Places to visit in Colombo in 2022 | Colombo Travel Guide

I recently visited Sri Lanka twice and on each of my visits, I got to spend some good amount of time in Colombo. This is a guide to some of the best things that one can do as a tourist in Colombo - all based on my personal experiences. 

Let's start with one misconception about Sri Lanka that most visitors have before they visit the country. Often it's a belief, and a strong one at that, that Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. However, that's not correct and the capital of Sri Lanka is actually Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. Colombo, however, is still the largest city of Sri Lanka and its financial capital. Colombo is also a major tourist hub and also the key transit point for all international visitors to the country. 

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Things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Here are a couple of travel vlogs I made on my experiences in Colombo on my two visits to the city recently.




A bit of history of Colombo

Before we explore all that is there to see in Colombo, let's also quickly explore its rich history, especially under the Colonial rulers who have shaped the city quite a bit during their rule.

Colombo was a prominent harbour and a major centre of trade for thousands of years. Arabs were one of the first international community which settled in the area. Later the Portuguese came in the 16th Century and were followed by the Dutch and eventually the English who ruled the city and the country till Sri Lanka's independence in 1948. From the Arab Moors to the English, all have left their prominent mark on the city and gave it a rich cosmopolitan culture. 

Things to do in Colombo

1. Independence Square
Sri Lanka got it's independence from the English in 1948, but the country had been under Colonial rule for much longer. To commemorate the country's independence, the Independence Square was built in Colombo. The architecture of the building is quite unique and combines styles from three different capitals of the island nation, starting from Anuradhapura

2. Viharamahadevi Park
Once known as Victoria Park, this quaint beautiful temple is located right opposite the iconic Town Hall building and is also a popular destination for locals. It is the oldest and the largest park of the city.

3. Lotus Tower
This tower is built in collaboration with the Chinese and is quite an interesting place to see the city from top. You can take the lift and go up to the viewing deck and the views from up there are quite amazing. The tower isn't open to public yet but it'll soon be.

4. Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is a 12 acres urban park along the coast of Colombo which extends towards the direction of Galle. I visited the park many times during my stay in Colombo and it's honestly the best place to spend the evenings taking a walk by the sea.

5. Gangaramaya Temple
Built in the 19th century, the Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples of the city. 

6. Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
Built in the year 1909, Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is one of the oldest mosques of Sri Lanka. It's located at a prominent junction and is open and accessible to all visitors. Unfortunately, I could only see it from outside and didn't have the time to go inside and explore. The mosque is also known as Red Mosque.

7. Number 11
Sir Geoffrey Bawa is one of the most famous architects of all time and Number 11 was his home in Colombo. After his death the house is now converted into a museum which can be visited by pre-booking a tour there. I am a fan of Bawa's work and so visiting his house was a privilege. An absolute must-visit for history and architecture lovers.

8. Cafes in Colombo
I didn't know it when I first visited the city, but the city has quite an amazing coffee culture. Over the days that I spent in the city I visited many cafes and I mention that I was quite impressed by it. I already have two favourite cafes in Colombo - The Gallery Café designed by Geoffrey Bawa and Tea Avenue (yes, they do serve great coffee too). I am sure my list will grow as I visit Colombo more and explore more of it's coffee culture.

9. Night Life in Colombo
I am not a nightlife person, but decided to give it a shot when I was in Colombo - primarily because of the company I had. Even though the city was just coming out of Covid-19 restrictions, the nightlife in the city was already vibrant and continued till the wee hours of the morning. The best place to start pub hopping would be Park Street - it's a street full of hipster cafes, pubs and restaurants. 

10. Parliament building 
This is another iconic building of Sri Lanka built by the one and only Sir Geoffrey Bawa. A visit to the building is possible by taking a prior approval. A must-visit for lovers of architecture.

Best places to stay in Colombo

As the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, the city boasts of some amazing places to stay and I have stayed at a few during my stay there as well. Here are some of my favourite ones - Taj Samudra, Cinnamon Lakeside and Mövenpick Colombo.

I also made a vlog about my stay at Taj Samudra and you can watch it here.

Comments

  1. Good and useful information, Thank you!

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  2. Great Post! your information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing this
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