When planning my Sri Lankan trip, there was a lot of advice warning people to skip the capital city Colombo. While our time was limited in Sri Lanka (10 days – my itinerary will be coming soon!) I was eager to see as much as the country as possible, and that included Colombo. Before I go on, I will say if you’re under pressure like we were stay for 24 hours and make the most of it. There really isn’t any need to spend any more time there if you’re not too fussed that is!
Tuk Tuk Tour
We found a Tuk Tuk outside our hotel, told him what we wanted to see and he gave us an hourly rate (€5) and we ended up going around the whole city in a Tuk Tuk. We obviously paid him more as he was giving us so much information and was just lovely! I think in the end we paid him €30. He was so nice, really friendly and made sure we saw as much as the city as possible and even bought us a King Coconut to cool us down in the heat!
I was really Jet lagged after arriving earlier that morning but we got a decent 4 hours of touring Colombo with him before he dropped us back to our hotel where we had a quick power nap. So even if your time is limited you can get an overall gist of the city. He was so friendly and even dropped us back to the centre later on that evening for our Street Food Tour and didn’t want to take any cash from us.
We found our driver outside our hotel but don’t worry, there’s so many Tuk Tuk’s in Colombo you’ll find one willing to do similar. Sri Lankans are the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered and will go above and beyond to help you get to wear you need to go!
Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque (Red Mosque)
This was no.1 on my list to see in Colombo and it didn’t disappoint. It’s in the Pettah Food Market area, which is a must see in Colombo too (more on that later). It’s located on one of the busiest streets of Colombo and you definitely can’t miss it. It’s a beautiful building and if you go a certain times you’re allowed in to the foyer. You’re given cover ups to wear but it’s even more pretty on the inside. We were taken twice, once on our Tuk Tuk Tour and another with our Street Food Tour (separate post coming on that soon!). So we were given two tours essentially!
Independence Square Memorial
This Hall was built for the commemoration of the independence from British in 1948. It was built at the location where the formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule. It’s impressive to see any not far from the Viharamahadevi Park!
This is a huge park in the centre of Colombo – it was a few minutes from our Hotel. There were local families having picnics and groups of friends catching up with each other which was lovely to see and you got a glimpse into local culture.
If you’re lucky like us the gardener will be wandering and give you a guided tour of the park. He 100% expects a tip, but he was so informative, had excellent English and took us around showing us the different, plants, flowers, trees etc, but he made it so interesting. He had been working there for decades and even showed us his workers pass and it was over 40 yeard old which was pretty cool – so do keep an eye out for him if you’re wandering around the park.
It’s one of the most important temples in Colombo, Sri Lanka, being a mix of modern architecture and cultural essence. It’s €2 to enter and you could spent over an hour just wandering around!
Even though Gangarama is quite a small temple, you’ll find plenty to see here as it’s a cultural museun as well as a Buddhist temple. The temple displays many exhibits related to Sri Lankan history as well as other regional Buddhist countries.
Although there is a bit of controversy surrounding this temple as up until it died, they had a real elephant chained to the front until it died in 2011.
This temple is mainly used for meditation and rest, rather than for worship. Situated in the Beira Lake, the temple was originally constructed in the late 19th century. A short walk from the other temple it’s worth seeing, even if you just take a look from the outside like we did.
Pettah Food Market
My favourite thing to do when I travel is to explore food markets. Excuse the bad pun, but you can really get a taste of the city or country you’re in. Pettah Food market is a must see in Colombo. If you choose to take a Street Food Tour you’ll no doubt be brought here and it’s a lovely way to spend an hour with tons of fresh produce. There’s plenty of snacks to be had, so go hungry!