Colombo – Gateway to Sri Lanka

Colombo Airport Directory (CMB)
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With a rich colonial heritage, the port city of Colombo has more to offer than just history. Pristine golden beaches, spectacular temples and colonial-era architecture have made this vibrant city, one of the most popular travel destinations. If you’re a foodie, you cannot miss the markets with an abundance of delectable dishes made using local herbs and spices.

Best Time to Visit: Colombo can be visited all year long, however the best time to experience the city is during the dry season which is from January to March. If you’re looking for fewer tourists in the city and better deals, you may choose to visit during the monsoon season, from June to September.

How to reach

By Air: Bandaranaike International Airport is the nearest Airport, about 35km (an hour’s drive) away from the city. IndiGo now provides  flights to Colombo with  direct connectivity between Chennai and Bengaluru and offers seamless convenient connections to many other cities in India. Taxis are quite cheap in Sri Lanka and can be the easiest and quickest way to reach Colombo from the airport.

By Train: Being a tourist hub and the most important city of the country, Colombo has a well-connected railway network connecting it to other important cities in the country like Matara, Badulla, Kankesanturai, and Talaimannar.

By Bus: Colombo has a vast network of buses running in and around the city. You can find both government-run buses managed by The Sri Lanka Transport Board and privately owned buses.

Getting around: Public transportation is quite famous among the locals. However, private car hires and tuk-tuks are the most economical ways to get around the city. There’s always Uber and Red Cabs to take you wherever you want to go.

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Places to visit in Colombo

  • Colombo Fort: Your trip to Colombo is incomplete without visiting the famous Colombo Fort. It is the busiest and biggest port and it houses various luxury hotels, gorgeous sprawling parks, business offices and much more.
  • Galle Face Green Promenade: Immediately south of the fort is Galle Face Green – one of the top tourist spots in the city. Galle Face Green is Colombo’s biggest open space that was initially built in 1869, by Governor Sir Henry George Ward, to be used for sports including cricket, rugby, and horse racing. Today, it’s a popular spot for families, friends and kite-flyers, and makes for a fun evening or a day out. Its seaside promenade with local food vendors and some of the best shopping malls that invite thousands of tourists every year.
  • Mount Lavinia: Alternatively, you can take a coastal train ride to Mount Lavinia, about 10 km from the main city centre. Known for its happening nightlife and parties on the beach, the local train will take about 30 minutes to get there – and the journey is fantastic. At Mt Lavinia, check out the beach shacks or head off to Loon Tao for a pan-Asian meal with a distinct hit of Sri Lankan flavours. Arthur’s Pub is another option or you can keep it local at Barracuda Seafood & Grill which is right on the beach where you can sit with your feet in the soft sand. Splurging? Check out the glamorous and old-school Mt Lavinia Hotel that has been around for nearly 200 years.
  • Beira Lake: Head to Beira Lake for a mix of scenic beauty, boating, floating marketplace and spiritual experience at some of the famous Buddhist Temples. One of the major attractions of Colombo, Beira Lake is flooded with tourists, especially over weekends. Couples love visiting the lake for romantic evenings after a day of sightseeing tours. The lake is also renowned for hosting exquisite flora and fauna including storks, monitor lizards, and a wide variety of fishes. Whether you head here for early morning sunrise views or mesmerizing sunsets, you’re bound to have a memorable experience.
  • National Museum of Colombo: One of the biggest museums of Sri Lanka, National Museum of Colombo is home to a number of Sri Lankan relics including collections of coins, swords, royal crowns, heirlooms and more. One can find art collections from the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy era along with every single legal document ever published in Sri Lanka at the National Library inside the museum. For a complete journey back to Colombo’s past, there’s no place better place than the National Museum.
  • Seema Malaka Temple (Island temple): Channel your spiritual side at the Seema Malaka Temple that is right on the Beira Lake. Dedicated to Lord Buddha, the temple boasts of unusual architecture inspired by historical monasteries and displays a mix of Chinese, Sri Lankan, Thai and Indian styles. Gangaramaya Temple, Dambulla Cave Temple, Asokaramaya Temple, Jami-Ul-Alfar mosque, Wolvendaal Church, and the golden roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth are other spiritual sites to explore.

Places to eat in Colombo

Ministry of Crab
Ministry of Crab
One of Colombo’s top restaurants, Ministry of Crab is a favourite among food connoisseurs from all over the world. This high-profile restaurant celebrates the crustaceans in various forms – from Singaporean Chilli Crab to locally spiced Crab Curry. The brainchild of cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, and restaurateur Dharshan Munidase, Ministry Of Crab in Colombo’s Dutch Hospital highlights the lovely seafood of the country and the massive, juicy crabs one gets here. Oh, plus jumbo prawns. Butter garlic crab is also a hit for those who don’t quite like the dish too spicy.


Upali's by Nawaloka
Upali's by Nawaloka
When in Sri Lanka, do as the Sri Lankans do. Head off to Upali for authentic Sri Lankan food — from the Maalu Olu (fish curry) to the Kottu Roti (sliced flatbread with vegetables and meat). Don’t leave without eating the signature dish, which is Yapane Kakuluwo, better known as Jaffna crab curry. The crab is marinated and then cooked in Jaffna curry powder — a traditional spicy and aromatic dish that finds its roots in the north Sri Lanka town of Jaffna. Have it with rice or the local fluffy Idi Appa (string hoppers).


The Curry Leaf
The Curry Leaf
For a unique, traditional dining experience, head over to The Curry Leaf, also known as ‘A Village in the Heart of the City’. With a calm ambience and a delectable and elaborate seafood buffet, this village-themed restaurant is a paradise for every seafood lover.


Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe
Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe
With an option of indoor and outdoor seating, Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe has a mix of European and Mediterranean cuisine with drinks and hookah on the side. Don’t forget to try the fried prawns here.


t-lounge by Dilmah – Chatham Street
t-lounge by Dilmah – Chatham Street
Once you’re done with the main course, head here for tea by the Sri Lanka’s best tea producer Dilmah and some decadent desserts. This gem of a cafe boasts restored colonial exterior which has walls lined with books about Sri Lankan history and of course, tea.



Shopping in Colombo

Colombo is the best place for last-minute shopping with more than enough international brands, sleek departmental stores, local street art, and shopping malls for all your needs.

Floating Market: While known for shopping, the popular Floating Market at Old Quarter Pettah offers the classic, old world charm that still exists in Colombo. Some of the stores are on the river itself, and have rickety bridges to get to them which can be quite an adventurous experience in itself.

Grand Fort Colombo Station & Manning Market: On the opposite side of the floating market is the Grand Fort Colombo Station. In its glorious, wooden setup with colonial style architecture and wrought iron staircases, you can meander here just before the sun sets for some spectacular photos. For fresh Sri Lankan fruits and vegetable produce, head east from the Fort Train Station to Manning Market.

Barefoot: Designer Barbara Sansoni’s ‘Barefoot’ is a beautifully laid-out shop, popular for its bright Handloom textiles woven into stylish bedspreads, cushions and other such products. Not just that, Barefoot offers textile covered notebooks, lampshades and a vast selection of clothing. Take a break from the shopping and grab a bite at their stunning, open courtyard cafe!


Nightlife in Colombo

Colombo enjoys a vibrant and exciting nightlife with numerous pubs, bars and cafes dotting the streets. And since gambling is legal in Sri Lanka, casinos are the real highlight of Colombo’s nightlife scene.

Casinos: Feeling lucky? Hit up Bally’s Casino to test your luck. With a huge gaming area and an abundance of clients, Bally’s has been a regular name in Colombo’s nightlife for quite some time now. You can stake as low as INR 100 and go up to lakhs. Delicious snacks, complimentary drinks and irresistible buffets - there are no second thoughts about this one! While you’re at it, you can check out Bellagio’s Casino too.

Bars & Lounges: If you’re looking to dance the night away, Colombo has got some great clubs for you to check out. Rhythm and Blues Club, Loft Lounge Bar, ZAZA Bar that is completely enclosed in glass, Pool Bar at Cinnamon Lakeside, and Floor by O are some of the famous hangout destinations.

Rise above it all at the stylish rooftop bars – 41 Sugar, Cloud Red, Sky Lounge and ON14 Rooftop Bar are some of the top ones for a great night! Just half an hour away from Colombo, Mt. Lavinia Beach features a steady flow of bars, beach hotels and standalone shacks. Shore by O at Mt. Lavinia beach will instantly transport you to Goa with its huge shack, EDM music and stunning sunset views.

Where to stay in Colombo


Galle Face Hotel If money is not an object then you cannot miss staying at the Galle face hotel - oldest hotel in Asia that was built in 1864. There is nothing better than sitting at the balcony at sunset soaking up the true Sri Lankan ambience. Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 35.6 kms


Cinnamon Grand Located centrally, Cinnamon Grand Colombo is the city’s largest hotel that is always oozing with energy and festivities. It offers excellent service, various amazing restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool and splendid views. Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 35.6 kms


Juliana Hotel If you’re looking for budget hotels with decent rooms at a low price, Juliana Hotel is one of the most popular ones. With low-priced rooms that are well-maintained, free WiFi, helpful staff and all the basic, necessary amenities, this hotel is one of the top choices for a budget trip to Colombo. Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 30.6 kms


Havelock Bungalow This appealing guest house is like an inner-city oasis, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the main city. With colonial architecture, wooden floors and ancient mango trees, this place is ideal for those looking for an original and authentic Sri Lankan place to stay. Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 36.7 kms


Highbury Another one of Havelock Town’s gems, the Highbury Colombo is a beautiful property coupled with a friendly staff that makes you feel right at home. A lovely fish pond, manicured tropical garden, authentic furniture, and delicious Sri Lankan cuisine - it has it all and comes highly recommended. The rooms are reasonably priced and the house is in proximity to all the major tourist spots. Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 36 kms

More reasons to visit Colombo

Kala Pola Art Market & Paradise Road Gallery: Love art – and especially street art? Head over to Kala Pola Art Market, the oldest art market in town, where you can catch a group of super talented local artists as they take over the streets of Nelum Pokuna. And, if you like what you see, paintings are usually on canvases and can be easily bought and carried back. Move on from street style to contemporary art at the Paradise Road Gallery, considered to be one of the most important art spaces in the country.

Beach Road: Head over to the Beach Road area with quaint cafes and old homes that lead you to the Indian Ocean. Walk or ride along the Marine Drive as you bid adieu to the sun whilst enjoying stunning sunset views.


Visa and Immigration

If you’re an Indian passport holder travelling to Colombo, you would be required to apply for an online visa. Sri Lanka will issue an Electronic Travel Authorization which allows Indians to visit the country for a period of 30 days. Indians of over 12 years of age are charged $20 as the visa application fee and you can only apply upto 2 months prior to your date of departure.

To ensure a hassle-free and seamless travel, here is a detailed information about the Sri Lanka visa –

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