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The definitive must-do list for your next trip to Colombo

Colombo is Sri Lanka’s economic hub and biggest by number. Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752.993 in the city proper, according to the Brookings Institution. It is the island’s financial centre and a destination for tourists.

Marine drive
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Colombo is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. The coastal town is a beautiful place to spend a few days just relaxing, indulging in the local food and recreational activities. The town still has many colonial-era and early-history structures. Many of the buildings you see today were once used by rulers of the colonies. The Maritime Museum itself was once a Dutch jail. You’ll also find many Buddhist temples in Colombo, the most famous of which are the Gangaramaya, and the Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara. Not just this, Colombo is a perfect place to shop for local handlooms, and when it’s over, indulge in a range of seafood and local cuisine. Colombo makes an enchanting escape to a picturesque city on the coast.

Places of interest

Beach in colombo
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Gangaramaya Temple

One of Colombo ‘s main religious draws, the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple lies a short walk from the magnificent Lake Beira. The temple ‘s religious value draws tourists as well as travellers. The temple is also an architectural masterpiece, fusing elements of Chinese, Indian, and Thai architectural style and architecture.

National Museum of Colombo

Established in 1877, this is the largest museum in the island country and is Sri Lanka ‘s pride without a doubt. The place houses some of the ancient rulers of the Kandyan dynasty ‘s best and personalized collections. The museum holds compelling representations of Italian architecture and houses numerous artefacts going back many decades, portraying cultural and environmental complexities

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is one of Colombo’s most popular picnic attractions, a beautiful stretch of open space sandwiched between the bustling Galle road and the Indian Ocean. The place has received considerable footfall, especially on weekends when there are countless vendors around, with all kinds of toys tempting the little ones.

Viharamahadevi Park

The Viharamahadevi Park takes its name from Queen Viharamahadevi and is the largest in Colombo. The Park is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Colombo, combining picnic spots, waterfalls, a public park, a zoo, nature trails and much more. Combined with adventurous rides, the calming, peaceful vibes of nature make this place an unmissable spot when travelling to Colombo.

Beira Lake

Put the picnic, adventure and pilgrimage elements together and you have Beria Lake, one of Colombo’s most beautiful tourist spots. Located in the heart of the city, Beria Lake sits close to the legendary Gangaramaya Temple, while a beautiful temple called Seema Makala temple graces the lake’s centre.

Lake
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Independence Memorial Hall

The Independence Memorial Hall was built in 1953 and is one of the most popular tourist spots in Colombo. Constructed as a tribute to the nation’s independence from British rule, the hall hosts annually the celebrations of the Independence Day along with various other national events. There is also a museum on the premises right in the centre of Cinnamon Gardens.

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

Jami Ul-Afar is a great mosque in the confines of Colombo ‘s Second Cross Street. The mosque is very popular and stands out, much like a treat, with its red and white striped paint! The mosque was designed by Habibu Labbe Saibu Labbe and is one of Colombo’s many culturally rich places to visit.

Dutch Period Museum

Set in the very heart of the Pettah market, the Dutch Period Museum is one of the most attractive places to visit in Colombo. The museum ‘s unique architecture, combined with the countless personal belongings of several Dutch rulers, endears the place for past and cultural patrons. The museum was originally the official residence of the then Dutch Governor of Sri Lan, spread over 2 stories.

Old Parliament Building

The Old Parliament Building in Colombo, one of Sri Lanka’s most important government offices, bears reflections of the Neo-baroque architectural styles. There are several stories embedded in history and politics which create the building’s reputation. Established in the year 1930, the building was proclaimed Sri Lankan Parliament in 1977.

World Trade Center

The twin-building World Trade Centre is one of the top tourist attractions in Colombo. The 39-storey premium business complex, standing at a height of 152 meters, guards some of the most important and reputed businesses from around the world. It is being said to be one of Sri Lanka’s most environmentally friendly business complexes.

Paradise Road

Inaugurated by Udayshanth Fernando in the year 1987, Paradise Road is a lovely little boutique dealing with quality contemporary clothing, most of which are produced locally. What started out at Cinnamon Gardens of Colombo as a small, quiet label is now one of the city’s landmark design brands. The design brand has also made a foray into the hospitality sector with two boutique hotels established

Attidiya Bird Sanctuary

The Attidiya Bird Sanctuary, one of the most refreshing spots to see in Colombo, is home to over 50 species of avian species, along with variations of insects and butterflies. The place’s biodiversity will leave you stunned as you make short walks around, appreciating Mother Nature’s beauty.

Pettah Floating Market

Pettah Floating Market, located on Bastian Mawatha in Pettah, is one of Colombo’s most sensational shopping spots. The market was deemed a hazard zone as a former cluster of dilapidated factories and smelly water. The market was then transformed by the UDA and a brilliant architect named Thushari Kariyawasam merged their efforts.

Floating market
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Shrinivas