Sri Lanka

Two Days in Colombo – What to See, Do, and Eat with a Detailed Itenerary

I was quite thrilled about my first vacation to Sri Lanka, especially my two days in Colombo. As I looked up things to do in the capital city, this joy gave way to a few small worries. I started to wonder if two days in Colombo were enough to discover all the places and try new local food and other activities within the time frame. Here is what I discovered and my detailed guide for two days in Colombo – what to see, do, and eat with a detailed itinerary.

First Impression

Colombo, also known as the port city, has become a must-visit location as a result of its rich colonial legacy and an artistic blending of diverse races, religions, and civilizations. Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has a lot to charm a visitor with its blend of modern and ancient architecture and traffic and craziness. There are numerous activities one can engage in Colombo, from shopping on a crowded street to spending a relaxing evening at a posh colonial-style hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Colombo

The nation’s capital, which offers a variety of tourist experiences, has established itself as one of the top destinations for both luxurious vacations and backpacking trips. Whether you are a history buff or a shopaholic, Colombo will never let you down. Colombo has it all, whether you want to learn about Indian culture or just unwind through a cooking session with skilled chefs in an amazing sea-facing backdrop.

About Colombo

The name “Colombo,” which the Portuguese first used in 1505, is thought to have originated from the traditional Sinhala term Kolon Thota, which means “port on the river Kelani.”

Another theory holds that the name is derived from Kola-amba-Thota, a Sinhala term that means “Harbour with leafy/green mango trees.”

What To See in Colombo (Best places for 2 days)

Lotus Tower

Colombo

Lotus Tower is Colombo’s tallest building situated in Sri Lanka. In Sinhala, Lotus Tower is called “Nelum Kuluna.” With a height of 356 metres, this tower is the tallest in South Asia, the eleventh tallest in Asia, and the nineteenth tallest in the entire world. It has grown to be one of Sri Lanka’s top tourist destinations and is well-liked by visitors. If you are not height phobic then do enjoy a 360-degree view from Lotus Tower.

Location: This tower is in the heart of the city of Colombo, Srilanka on the waterfront of Beira Lake where you can easily reach by road using public transport or cab, it is 33kms away from the Colombo international airport.

Entry fee: Approximately 20 US dollars is the fee for a tourist, however, a concession may be granted to students if you show the I’d card.

Timings: The tower is open for 24 hours throughout the year for visitors.

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque (Red Mosque)

The candy-striped Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is unquestionably Colombo’s most recognisable building. Built-in 1908–1909, this unusual hall of worship is unique. Its architecture is a mash-up of various architectural styles, including Indo-Islamic, Neo-Classical, and Gothic Revival. The first floor is the only level that female guests can visit.

Location: Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque is in a busy town called Pettah and is easily accessible by bus or Tuktuk.

Entry fee: Free

Timings: 4AM to 10PM

Radio Ceylon

The first radio station in Asia, Radio Ceylon is a radio station with its headquarters in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Three years after the introduction of broadcasting in Europe, the colonial Telegraph Department began broadcasting on an experimental basis in 1923.

In the first half of the 1950s, Hindi programming was introduced on Radio Ceylon. The station popularised movie songs, including those by Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, K.L. Saigal, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi, S. Janaki, and others during the golden age of Hindi-language film music in the 1950s and 1960s.

The radio station capitalised on the fact that Bollywood film music was being prohibited at the time by All India Radio and other Indian radio stations, which raised interest in radio shows like Binaca Geetmala. After hearing the programme, listeners inundated the station with messages asking for a list of Hindi-language filmi songs, and Binaca Geetmala was the result.

Location: Colombo city and easily accessible.

They are planning to open a Radio Tour for all the tourists. Hopefully will operate soon.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

A revered Buddhist temple that predates Sri Lanka’s chronologically recorded history is Kelaniya Temple. It is thought that this location was where Lord Buddha paid his third visit to Sri Lanka. According to the Mahawansa, King Maniakkika had invited Lord Buddha to Kelaniya, where he arrived with 500 arhat theros. According to legend, the first temple was erected on the spot where Lord Buddha delivered his dharma sermon to the populace of Kelaniya, preserving the jewelled seat that he sat on during the sermon (in 543 B.C).

Even though Kelaniya is one of Sri Lanka’s most significant Buddhist temples, there is a clear connection between it and the Ramayana tour of Sri Lanka. According to the Ramayana, King Vibhishana was anointed by Lakshmana after King Ravana passed away. Thus, Vibhishana had previously governed Kelaniya. Rama had to return to India because he had to keep up his 14-year self-exile in order to uphold his obligation to his father, King Dasarath of Ayodhya, which is why Lakshmana was crowned Vibhishana in Kelaniya. Consequently, the Buddhist temple in Kelaniya is also regarded as a key stop on Sri Lanka’s Ramayana tour. King Vibhishana was regarded as a righteous ruler because he stood up for Rama when his own brother was wronged.

Location– The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara or Kelaniya Temple is located 11 km northeast of Colombo. It will take 20 minutes to reach the main city and is accessible via Cab or Tuktuk.

Entree Fee– Free

Timings– 24 Hours

National Museum

The National Museum is Sri Lanka’s biggest museum. One glance at this immaculate white building is enough to leave you speechless. The National Museum is housed in a colonial structure that represents the best of Colombo’s colonial architecture. As soon as you step inside, you’ll find a wealth of information about Sri Lanka’s lengthy history, royal relics, and local customs and traditions.

Location– It is 20 minutes from the main city Colombo 7 and easily accessible via Tuktuk or cab.

Entree Fee– Rs 250 for an adult, Rs 150 for a child

Timings– 9 AM to 4 PM

Galle Face Green Promenade

An awesome long expanse along the Indian seafront, with vendors, buskers, and local people. It’s one of the city’s heartbeats, and you can’t say you’ve visited Colombo until you’ve wandered along the promenade at some moment, pausing for some street food. The place is best for cherishing the moment and watching the surreal sunset as this is the best point to watch the sunset and relish your moments with some hot street food.

Location– Seabeach

Entree Fee– Free

Timings– 24 Hours

What To Do in Colombo

Apart from the above-mentioned places, there are lots of places to visit in Colombo and lots of things to do in Colombo.

Go for an Ayurvedic Massage

On my first day at Colombo and I wanted to relax a bit. I found that Anarva Mount Lavinia has a section named Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa where they provide the service called Hela Vedakam ( an ancient process of ayurvedic therapy or massage).

I opted for a foot massage for 20 minutes and it was so therapeutic, so relaxing that I couldn’t explain it via words. The herbal tea served after the massage was amazing, and calm the nervous system.

If you have ever been to Colombo, do try the Hela Vedakam ayurvedic massage, it would be an experience itself.

P.S. It is said that this ancient process is invented by King Ravana.

Go for Shopping

Go to a local Mart to buy some authentic Srilankan Food. Pettah is one of the oldest districts of Colombo and walking around in this area is a jam-packed shopping place for locals. Plunge into the madness of shops, stalls, and marketplaces. Do bargain as they usually start with a hire price.

Try Local Food

Sri Lanka is best known for its local cuisine. Try some local food whenever you are in the city. Some of the famous food is Wattalapam- One of the amazing deserts of Srilanka. Also do try some other options like appam, kottu, hoppers, polos etc.

Ride a Tuktuk

Walking around Colombo in the humidity is exhausting, however, tuk-tuks are easy to find and are EVERYWHERE! They are a tonne of fun and the major mode of transportation for both locals and visitors in Colombo.

In Colombo, tuk-tuks will pass you wherever you go and the driver will frequently—like, all the time—ask you if you need a lift. It is cheap and fun to ride a tuk-tuk and explore the city.

Where to Stay in Colombo

Luxurious Option

Galle Face Hotel– I stayed at Galle Face Hotel and I must say that was One of the best experiences I have ever had. The hotel itself is a place to visit. They have museums, beaches, beachside restaurants, a library and so many things to explore. The food was too good and the service was amazing. You have to experience it for yourself. The location is excellent, the parking position is excellent and also they have received so many celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and so on. With a legacy of 156 years, this hotel brings all the heritage vibes to you.

You can check the hotel details here: Galle Face Hotel

Taj Samudra– Another luxurious property and my best pick for Colombo.

You can check the hotel details here: Taj Samudra

 

Mid-Budget Options

For the mid-budget hotel range, you must pick any of my best preferences from below: (curated from both sea-faced and city hotels with the best location, food and services)

Budget Friendly Options for Backpackers

These are my personal choice based on cleaning ness, food, quality, locality and services

Clock Inn Colombo

Itinerary for 2 days

Day 1: Upon arrival go to the hotel and rest a bit. Depending on your arrival time, you can go for a tuk-tuk ride to Lotus Tower and then from there Take an evening City Walk to Busy Pettah Bazar, Red Mosque, Railway Station, Old Parliament One, Galle Face Shopping Mall and Several Other key highlights.

If you wish you can opt for a 20 minutes foot massage to calm your nerve and call the day off.

Day 2: After breakfast visit Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara (Ancient King’s Temple). After that, visit Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), home to ‘Radio Ceylon’ which is the oldest radio station in Asia. Then after a spontaneous lunch head towards National Museum.

Evening free for an amazing sunset at Galle face promenade.

Visa For Srilanka

For Indians, to travel to Sri Lanka, each traveller needs to possess a valid visa (ETA). This ETA is valid for six months, allowing for a single entry into the country, with a maximum stay of 30 days. At the time of applying, no flight ticket needs to book.

Approx $22 is required at the time of ETA application. Apart from, your destination address, your passport scan copy is also required. For more details, please visit the official site of the SL govt here.

Travel Insurance

You will be covered by travel insurance in the event of illness, accidents, theft, and cancellations. It offers complete security in case something goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. 
I generally check online for the best insurance under the best deals, you can check Policy Bazaar or any other reputed online insurance provider.

Best Time to Visit Colombo, Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Colombo is during the dry season, so January, to March is a good time to visit Sri Lanka. I visited there in the month of July and I found it good too. If you want to travel to Sri Lanka on a budget, do consider April, May, July or September to travel the country. Because of the off-season, you will get a good deal there.

Is Colombo safe for Solo Female travellers?

Yes, I found it safe even during the crisis period. Although no country is 100% safe, in consideration of its mixed crowd,  I would rather advise you to take a few precautions while travelling in Sri Lanka like we do when travelling to other cities or countries.

  • Try to explore the place in daylight
  • Do not give too much information to a stranger
  • Do not try alcohol or other drugs with strangers.
  • Try to take a city guide map

Here’s an ode to the beautiful capital of Srilanka as we discover a little something about the history, culture, people, and connection between India and Srilanka (very important). Here I am going to focus on the places mentioned in Ramayan, where Buddha and Samrat Ashoka’s son visited, and how they spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

This post is in collaboration with  Sri Lanka Tourism Board, but the experiences and views are mine…

Make sure you check out the rest of my vlogs to explore Srilanka thoroughly. Full series

 

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9 thoughts on “Two Days in Colombo – What to See, Do, and Eat with a Detailed Itenerary

  1. I only visited Colombo for such a short timeframe and all I remember was the waterfront and the traffic. I would have loved to visit some of the sites you mentioned especially the Red Mosque and the Lotus tower, those both are very attractive.

  2. Colombo and Sri Lanka are both some of my favorite destinations. I visited Sri Lanka some decades ago. But I still have fond memories. The locals were friendly and helpful. The city was quite clean. I would love to visit Colombo again and enjoy the local food (with less chilli), experience an ayurvedic massage, and visit some Buddhist temples and admire the architecture. 🙂

  3. I visited Colombo a few years ago, and I remember all these sites in Colombo. It’s good to hear that the Lotus Tower is open and is not welcoming tourists. When I was there, it wasn’t yet finished, I think they were going to open in a couple of months. I really liked the food in Colombo as well – the hoppers are so good! I also went to Mount Lavinia for an ayurvedic massage – which was bliss!

  4. I know very little of this capital city. I do love port cities though, and Colombo looks to be a beautiful one too. I can see why it’s a must-visit location in Sri Lanka. A great mix of modern and ancient architecture, especially the Red Mosque.

  5. We have yet to even start thinking about Sri Lanka. But we might get there first by cruise ship. So interesting to read about the port town of Colombo. I must admit I looked at your pic and really wondered where I would start if I visited. I can see why the Red Mosque was high on your list. I would love to rent a tuk tuk and wander from spot to spot. And keep my wanderings to the day time hours.

  6. You seem to have had a good time over your two days in Colombo. The Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque’s strikingly distinctive red-painted structure is one of my favorites. Most likely, the nicest thing I want to do in Colombo is relax at Galle Face Green Promenade. If you want to understand more about Sri Lanka’s long history, royal artifacts, and regional cultures and traditions, I highly encourage paying the National Museum a visit as well. For my upcoming trip, this is a wise choice.

  7. Sri Lanka has been on list for some time but I never thought of Colombo as an interesting place to visit. The Red Mosque and Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara temples architecture is very interesting. I would love to have an ayurvedic massage. Just go to one of these places after a long flight. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  8. It is fascinating to know about Lotus Tower as the tallest tower in Asia. It would be interesting to see it in person.
    And watching the sunset at Galle Face Green Promenade would be amazing, too. Colombo earns its name as the port on the river Kelani. Such an amazing place.

  9. I’ve been considering a trip to Sri Lanka since forever. I hope I’ll get to visit soon. This itinerary is very useful for me. First of all, it is interesting to know about the historic name of Colombo. I didn’t know that the first ever radio station in Asia was in Ceylon. Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara sounds awesome. Perhaps this is the place I’d visit first. Hela Vedakam ayurvedic massage sounds relaxing by itself. I really wouldn’t miss it!

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