24 Aug A Day in Colombo
Colombo is the Capital and the transportation gateway to the rest of Sri Lanka.
It’s not usually on top of the list to explore, but from our recent travels, we are glad we took the day to acclimate to this country and get a feel of its culture and environment.
The city is more modern and laid back than other cities, and here you can visit unique temples, beautiful mosques, peaceful parks, and much more.
The first thing to notice in Colombo travel are the tens of thousands of multi-coloured three-wheeled vehicles whizzing around the streets. Tuk-tuks are the best transport mode used widely by locals and tourists alike, costing less than a couple of dollars. Feel free to negotiate with non-metered drivers as they tend to overstate the price.
Tuk-tuks are safe to travel in, but keep your belongings secure as it’s easy for people passing by to reach in and grab your bag.
You could even hire a tuk-tuk for the whole day as it’s a very economical way to see the city. The drivers are happy to get a full day’s work, and they will show you all the sights in the city for between $5 and $20 a day, depending on your negotiation skills.
Hop into one of the colourful colombo tuk tuk tour and experience Colombo like a true local; you will be in for a fun ride.
Places of Interest
Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
This serene temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo from the late 19th Century.
Located on the famous Beira Lake banks, the temple displays a mix of modern architecture and cultural essence and is known for its tranquil surroundings and serene atmosphere. On the opposite side of the lake are several statues and intricate carvings that mark the majestic entrance to the temple.
The entrance adorns a giant statue of Buddha and the ceilings depict the tales of his life. You will be intrigued by an aged old sacred tree in the centre where you can admire its enormity. Other smaller enclaves surround the inner temple with many Buddha figures and traditional art objects, including some vintage cars.
This temple absorbs you into peace and serenity, which gives you a chance to breathe and step away from the hustle and bustle of the outside —highly recommended!
Beira Lake is an artificial lake in the city centre of Colombo. Many large buildings and beautiful trees surround the lakes. There is a Buddhist temple and the Seema Malaka Meditation Centre inside the lake which is an extension of the Gangaramaya Temple that you can visit with an entry fee. A peaceful place to explore away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Across the bridge is Lovers’ Island, another beautiful haven to meander through which also has a jogging track and the popular swan boat rides.
Located near Colombo University, the Independence Memorial Hall at the Independence Square is a national monument built to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence on 4 February 1948.
The Australian High Commission, Canadian High Commission and the British High Commission can be found quite close to this square.
The Colombo National Museum offers a good overview and insight into the history of Sri Lanka’s development and its people.
Old Parliament House
The Old Parliament is the building that houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka.
Situated in the Colombo Fort area facing the sea, also close to the President’s House, and adjacent to the General Treasury Building.
The eye-catching Red Mosque, also known as Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, is hidden in the busy Pettah Market and is known as one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.
The mosque was built in 1909 by the Pettah Muslim community to fulfil the religious needs of the Muslims. Each brick is painted red or white and used in contrasting designs, hence the Red Mosque.
Respecting local culture and customs is essential. Please dress modestly and ethically; it can be as simple as keeping your shoulders and knees covered when visiting the mosque.
Mount Lavinia Beach
Mount Lavinia Beach is a sea-bathing beach approximately 11 km from Colombo city. Depending on the season, the waves can be swimmable. The beach offers a stretch of beautiful sand, waves, lifeguards, hotels & nearby restaurants.
If you stay long enough to the early evening, you can view some fantastic sunsets from the Indian ocean.
Coastal Train Line
Sri Lanka Railways operates a ‘Coastal line‘ train service from Fort Station to Mount Lavinia three times a day. This railway service is the preferred mode of transport to avoid the rush hour motor traffic in and out of busy Colombo.
Enjoy the scenic view of the Indian Ocean as the railway line runs parallel to the sea. Going towards the South, Mount Lavinia Railway Station is also a stop for other trains connecting to other tourist destinations such as Hikkaduwa and Galle.
At Mount Lavinia Beach, two railway tracks run parallel to the beach. Locals and tourists visiting the beach either walk or come in by Tuk Tuk and have to walk across the tracks. Be mindful of regular trains that run on this track as you cross.