Must Things to Do in Colombo
Pray at Gangaramaya Temple
The temple is one of the most distinguished Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and a specimen of historical importance which dates back to a century bygone. As you enter the main sanctorum, you will be spellbound to behold the colossal Buddha figure and the miniature paintings on the walls depicting various stories of Buddhism.
The statue of Lord Buddha exudes characteristic brilliance and serenity that pervades the whole interior of the temple. Inside the temple premises, there is a museum where you can also see relics of architecture belonging to India, Myanmar, China and Thailand.
Location: Jinaratana Road, Colombo City
Timings: 5:30AM- 10PM
Explore Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is a sprawling expanse of green settled between the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel and Galle Face Green Hotel which is frequented by tourists and locals for fresh air walking sessions. The velvety green promenade of Galle Face Green was built in 1859 as to safeguard the place from Portuguese invasions.
Standing at the Galle Face Green beach, you can watch the stunning sunset across the vista and call it a day.
Location: 56, Colombo-Galle Main Road, Colombo
Timings: 9AM- 6PM
Golf at the Royal Colombo Golf Club
One of the lavish activities to do in Colombo is golfing at the Royal Colombo Golf Club which stands as a site of colonial heritage in Sri Lanka and a sporting establishment set up by the British for golf enthusiasts.
Established in 1880, the Royal Golf Colombo Golf Club is the oldest golf club in Sri Lanka and a convivial place to unwind your weekend blues and breed new friendship. The open convivial ambiance of the golf club allures you to a sumptuous dinner or small gathering.
Location: Model Farm Road, Colombo
Timings: Club House remains open from 6AM-11PM and the admin office from 8AM-5PM
Hike to Viharamahadevi Park
Viharamahadevi Park dotingly called “garden city of the east” is one of the popular stopovers the Sri Lankans can fairly boast off for the plethora of attractions the place has in its store for visitors. It is the oldest park at Colombo which was named as Victoria Park after the name of the then monarchy of Queen Victoria.
The place holds paramount historical significance to its credit as a site of a number of historical events. The manicured turf and paved pathways under the canopy of palm groves is a perfect destination to go for a morning walk.
Location: Next to National Museum, Colombo 07
Timings: 6 AM- 8 PM
About the tour:
-You will be picked up from your hotel in an air-conditioned private vehicle with your chauffeur-guide.
-Start your tour and visit the famous sightseeing attractions of Colombo.
-As the tour concludes, you will be dropped off at your hotel.
Time duration: 4 hours
-The entrance fees of the attractions are not included in the package.
Try Your Luck At Casino
Looking for some crazy fun-filled activities to do in Colombo trip if you are travelling with your chums? Try your luck at the adrenaline-charged casino games and enjoy live music performance by the Sri Lankan artists and DJs to buck up your energy level.
Once you hit any of these casinos, don’t ever miss out the chance to pamper your taste buds with an array of gourmet seafood they serve. Some of the famous casinos at Colombo are Bally’s Casino, MGM Colombo, The Ritz Club and Stardust Casino.
Location: Across the city
Timings: Most of the casinos remain open for 24x7 days.
Visit National Museum
While preparing your itineraries for things to do in Colombo, a visit to the National Museum has to be in your bucket list for being one of the leading cultural institutions of the country. As soon as you enter the interior of the museum, you will be greeted by a smiling Buddha figurine which dates back to the 9th century.
There are galleries that store relics, busts and artefacts, swords, palettes and other miscellanies belonging to the colonial era. You can enjoy your favourite cuppa in the cool and relaxing ambiance of the museum cafeteria once you have rambled through the different galleries of the museum.
Location: Albert Crescent, Colombo
Enjoy Thrilling Rides at Leisure World Water Park
The park also features many pools, rides and activities exclusively for kids and some exclusive for adults. The water rides here include Aqua Trail, Boomerang Slide, Kiddies Pool, Multi-Lane, Lazy River, Wave Pool, Thunder Cruise and much more- all absolutely safe to ride.
The amusement activities in the park include several thrill rides, family rides and kids rides for the entire family to have one hell of a time.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm
Visit Beira Lake
If you are newly married and have not yet planned your honeymoon trip, Beira Lake can be your worthiest pick for an undisturbed honeymoon destination. It is the perfect destination where you can unwind yourself and feel the romantic vibe in tranquillity.
The lake covering an area of 65 hectares comprises of several islands housing villages and coconut plantations. The two most highlighted spots of the lake are the Seema Malaka Viharaya (a Buddhist temple) and Kaala Doowa (a gateway for romancing couples) that can be easily reached via boat.
Timings: 7AM -6PM
Scenic Tour of Colombo in Air Plane
Sri Lanka the island nation is a perfect getaway for holidaymakers to explore its natural beauty to the fullest. Cinnamon Air Scenic Flights gives you the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the city and its adjoining areas in a 20 minutes’ flying session.
It is a blissful experience to watch the busy towns, emerald Indian Ocean, strips of flora, verdant hill ranges and historic buildings from a great height and create unforgettable memories of your trip. The flying trip starts from Water’s Edge at Colombo.
Open Deck Sightseeing
The first thing you should consider in your list of things to do in Colombo is discovering the city on an open deck transport provided by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority in collaboration with Ebert Silva Holidays Private Limited.
There are 3 different kinds of open deck tour in and around Colombo such as- Glimpse of Colombo, Heritage of Colombo and Colombo at Night that include the best attractions of the city from past till date.
Location: Open decks are available at all places across Colombo.
Timings: Glimpse of Colombo (4pm-6: 30 pm) from Monday-Friday. On weekends Heritage of Colombo (8:30 am- 12 pm) and Colombo at Night (4:30pm-7: 30 pm) are available.
Stroll Independence Memorial Hall
The Independence Memorial Hall located in the Independence Square offers you an inspirational reprieve from the urban chaos of Colombo city. The hall which was built in 1948 as a commemoration of the country’s independence from British rule abounds relics and symbols testifying the island’s rich cultural and political history.
The immaculate lawn of this historical building with its clean paved pathways is a great venue for unwinding your blues and take in a whiff of fresh breeze. You can rent a bicycle and take a stroll round the nook and corner of the Hall and behold its architectural marvels.
Location: Independence Avenue, Colombo 7
Timings: 10AM- 5PM
Stroll at Mount Lavinia Beach
The beach also homes some of the most popular hotels and restaurants in the city. Being in close proximity to the city, the beach is crowded with locals during the weekends, but you can easily find it empty and quiet during the weekdays.
The beach is also known for the many vendors selling all sorts of things here like manioc chips, sour mangoes, swimsuits and much more. Spend a relaxing day under the sun at the beach and spend your evening indulging in the best seafood in town at the many restaurants at the shore!
Timings: Open 24 hours
Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil
The interiors of the temple also hold many beautiful paintings and scriptures which makes this temple stand out. Even the roof of the temple is covered in delicate paintings and delicate scriptures which will leave you awe-struck.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Shibu and is thus a very important place to pray for Hindus. If you’re confused about what to do in Colombo or where to start from, this temple should be the first thing on your list!
Timings: 9 am to 6 pm
Visit the Jami Ul Alfar Mosque
Built in the year 1909 the Jami ul Alfar Mosque aka the Red Mosque due to its candy-stripped walls on the exterior and interior is one of the oldest mosques in Sri Lanka which caters to the growing religious need of the local Muslim folks. Initially the massive prayer hall of the mosque held a capacity of 1500 devotees but in 2007 four more wings were built to capacitate 10,000 devotees for prayer.
The unique architectural pattern of Jami ul-Alfar mosque makes it a standout amidst the prominent buildings of Colombo city. If it’s an all boys’ trip, make sure you add this magnificent show-stopper in your list of things to do in Colombo.
Location: 2nd, Cross Street, Colombo-01100
Explore Seema Malakaya
Located in the lap of tranquil natural settings amidst the emerald water of the Beira Lake, Seema Malakaya is an ideal retreat for visitors to relax and contemplate into their conscious being. The building of this Buddhist temple which was built in the 19th century sank into the water of the lake and later it was reconstructed by Geoffrey Bawa in 1976 which stands as a specimen of Kandyan architecture.
Don’t forget to take your camera as the place offers a perfect background for capturing its scenic beauty.
Location: Sir James Pieris Mawatha, Colombo
Timings: 24 hours open
Relish Your Taste Buds with Colombo Street Food
The city of Colombo fairly boasts of its culinary delights and can certainly give you the best gastronomic experience if you are keen on trying its gourmet platters. As it is said, one can understand the epicurean culture of a place by its local food available mostly in the roadside stalls.
The varied range of street foods you should relish in your Colombo trip are String Hoppers at Galle Road, samosas at Pettah Railway Station, pittus and idiappas available at the most commonplace food stalls across the city.
Location: Roadside stalls across Colombo city.
Visit Colombo Dutch Museum
Taking a stroll round the massive building of Dutch colonial era is one of the best activities to do in Colombo trip which takes you back to the time of Dutch occupied Colombo between the years 1656-1796. The courtyard in front of the museum building provides a shady refuge to the visitors on summer days under the canopy of fruit laden trees and spice herbs away from the crowd and commotion of a city life.
As you step into the museum you will discover furniture, glassware, coins, documents, paintings and other relics of the Dutch colonial era and get an idea of the Dutch colonial period.
Location: Prince Street, Colombo
Timings: 9AM- 5PM
Highland Tour from Colombo to Pinnawala and Kandy
A short trip from Colombo to Pinnawala and Kandy will be one of the most exciting things to do in Colombo as you can come close to wildlife and watch the intriguing behaviour of the elephants in their natural habitat. Your first stopover has to be at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where you can spend a while watching the elephants being bathed and fed by their caregivers.
Next, head towards Kandy an idyllic hilly region in Sri Lanka and see the famous Tooth Relic Temple which is acclaimed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1988. En route Kandy, don't miss out on the other sightseeing attractions viz. Gadaladeniya Temple, Embekka Devale, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens etc.
Timings: 6AM- 5PM (including pick and drop at your hotel)
Other Things to Do in Colombo
Go for Tea and Herb Tour
One of the most exciting things to do in Colombo is a short trip to the tea estates in the city where you can witness the lavish process of Ceylonese tea making in an estate with an in-house workshop. You can simultaneously enjoy a blind tea tasting session where you have to differentiate between different flavours of tea.
It is a family run tea estate where you can learn the secret behind your favourite cuppa right from plucking tea leaves from the estate to refining.
Location: Regent Spice and Herbal Garden-No. 6, Kirigalpoththa, Palapathwela, Matale
Timings: It’s a 4 hours short trip which starts approximately at 10 am and ends around 4 pm.
Have Fun at Scuba Diving
You are halfway preparing your itineraries and feel like missing out something important? If you have a knack for adventure sport on a trip, scuba diving is one of the best activities to do in Colombo you should count on. The city is blessed with numerous coral reefs, rich flora, unique hulks and exotic marine life that make it a sought-after diving destination for adrenaline junkies.
The best diving spots are the Chief Dragon, Pecheur Breton and T. Sierra that are home to anthias, coral reefs, black coral trees and marine life. But, scuba diving in Colombo is best for expert divers as beginners may not find it feasible due to certain structural conditions.
Timings: Diving season starts from November-Mid April.
Take an Ayurvedic Spa
So if you’re wondering about what to do in Colombo, here’s a great suggestion- visit these spas to reenergize or relax with all sorts of treatments and practices like Hatha Yoga, Kundalini, Tai Chi, etc. Some of the most famous centers, companies and Spas are Om Shambhala, Siddhalepa Ayurveda Hospital, Thusare Talking Hands, and Prana Lounge Holistic Health & Yoga Centre.
Ride in a Tuk-Tuk
In a 4 hours’ city tour across Colombo Bay in a well decked Tuk Tuk, you can explore the colonial heritage sites, market places, religious spots, downtown streets and other sites of attraction. If you are lucky and able to hire an experienced driver, you can visit some of the unmapped places in the city.
Don’t miss out on a chance to experience Sri Lankan tea and savour the local cuisine when touring around Colombo city. Some of the significant landmarks are St. Peter’s Church, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple (Vihara), Pettah Market etc.
Timings: Sunday to Saturday from 8 AM- 10 PM
Shop at Paradise Road
Shopping is one of the most pleasurable and must-to-do activities in any trip, especially if you are touring at an island nation such as Sri Lanka which has a surfeit of things to allure you. Paradise Road on Dharmapala Mawatha is a flagship store of varied branded objects viz. gift items, crockery set, home décor, handicrafts, apparels and many more and a must stopover for shopaholic tourists who want to buy souvenirs and other branded items on their Colombo trip.
Housed in a long-standing mansion the store made its first appearance to the business world in 1994 and over the years it has become a synonym for quality.
Location: 213, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo
Timings: 10AM- 7PM
Feel The Buzz Of The Nightlife
Other great activities to do in Colombo to enjoy its nightlife is to visit restaurants like Ask For Fern for the lip-smacking Tamilian seafood and delicacies or party it out in clubs like Rhythm and Blues Nightclub which is one of the most popular clubs in Colombo. The young and energetic crowd will make you feel alive and make your evening very lively!
Explore Dehiwala Zoological Garden
Are you taking the little members of your family for your upcoming holiday tour and have not yet finalized the things to do in Colombo? Located just a snappy drive away from the main city, the National Zoological Garden of Sri Lanka aka the Dehiwala Zoological garden is a sprawling oasis of abounding flora and fauna that caters to your kid’s fancy.
Established in 1936, it is one of the earliest menageries of Asia which offers complete entertainment package for kids amidst exotic wildlife and a delightful retreat for naturalists.
Location: Quarry Road, Dehiwala Mount Lavinia, Colombo-10350
Timings: 8:30AM- 6PM
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara
The place claims justly to be in the foremost of your bucket list for Colombo trip. Located atop a small mound caressed by the waters of River Kelani, Raja Maha Vihara is one of the sacrosanct Buddhist temples of the orient which allures tourists which dates 2500 years back in history.
During its halcyon days, the temple received royal patronage from the then monarchy and even today it is one of the most acclaimed architectural wonders of Asia. The murals on the walls of the vihara belonging to the 18th and 20th century will leave you spellbound as you stroll around its chambers.
Location: Kelaniya Colombo
Timings: Open for 24 hours. Best time to visit is between 9:30 AM- 4:30 PM
Drink an Orange Coconut
The coastal city Colombo is a hub of sumptuous delicacies that you should not skip tasting if you are a real foodie. One of the best things to do in Colombo is drinking an orange coconut (locally known as thambili, meaning the king of coconut) which can not only quench your thirst but also make you crave for more.
These bright orange coconuts are abundantly found in the roadside refreshment joints across the city and its water tastes sweeter than that of the green coconuts. Although the orange coconut water is the traditional favourite the Sri Lankans, down the years it has won the epicurean fancy of tourists who make it a point to try this amazing nutritive beverage on their trip to Sri Lanka.
Location: Found at the beachside and roadside beverage stalls.
Worship at Sri Ponnambala Koneswaram Kovil
Paying your visit to this significant Hindu temple of Sri Lanka is one of the top things to do in Colombo whenever you visit the ancient city. The temple is swarmed by countless pilgrims during the Pongal and Maha Shivaratri festivals for offering prayers to their worshipped deities.
The beautiful edifice of the temple is made of granite and covers a small area on one of the main roads of the city. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva but the idols of Hanuman, Lord Chandran, Lord Suryan, Lord Murugan, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Amman are rested in the sanctum sanctorum.
Location: Jampettah Lane, Kotahena, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Timings: 5AM-8 PM
Shop from Pettah Market
It is probably the best location to identify and absorb the real flavour of Sri Lankan lifestyle as you ramble across the bustling streets of the open air Pettah Market at Colombo. The best way to explore the market area is take a tuk-tuk or taxi till the end of the market precinct and then walk through the alleys to discover the hidden gems in the little street shops.
The maddening traffic and frenzied crowd will remind you of the famous street markets of the Indian metro cities.
Location: Keyser Street, Colombo
Timings: 9AM – 7 PM
Enjoy Duck Paddle Boating
One of the most sought after things to do in Colombo is venturing out on a duck paddle at Beira Lake, which offers a complete day trip package to keep you engaged for an entire day. Located at the proximity to the Gangaramaya Temple, the lake exudes its own unique charm, especially in the evening at the backdrop of the illuminated temple silhouette.
The place is a highlighted attraction in the city as it offers varied options for tourists to while away their leisure in. You can reach the Seema Malaka Temple located in the middle of the lake on a duck paddle boat and see the Buddhist and Hindu idols inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Location: Beira Lake, Colombo
Timings: Open between 7 AM -6 PM every day. But the evenings are the best time to visit.