Thursday, February 2

24 hours to Travel Colombo

Sri Lanka’s capital city is a potpourri of art, culture, food and stunning sights that make for a perfect city break. And if you have a day, here are some places that you can see, eat and shop.

Travel Colombo
Travel Colombo

As your flight lowers into Colombo, all you can see is a sea of green courtesy the lush coconut plants that dot the island. It is also a perfect precursor of what to expect in this tropical Sinhalese island.

Sights & Sounds

Start your day on a spiritual note by stopping at the beautiful Gangaramaya Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples here. There are a number of Buddha statues inside the premises and lots of murals as well that are quite intricate and fascinating. There is a museum, library and a Bodhi tree in the courtyard here as well. Also head to the Independence Memorial Hall, an ode to the independence movement. This place also houses a museum that is often overlooked but you must check out the cultural exhibits here.

Likewise, the National Museum of Colombo that dates back to the late 19th century has a whopping one lakh plus exhibits and is a lesson on all things related to the history of the country. If you have time in hand, check out Number 11, the erstwhile home of Sri Lanka’s foremost architect Geoffrey Bawa that has been immaculately preserved to date. For some recreation a visit to the Galle Face Green is a must in the evening. This is a beach facing promenade where locals chill and soak in the sounds of the sea.

Retail Therapy

When you are travelling, a must on your agenda is shopping, and Colombo has a plethora of options. I highly recommend a visit to Barefoot, a storehouse of high-quality handmade products, including artisanal produce, table ware, cushions, toys, bags and more. If you are looking for souvenirs to take back home, head to Odel, a large department store that houses fashion labels, homeware, accessories and more.  If you are looking for something more local, visit the government handicraft store Laksala where you can buy tea, spices, apparel, jewellery, leather, ceramics, arts and craft items at pocket-friendly prices. A special recommendation is the wood masks that are bright and colourful, which also make for a lovely gift item.

Gastronomy Calling

A potpourri of cultures, Colombo has some wonderful food joints that will add to your culinary taste buds. If you love street food, Colombo will delight you with myriad options. So whether it is samosas at Pettah Train Station or Kottu Roti at Hotel de New Pilawoos, there is a lot to explore here. For a relaxed lunch, head to Nuga Gama at Cinnamon Grand that dishes up traditional Sri Lankan fare. You must try string hoppers, which are akin to steamed rice noodles and team well with sweet or spicy toppings and a coconut. Non vegetarians will relish the sour fish curry, fish ambul thiyal here. If you are vegetarian, there are several choices here, including Indian restaurants as well as vegan ones like Cinnamon Red, OZO Colombo and Smokey’s – The Brownie Bar. If you are non-vegetarian, a visit to the Ministry of Crab that has all kinds of crab-based dishes, prawns and seafood rice tossed in a variety of delectable sauces is a must.

Good to Know

  • Travelling via the tuk tuk is a nice way to come up close with the locals but keep your bargaining skills sharpened and always confirm the fare in advance.
  • You can also sign up for a walking tour that is conducted by a local expert guide.
  • Colombo has a tropical hot weather throughout the year so keep yourself hydrated and sun protected at all times.

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