The largest city and economic capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination. Its elegant cultural setting owing to its British and Dutch colonial legacy strengthens this vibrant capital’s appeal.
Its location on the west coast of the island and its large natural harbor played a great role in its early development as a key trading hub even long before the British colonial empire. Colombo today is a bustling metropolis with all the modern amenities. It has a highly developed infrastructure yet still retains its colonial charm with its well-preserved heritage structures.
A walk around the seaside Fort district of Colombo reveals that remarkable contrast of architecture in the mix of gleaming office towers such as the World Trade Centre and the red-brick historic structures from the Dutch and British era.
Colombo also has a very lively nightlife with its casinos, bars and clubs where you can party until dawn. Dining options are also varied as there is an increasingly wide range of cuisines in the city’s cafes and restaurants. More affordable food but equally diverse choices can be found at the popular outdoor food centers.
Shopping in Colombo can range from the large shopping malls and upscale boutiques to the bazaars and street stalls like the ones in the famous Pettah Market. Visitors will be delighted to discover competitively priced handicrafts, garments and souvenirs.
The city of Colombo is the urban gateway to the rest of the country, giving a taste of the diverse attractions offered by Sri Lanka, from beaches to temples to monuments to its ancient heritage. Here are some of its attractions that are not to be missed:
National Museum of Colombo
Also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, the National Museum of Colombo is one of two museums in Colombo and the largest in the entire country. Its galleries feature exhibits on the rich history of ancient Sri Lanka, and prominently display the collection of regalia of the early Kandyan monarchs. In this magnificent Neoclassical building shaded by majestic banyan trees, visitors will see a fascinating collection of paintings, carvings, sculpture, as well as other important historical artifacts.
Galle Face Green
South of the Fort neighborhood is the famous Galle Face Green, a long grassy stretch by the sea. This site was originally cleared by the Dutch as a means to give their cannons a strategic line of fire from the fort. Today, Galle Face Green is the largest urban park in Colombo frequented by locals and tourists alike. People come here for picnics, sightseeing and tasting local street delights from the many food vendors that come on weekends.
This suburb south of Colombo city center is a hot tourist destination noted for its golden sand beaches and its many seafood restaurants. Mt. Lavinia Hotel, a British colonial theme hotel is located on the beachfront.
Sri Lanka's prime international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport, is at Katunayake on the northern coast of Colombo. The journey from the airport to Colombo will take about an hour by taxi with heavy traffic. Train services operate from nearby Katunayaka South Railway to the city centre of Colombo, but are not recommended as trains run only once a day and at different schedules on each day of the week. There is a public bus that can take you from the airport to the bus depot in the Colombo. Travellers should note though that large luggage are not allowed on these buses. Airport and hotel taxi services are also available.
Getting around the city by Tri-shaw (Three wheeler, tuk-tuk) is most convenient. These are fitted with meters, and you can hail them from the street. The local authorities operates its own fleet of brightly-colored 'tuk-tuks' around Colombo which are tourist friendly and metered to ensure that travellers are aware of the price being paid. Taxis in the city are also available and are a safer and more convenient way to travel.
Colombo's climate is tropical, so you can generally expect any time of the year is suitable for travel. There’s really more to enjoy in this scenic seaside city. Plan your holiday to Colombo in Sri Lanka and search for the best flight and airfare on Skyscanner Philippines.
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