gangaramaya temple sri lanka buddha

Exploring Colombo – Things To Do

The capital city of Colombo should no doubt be your first port of call when arriving in Sri Lanka. I’m generally not a big city person but I’m glad we spent a couple of days here.  There are plenty of things to do in Colombo and we discovered some some real gems throughout the city. To experience the hustle and bustle of this city is something special in itself!

Here are some ideas on things to do in Colombo:

Gangaramaya Temple

In between stuffing our faces we also explored the Gangaramaya Temple which is something rather strange and special. This place is a labyrinth of Buddhist artifacts, ornate ornaments, silver jewelry, crockery and ivory. It was like an antiques store. In the courtyard was what seemed to be a sacred tree where women were pouring Holy water and flowers over the tree in offering and prayer. The atmosphere is almost a little eerie but also quite magical and humbling.


gangaramaya temple


Independence Square

The park at Independence Square is a great place for an evening stroll. At the other end you will find the beautiful colonial Independence Arcade building. There are a variety of up market shops and restaurants here. You will also find our favourite restaurant here, Kaema Sutra – their hoppers make life worth living for! We actually went there twice while in Colombo – it was incredibly good.


            Independence square - things to do in colombo                independence arcade colombo


Dining in Colombo

The city offers a variety of restaurants offering local cuisine as well as other international tastes. If you’re into dining out read my post on the Best Restaurants in Colombo. Generally, on your journey throughout Sri Lanka I recommend sticking to the local cuisine. Not only because it’s so good and cheap, but because the quality of Western cuisine is rather poor. I mean for me, discovering a new country and culture goes hand-in-hand with experiencing it’s authentic cuisine. However, in saying this, Colombo really does have some fantastic restaurants of International cuisine that are worth splurging on.


            ministry of crab colombo                hopper kaema sutra colombo


Sunset and cocktails over the city

A visit to the very grand Kingsbury Hotel is a must. Their very trendy rooftop Sky Bar offers great music, the best rooftop view in Colombo and signature cocktails – the Margaritas are fantastic.  A creative comfort menu is also available if you feel like a snack as well several other dining options within the hotel to suit all tastes.

Insider Tips

A taxi from the aiport should be around LKR 3500. I recommend getting a local sim card from one of the cellular providers at the airport. This way you can always have internet access on to go to help you plan your trip as you go.

Getting around the city is easiest (and most fun) by tuk-tuk. It’s always best to get some local knowledge on this. Ask your accommodation host what the prices generally are for taxi/tuk-tuk services. Unfortunately there are people who will happily rip-off the ignorant tourist.

If you’ve heard of the Pettah Market, I can honestly say – forget it! Definitely not one of the better things to do in Colombo. Nothing but a tacky market of junk, swarming with vendors yelling at you and shoving their merchandise in your face. It was the only place throughout my whole trip where I didn’t feel safe.

Read more:

Top Activities – Ella, Sri Lanka

Negombo Fish Market

Hiking Adam’s Peak

Best Restaurants Colombo


gangaramaya temple -things to do in colombo

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