About Colombo

Country: India | State: Sri Lanka

Ideal Trip Duration: 1-2 Days

Nearest City to Colombo: Colombo

Best Time to Visit Colombo: October to March

Peak Season: November to February

At a distance of 39 km from Negambo, 116 km from Kandy, 126 km from Galle, 150 km from Mirissa, 161 km from Dambulla, 167 km from Nuwara Eliya, 202 km from Anuradhapura, 205 km from Ella, 230 km from Polonnaruwa and 395 km from Jaffna, Colombo is the commercial capital and the largest city of Sri Lanka by population. Located in the western province of the Island, it is one of the must-include places in Sri Lanka Tour Packages.

With rich colonial heritage and very scenic and popular attractions, Colombo is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of the country, is within the urban area of the city, hence Colombo is often called the capital of Sri Lanka as well. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the capital of Colombo district. The name 'Colombo', is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhala name Kolon Thota, meaning 'port on the river Kelani'. Another belief is that the name is derived from the Sinhala name Kola-amba-thota which means 'Harbour with leafy/green mango trees'.

Sri Lanka has a long history and so does Colombo. As far back as the 5th century AD, Colombo served as a seaport for trade between Asia and the West. During the 8th century, Arab traders settled near the port. The Portuguese arrived in 1505 CE and later by the mid-17th century the Dutch had taken over Colombo and used as the capital city of the island. Colombo came under British rule in 1796 CE and continued to be the capital city of the island until Sri Lanka got independence in 1948. A new parliament was built in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, an outer suburb of Colombo, in 1982.

From the warm hospitality to the ever-welcoming people, from the temples to the charming weather, from urban parks to beaches, Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial charm. The Galle Face Green, the Beira Lake, World Trade Center, National Museum, Vihara Mahadevi Park, Gangaramaya Temple, and the Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara are some popular places to visit in Colombo. Apart from that, Colombo is a great place for you to shop for local handlooms, indulge in local cuisine and some leisure activities.

Being a multicultural society, Colombo celebrates a wide variety of festivals, ceremonies, and events, while most of them are inspired by religious events. Vesak Poya is one of the most prominent Buddhist festivals celebrated in Colombo as well as across the island. Commemorating the three important milestones in Buddha's life- his birth, enlightenment, and nirvana, it usually takes place in May. The festivities begin on a full moon day and continue up to a week, filling every home, street and shop with the magical light of colorful lanterns called Vesak kudu. Vel Festival, Eid-ul-Fitr, Christmas, Sinhalese New Year and Diwali are the other festivals celebrated with much enthusiasm in Colombo.

The Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Ratmalana Airport are the two airports serve the city. About 34 km, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is the main airport in Colombo and has well flight connectivity with India and other parts of Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States. While, the Ratmalana Airport, about 19 km from Colombo, serves domestic destinations. Fort Railway Station in Colombo serves as the terminus of many intercity trains in Sri Lanka and connects it to other important places of interest including Matara, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Ella, Galle, Badulla, Kankesanturai, Trincomalee, Jaffna, and Talaimannar. Though crowded, trains are the cheapest way to travel in Sri Lanka. A huge network of buses operates in and around Colombo. The Central Bus Stand is an important stand from where all the buses depart and at which all of them arrive.

Though it can be a year-round destination, the best time to visit Colombo is in the dry season, lasting from October to March while the peak season is from January to March. During these months, the temperature is minimal and the weather is pleasant making it ideal for exploration. April is the hottest month here. If one is looking for better deals on travel and stay, then the rainy season lasts between June and September, is the suitable time to visit Colombo as this is the off-season for tourism, will ensure better deals and bargains.

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Other Info
Internet Availability: Good
STD Code: 0094
Languages Spoken: Sinhalese, Tamil, Creole Malay & English
Major Festivals: Vesak Poya & Vel Festival

How to Reach Colombo

By Air

Nearest Airport: Colombo - Bandaranaike Airport (34 Kms)

By Train

Nearest Train Station: Colombo Fort Railway Station (0 Kms)

By Bus

Nearest Bus Station: Colombo Central Bus Stand (1 Kms)

Top 10 Places to Visit in Colombo

#1 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 5 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, the National Museum of Colombo, also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum is one of the two museums in Colombo city. It is the largest museum in Sri Lanka and among the must-visit places as part of Sri Lanka Tour Packages.

The Colombo Museum, as it was called at the beginning, was established in 1877 CE by Sir William Henry Gregory, the then Governor of British Ceylon from 1872-1877. The Royal Asiatic Society (CB) was instrumental in bringing to the notice of Gregory in 1872 the need for a public museum with much difficulty the approval of the legislative council was obtained within a year. Designed by James G. Smither, the construction was completed in 1876 and the museum was opened to the public in the following year. Now, it was maintained by the Department of National Museum of the central government.

Built-in the Italian architectural style, the two stroyed museum has three main sections, including natural science, .....

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#2 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 6 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Independence Square is a historical landmark located right in the heart of Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is one of the popular places of heritage in Colombo and among the prime places to visit during your Sri Lanka Trip.

Earlier known as Torrington Square, Independence Square is a site of historic consequence, natural beauty, and architectural significance. It takes its name from the Independence Memorial Hall built there to commemorate the independence of Sri Lanka from British rule in 1948. The exact location is where Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, opened Sri Lanka's first parliament on a special podium, bringing an end to almost five centuries of colonial rule and marking the beginning of Sri Lanka's self-rule.

This Hall is based on the architecture of the Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa) located in Kandy. The column and pillars are decorated with traditional Sri Lankan designs and statues of lions .....

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#3 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 1.5 km from the National Museum and 5 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Gangaramaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Colombo. Situated near Beria Lake, it is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo and among the most important places to visit as part of Sri Lanka Packages.

Gangaramaya Temple was started by the famous scholar-monk Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera in the late 19th century CE. After the Venerable Sri Sumangala, Sri Jinaratana Nayake Thera took on the administration of the temple and convert the little temple to an institute of international reckoning. It is much more than a temple in the conventional term, but a place of worship, a seat of learning and a cultural center.

The Gangaramaya Temple is a unique blend of architectural styles from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Chinese and India. It is exceptionally beautiful with the Beira Lake on one side and statues & carvings paving the way inside. It features a Vihara, the main temple, .....

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#4 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 4 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Galle Face Green is an urban park located on the seafront in the port city of Colombo. It is one of the popular places to hang out in Colombo and among the prime places to visit as part of your Sri Lanka Tour.

The Galle Face Green in Sri Lanka is a half kilometer promenade in the heart of Colombo. On one end of this stretch of land lies the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel while on the other side, lies the magnificent Galle Face Hotel. This area is now considered the largest open space in Colombo that is accessible to crowds inclusive of tourists and regular local visitors. The beach is frequented by the locals residing in Colombo, especially on weekends as it makes for the best spot for children to play around and for families to spend some quality time next to the sea under the open sky.

The originally planned Galle Face extended over a much larger area than exists today. The promenade was initially laid out by the Dutch .....

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#5 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 10 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple in Kelaniya near Colombo. Also known as Kelaniya Temple, it is one of the popular places of pilgrimage in Colombo and among the best places to visit as part of Sri Lanka Tour.

The temple is located on the bank of river Kelaniya and is an ancient archeological monument that was built in the 5th century BCE. The temple has a special significance and is considered to be one of the most sacred sites in Colombo. Legend has it that on the eighth year following enlightenment, Lord Buddha visited Kelaniya with 500 monks on the invitation of King Maniakkhikha to preach the dhamma. A stupa was built on the place where the Buddha preached his sermon.
The original temple was destroyed by a lot of invaders but the temple had been reconstructed each time. The medieval temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1510 yet reconstructed .....

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#6 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 3 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, St. Lucia's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church located Kotahena locality of Colombo. The cathedral is considered the oldest and largest parish cathedral in Sri Lanka and among the top places to visit in Colombo.

St. Lucia's Cathedral is dedicated to saint martyr St. Lucia who is considered to be the protector against all kinds of eye trouble. This is the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo. The cathedral was first built as a small chapel of wood in 1760 when Ceylon was under Dutch occupation. This small structure was later replaced by a more massive shrine made of brick and mortar in the year 1782. St. Lucia's Cathedral became the first church of Sri Lanka after it was detached from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa. A plan was made in 1872, to build a new cathedral which took roughly 30 years and was fully completed in the year 1902.

St Lucia's Cathedral is a massive structure .....

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#7 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 1 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Jami-ul-Alfar Mosque is a historic mosque located in the Pettah district of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo and among the prime places to visit in Colombo as part of Sri Lanka Packages.

Jami-ul-Alfar Mosque, also known as Rathu Palliya in Sinhala, Samman Kottu Palli in Tamil and Red Mosque in English, is quite a sight in itself and also a big tourist attraction. It was built by the local Indian Muslim community, based in Pettah, in the year 1908 to fulfill their required five-times-daily prayer and Jummah on Fridays. The construction was completed in 1909 and originally it had the capacity for 1,500 worshippers although at the time only around 500 were attending prayers. However, the numbers grew swiftly and in 1975 the Haji Omar Trust took control of the surrounding properties and began the work of expanding the mosque. A new four .....

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#8 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 3 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, the Old Parliament Building is a heritage building that houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka during the British era. Situated in the Colombo Fort area facing the sea, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, and among the must-visit places in Colombo as part of Sri Lanka Tour.

The building was designated as the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1977. Initially, the building was home to the Legislative Council of Ceylon and was witness to the country's transition from a colonial state to self-rule in 1947. Completed in 1930, this building was home to the country's legislature for 53 years until the new parliamentary complex was opened at Sri Jayawardenepura in 1983 CE during the country's prolonged Civil War. Since then, the Old Parliament Building has functioned as the home to the Presidential Secretariat.

Built-in the Neo-Baroque style of architecture, the Old Parliament Building is a complete .....

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#9 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 4 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, Viharamahadevi Park is a public park located near the National Museum in the port city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Situated in front of the colonial-era Town Hall building, it is the oldest and the biggest park in Colombo and among the must include places in Sri Lanka Tour Packages.

Formerly called Victoria Park, the park was built on land donated to the Colombo city by Charles Henry de Soysa during the British rule of Sri Lanka. The park has a long history of being used for different purposes like during World War II it hosted the British Army and the 17th Brigade of the Australian Army. It was also used as a cricket ground by the first-class teams from 1927 to 1995 and even hosted a match between the touring English team in the 1930s. After Sri Lanka's Independence, the park was given its current name, Viharamahadevi Park after the mother of King Dutugemunu.

Maintained by the Colombo Municipal Council, this public park .....

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#10 of 14 Places to Visit in Colombo

At a distance of 13 km from Colombo Fort Railway Station, National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka is a zoo park situated in Dehiwala, a suburb of Colombo. It is one of the oldest zoological gardens in Asia and among the must-visit Colombo Tourist Places.

Also called Colombo Zoo or Dehiwala Zoo, the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka was initially started by Mr. John Hagenbeck in the late 1920s as a private collection in 11 acres. The zoo was closed at the beginning of World War II. Later, the park was officially taken over by the Government of Sri Lanka on 1st July 1936 and was established as an independent public department in 1946.

Stretches over an area of almost 30 acres, the park is home to over 2,500 to 3,000 animals including 79 species of mammals, 31 species of reptiles and 89 species of birds. One can see lions, tigers, panthers, chimpanzees, horses, zebras, crocodiles, and many other animals. The aquarium in the zoo is the only one of its kind in Asia and displays .....

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