COLOMBO TOURISM | TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT & TRAVEL GUIDE TO COLOMBO
#5 of 10 Places to visit in 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.