Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and international gateway, is a large, modern metropolis with roots as a medieval port. Its streets were laid out by the Dutch in the 1600s and expanded by their British successors, who transformed it into the island’s commercial and transport hub, which it has remained ever since.
Despite a lack of formal ‘must-see’ sights, Colombo is a satisfying place to bookend an itinerary. The banking enclave known as the ‘Fort’ – the original Dutch and Portuguese hub – is a curious blend of modern offices and 19th-century streets occupied by hotels and stores. Alongside it, Pettah is an atmospheric bazaar district, dotted with churches and mosques. And there’s more refined shopping at the dainty boutiques and upmarket shops of Kollupitiya and Bambalapitiya.
We’ve devised a varied, two-night tour of the city that fits perfectly at the start or end of any Sri Lankan holiday. It takes in all the main sights and some atmospheric, off-beat locations. Find out more here.
- “Begin your exploration of Colombo towards the end of the day with a walk along Galle Face Green, the capital’s best loved open space. On the seaward side of the park runs a promenade lashed by churning waves – the perfect place for a blustery stroll in the late afternoon, when Colombo’s residents come here to munch tasty street food snacks.
- “For a sundowner, head for the veranda of the elegant Galle Face Hotel, which boasts the best sea views in the city. Afterwards, jump in a tuk tuk to the Gallery Café, where Colombo’s smart set tuck into refined fusion cuisine. The Sri Lankan-style ‘black pork curry’ is a perennial favourite, and the ‘chocolate nemesis’ is legendary”.