Located on the west coast of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the country’s pride for its commercial, industrial, and cultural growth. It is teeming with life and energy, with one of the highest populations in the country. Its landscape is an eclectic mix of modern architecture and rustic remnants from its rich colonial past.
Colombo boasts a great number of famous landmarks, such as Viharamahadevi Park, the oldest and largest park in the Port of Colombo. This park is prized for its portrait-worthy flowering trees – catch them in full bloom from March to May. If you’re lucky, you may catch a working elephant here chomping on palm branches at night!
Near Viharamahadevi Park is the National Museum of Colombo, a majestic colonial building with elegant arches and stout white pillars. Its sprawling collection of priceless artefacts traces the historical arc of Sri Lanka and the city of Colombo. The museum is also known for its affordable souvenirs. Do note that there is a photography surcharge if you plan on snapping some souvenir shots of your own.
More popular among locals is the Galle Face, a giant promenade along Colombo’s coast that reaches up to half a kilometre in length. Laid out in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry Ward when Colombo was British Ceylon, it was originally used for horse racing and golfing. Now, citizens of all ages flock here for a merry time of food and drink, with vendors setting up stalls selling quintessential Sri Lankan snacks. Bordering Galle Face is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest hotels, exuding an old-timey charm with its archaic furnishings and lavish balconies.
Colombo is the epicentre of Sri Lanka’s bus and rail networks. The city has three main bus terminals located east of Fort train station on the south edge of Pettah. Bastian Mawatha Station and Saunders Pl station serve long-distance buses, while Central Bus Station serves suburban buses.
Taking the train is perhaps a less chaotic experience, with more order and less overcrowding. Colombo Fort is the city’s main station. Trains in transit often stop for two to three minutes.
Getting to Colombo
International flights to Colombo are received by Bandaranaike International Airport and Ratmalana Airport from major regions around the world, including Europe and the United States. Bandaranaike Airport is located 30km from the city, while Ratmalana Airport is 15km away. Public buses, trains, tuk tuk (trishaws), and taxis are available for transport to the city.
Domestic flights to Colombo are served by Ratmalana Air Force Base, which has an AeroLanka shuttle bus to the city. Carriers fly here from cities including Jaffna and Trincomalee.