More often than not Sri Lanka's capital is considered as nothing more than a transit point, however those that do allow a day or so to explore Colombo will be pleasantly surprised to find a dynamic city that pulses with life whilst preserving an old world charm – indeed many of the boutique colonial homes have been restored as hotels.
Within this urban hub, which is located on the island's west coast, you will find everything from colonial buildings and historical monuments to temples and museums along with exciting shopping, delectable dining and a vibrant nightlife.
The British influence is clearly visible in the buildings located in the Fort, an area where the larger corporations and stock exchange are situated, as well as the official residence of Sri Lanka's President. Close by is Pettah Market, a bustling maze of stalls with each section selling its own speciality, ranging from foodstuffs to shoes and even gold. The New Parliament is situated at Sri Jayawardenapura on the outskirts of Colombo, while the Old Parliament on Galle Road is now the Presidential Secretariat. Galle Face Green is the scenic promenade where the locals gather during the evenings and at the weekend to enjoy a stroll and the cool breeze from the Indian Ocean. Nearby are temples, mosques and churches catering to the diverse population, including Gangaramaya Temple and the famous Buddhist temple of Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, one of Sri Lanka's most sacred sites.
The city is littered with malls, boutique shops, department stores and roadside stalls selling everything you could ever wish for. There's also a fantastic range of restaurants offering all types of international fare and authentic Sri Lanka dishes including crab, which you really must try. When looking to sit back and relax, there's perhaps nowhere better to enjoy evening cocktails than the historic Galle Face Hotel with its views across the city or out to the Indian Ocean.
- Teeming with elephants and birds
- Boat and jeep safaris
- Serene surroundings
- Nature trails
- Indigenous Vedda people