Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and the most developed city on the island. Located approximately 45 minutes away from Bandaranaike International Airport. The city also serves as the main transport hub, offering a solid base to travel around the island.
Colombo’s port was significant throughout history from as early as 5C – which saw ships from Arabia, China and Rome trading with the local monarchs for spices, food and jewels. The city fell to the hands of the Portuguese shortly after their arrival in 1505, followed by the invasion of the Dutch in 1656. By 1796, the British succeeded in capturing the island until independence was attained in 1948. Shortly after gaining independence in 1983, Sri Lanka fell under a civil war which devastated the country until terrorism was eradicated in 2009.
Colombo is thriving with a plethora of shopping experiences, whether its stylish, trendy boutiques or street bazaars that are ideal for bargaining. Shop for the latest outfits, the most colourful batiks, wooden crafts, Ceylon tea, exotic local spices, jewellery, and so much more. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it in the city of Colombo.
Things to do in the Colombo
Glamorous skylines illuminated by skyscrapers towers amongst the city’s most treasured historic remnants, whether it’s the National Museum or the old Fort bazaar.
- National Museum of Colombo – The largest museum on the island, the National Museum was built in 1877 and houses a collection of artefacts and relics from Sri Lanka’s rich past.
- Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple – Built in 1885, this is the city’s most visited Buddhist temple that hosts the most celebrated and colourful Vesak festival every year.
- Galle Face Green – An open stretch of land encompassing 5 ha of ocean-front space, Galle Face Green was initially laid out in 1859. It was once used for horse races, golf, cricket, polo, football, tennis and rugby.
- Independence Memorial Hall – Constructed in 1948 to commemorate the country’s day of independence from the British.
- Old Colombo Lighthouse – This lighthouse (which no longer functions) also serves as a clock tower in Colombo. Construction of the tower was completed in 1857.
- Dutch Hospital – Dating from 1681, the Dutch Hospital is a converted shopping and dining complex in the heart of the city.
Best time to visit the Colombo
The main monsoon that affects Colombo is the south-west monsoon which brings thunder showers to the city, between the months of May and July. Though Sri Lanka is a tropical island, expect to have occasional bouts of rain throughout the year.
Popular events in the Colombo
There are a number of cultural, religious and international festivals and events that occur in Colombo throughout the year.
- Navam Maha Perahera – Hosted by the Gangaramaya Temple on every Navam Poya day is a grand parade of mask dancers, traditional drums, fire breathers and more.
- Sinhala and Tamil New Year – The celebration of the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year takes place on the 14th of April, where locals gather and revel in festivities and traditions.
- Kala Pola – An annual event held in February displaying various creations from local artists are displayed on the sidewalks of Green Path.