Things to do in Colombo
As soon as you arrive in the city, you will realise that Colombo is a varied and captivating destination. It offers a great beach, superb natural beauty, a mix of cultures and a fascinating history. Such a mix can be confusing to the unassuming visitor, so here is a quick guide to the best the city has to offer.
Galle Face Green Promenade is the place to go to see stunning sunsets. You'll find lots of street vendors, food stalls and picnics. It is simply a vast grassy strip along the esplanade, but it is family friendly and a great place to stroll or people watch. You can also experience some open-air theatre at certain times of the year. Nature lovers will enjoy the Turtle Conservation Villa, which preserves and protects the native turtles. Gangaramaya Temple is right in the centre of the city by Beira Lake and is perhaps the city's most colourful temple. It also has a museum.
Shoppers are in for a treat in Colombo as the city has a huge range of stores, markets and shopping centres, selling a dizzying variety of goods. The Pettah Market is the place to test your haggling skills and sells everything from food to electronics. Odel is a leading department store offering a similarly huge range of goods in a rather more sedate and stylish setting, while Crescat Boulevard is the city's upmarket shopping centre. Lakpahana is a non-profit store where local craftsmen can sell their wares and Barefoot offers the finest fabrics.
You will find street stalls offering lunch packets of rice and vegetables all over Colombo. There are also hundreds of tiny bakeries selling egg, fish and vegetable rotis, local pancakes and other snacks. Green Cabin is the restaurant to go to for simple and inexpensive local food, while Seafood Cove offers a more upmarket option and the chance to eat glorious seafood on the beach and beneath the palm trees. The Gallery Cafe is one of the city's finest restaurants and features an international menu. Try Mango Tree for North Indian dishes.
The National Museum of Sri Lanka is the largest in the city and has fine exhibits from the time of the 17th century Kandyan kings. The Natural History Museum is the place to go to gain an understanding of the amazing Sri Lankan environment, while the Dutch Period Museum offers an insight into the time of Dutch colonial rule. The Sapumal Foundation celebrates the work of Sri Lankan artist Harry Pieris, and is located in the house where he used to live. Visitors can see his studio and materials along with an exhibition following the history of Sri Lankan art.
The beach area of Mount Lavinia is a popular nightlife spot and you'll find live music and DJs right on the beach. JoJo's Place is a quiet hangout, while Buba is rather more rousing. Elsewhere in Colombo, Amuseum, Kama, R&B and Silk are some of the leading nightclubs, while the Inn on the Green, Cheers, Rize Bar and Seven Degrees North are all popular bars. Music in the clubs can range from retro 80s to bang up to date dance music and the clubs stay open until 4am or even later.