5 Unforgettable Things to Do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo is a busy yet vibrant city situated in the tiny country, Sri Lanka. With a population of 5.6 million people, Colombo has experienced massive change in the last couple of years. With a perfect mixture of modern life and architecture, along with old colonial buildings, with every passing day, Colombo is becoming a massive attraction for many tourists. One of the main reasons being, in Colombo one can never run out of things to do. Listed below are some of the top things to do in Colombo that one must not miss out on. Make sure to keep these on the top of your list for an unforgettable experience.

Visit Galle Face Beach During Nighttime

Galle Face Hotel at night on Galle Face Beach in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Visiting the Galle Face Beach at night is definitely the first on the list of top things to do in Colombo. But what exactly is Galle Face? Galle Face is a long stretch of green lawn next to the turquoise blue ocean. This location was originally cleared by the Dutch to give clear sight to the canons. However, with time Galle Face has become the ideal place for running, walking, and kite flying. Besides that, this destination is full of delicious, mouthwatering Sri Lankan street food along with various other vendors.

The best time to visit this destination is at around 5:00 PM when the sun begins to set. As the sky begins to illuminate spectacular shades of orange, red, yellow, and pink, take a seat on the golden sand with a glass of wine by your side and watch the sunset with excited kids running around playing football and kites flying in the air. However, at around 7:00 pm is when the real experience begins.

Once the sun sets completely and it grows dark, the street vendors and few tiny restaurants light up their food carts, the smell of delicious street food flows through the salty air and music begins to play in the background along with the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore and everyone begins to enjoy. Galle Face is the ideal place to spend a peaceful night with your partner, your family, or even by yourself. Either way, this is a destination you will never run out of things to do.

Visit the National Museum

Historical artifacts inside the Sri Lanka National Museum

Second, on the list of top things to do in Colombo is visiting the national museum. Founded in 1876, the national museum of Colombo is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. Surrounded by a peaceful and lovely green park, this massive museum consists of statues and exhibits that tell the story of ancient Sri Lanka. In this museum, you will also come across items that once belonged to the former royal family of Sri Lanka such as the Golden throne and crown of the king. The beauty of these royal possessions is so great that when it was first displayed in 1934 a crowd of at least 750,000 people gathered to witness it.

When you walk into this museum you will be able to experience the beauty of various arts, carvings masks, and statues which are all related to the ancient history of Sri Lanka in some way. The museum is open from 9 AM to 5 PM throughout the week and they charge a small entrance fee. Overall, if you’re a history buff this is the ideal place for you.

Visit Independence Memorial Hall

Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka

On the 4th of February 1948, Sri Lanka received its independence from Britain. And as a monument to the independence of Sri Lanka, a large stone building which is surrounded by a peaceful and lush green garden was built. And placed right in front of it is a statue of Sri Lanka’s first president, Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake. The architecture of the independence memorial hall was designed with the inspiration of the Royal audience hall in Kandy. In 1815 the Kandyan convention was signed in this particular hall which ended the kingdom of Kandy where Sri Lanka was then made British. However, this particular gesture is a great way of linking the two significant historical events in Sri Lanka.

Today, the independence memorial hall is used to host religious events as well as the annual national day celebration. Furthermore, it also consists of the beautiful independence memorial museum. Walking in this destination is the perfect escape from the noisy crowds of the streets of Colombo. It is the ideal location to sit down and relax with a glass of fresh juice by your side. After exploring the memorial hall make sure to take a small walk through the green garden lined up with beautiful fountains. If you wish, take a book with you, sit under the shade of a tree and begin to read. You will definitely begin to feel at one with your thoughts.

Witness Colonial Buildings in the Fort Area

The old Dutch Hospital now offers food and shopping in a Dutch Colonial building setting

Fourth on the list for top things to do in Colombo is; witness the colonial buildings all around the fort area. In 1815 Colombo was declared as the capital by the British and this particular area was an actual fort as it was surrounded by the ocean on two sides and had a moat on the landward sides. And to this day Colombo is home to stunning monumental buildings which date back to the Dutch and British era of Sri Lanka. This area is packed with spectacular old colonial-era architecture masterpieces. Many have now been restored with a mix of few modern structures.

The perfect example of old colonial buildings in Colombo that are worth visiting is the Old Dutch hospital. This particular building is said to be one of the oldest buildings in Colombo which dates back to the early 1600s. It has now been restored and houses some amazing restaurants and cafes as well as a few cool shops. And not forgetting the old Galle buck lighthouse, Cargill’s main store, clock tower, Lioyd’s buildings, and central point is definitely worth a visit too.

Walk Around the Streets of Pettah

The bustling and noisy streets of Pettah Market on Pettah Street in Colombo

One of the oldest districts of Colombo is Pettah. Walking around in these streets is a real adventure full of smells, sounds, and people. When you begin your long stroll in this area you will start to notice many tiny shops lined up on both sides of the street. These vendors sell various fresh vegetables full of color and juicy fruits. You will even come across people selling tiny beautiful ornaments, jewelry, shoes, clothing, and whatnot. And not forgetting, the street food here is definitely a must-try.

But the best part is all these are sold for surprisingly cheap prices. If you want to save a couple of bucks when shopping, Pettah is the place to go. As people push through to buy and sell goods, make sure to have a bottle of water. This will help deal you with the heat of the day. For the best experience, you can purchase a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Afterward, try Sri Lanka’s famous king coconut from the vendors and hydrate yourself. With all that said, wandering the streets of Pettah must definitely be on your list for top things to do in Colombo. It will be an unforgettable experience.

Things to Do in Colombo Recap

Overall, Colombo is a city full of exciting things to do. It defines the perfect Sri Lankan culture where people from different backgrounds live in unity. The experience and memories you gather in Colombo are surely something that you would want to put into a photograph and keep safe in your favorite photo album. As another option, upload to the cloud. Years later looking back, this destination will surely put a smile on your face.