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Things to do in Colombo

Things to do in  Colombo

Welcome to Colombo

A valuable port on the East-West trading route for more than 2,000 years, Colombo has existed as a city with a history of changing fortunes. Sri Lanka's rule by three successive foreign empires, followed by decades of devastating civil war, left indelible marks on its landscapes and people. But today, peace reigns supreme, and the country's vibrant, multicultural capital is coming into its own as a destination for travelers. Sleek high-rises and luxury hotels line Colombo's leafy boulevards, alongside ancient temples, mosques, and colonial landmarks. History tours cover key sights such as the Colombo National Museum, Independence Square, and the Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist Temple. Join the locals for an evening stroll along Galle Face Green; or consider a guided tasting tour of the city's culinary scene, from traditional Sinhalese and Tamil dishes to innovative world-fusion cuisine. While it's an easy place in which to relax, Colombo is also the perfect hub for venturing to the island's many UNESCO World Heritage sites. A guided tour will help you cover a lot of ground in a short time: Kandy's Sri Dalada Maligawa ("Temple of the Sacred Tooth"); the massive rock-fortress of Sigiriya, decorated with colorful frescoes for a 5th-century king; the cave temple of Dambulla; and the lost city of Polonnaruwa, to name but a few highlights. Nature-lovers can explore the wild with a boat trip around Negombo Lagoon and the Muthurajawela Wetlands. Or, book a private safari in Yala National Park, home to leopards, elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears, and other wildlife.

Top 6 attractions in Colombo

Gangaramaya Temple

Situated near Beira Lake in central Colombo, Gangaramaya Temple is one of the city’s largest and oldest Buddhist temple complexes. Established in 1885 and composed of pagodas, courtyards, and shrines, it’s best-known for its beautiful lake temple (Seema Malaka), which stands on stone pillars above the waters and is reached via a walkway.More

Galle Face Green

Fringing a stretch of Colombo’s southern coastline, Galle Face Green is the city’s largest open space, composed of 12-acre (5-hectare) lawns overlooked by the colonial-era Galle Face Hotel. The green, which is flanked by a promenade and narrow beach, is a popular spot for strolling, picnicking, and kite flying.More

Colombo National Museum

Founded in 1877, the Colombo National Museum in central Colombo chronicles the history and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. Also called the Sri Lankan National Museum, the institution occupies a 19th-century Italianate-style building and attracts visitors eager to view its wide collection of treasures.More

Independence Square

In the heart of the city’s prestigious 07 district and framed by palm-lined gardens, Independence Square is one of Colombo’s signature sights. The centerpiece of the square is Independence Memorial Hall, a stone monument that commemorates Sri Lanka’s independence from Britain in 1948.More

Leisure World Water Park

Leisure World Water Park combines waterslides with rides and kid-friendly attractions for the ultimate day of fun in Sri Lanka. The first park of its kind in the country, Leisure World is a must-visit destination for thrill seekers and families alike.More

Gem Museum

Situated in central Colombo in the prestigious Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood, the Gem Museum is a 4th-generation family-owned gemstone and jewelry store with an adjoining small museum. Displays showcase many of Sri Lanka’s gemstones, from topaz and blue sapphires to rubies, moonstones, tourmaline, quartz, and alexandrite.More

Top activities in Colombo

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Recent reviews from experiences in Colombo

Great experience
Susan_L, Mar 2023
Day Tour to Wilpattu National Park from Colombo
We got to see a whole different side of Sri Lanka .
Excellent Tour
Meghan_F, Mar 2023
Colombo Bay Tuk Tuk City Tour
We were able to see many places and explore areas that were the real and authentic Colombo, not just tourist areas.
Enjoyable, relaxing and Informative
Steve_H, Feb 2020
Tuk It Easy Colombo
Sameer is a very nice young man with excellent English.
Adventures in Colombo
TravelyTina, Sep 2019
Private Half-Day Colombo City Tour
We saw many wonderful attractions, and he went out of his way to find a place that would pierce my nose.
Excellent way to see the city sites.!
romello_202, Apr 2019
Colombo Tuk Tuk Safari
Excellent way to see the city sites..
What a fantastic way to see Colombo...
Andrew B, Mar 2018
Colombo City Tour by War Jeep
What a fantastic way to see Colombo.
Best way to see Colombo is to book a...
Liv G, May 2017
Private Half-Day Colombo City Tour
Best way to see Colombo is to book a private car.
Our guide Smokio was really...
Andyjin, Aug 2017
Whales Watching Mirissa Day Tour
Also he took us where we wanted to visit, like market and specific restaurant.
Super fun and the open top jeep...
Louisa_M, Apr 2017
Private Tour of Colombo in a World War II Jeep
A great and alternative way to visit the fantastic city of Colombo.
Great way to visit Sigiriya Rock
Garima_K, May 2022
Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Cave Temples Day Trip
This was a great way to see Sigiriya Rock if you are staying in Colombo.
Great tour full of information about Colombo and Sri Lanka
Corinna_H, May 2022
Tuk It Easy Colombo
I warmly recommand this tour to visit a city otherwise at first sight not so appealing.
A full day adventure!
Lucia_H, Apr 2022
Full Day Tour to Sigiriya and Dambulla from Colombo
I had limited time in Sri Lanka & wanted to see as much as possible and my guide Asela spared no expense in helping me.
Super Cool! Friendly and easy going
Fernanda_R, Feb 2022
Glimpse Of Colombo City Walk
He speaks very good english and is super polite!
Nice experience for beginners, fun guide, but communication could be better.
Matthias_D, Feb 2022
Adventures Water Rafting Kitulgala From Colombo
We were quite disappointed of the communication with our driver and basically all guides, as the tour operator promised an English speaking guide.
Highlights of Colombo
Elizabeth_S, Jan 2022
Colombo Night Tuk Tuk Tour & Street Food Hot Spots
We were able to see many temples, try some local food, and more.
Great introduction to Colombo.
Kevin_P, Dec 2021
Colombo Tuk Tuk Safari
This tour was complete, we saw most of the sights and the driver was very flexible with what to see and accommodating.
Great 1st day, disappointing 2nd day
Marcus_A, Apr 2019
Kandy & Nuwara Eliya | 2 Days Tour
The second day we drove for 2 hours to get to Nuwara Eliya (Little England) - although pretty there is nothing to see there really and the journey was up very windy roads though tea plantations.
;Moonstone Mine & Madu River Safari
Arthur_T, Mar 2019
Shore excursion Colombo port passenger Terminal to Moonstone mine
Nilan whose English was very good and his driving excellent knew all the backroads and missed Colombo’s notorious traffic.
This tour is a must if you are...
Colletta_W, Jan 2018
Galle Full-Day Tour
He could speak English very well, kept us informed of the day's events and generally attended to our every need all day.
The four night, five day excursion...
uvaguy1, Oct 2017
Sri Lanka Tour Package For 4 Nights
From hiking through tea plantations, climbing mountains to see temples, antiquities, caves and ruins, mixing with locals, a safari filled with wildlife, and adventurous meals, one could not have asked for a better way to be introduced to this amazing island nation.
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People Also Ask

What is Colombo known for?

Sri Lanka’s capital doesn’t have standout landmarks—but is known for its colonial architecture, gardens, and museums, most of them hidden away in its traffic-rammed streets. Explore the city to find faded but handsome British-era buildings, the atmospheric Pettah Market, buzzing Galle Face Green, and museums, temples, and wave-lashed beaches.

How do I spend a day in Colombo?

Start by exploring Colombo’s colonial past at 19th-century landmarks such as the General Post Office and Old Lighthouse Clock Tower. Then, explore the Buddhist Gangaramaya Temple and see the kite-flying at Galle Face Green. Finally, follow Galle Road south for arty shops and a seafood curry at Mount Lavinia beach.

Which tourist attractions are located in Colombo?

Colombo’s center brims with elegant colonial buildings such as the President’s House, Old Parliament Building, and arcaded Cargills store—all worth seeing. Other attractions ripple outward, from the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque to Colombo National Museum, lakeside Gangaramaya Temple, and Galle Road’s vibrant shops, hotels, and beaches.

How many days do you need in Colombo?

One day is ideal for discovering Colombo’s sights and shopping and food scenes. Admire its colonial architecture, temples, and parks in the morning before souvenir-hunting at its modern malls and handicraft shops. Come evening, scout the food stalls on Galle Face Green, and dine at one of Colombo’s stylish hotels.

What should I not miss in Colombo?

Be sure to connect with the true Colombo—the one residents love. Trace the Galle Road to the early 19th-century Mount Lavinia Hotel and lounge on its neighboring beaches. Then, take an evening stroll along the seafront Galle Face Green, hitting its food stands and savoring barbecued chicken while watching the sunset.

Is Colombo safe for tourists?

Colombo is considered largely safe for travelers, but be aware that there is a risk of terrorism and political unrest. Instances of street theft are not uncommon, and harassment of women does happen. Consequently, it’s wise to be vigilant, protect personal valuables, and for women to avoid walking alone.


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