What To Do in Colombo

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Planning for an epic getaway to Sri Lanka? While some travelers don’t even know this small island in the Indian Ocean even exists, you have discovered a paradise! Apart from aromatic tea, you get an endless coastline. And for a change, you can take a scenic railway trip on the hills. The color green is just about everywhere in Sri Lanka. The capital, Colombo; will most likely be the first stop on the trip to Sri Lanka. You may be wondering what to do in Colombo actually?

Let’s start discovering Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and the first city you are going to set your foot upon arrival like I did. Before jumping into the bustling metropolis, you might first check out Negombo. This township offers a lovely stretch of beach and is literally inbetween the airport and the city.

Check out this Postcard from Colombo!

While most visitors use Colombo only as the entry point to Sri Lanka, you should plan a stay there during your vacation. But what to do in Colombo? Wait and watch! I mean, read on.

The beautiful Dutch Museum

The entrance to the Dutch Museum in Colombo.
The entrance to the Dutch Museum in Colombo.

Sri Lanka has a long history, and this museum takes you back to the 17th century. Furnished with a lovely garden in the courtyard, this residence of the then Dutch governor has played many roles. 

You can still find the Dutch furniture here. After the Dutch Museum, you can continue your dig into Ceylon with the National Museum.

The historic National Museum

The National Museum of Colombo showcases artifacts from the Dutch period, but also from the royal period.
The National Museum of Colombo showcases artifacts from the Dutch period, but also from the royal period.

Not only is the building historic but also are the exhibits. The collection of artifacts is the most significant found in any museums and date back to the 19th century, to the time when this building was built. There are the swords and guns used in the rule and also the antique statues and paintings.

Read more: You Probably Haven't Heard of These Sri Lanka Destinations!

The collection not only has the Dutch influence but also boasts of the royal throne and the king’s crown. If you feel overwhelmed, take a stroll at the big green courtyard which surrounds the building. I had to rest under those banyan trees present there.

The Old Dutch Fort

Galle Fort is a remnant of the colonial history 2 hours away from Colombo.
Galle Fort is a remnant of the colonial history 2 hours away from Colombo.

Artifacts and exhibits aren’t the only things available of the history, there is this fort too and not to forget the numerous churches. Many buildings also are there to remind you of the Dutch and British. 

Oh, yes, the fort. It’s a 2-hour picturesque drive along the coastline before you reach Galle. There is this UNESCO heritage site, surrounded by waters from three sides.

Read more: Adrian's Sri Lanka Road Trip

And if you aren’t interested in history anymore, take a detour towards the Lavinia beach, before returning Colombo. It’s a peaceful area away from the city. You can enjoy the sunset there and get back to your stay.

Viharamahadevi Park

Viharamahadevi Park is the largest one in Colombo, and this is a popular gathering spot for locals.
Viharamahadevi Park is the largest one in Colombo, and this is a popular gathering spot for locals.

This is the biggest park in Colombo, and the locals come here for some quality family time. While children can play on the slides and swings, adults can have their walks under the trees. You can also find an elephant-ride.

Named Victoria Park initially, this park has a massive statue of Lord Buddha. It is open 24 hours and is maintained well. If you go there in the month of April-May, you can see the beautiful flowers. Too bad, I went in the winter.

Okay, that was a glimpse of what this city has in its bag. But what to do in Colombo when feeling hungry?

The food feast at Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a great place to relax and find delicious street food in Colombo.
Galle Face Green is a great place to relax and find delicious street food in Colombo.

This long space on the seafront is a local favorite. People come in groups or with families, and you also can spot kids playing in the evening. And food vendors selling snacks. 

There are many forms of Sri Lankan delicacies to enjoy during (or after) the sunset. You can try your hands on eating Kottu (chopped bread with vegetables, eggs and/or meat) or the many other deep-fried fritters. Kottu, by the way, is a popular dinner dish in Sri Lanka.

Read more: Evening Stroll Down Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a one-stop place for Sri Lankan street food, and it’s cheap. Coconut water is available in plenty, and so is lime juice. And if you want to try the staple rice and curry, head to the Old Dutch Hospital.

Dinner (or Lunch) at the Hospital

Trying out the diverse Sri Lankan cuisine is an absolute must on your what to do in Colombo list.
Trying out the diverse Sri Lankan cuisine is an absolute must on your what to do in Colombo list.

Eating hospital food, am I crazy? No, it’s no more a hospital. It’s your food district; there are a number of restaurants offering a range of cuisine. You can have a heart-full of Sri Lankan plate and don’t forget the Watalappam. It’s a traditional dessert made up of eggs, sugar, and coconut, and there also is cinnamon.

Cinnamon is present in most of the dishes either in the raw form or the spices. And the same is true for coconut. Not mixed with spices, but in the liquid form. You either eat it (in food) as oil or milk or drink it raw. Coconut water stalls can be spotted almost everywhere.

For the seafood fans, Ministry of Crab is a popular destination, and it’s famous for… yes, a range of crab preparations. The prices though are a bit premium there.

And not to miss the Tuk-Tuk ride

Try not to miss a tuk-tuk ride while you're in Colombo!
Try not to miss a tuk-tuk ride while you're in Colombo!

Tuk-tuks are the cheapest way to get around in Colombo (and Sri Lanka). They are available everywhere. It’s fast and easy and a great way to cover short distances, even if you are not tired of walking. They’re kind guys and would stop to ask if you want a ride. This is definitely one of the things to add to your what to do in Colombo list!


So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know what to do in Colombo extend your trip and book a stay now! You don’t need a lot and can cover most of it in a day (or two, at a leisurely pace).

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.