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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Entree Fee– Free
Timings– 24 Hours
Apart from the above-mentioned places, there are lots of places to visit in Colombo and lots of things to do in Colombo.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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)
These are my personal choice based on cleaning ness, food, quality, locality and services
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.
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.
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.
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.
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