Sri Lanka’s Capital City of Colombo seamlessly combines the incredible culture and history of the island with modern tourist attractions and amenities. If you are looking for what to do in Colombo. You are in the right place.
The city’s unique colonial history Portuguese, Dutch and British adds additional layers to the mix. As the country’s capital city, it’s also filled with museums and places to visit that illustrate Sri Lanka’s rich history.
Too many visitors merely land in Colombo and head directly to one of the country’s resort areas. Spend a day or two in the capital and you’ll be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the island’s culture. The main central business district area is known as Colombo Fort and that’s where you’ll find a lot of government buildings, museums, luxury hotels, shopping and large hotels.
The area is named for the original Portuguese Fort which guarded the harbor area, directly in front of the fort is the Galle Face Green a large oceanfront park. Plan your sightseeing in Sri Lanka’s capital with our list of the best places to visit in Colombo.
In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at the top 10 places to Things to Do in Colombo. Something you would never even have thought of so make sure you read till the end of the article.
10. Excel World Entertainment Park
If you have kids and you’re visiting Colombo this tiny amusement center needs to be on your itinerary. It’s a fun local experience with a shopping mall, a few rides, a bowling alley, an arcade and a food court. There’s also a movie theater showing Western and Bollywood films. The bowling alley is especially popular as it’s the only one in Colombo.
Things to do at the park include laser tag, a carousel, bumper cars and a bounce house. Whatever that may be. If you visit during December the mall is known for bringing in snow to create an indoor winter wonderland called Snow World. It’s the only place in Sri Lanka to celebrate a white Christmas complete with yes that old man Santa Claus. Excel World is right next to Beira Lake.
9. Gangaramaya Temple
This Buddhist temple complex was constructed in the late 19th century. The temple is a place of worship but also looks to educate people about Buddhism. It’s also like a museum as it showcases a lot of physical items from jewelry to coins and even vintage Rolls Royce. You can also view the temple’s most sacred religious relic a lock of the Buddha’s hair as well as a sacred tree around which the temple was built.
Visit during the February full moon called “Poya Day” to see the Ganga Ramayana temple’s annual colorful religious ceremony. Which includes a procession led by the temple’s elephant. The temple complex is in central Colombo not far from Beira Lake.
8. National Museum Of Natural History
Located right near the Colombo National Museum across from the Viharamahadevi Park in Central Colombo. The National Museum of Natural History showcases the country’s incredible natural history. Plants, insects, fish, amphibians and animals are displayed exclusively those that are endemic to the country.
Many rare animals shown are threatened with extinction. Aside from plants, there are many displays of rocks and minerals also those that are native to the island. In addition to the animals and plants. There are skeletons and fossils of ancient and extinct creatures including dinosaurs. The museum is a great tourist experience for families and kids.
7. Mount Lavinia Beach
Sri Lanka’s main beach resort town Mount Lavinia is a suburb of Colombo. There are many hotels here and it can be a good alternative to staying in the city. It’s an easy 30-minute drive from downtown Colombo or a 15-minute train ride and a fun way to spend an afternoon or a few days. The main stretch of the beach is known as the Golden Mile and it’s filled with tourist-focused businesses as well as an active nightlife scene.
Mount Lavinia has also become popular as an LGBTIQA-friendly area. Hosting an annual pride-themed rainbow kite festival. The beach is not a protected bay so the water can be very rough during certain times of the year. Use caution when swimming. There are some very nice restaurants along the beach fun promenade and the beach itself is filled with vendors selling everything from food to bathing suits. If you stay at the beach past 6 P.M. You’ll be rewarded with an incredible sunset view.
6. Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre
This large modern performing arts complex hosts a wide range of Music, Dance and Cultural Performances. It was recently renamed for the country’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Like many other things in Sri Lanka, the design is intentionally reminiscent of a lotus flower. Programming includes symphony performances and opera, Chinese Sri Lankan and Western.
They also do modern pop concerts. Performances are given in the main auditorium or in the open-air amphitheater. The theatre is in central Colombo across from vihara mahadevi park. The theatre’s schedule can be viewed online and tickets can be purchased online as well. It’s a cool place to visit in Colombo because regardless of what you go to see you’ll find yourself surrounded by locals.
5. National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka
The city’s large Colombo Zoo is located in the Dehiwala area. More than just animals in cages. The zoo focuses on education as well as animal conservation and welfare. One of the oldest zoos in Asia. It’s home to almost 3,000 different animals of all shapes and sizes.
The zoo has daily demonstrations with keepers of various animals. The zoo is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the urban zoo in Dahiwala about two hours outside of Colombo in Pinawala. There is a larger wildlife park and an elephant sanctuary both operated by the Department of Zoological Gardens.
4. Viharamahadevi Park
This giant green space is Colombo’s central park and one of its only large open space areas and provides areas to relax and enjoy or escape from the sunshine. There are many fountains in the park as well as a small zoo. Kids will enjoy the playground. You can visit the cenotaph a war memorial statue as well as the national library both of which are located in the park.
The park is also home to a large 15-foot tall Buddha statue the largest cast-blast Buddha statue in the country. Now named for one of the country’s ancient queens. The park was formerly called Victoria Park. The Viharamahadevi Park sits between the National Museum of Colombo and the city hall.
3. Sri Lanka Planetarium
Sri Lanka’s first and only planetarium can be a fascinating way to escape the hot sun. The planetarium is located at the University of Colombo. There’s a public entrance across from Independence Square. The large auditorium has 570 seats with a domed ceiling and the night sky and its constellations are projected onto it.
Aside from the exhibits and programming the structure itself is architecturally striking and a must-do for Instagram. The lotus flower design shares elements with iconic monomial cathedrals in Liver Pool England and Brazil. The Sri Lanka Planetarium is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, except Mondays. Shows are presented at 10 a.m and 2 p.m and tickets are less than 1$.
2. The National Museum of Colombo
The National Museum of Colombo Also called the Sri Lanka National Museum is the official museum of Sri Lanka and takes you on a journey over thousands of years of Sri Lankan culture. It’s one of those museums that has multiple types of media from artwork to artifacts. as well as clothing, jewelry, coins, arms and craftwork.
The displays show both the cultural and natural heritage of the country presented chronologically starting with pre-history and leading to the present day. Give yourself a few hours to fully explore the collections. The museum is housed in a grand Victorian colonial building in central Colombo near Viharamahadevi Park.
1. Lotus Tower
One of the coolest and highest places to visit in Colombo is also one of the city’s newest things to do. The Colombo Lotus Tower is South Asia’s tallest freestanding structure. This 368 meters or 1168 feet and a trip to the top rewards visitors with unobstructed views across Colombo and the surrounding cityscape and sea. It is an example of a modern architecture.
The tower which houses a lot of telecommunications equipment has a telecom museum, a shopping mall at the base, a revolving fine dining restaurant and indoor and outdoor observation areas. The tower is also a sight to see from the outside. It’s covered in LED lighting and presents seasonal-themed lighting displays each night. The lotus tower is designed to replicate a lotus bulb and flower. Simultaneously represents the historic culture of the country and its focus on the future.
There you have the top 10 Things to Do in Colombo. Did you like what you saw and read? Let us know in the comments below. Share this Article with your friends and don’t forget to visit our social media to like and follow for more fantastic travel guides see you next time.
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