station which near station to Colombo zoo and get Bus No. 176 or 118.), e-mail: email@example.com. 08:30–18:00 hrs, every day. Colombo's zoo has a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles from all over the world. See lion show, every day 16:00 – 16:15; elephant show, every day 16:30 – 16:55. For overseas visitors: adult - Rs. 2000, child - Rs. 1000, video cameras - Rs. 500. Other fees: elephant ride, adult - Rs. 200, child - Rs. 100; pony ride for children under 12 - Rs. 25.
- Casa Serena Art Gallery, 122 Havelock Roa, Colombo 5, ☎ . Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00 and 12:00-13:00 to 18:00. The gallery is a purpose built space, designed to exhibit a diverse array of art, photography, sculpture, video installations and craft. It focuses on contemporary and traditional arts and features the work of local and international artists.
- Viharamahadevi Park or formally known as the Victoria park, Cinnamon Gardens. It is the largest, oldest and most colourful park situated in the heart of Colombo, just opposite the colonial style Town Hall building.
- Attidiya Bird Sanctuary (9km towards the south west of the city). A beautiful marshland. The wet land is rich with natural biodiversity and is a resting place for many types of birds. - The vegetation of this wetland is dominated by sedge and grasses including Rhyuchospora rubra and Panicum repens. Around 43 species of waterfowls live in the area. Most common among them are Indian Shag (Phalaerocorox fuscicollis), the Blue breasted Banded Rail ( Rallus striatus) etc. If you are an enthusiastic bird watcher or an eco friend, then it is worthwhile to spend sometimes in the Attidiya bird sanctuary during one of your leisurely evenings during your stay in Colombo
- Colombo Planetarium, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. Established in 1965. English shows on the last Saturday of the month at 14:00.
- Gordon Gardens. About 16,000 m2. The Gardens boast of an amazing variety of trees.
- Colombo Racecourse, Cinnamon Gardens, Philip Gunewardena Mawatha, Colombo 07. In 2012 it was redeveloped as the Colombo Racecourse Sports Complex to become the first International Rugby Union ground in Sri Lanka to host all the national rugby union sides home macthes.
- Ceylonese Rugby & Football Club Grounds, Malalasekara Mawatha, Colombo 07.
- Royal College Sports Complex, 10, Sri Lanka Foundation Mawatha, Off Independence Avenue, Colombo 07.
- Royal Colombo Golf Club, 223, Model Farm Road, Colombo 08.
- Sugathadasa Stadium, Arthur de Silva Mawatha or Prince of Wales Ave, Colombo 14.
- Colombo Cricket Club Ground (CCCG; Sinhala: කොළඹ ක්රිකට් සමාජ ක්රීඩාංගනය, Tamil: கொலோம்போ கிரிக்கெட் கிளப் கிரௌண்ட்), Maitland Crescent.
- Nelum Pokuna Theatre, ☎ . Performing Arts Theater
- Barefoot. Handicraft shop, 706 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Kollupitiya. Has a wide range of good quality souvenirs and handmade items: clothes, bags and children toys, from some of the most beautifully-coloured fabric you've ever seen.
- Crescat Boulevard, 89 Galle Rd. Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. An up-market shopping mall. Though it is fairly small, it contains a food court on the basement floor.
- Lakmedura, 113 Dharmapala Rd. Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens.
- Lakpahana, 14 Reid Ave. Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens. A non-profit organization run by the craftsman association of Sri Lanka with assistance from the government. Offers all handicrafts and gemstone jewellery. Unique metalware, wood carvings,silver jewellery, batik, textile products and other crafts.
- Liberty Plaza, RA de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. Another shopping mall similar to Majestic City however it is smaller in size. You can find various items such as clothing, CDs and DVDs.
- Majestic City. In Kollupitiya on Galle Road has a wide variety of clothing outlets- including a sub-branch of Odel- at very good prices, as well as various electrical goods and toy shops. It's pleasantly air-conditioned and includes a food court on the ground floor.
- Odel, No 5, Alexandra Place, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. A stylish department store, with its very own Delifrance outlet, clothing, houseware, sporting goods, books and movies, as well as Delight – for sweet indulgences from chocolates to exotic nuts.
- Paradise Road, 213, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens, ☎ . 09:00-19:00. A shop with a small café in a British colonial style building where antiques, home décor items and art can be viewed or purchased.
- The Pettah Market. This is the place to go for shopping for all kinds of things from fruits to clothes to electronics if you want to buy at wholesale prices. You have to bargain extensively and it is recommended that you take a local you trust along with you. Even if you don't buy anything, Pettah, or Colombo 11 is an experience in itself being a very typical, loud and crowded oriental market place full of all sorts of odds, ends and junk. Each street in the market has its own speciality, for example, in 1st Cross Street you can find electrical items, 2nd Cross Street has jewellery and so on. In the Pettah Market area, some street vendors actively ask passers-by, foreigners and locals to view products they are selling though polite refusal is generally accepted.
- Casa Serena boutique, 122 Havelock Road, Colombo 5, ☎ . Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00 and 12:00-13:00 to 18:00. The boutique showcases a wide range of traditional and modern creations to enhance the art of living. Some are practical, some are useful, and some are just beautiful souvenirs
- Hansa Sri Lanka Speciality Coffee (Hansa coffee), 24 Fife Road, Colombo 5 (off Thimbirigasyaya Road,), ☎ . 09:00-20:00. An exceptional gourmet coffee, made from Sri Lanka coffee beans. The coffee can be purchased at several shops including supermarkets and is served in hotels and cafes throughout the island. Their retail outlet is at 24 Fife Road, Colombo 5, where they also serve several coffee drinks. Telephone: 0773116579.
- Available everywhere are small bakeries selling rotis (either flat or folded into triangles filled with egg, vegetable or fish), hoppers (bowl shaped pancakes made with coconut milk), and other "short eats" (bread based snacks or fried foods). The price of individual items range from Rs. 10-50.
- A cup of coffee and some goodies for lunch at D'Cafe at No. 15A, Cambridge Place, Colombo 7.
- Buy a "lunch packet" from street stands practically anywhere in the city. Typically, it will be a filling meal of rice and vegetables for about Rs 120.
- The New Yarl Eat House is located in Station Road, Wellawatte, just off the Galle Road, on the sea side. It serves traditional Jaffna style rice and curries with excellent value for money crabs. A lunch for one including a full crab costs around Rs. 400
- The Cricket Club Cafe, 34 Queens Rd. Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. This cafe is a must for any cricket lover. The walls are covered in autographed memorabilia and photos with sports (usually cricket) being screened on all the TVs scattered throughout the rooms. They serve authentic Aussie cuisine and a wide variety of drinks The Bar is named after Donald Bradman.
- The Gallery Cafe, 2 Alfred House Rd. Off Alfred House Gardens, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Wonderful atmosphere in beautiful building - designed by famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Large food menu featuring many international dishes, decadent desserts and extensive cocktail menu.
- The Lagoon, The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, ☎ . 12:00-14:30, 19:00-00:30. This restaurant focuses primarily on seafood with colourful Sri Lankan flavours. The friendly, professional staff create an enjoyable dining experience. Full meal: 4,000 Rs. per person.
- Mango Tree, 82 Dharmapala Mawatha, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03, ☎ , e-mail: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00–15:00; 19:00–23:00, 7 days a week. One of the finest restaurants in the city. North Indian Cuisine, full of innovative dishes. Service is occasionally slow. Full meal: 1,000 Rs. per person.
- The Palmyrah Restaurant, 328 Galle Rd. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Sri Lankan dishes as well as having an "international" menu.
- Roadhouse Cafe, 335 Galle Rd. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves Sri Lankan and Western food. Meals range from 180 - 380 Rs. The food is excellent, but the service is a little slow. Try the mango milkshakes or one of their speciality coffees.
- 168 Seafood Palace. Just off Galle Road, near Hotel Renuka, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Chinese food and seafood dishes. Prices start at 250 Rs. but some prices depend on weight (e.g. crabs). The service is very good.
- UK Urban Kitchen, 69 Hyde Park Corner, Union Place, Colombo 2 (Arpico Super Centre), ☎ . Serves Western, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines at relatively reasonable prices. Also specializes in wood-fired pizzas and coffee. Next to Arpico supermarket. Open M-Th 10:00-22:00, F-Su 10:00-13:00.
- Nihonbashi Main Restaurant, 11 Galle Face Terrace, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. There are three Nihonbashi outlets in Colombo. A Sushi Bar at ODEL and an outlet at the Hilton Colombo Residence are the other two. The main restaurant is an airy and spacious restaurant with a blend of modern and traditional in design consisting of 8 private dining rooms also a dine-in wine room. Nihonbashi is owned and run by Tokyo-born Dharshan Munidasa, a self-taught chef.
- Spoons. Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. Is the flagship restaurant of the Hilton Hotel. It has a show kitchen, and an impressive collection of wine and chocolates.
- Ginza Hohsen. Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. This is one of the Japanese restaurants in Colombo. They have a sushi bar, the tatami rooms and ever teppanyaki.
- Chesa Swiss, 3 Deal Pl. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Representing the best of Swiss cuisine, this restaurant has all your favourites from fresh garden snails to Chateaubriand for two to steak Café de Paris style. The wine list is exclusively Swiss.
- The London Grill. Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Galle Face, Colombo 3. As the name suggests this restaurant is very British. It probably has the best ambiance of all, and the food is just great.
- California Grill. Galadari Hotel, Fort, Colombo 01. This is a fine dining restaurant on the rooftop level of the hotel. It offers panoramic views of the Galle Face marina. The food, mostly US-style grills and premium seafood, is excellent too.
- Royal Thai, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha,Slave Island, Colombo 02. Located at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel (refurbished and rebranded September 2009), is an authentic Thai restaurant hosting the usual favourites, such as Tom Yam and Chicken Pandan leaves.
- The Ministry of Crab. Old Dutch Hospital, Colombo Fort. Located in the historic Dutch Hospital, The Ministry of Crab serves the best crabs in Sri Lanka. Crabs are priced by the size and a kilo of crab costs around Rs. 6500. They also serve their house speciality sweet tea with soda. One of the most expensive restaurants in Colombo, but it is definitely worth it.
- Thembili තැබිලි (Orange Coconut juice) is the safest, since they cut it open in front of you (uncontaminated).
- Spring water with SLS certification are safe to drink.
Mount Lavinia is a great place to be. The beach and the friendly people always draw visitors there and keep them for a while. Unlike the South of the island, Mt.Lavinia is only abut 20 minutes away from the city and entertains a good deal of nightlife. Along the beach are a variety of restaurants that serve liquor (by restaurants along the beach I mean they are literally ON the beach, 50 feet away from the water and tables on the sand) have great food catered to suit every budget. The variety of the beach spots themselves are interesting, from nice little coves for a quiet chat a and a drink to well lit, busy places with dance floors, music courtesy of a live DJ and well stocked bars. Try Jo Jo's, a quiet little place where they serve pretty decent food and drink and has a nice homey feel to it. The Owner Mr Jo, Jo, (Mr Nihal) better know, is a nice person. Buba, on the other side of the Mount Lavinia Hotel which divides the public beach is also a cool hang out.
Mount Lavinia also serves as the gay district of Colombo. Although not home to any gay bars, it is a very gay friendly town and always plays host to Colombo's Gay Pride week in June. Do not be surprised if some bars have the rainbow flag flying on the beach.
For those night owl's Colombo's nightlife is on par with most other Asian destinations and feature a number of nightlife establishments, that offer decent music and drinks, served in a pleasant atmosphere. The major hot spots as of February 2013 include the Amuseum and My Kind of Place at the Taj Samudra, Kama (near the Ramada Hotel), Silk (near independence Square) and R&B on Duplication Road.
Expect the music to range from 80's retro to modern chart toppers as elegant partygoers dance the night away sipping the poison of their choice. Most clubs close around 04:00, R&B perhaps a little longer after. Please do not drink and drive, hop a Three wheeler, it's easier....
Popular watering holes include Whitehorse (Nawam Mawatha), Inn on the Green (Galle Face Hotel), Rize Bar (Dharmapala Mawatha), Seven Degrees North (Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel) and Cheers (Cinnamon Grand Hotel)
Most nightclubs may charge admission and smart/casual dress is encourages with longs/shoes a must.
After a night out, some people will end with a late night snack, try e.g., Hotel de Pilawoos along the Galle Road in Kollupitiya to enjoy a Chicken Roti (chicken and cheese wrapped in a roti) followed by an iced Milo (sweet chocolate and malt flavoured drink)
Colombo's cheap accommodations in the centre of town apart from the famous YMCA (containing a gay bathhouse) are mostly concentrated along the road opposite the Colombo Fort Railway Station. Many rooms are available but with shared bathrooms. These, however, tend to be dirty and dingy affairs that even seasoned travellers are unlikely to tolerate.
Moving south along Galle Rd., one can find a lot of more reasonable housing. Around Kollupitiya, you will still be dealing with air-conditioned concrete boxes where a sleazy clerk will tell you that they have a "budget single room for only 57 dollars". Further down south, prices and people will get more reasonable. There are quite a few small hotels in the side streets off Galle Rd. in Wellawatte area. If you continue south and get as far as Mt. Lavinia, there will be hundreds of small guesthouses, some of them very affordable, in a quiet old-fashioned area with a lot of greenery and right by the sea (the only problem being that it's far from the centre). As of May 2014, you should be aiming at 1,000-2,000 LKR, depending on the room quality. Buses 100, 101 and perhaps some others go down Galle Rd. from Colombo Fort station (20 LKR to get to Wellawatte).
- Hotel Nippon, 123, Kumaran Ratnam Road, Slave Island, Colomo - 2. It offers decent rooms fitted with A/C, Cable Tv, etc., Moreover, It is located in a prime location in the city close to all essential sight seeing spots. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, and bar.
- Hotel Janaki, 443, Fife Rd, Havelock Town, Colombo 5. This 3-star hotel offers its guests rooms with air-conditioning, cable/satellite tv, and a room safe. There is a restaurant and bar on site, with 24-hour room service.
- Cosy Lanka Restaurant and Hotel, 25 Wellawatte Station Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A small establishment run by friendly people. Rooms are functionally clean, but far from shining, 1500-2000LKR.
- Parisare Homestay, 97/1 Rosemead Place, Cinnamon Gardens (col 7) (Near Embassy of France), ☎ . This is a lovely home with a wonderful hostess, but unfortunately they have only 3 rooms which are frequently occupied by long term guests, which makes prior reservation essential. It is also a bit far from the city centre (Fort) 1000/1200.
- Hotel Ranmuthu, 112, Galle Rd, ☎ . Hotel Ranmuthu is comprised of 54 rooms, which are available in single, doubles, or suites. The hotel is located 45 minutes away from the airport. Rooms are air-conditioned, and there is 24-hour security on the premises. The hotel also offers currency exchanges and room service.
- YMCA, Bristol Street, Colombo 01 (5 minute walk from the Fort railway station). They also have a very reasonably priced restaurant. 700 to 1150 SRP per night for a single room. There are dormitories which start at 300 SRP per night. The dorms however are not available to foreigners. You must be from Sri Lanka 700 to 1,150 SRP per night for a single room. There are dormitories which start at 300 SRP per night..
- Galle Face Hotel, 2 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A famous, old fashioned colonial style grand hotel. Most rooms come with a view of the ocean or the Galle Face Green. The hotel also has a variety of restaurants on site to choose from, including: The 1864 and Verandah. Spa and butler services are also available for guests.
- Garden Guest House (email@example.com), 7 Karlsruhe Gardens, Borella, Colombo 8, ☎ . This three-room guest house offers its visitors attached bathrooms, free internet services and laundry facilities. The staff at the guest house can also arrange island tours and airport pick-up.
- Palm Village Hotel, 262, Old Colombo Road, Uswetakeiyawa (Hendala), ☎ , fax: +94 11 293-0766, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located close to the airport, this hotel consists of 50 air-conditioned rooms with either a balcony or a terrace. A restaurant and bar are located on the hotel grounds. There is also a jewelry and souvenir shop for guests.
- Kamvelta Holiday Resort***, Kindelpitiya, Welmilla Junction, Bandaragama. (5 km from Bandaragama, 6 km from Panadura, 8 km from Piliyand), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms with hot water, restaurant, can cater to wedding parties, nearby to Nachchimale meditation centre. 24 hr room service.
- Hotel Renuka & Renuka City Hotel, 328 Galle Road, Kollupitiya Colombo 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. These sister hotels offer their guests comfortable rooms and friendly service. Each room is equipped with flat screen television with local and cable channels, 24-hour room service, safety deposit lockers, and internet connection. The hotels themselves house one of the most famous restaurants in Sri Lanka, the Palmyrah, which serves authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. A favourite dish among is the Iso Thel Dala, spicy prawns sautéed with onions and tomato. The hotel also offers its guests two bars on site: the Palmyrah Bar and the Water Hole bar.
- Hotel Sansu, 651/31, Sir Oliver Gunathilake Gardens, Havelock Town, Colombo 05 (off of Elvitigala Mawatha), ☎ , fax: +94 11 535-4348, e-mail: email@example.com. Hotel Sansu offers luxury that will not break your budget. The hotel is comprised of 26 rooms and self-service apartments, each of which includes cable television. It offers its guests 24-hour front desk services, as well as wake-up calls and an on-site juice bar. sgl.40$+, dbl.50$+(2013).
- Sapphire Hotel, 371, Galle Rd, Wellawatte, Colombo 6, ☎ . Located 5 minutes away from the ocean, Sapphire Hotel offers its guests an on-site restaurant and bar. Each room includes air-conditioning, 24-hour room service, and satellite television. The hotel also has two reception halls for those wishing to host a convention or wedding reception. Reservations are required.
- Hotel Clarion, 103, Kandy Road, Kiribathgoda, ☎ , fax: +9411 4821068. It offers Superior and Deluxe Rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, TV with cable channels and wheelchair accessible. Some of its facilities and services are 180 restaurant, fitness centre with steam room and business centre.
- Hotel Galadari, 4, Lotus Road, Fort, Colombo 1, ☎ , fax: +94 11 244-9875, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel Galadari is made up of 446 rooms, including 23 suites. There are special executive level and handicap rooms available. There are a variety of dining facilities in the hotel to suit different palates. The hotel also offers its guests spa and fitness facilities.
- The Havelock Place Bungalow, 6-8, Havelock Place, Havelock Town, Colombo 5, ☎ , fax: +94 11 258-4655. A boutique hotel, consisting of two restored colonial homes. Tastefully decorated using antique colonial furniture. The hotel provides wireless Internet, pool, jacuzzi, restaurants.
- Park Street Hotel, 20 Park street, Slave Island, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka, ☎ . Park Street Hotel is in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s near major shopping centres and business establishments. Decked with colonial touches, like antique furniture and high ceilings, the rooms bestow ample luxuries – a Jacuzzi, DVD player, refrigerator, and more.
- Tintagel, 65 Rosmead Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka, ☎ . Tintagel is situated in Rosmead Place, Colombo’s classy neighbourhood. Once a stately home to the political Bandaranaike family, Tintagel has been transformed into a stylish and sophisticated hotel. The 10 elegant suites are defined by high ceilings, timber floors, and luxurious décor. They open to a private courtyard, balcony, or separate lounge area. Each suite also has deluxe king-size mattresses with non-allergenic pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, and a bathroom with a rain shower and bath.
- Casa Colombo, 231, Galle Road, Colombo 4 (opposite Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya, and down a private lane next to Lumala Gift City in Bambalapitiya), ☎ . Boutique hotel with 12 designer suites.
- Ceylon Continental, 48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Fort, Colombo 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Ceylon Continental is equipped with 250 all with magnificent views of the city or Indian Ocean. The hotel has many restaurants and cafes on site to choose from. The guests are also offered 24-hour room service, fitness facilities and spa services.
- Cinnamon Grand Colombo, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, ☎ . Has nightly turn down services with orchids and chocolates, and spa services.
- Taj Samudra, 25, Galle Face Centre Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3, ☎ . Taj Samudra features a variety of rooms depending on your travel habits; they range from standards with views of the sea and pool to presidential suites with separate dining and dressing areas. The hotel is also equipped with a fitness centre, book shop and swimming pool. There are also a variety of restaurants ranging from casual in dress to fine dining.
- Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, 115, Sir Chittampalam A.Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 2 Sri Lanka, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. As of Dec 2012, the rooms were quite tired and are in need of renovation. The price they ask does not reflect this. Despite this, the service is good and otherwise is a reasonable place to stay.
Colombo is like most other South Asian capitals. Although, it is not as dangerous as one would think, tourists should be very vigilant. Many first time visitors to Colombo find themselves falling victim to scams and touts, however, seasoned visitors to Sri Lanka are rarely scammed and it is very simple to avoid being a victim of scammers as long as you take precautions such as:
- Being on guard for anybody trying to help you by giving you unsolicited directions or travel advice. Take any advice from taxi and auto drivers with a grain of salt, especially if they tell you the place you want to go to is closed, dangerous, non-existent etc. If you are unsure, check a map.
- Not engaging in business with people who have to actively approach you for business such as Tuk Tuk drivers, street vendors etc. If people have to approach or make overtures to you for business without you seeking them on your own volition, then they shouldn't be considered for business dealings. Because, you will likely be overcharged, as you have been denied the option of shopping around for the best price.
- If you have been told your hotel is closed or full, give them a call. If you are a first time visitor to Sri Lanka, don't admit it as it will make you a target for the scam artists.
Once you are past the scammers, Colombo is a far more welcoming destination than other South Asian cities. Certainly single women, although not advised to explore every nook and cranny of the city on their own late at night, will not find the pestering attentions of leering men. Sri Lankan women are also very "western" in their dress sense, so it is very normal to wear skirts, tank tops, etc. You may get a few whistles and hellos from bored school boys, but they are more friendly and not meant to be threatening, so just ignore it and they will leave you alone.
The recent civil war in this country will not affect your journey as the warring area is mostly off limits to civilians and is hundreds of miles away from Colombo. Furthermore, there have also been some small bomb attacks on Colombo buses and trains in the past, so taxis or private hire cars should be used. Such attacks are noted for their avoidance of tourist spots, mainly due to the severe adverse publicity this would create.
In June 2009, the Sri Lankan government lifted travel alerts after the military defeat of rebel insurgents in the north of the country, though it is advisable to check with the local travel advisory bureau in your country if there is any doubt. Since June 2009, Sri Lanka is now a very safe country to travel around. Avoid the peak seasons as this small country is now getting too overcrowded with tourists.
- Seemingly innocuous public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging is not culturally acceptable in Sri Lanka as it is considered to be secluded behaviour (this does not apply to private functions or establishments designated for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties). Much lenience is given to foreigners and holding hands and public affection between parents and their children is not frowned upon.
- In most buses, it is local etiquette to provide or give up the very front passenger seats to members of the clergy, such as monks or priests if they are present.
- No photography of sensitive locations (inside and outside), and inside of shopping malls and tea factories (outside is OK). Be especially careful in Fort, Colombo (except on the beach). If soldiers are guarding something, it probably shouldn't be photographed. Don't rely on signs alone, as sometimes they are old or missing. For example, one end of a bridge may have a "No Photography" sign, but not the other.
- Do not turn your back to (or be alongside) a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance (observe what others are doing). This includes posing for photos. It's OK to photograph a statue, but all persons should be facing it.
- Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka. Nude/topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided at beaches, except in the few private beach resorts which allow it.
- China, 120/3A, Vidya Mawatha, Colombo 07, ☎ , fax: +94 11-2688611, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Delegation of the European Commission, No. 26, Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo 7., ☎ , fax: +94 11-267-8860.
- Greece, John Keells Holdings Plc, 130, Glennie St, Colombo 2, ☎ , fax: +94 11 243-9031, e-mail: GreeceConsulate.SriLanka@gmail.com.
- High Commission of India, No. 36-38, Galle Road, Colombo 3., ☎ , fax: +94 11-244-6403.
- Japan, No.20, Gregory's Road, Colombo 07, ☎ +94 11-2693831~3, fax: +94 11-2698629, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- High Commission of the Republic of Maldives, No. 25, Melbourne Avenue, Colombo 4, ☎ , fax: +94 11-258-1200.
- Embassy of Nepal, No. 153, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8., ☎ , fax: +94 11-268-9655, e-mail: email@example.com.
- United States, 210 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, ☎ , fax: +94 11 249-8590.
- Sigiriya, located 160 kilometres northeast of Colombo, is a very important Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. The remains of the ancient fortress and city date back to 477 AD. Legend has it, King Kasyapa built it in order to protect against attacks from his brother, whom he had stolen the throne from. The only way into the city is through the giant lion's jaws. The site is also famous for its 5th century frescos. Sigiriya is approximately 2–3 hours away from Colombo, and can be reached via train, bus, or car. It is open daily from 08:30 to 18:00. For foreign nationals the entrance fee is 2,000 rupees.
- Adam's Peak is considered a place of worship and pilgrimage by many religions. The 2,224 metre peak, also known as Sri Pada, is home to a foot imprint on a rock at its summit. Depending on the faith, the foot print has been considered that of Buddha, the god Shiva, St. Thomas, and even Adam, after he was expelled from the garden of Eden. The stairway to the top is believed to be one of the longest in the world. After reaching the top, climbers can ring the bell to mark the journey they just made. The panoramic view makes the journey well worth the effort. Reaching Delhousie (The town at the foot of Adam's Peak) from Colombo can be an adventure in itself, unless you are lucky enough to find a direct bus. The route is Colombo-Hatton-Maskeliya-Delhousie. The distance is quite short on the map but can take 6–8 hours.
- Kandy, Located 120 kilometres (around 4 hours) outside of Colombo, Kandy is a small, tranquil town that holds the sacred tooth of Buddha, a sacred relic of the Buddhist faith. According to the legend, the tooth was taken from the Buddha on his funeral pyre and was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess in the 4th century. The Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, is a main attraction for pilgrimages. Each July and August, the tooth is carried in a procession. Although one cannot see the tooth, the festivities are a sight to see.