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Sri Lanka

Colombo Holidays

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Kick back in Colombo

Colombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka, is the most populous city on the island. It’s the country’s financial centre, but it still has plenty to offer tourists. On your holiday to Colombo, you can expect to find a bustling, vibrant city, where modern life buzzes among colonial buildings and ruins.

Colombo was the capital from 1815, until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. In 1978, the country's administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte and Colombo was re-designated as the country’s commercial capital.

Historically, Colombo has been home to Portuguese, Dutch and Arab settlers, so its international character has a long heritage. In the 19th century, the city was known as ‘the garden city of the East’ and the legacy of its garden city routes is still visible today. Stroll along the shady boulevards on your Colombo holiday and visit the Fort neighbourhood, where you’ll find colonial architecture undergoing ongoing restoration. Pettah, meanwhile, is a bustling centre of commerce home to bright markets and hotel-lined Galle Road.

In recent years, the city’s skyline has been transformed by a boom in infrastructure. As well as new buildings and new roads, Colombo now has a huge shopping centre and a gleaming harbour. For those who like the cosmopolitan lifestyle, Colombo offers a rich menu of shops, galleries and restaurants. Be prepared to do some exploring, and you’ll discover some of Colombo’s hidden gems including quirky tucked-away cafes, colourful shops and, of course, fantastic local food.

Colombo is divided into 13 districts, with Colombo 1 – also known as Fort – at the centre of the city. With Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian inhabitants, Colombo is the most ethnically diverse city in Sri Lanka. The best way to get to know your way around is to pull on some comfortable shoes and take a stroll. Or hop in a tuk-tuk and wind through the city’s neighbourhoods, which are bursting with colonial history and lively markets.

Best time to go

Things to do

Fort district

Pettah district

Best time to visit Colombo

Though temperatures are a fairly consistent 27C-29°C all year round, many visitors choose to go on holiday to Colombo between January and March, since this is the dry season. You might still get the odd shower, but this is the coolest time of year in Colombo and the humidity is low, making it an ideal time for exploring on foot and sightseeing. This is also the best time to go if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the ocean, as January to March is when the sea is at its calmest. Plus, you’re most likely to spot blue whales and sperm whales at this time of year.

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Things to do in Colombo

There’s no shortage of things to do on your Colombo trip. For starters, there’s the National Museum. Housed in a beautiful building, built in 1876, and surrounded by tranquil parkland, this place showcases exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of ancient Sri Lanka. You can also visit the Buddhist temple Gangaramaya to see an astonishing number of Buddhas, and even a relic of Buddha’s hair. Near the temple, in the heart of Colombo, is Beira Lake – a vast, green lake with the Simamalaka Shrine on an island at its centre.

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Meanwhile, the Independence Memorial Hall plays tribute to Sri Lanka gaining its independence in 1948. The huge stone building is surrounded by lush, green gardens and has a fascinating museum. Finish a day of sightseeing in Colombo by tucking into Sri Lankan rice and curry while you watch the sun set at Galle Face Green.

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Show Less

Fort district

The Fort neighbourhood was once a real fort, surrounded by sea and a moat. Nowadays, it’s a vibrant but compact area, perfect for exploring on foot. The Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, on Marine Drive, is a great starting point for your walk, as it offers a great view over Colombo’s shore and harbour. Stroll through downtown Fort area – also known as Colombo 1 – to marvel at colonial-era architectural masterpieces standing side-by-side with modern structures. 

Show More
Show Less

The old Dutch Hospital is a great example of this and not to be missed. It dates back to the early 1600s and now houses some great cafes and restaurants – the perfect spot for lunch. Built in 1914, Central Point on Chatham Street was once the Central Bank, and remains the most impressive renovated building in the Fort area. Inside, look out for the spectacular chandelier, which is the tallest in Asia.

Show More
Show Less

Pettah district

To experience the energy of Colombo, immerse yourself in the market stalls and shops of Pettah, one of Colombo’s oldest districts. When you tire of shopping, you can find sanctuary in the neighbourhood’s many churches and mosques. Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque on the corner of 2nd Cross Street and Bankshall Street is a fascinating red and white brick building, dating back to 1909. And elegant Wolvendaal Church, built in 1749, is one of the most significant Dutch buildings in Sri Lanka. The church is so-named because early Dutch settlers mistook the jackals that roamed the area for wolves.

Show More
Show Less

The Dutch Period Museum, at 95 Prince Street, also houses interesting colonial artifacts and has a peaceful courtyard outside. Spending time on Pettah’s crowded streets is exhilarating, but can be a little overwhelming – so take it as it comes and stop for as many cafe breaks as you need.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Colombo

Though temperatures are a fairly consistent 27C-29°C all year round, many visitors choose to go on holiday to Colombo between January and March, since this is the dry season. You might still get the odd shower, but this is the coolest time of year in Colombo and the humidity is low, making it an ideal time for exploring on foot and sightseeing. This is also the best time to go if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the ocean, as January to March is when the sea is at its calmest. Plus, you’re most likely to spot blue whales and sperm whales at this time of year.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Colombo

There’s no shortage of things to do on your Colombo trip. For starters, there’s the National Museum. Housed in a beautiful building, built in 1876, and surrounded by tranquil parkland, this place showcases exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of ancient Sri Lanka. You can also visit the Buddhist temple Gangaramaya to see an astonishing number of Buddhas, and even a relic of Buddha’s hair. Near the temple, in the heart of Colombo, is Beira Lake – a vast, green lake with the Simamalaka Shrine on an island at its centre.

Show More
Show Less

Meanwhile, the Independence Memorial Hall plays tribute to Sri Lanka gaining its independence in 1948. The huge stone building is surrounded by lush, green gardens and has a fascinating museum. Finish a day of sightseeing in Colombo by tucking into Sri Lankan rice and curry while you watch the sun set at Galle Face Green.

Show More
Show Less

Fort district

Fort district

The Fort neighbourhood was once a real fort, surrounded by sea and a moat. Nowadays, it’s a vibrant but compact area, perfect for exploring on foot. The Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, on Marine Drive, is a great starting point for your walk, as it offers a great view over Colombo’s shore and harbour. Stroll through downtown Fort area – also known as Colombo 1 – to marvel at colonial-era architectural masterpieces standing side-by-side with modern structures. 

Show More
Show Less

The old Dutch Hospital is a great example of this and not to be missed. It dates back to the early 1600s and now houses some great cafes and restaurants – the perfect spot for lunch. Built in 1914, Central Point on Chatham Street was once the Central Bank, and remains the most impressive renovated building in the Fort area. Inside, look out for the spectacular chandelier, which is the tallest in Asia.

Show More
Show Less

Pettah district

Pettah district

To experience the energy of Colombo, immerse yourself in the market stalls and shops of Pettah, one of Colombo’s oldest districts. When you tire of shopping, you can find sanctuary in the neighbourhood’s many churches and mosques. Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque on the corner of 2nd Cross Street and Bankshall Street is a fascinating red and white brick building, dating back to 1909. And elegant Wolvendaal Church, built in 1749, is one of the most significant Dutch buildings in Sri Lanka. The church is so-named because early Dutch settlers mistook the jackals that roamed the area for wolves.

Show More
Show Less

The Dutch Period Museum, at 95 Prince Street, also houses interesting colonial artifacts and has a peaceful courtyard outside. Spending time on Pettah’s crowded streets is exhilarating, but can be a little overwhelming – so take it as it comes and stop for as many cafe breaks as you need.

Show More
Show Less

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Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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