Colombo is the most famous vacation destination of Sri Lanka so you can find the option of several day tours from Colombo. If you are looking for a weekend getaway or you are in the city on vacation, these destinations are great for a quick one day trip.
The most famous day trip from Colombo is Kandy despite its contemporary facade, you can still find authentic streets here and explore Bahirwa Kanda hill which has a magnificent Buddha statue and the iconic temple of Tooth relic, withholding a tooth of Buddha for decades. Sigiriya, Nilaveli, Unawatuna, Ratnapura, etc. are more of such day tour spots where you can experience exhilarating experiences.
You can discover various one day trip places near Colombo like Galle fort, Madu river that you can visit all year long. Here you will get a chance to explore the historical significance of Buddhism in Sri Lankan culture. If you decide to extend your visit you can also go for less crowded Colombo day trips spots such as Dambulla, Trincomalee, and Negombo where you can visit white sandy beaches and experience Portuguese culture in solace.
People Also Ask About Day Tours in Colombo
Which are the best day trips from Colombo?
1. Kandy: Kandy is the second largest town in Sri Lanka, after the capital Colombo. It is ascended to the top of a plateau lined with imposing mountains and magnificent tea plantations. Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic is unarguably the most renowned temple of Sri Lanka which is located in Kandy.
Kandy is also home to countless remarkable historic sites as well as scenic tourist attractions. Apart from religious sites, Kandy has numerous tranquil tourist attractions like the Kandy lake, Ceylon Tea museum and the alluring Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens with over 4,000 floral species.
Best Time - December to April
Distance from Colombo - Approximately 120 kilometers
Highlights - Temple of Tooth, Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha statue, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Horton Plains National Park
2. Nilaveli: The coastal town of Nilaveli is 16 km from Trincomalee District in the east of Sri Lanka. The town is ideal for water sports, scuba diving, and snorkeling. If you want a great one day trip near Colombo then Nilaveli is a great spot with its famous Pigeon island and its marine national park.
You can also stroll around the Nilaveli beach which is surrounded by green lush vegetation on both the sides. Nilaveli is also home to a prominent religious site called Velgam Vehera having a great archaeological importance linked to it
Best Time - November to May
Distance from Colombo - Approximately 280 kilometers
Highlights - Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli Beach
3. Unawatuna: Famous for its alluring beaches, cute eateries and plenty of sightseeing, Unwatuna makes for a great day tour from Colombo with its numerous tourist attractions. There are a plethora of places you can choose from while visiting Unawatuna available for every budget.
You can relax and unwind or take a dip in the cold waters of Unawatuna beach or explore different species of sea turtles at Sea Turtle hatchery. Get the hang of turquoise waters hidden at the Jungle beach and enjoy a beautiful sunset in the evening.
Best Time - October to April
Distance from Colombo - Approximately 144 kilometres
Highlights - Jungle beach, Japanese peace Pagoda, Talpe, Sea Turtle Hatchery
4. Sigiriya: Another great one day trip place near Colombo is Sigriya, declared as a heritage site by UNESCO. Singiriya is a fine blend of both ancient and urbanic destinations. Lion Rock is the most prominent tourist and globally recognised for debris of the ancient Rock fortress.
It is located in the Matale district and is a well-preserved attraction. It also served as a Buddhist monastery until the end of the 13th century. The gigantic Lion’s paws welcome the visitors at the site. You can also hike to the summit of Pidurangala Rock and enjoy the stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Sigiriya Rock and the surrounding landscape.
Best Time - February to April
Distance from Colombo - 176 kilometers
Highlights - Royal Garden, Sigiriya Rock, Lion’s Paws, Dambulla Cave Temple, Pidurangala Rock
5. Galle: Galle is located on the southwest coast and is considered to be the best place in Sri Lanka because of its rich culture and history. It is famous for its Dutch and Portuguese heritage which is still reflected in its architecture spread all over the city.
You can kickstart your Galle day tour from Colombo, by exploring the Kalutara Bodhiya Buddhist Temple, Beruwala beach and many other places. It is a delight to explore the city on foot with the goodness of green surroundings and pleasant weather. Wandering on its lanes you can also find quirky boutiques and stylish eateries at every corner of the street.
Best Time - December to April
Distance from Colombo - 124 kilometres
Highlights - Maritime Archeology Museum, alle Fort Clock Tower, Sea Turtle Hatchery
6. Ratnapura: Ratnapura is a populous city famous for its gemstone industry. Some of the world’s most popular gemstones like Blue Belle of Asia, Star of India, etc. were discovered here and attracts a lot of local and foreign traders across the globe.
The city also holds a historical significance as well as has countless picturesque waterfalls such as Bopath Ella Falls, and Katugas Ella Falls. If you are on a day tour from Colombo here, you can also explore the National Museum, home to a lot of artefacts, cultural weaponry and fossils of deers and elephants.
Best Time - January to March
Distance from Colombo - 113 kilometres
Highlights - Maha Saman Devalaya, Katugas Ella Falls, Adam's Peak
7. Kalpitiya - Kalpitiya is also known as the peninsula of untold mysteries. It is a paradise for people who enjoy long walks near the shore of the beach, beautiful golden sunsets and adventure activities.
Kalpitiya has 14 islands and is an upcoming tourist attraction spot in Sri Lanka. You can enjoy activities like surfing, kitesurfing, and whale watching here. Kalpitiya Lagoon is one such place to enjoy water sports. The town is home to local fishermen and is known for its waterfront beauty so you can learn a lot about marine life within the natural habitat of the sea.
Best Time - April to October
Distance from Colombo - 171 kilometres
Highlights - Wilpattu National Park, Kalpitiya Beach, Kalpitiya Lagoon
8. Dambulla: If you are into history and ancient sites, then Dambulla is the perfect one day trip near Colombo for you! Dambulla is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and is called the city of ancient Sri Lanka. The town has a peaceful environment due to its religious and spiritual monuments such as Golden Temple and Buddhist Cave temple.
Other than the religious sites, the town also offers a wildlife zoo, Popham’s Arboretum where the visitors can indulge in jungle safaris. Jathika Namal Uyana is the largest ironwood forest of Sri Lanka, as a stretched garden embodied with alluring flowers and pink quartz mountains.
Best Time - January to May
Distance from Colombo - 159 kilometres
Highlights - Kandalama Lake, Jathika Namal Uyana, Popham’s Arboretum
9. Minneriya National Park: The Minneriya National park is located 4 hours away from Colombo and is famous for the annual gathering of herds of elephants, migrating from one place to other. You can view the majestic elephants migrating during the dry season to the Minneriya Tank for water.
You can roam around in jeeps and also locate several species of birds, reptiles and other mammals. Since a lot of plants and animal species thrive together here you can also get a chance to explore multiple habitats from wetlands to scrublands. Due to its alluring natural beauty, it is a must-visit place for tourists and is added to everyday tour from Colombo.
Best Time - May to September
Distance from Colombo - 190 kilometres
Highlights - Herds of elephants, species of mammals, birds, flora and fauna
10. Vavuniya: Vayuniya is the transport hub of Sri Lanka. It is a wholesome town with both Earthly and homely elements of Sri Lanka as it gives you both hustle-bustle of urban life and the quiet of the countryside with lush green forests in the same place.
It is just a day trip from Colombo and is perfect for a long drive. You can visit the clock tower, Grand Jummah Mosque, Iru Pothana ruins and the Archaeological museum. You can make memories of a lifetime with a fascinating trekking experience at Erupothana Reservoir with tremendous lakes and leopards walking with you side by side.
Best Time - December to April
Distance from Colombo - 255 kilometres
Highlights - Clock tower, Kali Kovil, Kandhasamy Kovil, Madukantha Vihara, Grand Jummah Mosque, Archaeological museum
11. Polonnaruwa: Polonnaruwa is a hidden gem of Sri Lanka with historical places with a homely experience altogether. The old part of the city is also recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and has numerous monarchical structures and relics.
Gal Vihara, a Buddhist Rock temple situated in the middle of the city, has the relics of the tooth of Lord Buddha and many other statuettes devoted to him. The other prominent attraction of the city is the Minneriya National park which is majorly dedicated to elephants. It has the most momentous elephant herds in the whole of Asia.
Best Time - November to March
Distance from Colombo - 229 kilometres
Highlights - Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu, Kiri Vihara, Rankoth Vehera, Minneriya National Park
12. Wilpattu National Park: The Wilpattu national park is the largest and oldest national park of Sri Lanka. It has several lakes spread all over the area and is known for its large population of leopards residing here.
Besides leopards, the place is also home to several mammals and reptiles such as the Sri Lankan elephant, Indian python, monitor lizards and sloth bears. The national park also has a significant bird species. If you are a wildlife aficionado then this place will give you a pleasant experience.
Best Time - February to October
Distance from Colombo - 214 kilometres
Highlights - Leopards, Sri Lankan junglefowl, sloth bears
13. Negombo: Negombo is a secluded and less discovered town of Sri Lanka known for its white sandy beaches and tranquil blue waters. It is also the nearest day trip from Colombo as it is just 10 kilometres away from the Bandaranaike International Airport.
The town has a rich history of the trade of spices and seafood and is one of the commercial hubs of the country. You can still find glimpses of dutch and Portuguese culture in this town in monuments like the old Dutch fort and St. Mary’s church. The city is globally famous for its hand-made ceramics and brassware items which can be used as the perfect souvenirs for you.
Best Time - February to April
Distance from Colombo - 37 kilometres
Highlights - Negombo Lagoon, St. Mary’s Church, Browns Beach, Dutch Fort
14. Batticola: Commonly referred to as “Batti”, Batticola is a small town situated on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. It is a calming detox place with its mellow and calm vibes. Although it is the farthest day tour from Colombo, it is easy to reach due to its connectivity over both roads and railways.
This town is rich in Tamil culture and traditions and will enable you to explore their food and lifestyles. It also has breathtaking forts and palm trees that are best explored on foot.
Best Time - April to September
Distance from Colombo - Approximately 320 kilometres
Highlights - Beautiful lagoons, Batticaloa fort, Kallady beach
15. Trincomalee: Famously known as Gokarna, the quaint city of Trincomalee, is an essential segment of the country which contributes to the development and betterment of the city. It is famous for white sandy beaches and magnificent harbours.
There are several places within the city such as Marble beach, Fort Frederick, Nilaveli beach, etc. which has made it an upcoming tourist attraction spot. The locals and villagers here predominantly speak Tamil so you can also acquire some insights of their culture and traditions on your visit here. The Gokarna Bay temple is the most popular spot of the city and attracts countless tourists from all over the world.
Best Time - May to June
Distance from Colombo - 265 kilometres
Highlights - Fort Frederick, Marble Beach, Kanniya hot springs, Swami rock
What is the best time for day trips near Colombo?
The best time to visit Colombo if one considers to indulge into Colombo day trips of the west and south coasts and the mountainous region and the northeast monsoon is between November to February. Although the city experiences heavy rainfalls throughout the year except for the dry season, the months between January to March are perfect for sightseeing.
How do I get from Colombo to Galle?
- By Road: You can reach Colombo to Galle from a direct route called the Southern expressway and only take two hours by cab or taxi.
- By Bus: The quickest and hustle-free route to get to Galle from Colmbo is via bus which is also much more scenic and comfortable.
- By Train: There are multiple short and long routes to commute via trains that can take about 2-4 hours
How far is Minneriya National Park from Colombo?
The distance between Minneriya National park from Colmbo is approximately 180 kilometers.
Which are the best places to visit in Kandy on a day trip from Colombo?
1. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: If you are into wildlife then visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an experience worth relishing! This is a popular breeding ground for more than 90 elephants that remain within their natural habitat. Tourists can see them as they visit the orphanage to see the stately animals.
2. Kandy Lake: If you are on board a one day trip around Colombo, Kandy lake is a must-visit place, with its stunning nature views and historical sites. The lake is also known by the name of Kiri Muhuda or Mer de Lait and is an artificial lake. There is also an island situated in the middle of the lake which is also a famous attraction.
3. Hulu River Waterfall: Just 30 kilometres into a tranquil town called Dumbara, lies the Hulu river. It is one of the shortest Colombo day tours and originates from the picturesque Knuckles mountain range and leaves the visitors awestruck. The Hulu river or The Huluganga Falls remain untouched because of their natural surroundings. If you're looking for places to visit around Kandy, don't forget to stop by this majestic waterfall.
4. Bahirawakanda Temple: The Bahirawakanda temple is a major and distinct attraction for spiritual seekers. This place is also a Buddhist monastery and a lot of Buddhist events take place here.
What are the best things to do in Galle on a day trip from Colombo?
1. Dutch fort: Dutch Fort is one of the most outstanding historical and archaeological sites in the world. It is an astonishing mix of archeology, architecture and history in the context of the tropical atmosphere. You can stroll on the streets and glance at the charm of the beautiful architecture of the colonial style buildings.
2. Lagoon Canoeing Tour: Unawatuna is a stunning island where the majority of adventure sports take place in Galle. Canoeing is such a wonderful experience which can take you in the middle of flora and fauna characterized by shifting landscapes and alluring mangroves.
3. Maritime Archeology Museum: If you are an admirer of historic museums and century-old artifacts, then you must definitely pay a visit to Maritime Archaeology Museum. The museum showcases models of ships, boats and artilleries retrieved from historic shipwrecks.
4. The Flag Rock: If you wish to end your hectic outing day, watching sunset at the horizon, with waves crashing against the rocks and making soulful music, the Flag rock is perfect for you. It is popular among tourists as a sunset point and for visiting the lighthouse.
5. Scuba diving: Tourists really wish to enjoy the water bodies on their Colombo day tours, and fortunately enough Galle offers great conditions for water sports. The diving institutes offer different levels of courses such as Open Water Diving, Refresh Diving Course, Fresher Diving, Master Level Diving, Reef Diving. You can explore the noiseless underwater world which is soothing and meditating.
The tallest skyscraper of Sri Lanka- Colombo Lotus tower is also known as “Nelum Kuluna” in Sinhala. Colombo lotus tower is one of the most famous tourist sites in the town of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Standing at a height of 356 meters this tower is the tallest tower in South Asia, 11th tallest tower in Asia and 19th tallest tower in the world. It has become one of the major tourist attractions in Sri Lanka and popular among tourists. If you plan on visiting the country then this tower is a must-visit. It basically serves as a transmission tower for tv and radio. Besides being a transmission and communicating tower it also serves various leisure activities. There are banquet halls, shopping malls, hotels with suites, restaurants, museums, auditoriums and much more for the tourist to explore in the tower. There is a revolving restaurant at the top which provides a scenic view of the city. It completes one rotation every 90 minutes. This tower is one of the biggest highlights of Colombo and due to its enormous length, it can be seen from as far as 10kms from the main site. Approximately 50 television and radio broadcasters can be accommodated in the tower, along with 20 telecommunication providers. Lotus tower can attract more than thousands of tourists every day. It is open 24 hours and 365 days of the year for the tourists. On special festivals such as Pongal, Diwali, Eid, Christmas and many more the interiors of the tower are decorated accordingly. This tower is surely a gem in the busy city of Colombo and must not be missed if you are planning to tour this beautiful city.
Galle face green, a mesmerizing destination with a magnificent coast, it is one of the most admired grounds in the world. Found in Colombo, the Galle face green park is spread across an enormous area of more than 12 acres. Running alongside the picturesque costs, the park is celebrated among various tourists as an extraordinary spot to relish upon a number of activities including gazing at the mesmerizing sunset, enjoying delicious street food, picnics, taking a tour of the ancient Galle Fort, kite flying, volleyball, and many more adventures. The origin story of this enigmatic urban park goes way back to the 18th century. It was Sir Henry Ward, Governor of the British Ceylon who had first proposed the notion of constructing this park. The park is now a go to spot for tens of hundreds of localities and international tourists for various recreational activities. From delicious delicacies of Srilanka to multitudes of beach adventures, visitors are found here having a time of their lives. What makes the place even more special is it's fun ambiance that allows even the little ones to open their wings and fly. In other words, it doesn't matter if you are a sports fanatic looking to indulge in some thrills or a food fanatic craving for some flavorful munchies, you will find everything here at the Galle face green. Additionally, some of the most prominent events including hosting the largest artificial Christmas Tree in the world during Christmas are held on this ground. All in all, a fun place to delight upon the beautiful landscape, indulge in some adventures with friends and family and savoring a few delicious street foods, Galle face green can quite simply be your next weekend destination.
The largest museum in Sri Lanka, the National Museum of Colombo was established in January 1877 by Sir William Henry Gregory, the then British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Currently maintained by the Department of National Museum of the central government, the museum is home to a lot of important collections, including the crown and throne of the Kandyan monarchs.Housed in a two-storied building, the museum has a big, well-maintained, lush green lawn right in front that is shaded by mighty banyan trees, which adds to the beauty of the place. As you enter the museum, you shall also find a fourth-century Buddha smiling at you in the lobby. Going forward, you will be mesmerized to find the collections in the museum.The galleries are as old as 1877, and you shall find all sorts of ancient art, carvings, and statues from Sri Lanka’s past along with a collection of antique demon masks. You can also find guns, swords, and other things from the colonial times. If you love art, you are totally in for a treat as the gallery also has in display 19th-century reproductions of English paintings of Sri Lanka.On display are the royal throne made for King Wimaladharmasuriya II in 1693, the 9th-century bronze Bodhisattva Sandals, and much more. And that is not all. There are agricultural displays and many more things that are sure to grab your attention and leave a mark in your memories.