Things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo is definitely full of character. With a population of over 2 million, it’s the highest density in Sri Lanka. You are sure to get a mix of culture, beautiful historic architecture mixed with modern skyscrapers and of course hustle and bustle of the city.
If you are visiting Colombo you can definitely see most things in 1-2 days. Some may say more, but 2 days was more than enough for my partner and I. Colombo is divided into 13 districts, with Colombo 01 being the centre of the city.We stayed in Colombo 05, a lot more quieter than the city, which is around 10-15 minutes into the centre via tuk tuk. Of course, that’s depending on the traffic, it can get very busy throughout the day. On our first day we mostly chilled after travelling almost 24 hours from Wales, U.K to our first destination of our travels, Sri Lanka. We ventured out for some food and a wander around the big city later in the evening. The next day we hired a tuk tuk to take us around all the sights. This cost 2,000 LKR for 3 hours.
THINGS TO DO
A must see whilst in Colombo. We visited very early, around 7-8am and got to witness Buddhist morning prayers by the locals. There were no tourists at all, and to be honest I felt like I was intruding a little but everyone was smiling as they passed by going about their morning routine. I sat amongst the locals as they meditated and said their morning prayers. It was a truly beautiful experience.
Tickets are 300 LKR (£1.32) per person and allows entry to Seema Malaka, which is a small Buddhist temple on Beira Lake.
The oldest Hindu temple in Colombo is very vibrant and tucked out the way from the city. We wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for Sura, our tuk tuk driver. We didn’t get to go inside but whilst looking around the local school kids were on a lunch break and playing outside. They all looked very curious, smiling and saying hello as they played.
Free to enter but may need to pay a small fee if you’re taking photographs.
Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid (red mosque)
This beautiful Mosque has mesmerising architecture. Situated in the Pettah District it stands out amongst the other buildings in the oldest part of Colombo.
We visited at 9:30am when it opened to tourists and we were the only tourists there. On entry I was given a chador to wear (a full length gown with hood). There is a designated tourist entrance, women can only enter the courtyard and must dress modestly. This goes for any religious site you visit whilst travelling.
TIP- take a scarf or sarong so you can cover up if need be. Entrance is free and there is an imam guide to tell you any information you’d like to know about the Mosque & Islam, which is also free.
Take a mini adventure around the market stalls and shops. Delve into the different smells of spices and foods, chattering and people watching. Remember, it is a market and can get VERY busy.
Galle Face Green
A long stretch of lawn where you can enjoy the sunset and try some local cuisine. The perfect spot to watch the local children playing, couples and families walking and watch some kites flying. When we visited there wasn’t any children on the lawn but plenty of locals playing sports and passing by. We sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunset over the city.
Places to eat
Café La Defense
A small café with great food, reasonably priced in District 05. It was right around the corner from the homestay we were staying at, Drop Inn. If you don’t want to stay right in the centre of the hustle and bustle then this place is worth a shout.
Plenty of good restaurants in a small strip hidden down a cobbled alley way lined with fairy lights (near Gangaramaya Temple). We ate at La Trottoria which is an Italian restaurant. The pizza was SO good, slightly expensive for a backpacker but worth it!
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