Colombo is a city that offers a little bit of everything Sri Lanka represents.
The largest city in Sri Lanka is also an urban capital that houses 5.6 million residents. Colombo will most likely be your first and last stop in the country, so spending a few days in this growing financial center is a must. The greatest quality that Colombo encompasses is that it offers a little bit of everything Sri Lanka represents: spirituality, local cuisine, and fun under the sun on a sandy beach. So here’s a straight-to-the-point, carefully filtered list of must-do’s in Colombo. May you have an unforgettable time!
1. Stay in zen mode at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara
The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is significant must-see in Colombo, because locals believe the original stupa at the temple is where Buddha sat and preached. Kelaniya has survived through transitional periods throughout Sri Lanka’s sordid history, from Portuguese to Dutch empires. But the most captivating part about Kelaniya is a series of impressive images portraying the reclining Gautama Buddha. Also, don’t miss the religious paintings of Buddha’s life by native artist Solias Mendis.
2. Say a little prayer at Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
As one of the most famous temples in Colombo, Gangaramaya is a remarkable architecture. The mixture of Sri Lankan, Chinese, Indian and Thai designs conveys a unique and cultural aspect. In addition to a place of worship, the Gangaramaya Temple also serves as a learning center, a museum and a library.
3. Stroll through Viharamahadevi Park
Colombo, Sri Lanka (map)
For an hour of carefree promenade escaping Colombo’s busy streets, Viharamahadevi Park is the ideal venue. Situated next to the National Museum, this is the oldest and largest park in the city. Highlights in the park include: a giant Buddha statue, numerous water mountains and a small zoo.
4. Perfect your tan on Mount Lavinia Beach
Every island city has a strip along the beach, and Colombo is not an exempt. Popularized by travelers, Mount Lavinia Beach is the hub of nightlife and beach activities. With several resorts in the area, Mount Lavinia is THE place for a sandy afternoon with a fruity cocktail in hand.
5. Shop for local souvenirs at Dutch Hospital Precinct
As the oldest building in Colombo, the old Dutch Hospital Precinct was transformed into a place for restaurants, cafes and local boutiques. Don’t expect a mall, but this is a great area to grab a bite to eat and shop for local souvenirs.