Colombo is the fascinating capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is a mix of urban city life, colonial history and Buddhist traditions. The exotic destination fascinates and confuses.
Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city, is a confusing and fascinating destination. The abundance of people, the fusion of tradition and modern lifestyle, the scents and noise of the city will make even the more experienced traveler’s head on a bike.
The largest city in Sri Lanka
Colombo is located on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Due to its location, it is an important port location. It is often talked about as the capital. However, the official capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, located next to Colombo, which, although it has only an administrative status.
Colombo is a charming mix of colonial architecture, new modern buildings, traditions, culture and the hecticity of a big city. The city also offers great shopping opportunities for the tourist. From there, you can get everything you need cheaply – and also unnecessary.
Colombo’s best offer includes a rich selection of restaurants. The local food is a real fireworks display for the tastes, although it is quite hot for the Finnish taste.
Attractions worth visiting include the National Museum and Museum of Natural History, Gangaramaya Buddha Temple, Dehiwale Zoo and Galle Face Green Beach Boulevard. When walking in the city, colonial architecture also serves as an eye-catcher.
Colombo is a suitable destination for both backpackers and package travelers. An experienced traveler is guaranteed to find something new in the city, while an inexperienced backpacker will also get a feel for the chaos that prevails in other Asian countries. Take a few days to explore Colombo to get a good feel for the atmosphere of the city.
It is good to escape the Finnish winter in Colombo
Sri Lanka is located above the equator, in a tropical zone. The climate of the island is always warm and humid. Colombo is located in a coastal area where temperatures may rise above 30 degrees but rarely fall below 25 degrees.
During the rainy season, water comes in really well. In the Colombo region, the rainy season is from May to September.
Different worlds within one city
Most start or end their Sri Lankan trip to Colombo. Colombo shows the best of Sri Lanka at once, but also the worst. However, it is worth exploring the city for at least a few days.
Until 1948, British colonial lords held power in Sri Lanka. The colonial period is still visible in the architecture of the city, as the buildings are still in use. The best known of these is the town hall, located right in the heart of the city.
Colombo is home to many religions. The city has magnificent Hindu and Buddhist temples as well as mosques. The majority can be explored. When visiting, you should respect the customs and avoid, for example, revealing dress.
Fort is the commercial center of the city, which is also home to all the major international hotels. Once upon a time, a Dutch and Portuguese fortress was located in the area. Parts of it can still be seen merging into offices, better shops, banks and restaurants.
Colombo is a big city by the sea, so there are also beaches. Colombo’s beaches are several kilometers long and lively. In addition to sun worship, the beaches are popular surfing spots. You can also go diving in Colombo. Among other things, interesting wrecks rest in the clear waters.
As the sun sets, you should take a walk to the Galle Face Green Promenade, which runs along a wide sidewalk along the shoreline. Locals and tourists come together to spend the evening along it.
Shopping and exotic flavors
Fort is an area of better shopping in Colombo. Pettah, on the other hand, is a bazaar area that is a real goods heaven. Shops and stalls sell clothes, fabrics, shoes, bags, electronics, books and jewelery, not to mention groceries. Each street in the area has its own specialty, for example, everything related to music is sold on Malwatte Avenue. In Pettah, bargaining is part of trading.
Colombo has restaurants serving international food, but it is also worth eating local specialties. The traditional meal is served with rice and a variety of vegetables, fish and meat curries. Also comes with a local crispy bread, papadam . A lot of fresh fruit is also eaten.
Traditional food is hot, often too hot for a Finn. In places frequented by tourists, the portions often come in softer. If you dine at restaurants favored by locals and suspect that the food is attracting the taste buds too much, you may want to ask for less flavored food.
Colombo also has a lively nightlife where you can visit to showcase your best dance moves.
Good to know
Sri Lanka cherishes traditions. The tourist should also respect the local way of life. For example, public displays of affection should be avoided as they do not belong to culture. Also, if you have tattooed the Buddha on your skin, it is worth keeping a cover. Using a Buddha image on a tattoo is considered an insult in Sri Lanka and may even prevent entry into the country.
A traveler to Sri Lanka needs an electronic travel authorization. More detailed and up-to-date information on how to apply for and pay for it can be obtained from the tour operator or the Sri Lankan entry authorities. In addition, obtaining comprehensive travel insurance is recommended.
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT IN COLOMBO
Flights to Colombo
You can travel to Colombo from Finland by package or on your own. Package tours are organized during the winter season. Colombo is worth joining as part of a Sri Lankan tour. Package tours often include a direct flight. The flight takes about 12 hours.
When flying to Colombo on your own, you have to change the plane once or twice. Round-trip flights cost 600-900 euros.
Accommodation for every departure
Colombo’s accommodation offer is varied and everyone will find a suitable option there. Modest accommodation is available for budget travelers, while there is plenty to choose from for those looking for luxury. Colombo is home to some of the finest hotels in Sri Lanka.
The price level of hotels is affordable compared to Finland and the price-quality ratio is better than, for example, in Thailand. So you may not want to choose the most affordable option.
Getting around on site
Traffic in Colombo is abundant, busy and chaotic. In Sri Lanka, you drive on the left, so you should stay alert when moving.
There are areas in central Colombo that are worth exploring on foot. It is easy to travel between attractions longer than a walk with a three-wheeled tuk log or taxi.
If you want to go and see Sri Lanka more broadly, you can travel by bus or train. However, they are often crammed full and delays occur. If there is no shortage of cash, the most pleasant way to travel is to rent your own air-conditioned van and have a driver for it.
The National Museum of Colombo and The Natural History Museum hide Sri Lanka’s last royal throne with jewels, an extensive library and landscape models of Sri Lankan nature.
Gangaramayan Buddha Temple
Gangaramaya Buddha Temple is one of the most important temples in Sri Lanka. It is important in its architectural as well as spiritual meanings. There is also a museum and library in the area. The temple is located on the shores of Lake Biera.
Galle Face Green Promenade
Galle Face Green’s waterfront boulevard dates back to the time of the British conquerors. The promenade was built in the mid-19th century. In the past, it held horse races.
Today, the one-and-a-half-mile street is a gathering place for city dwellers, along which people congregate to watch the sunset.
The best attractions in Colombo
- Galle Face Green Promend
- Gangaramayan Buddha Temple
- Fort – the modern center of Colombo
- Pettah’s shopping paradise
The best activities in Colombo:
- City tours
- Getting to know the food culture
- Beach life