Colombo travel guide

Colombo Tourism | Colombo Guide

You're Going to Love Colombo

Colombo is the largest city and capital of Sri Lanka, offering a heady blend of tropical environment, colonial villas, and modern cityscape. It dates from 800 AD and there is history to explore around every corner. You can wander through the many temples and sample some delicious food while soaking up the atmosphere.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Colombo

1. The Sunsets

The sunsets in Colombo are truly breathtaking. Head to Galle Face Green Promenade to watch this spectacular show as you wander among food stalls, street vendors, and picnicking locals.

2. The Nightlife

The beachfront of Mount Lavinia is a popular area for nightclubs and bars with visitors and locals alike. The party goes on until dawn.

3. Learn about Sri Lankan History

The Colombo National Museum and Dutch Period Museum tell the story of the city's fascinating history, right back to Arab rule in the 900 AD.

4. The Food

The city is a great place for street food, with stalls everywhere selling little packets of vegetables and rice. Bakers sell vegetable, fish, and egg rotis and the seafood restaurants are excellent.

5. Elephants

The elephant show at the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka takes place every day at 5:15 pm and is a must-see Colombo event.

Top activities & attractions in Colombo

Where to Eat in Colombo

Try a 'lunch packet' of rice and vegetables from one of the street stalls from around Rs120. Raja Bojun is a good place to try local dishes, with an excellent Sri Lankan buffet costing Rs1,800.

When to visit Colombo

Colombo in August
Estimated hotel price
$43
1 night at 3-star hotel
Colombo in August
Estimated hotel price
$43
1 night at 3-star hotel

Colombo has a tropical climate and is warm to hot throughout the year. Monsoon season is June to September, which is best avoided.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Colombo

Plane

Colombo's main airport is Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), 22 miles north of the city at Katunayake. A taxi will take you into the city in around 30 minutes for a fare of Rs3,000, while the bus will cost just Rs110.

Train

There are infrequent trains to other major Sri Lankan cities. A fare to Katunayake costs Rs30.

Car

Driving in Sri Lanka is not recommended. Roads are in poor repair and often crowded with livestock and pedestrians.

Bus

Buses are the principal transport network in Sri Lanka and services are frequent. Fares from neighboring cities are as low as Rs100.

Airports near Colombo

Airlines serving Colombo

American Airlines
Good (3,720 reviews)
KLM
Good (257 reviews)
Air France
Good (258 reviews)
British Airways
Good (714 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,518 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (271 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (827 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (908 reviews)
Iberia
Good (513 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (427 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (555 reviews)
Finnair
Good (321 reviews)
LOT
Good (206 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (170 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,091 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (109 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Excellent (16 reviews)
Thai Airways
Excellent (26 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (78 reviews)
Gulf Air
Good (33 reviews)
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Where to stay in Colombo

The Metro City Hotel on Justice Akbar Mawatha has clean, affordable rooms, while the Grand Oriental on York Street is an old colonial luxury hotel with immaculate rooms.

Popular neighbourhoods in Colombo

Mount Lavinia - this is Colombo's main tourist area, with great beaches and lots of bars and restaurants. It has great nightlife and lots of accommodation options.

Kollupitiya - this is an upscale neighborhood with a good choice of restaurants and some of the city's best hotels.

Bambalapitiya - Bambalapitiya is a bustling suburb. It has lots of eateries and is home to the Majestic City mall. There are also casinos and cinemas.

Where to stay in popular areas of Colombo

Most booked hotels in Colombo

Shangri-La Colombo
Excellent (9.2, Excellent reviews)
$276+
The Kingsbury Colombo
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$126+
Taj Samudra
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$239+
Mövenpick Hotel Colombo
Excellent (8.3, Excellent reviews)
$117+
Hilton Colombo
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$139+
Galadari Hotel
Good (7, Good reviews)
$109+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Colombo

Public Transportation

The local bus network is good but it's best to find out which number you require before your journey. Fares are Rs100 or less.

Taxi

The traditional local taxi is the three-wheeler tuk-tuk. The initial fare is Rs50 and then you pay around Rs75 per mile. Standard taxis are available but are more expensive and slower in the busy traffic.

Car

Driving in Colombo is not for the faint-hearted and probably best left to the local bus and tuk-tuk drivers. If you do decide to drive, local rental companies include Malkey Rent A Car and prices start at Rs1,400.

The Cost of Living in Colombo

Shopping Streets

Major malls include Liberty Plaza and Majestic City, while Odel is a good department store. The Pettah Market is the place to negotiate for all manner of goods.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk costs around Rs185 and a dozen eggs Rs200. Keells Super markets are dotted throughout town.

Cheap meal
$2.44
A pair of jeans
$70.66
Single public transport ticket
$0.18
Cappuccino
$3.46
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