Colombo is known as the commercial capital city of Sri Lanka. In the past decade, the city has been a hub for tourism. There are many beautiful places to visit in Colombo. The vibrant capital city is a very busy city, similar to other major metro cities in the world. Colombo is a modern city with a mix of luxury, history, and rich culture.
If you have to be visiting Sri Lanka, you will probably arrive in Colombo first. You can find old colonial buildings with Dutch, British, and Portuguese architectures along with modern buildings too.
Wondering what are the best places to visit in Colombo? During my 7-day exploration in Sri Lanka, I explored Colombo for just a day. Many tourists or travel agencies either skip or recommend fewer days in Colombo. Even I would recommend 1-2 days to stay in Colombo.
Here is my list of 15 must-visit places in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Top Places to Visit in Colombo, Sri Lanka
1 – Lotus Tower
What’s better than visiting one of the city’s newest attractions. It’s one of the best places to visit in Colombo. The Colombo Lotus tower in South Asia’s tallest structure. At the top, you can have an unobstructed view of the Colombo cityscape.
Although, at my time of the visit the Lotus tower was not open. The lotus tower was scheduled to open in January 2020. The tower can be seen from distant views around the city.
The tower is covered with lights presenting seasonally-themed lightings on various occasions. The design replicates a Lotus flower and hence the name of the structure.
2 – Gangaramaya Temple
The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest and most important temples in Colombo. The Buddhist Temple is located next to the Beira lake. I loved the architecture and its surroundings.
The temple also has a museum that showcases many historical items such as jewelry, coins, statues, and even a vintage Rolls-Royce.
The most sacred relic at the temple is a lock of Buddha’s hair, as well as a sacred tree.
3 – Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque aka ‘ The Red Mosque ‘
Visit the famous Red Mosque if you are around the Pettah area. The mosque was built in the early 20th century. It is absolutely beautiful when you experience its architecture. The mosque is made from red & white stone minarets along with curved domes.
It is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo. You can only visit it from outside as it’s said that only Muslim people are allowed to go inside.
4 – Independence Square
Also known as the Independence memorial hall, it is an important building in the history of the country. It is situated at the heart of the cinnamon gardens neighborhood in Colombo.
Not many people know about this monument. In recent times the Independence Memorial hall has been popular amongst international tourists.
The Independence square was built in the event of Sri Lanka getting its independence from the British Empire in 1948. The Most Prominent feature of the structure is the assembly hall.
The site also has a museum exhibiting Sri Lanka’s colonial history and independence struggles. There is no entrance fee for the monument.
5- Mount Lavinia Beach
Mount Lavinia Beach is Colombo’s main beach. You can find many luxurious hotels around the beach. The beach is clean and is wonderful to have a fun afternoon here.
Although the beach is not protected by a bay, the waters can get a bit rough sometimes. The beachfront has some nice restaurants to try some Sri Lankan cuisines.
The view of the sunset is also incredible from the beach.
6 – Galle Face Green
It is a large oceanfront park in Colombo, Sri Lanka. it is considered as best sunset point in Colombo. You can find many people strolling around the beach.
You can also have a mini picnic, have a swim, or even have a good jog. It is definitely one of the must-see places in Colombo. You could enjoy some street food in the park as well.
7 – Take a City Tour in a Bus or in Tuk-Tuks
If some of you guys are out of planning or tired of making up an itinerary!
You could surely use an open-deck bus tour of Colombo city or a Tuk-tuk tour. These are two of the best ways to enjoy Colombo sightseeing. It usually charged around 20$-50$ USD depending on the package you choose.
The City tour usually covers all the famous tourist places to visit in Colombo.
Other Top Places to Visit in Colombo
- Pettah Market
- National Museum of Colombo
- Sri Lankan Planetarium
- Viharamahadevi Park
- Colombo Dutch Museum
- Beire Lake & Park
- Fort Colombo
- World Trade Center, Colombo
You could also visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress – The most famous tourist attraction of Sri Lanka
Places to Stay in Colombo
The city has hotels and dorms for all types of travelers. You can choose from luxurious hotels overlooking the hillside tea plantations or Hostels/ dorms if you are backpacking in Sri Lanka.