Colombo, Sri Lanka: where it is, when to go and what to see

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

Sri Lanka's bustling capital appears disproportionate to the rest of the island. Not just in size, but also in the fact that it is the only true metropolis in a country that is still totally agricultural. Economic, political and cultural center of the country, its physiognomy recalls Singapore.

It does not present any particular attractions from a tourist point of view, generally we are limited only to a quick panoramic tour of the main attractions. However, it has a very special atmosphere which combines Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern elegance.
Soaring skyscrapers stand alongside messy cafes and shops, while silent Buddhist temples rise alongside towering colonial churches and colorful Hindu temples.

Here is a Colombo guide: where is it, when to go and what to see!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where it is
  3. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  4. 10 things to see in and around Colombo
  5. What to do in Colombo: excursions and tours
  6. How much does it cost to visit Colombo? Prices, offers and advice
  7. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 752.993
  • Language: Sinhala, English
  • Local currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) / Exchange rate: € 1,00 = 202.71 LKR
  • Weather: constant humid heat, 30/32 ° C and 2 periods of rain, in April-May and October-November
  • Time zone: +4,5 h compared to Italy, +3,5 h when summer time is in force in Italy
  • Entry requirements: p assaporto with residual validity of at least six months, return air ticket, entry visa (ETA) free and obtainable before leaving via the internet
  • Safety info: it is advisable to stay alert, keep informed about the conditions of the country. To find out more, visit the Farnesina website in the Sri Lanka section
  • Closest airports: Bandaranaike Intl (CMB) 35 km from the city

Where it is

The city of Colombo is located in the western part of the island of Sri Lanka, the stretch of coast where the city stands today was largely swampy and covered by a dense jungle. It was the British rulers who started a major reclamation work around the middle of the th century. Still in the center of Colombo extends the Beira lake which is the remnant of this marshy area.

How to reach us

  • From Milan or Rome: there are no direct flights to the Bandaranaike airport, so it is necessary to make a stopover in European or Asian cities (eg: Doha or Dubai and then from there in about 5 hours you get to Colombo. From Vienna or Zurich it is about 10 hours) . The journey takes approximately more than 14 hours - Compare flights from € 293,00
    To reach the city from the airport (35 km away) you can use the shuttle provided by the hotel, by bus taking about 30 minutes, by taxi € 15,00 or by private transfer
  • From the main European capitals: the main companies linking the main European capitals to Colombo are Swiss, Austrian and Turkish

When to go? Info on climate and best time

  • Weather: it is found in the wettest part of the country, in the south-western side. The temperature is hot and humid all year round, averaging 30 ° C and there are 2 rain peaks: in April-May and in October-November
  • Best time: January and February; relatively cool climate and little rain
  • Period to avoid: April-May and October-November periods of abundant rain
  • Advice: light clothes in natural fiber, raincoat or umbrella, comfortable shoes, sweatshirt for the evening. If you want to go to the beach, snorkel gear. For temples, take off your shoes and behave respectfully

10 things to see in and around Colombo

  1. strong: neighborhood in the center of old Colombo which occupies the site of the Portuguese fortifications by now disappeared. The British embellished it with neoclassical buildings, the clock tower and the statue of Queen Victoria
  2. Jami Ul-Afar Mosque: the most striking mosque in the city (not accessible to non-Muslims). A red and white building from 1909 that stands out conspicuously on Main Street, among the shops of the Pettah bazaar
  3. Independence Square: large area where the Independence Commemoration Hall stands, a stone replica of the wooden audience hall in Kandy; on the opposite side, the Independence Arcade, a white colonial complex that houses luxury shops and restaurants
  4. Lotus Tower: one of the strangest structures in the city that dominates the Colombo skyline. The tallest tower in South Asia (350 meters) whose swollen top resembles the bud of the lotus flower. At the top is a revolving restaurant
  5. St. Lucia Cathedral: the most impressive church in all of Sri Lanka whose facade was designed on the model of St. Peter. It can accommodate up to 6.000 people and, adjacent to it, there are a Benedictine monastery and a convent
  6. Galle Face Green: the city's waterfront where, in the late afternoon and at the weekend the whole city seems to gather here to exchange gossip, fly kites and eat at the fish kiosks
  7. Pettah: chaotic bazaar district with crowded alleys and goods piled up in small shops or on the sidewalks. The shops are arranged according to the ancient Middle Eastern custom in which each street corresponds to a product typology
  8. Seema Malake Temple: modern temple structured on 3 platforms connected to each other that emerge from a lake. The central pavilion, made of intricately latticed wood, is surrounded by a row of Thai Buddhas and covered with blue tiled roofs
  9. Gangaramaya: the most important temple, fulcrum of the very important Navam Perahera festival. Strange and eclectic, it brings together a great variety of objects from not only Sri Lanka, but also from China, India and Thailand
  10. National Museum: elegant neoclassical building that boasts a large collection of artifacts dating from prehistoric times to colonial times. It needs at least a couple of hours to visit

What to do in Colombo: excursions and tours

How much does it cost to visit Colombo? Prices, offers and advice

Being a capital, a stay in Colombo is not the cheapesthowever, precisely because it is a very large metropolis, there are various types of accommodation and services with consequent price differences.
First of all, in July, which is not the best season but not even the rainiest one, you can find flight + hotel packages on average € 500,00.
To get around the best option is by taxi, they are fast and also cheap; from the airport to the city center, 35km, costs € 15,00.

To eat, the best restaurants and western cuisine are inside the big hotels, which charge as much as in Italy. Those who are not afraid to ignite their palate with the spicy local curry will have the satisfaction of spend very little in traditional restaurants.

  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -
  • starting from € 293,00 -
  • Return flight + 7 days / 6 nights from € 380,00 per person -

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