Perfect things to do in Colombo either as a day trip or while you’re in the city for a short period of time

Colombo is Sri Lanka’s commercial hub; a hustling and bustling city that thrives at all hours of the day. Though there’s much to do and see in Colombo, if you have just an afternoon to spend in the city, or a few hours to spare on your way to another part of the island, here are a few things you can do to make those spare hours perfect…!

Galle Face Green

If you’re in Colombo for a mere few hours, and don’t want to spend it shopping or sight seeing, but relaxing and breathing in the Colombo air, then there’s no better place to be than at Galle face green! Without a doubt, it’s still a pretty popular place with the locals, so it can get a little crowded on holidays; especially around sunset. But if you avoid those times, and take with you a blanket to spread on the sand, you’ve got yourself a lovely afternoon plan. Be sure to snack on the famed “isso wade” the area is popular for. If you prefer a sturdier lunch/dinner than what the street vendors and hawkers can provide, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of malls with food courts in the surrounding area for you to try out.

Independence Square

The Independence memorial hall was built in 1948, to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence. Ideal for a quick spot, the independence square is most enjoyed by the locals for evening walks and jogging, while it’s also known to be one of the best spots in Colombo for relaxing. The sprawling lawn invites you to a lazy conversation, while the arcade next door gives you the opportunity for a quick spot of shopping. The memorial hall itself is quite cool and breezy, even in hot afternoons; making it the perfect place to get away from the heat if you’re in the area.   

Gangaramaya Temple

Aged around 150 years, the Gangaramaya Temple is one of Colombo’s most famous temples. This fame is largely due to the serenity the temple emanates, even while at the heart of the commercial city. The temple is also the perfect spot to see the impact of modern architecture on a holy place, as its architecture is comparatively new from the other famed temples of the island. As it’s built in close proximity to the Beira Lake, you could also use this trip as an opportunity to spend a few relaxing moments by the lake after your visit the temple. The temple also hosts a museum of its own, so allocate a little extra time to get lost among the artifacts! If you’re staying at the City hotel in Colombo, visiting the Gangaramaya temple is super easy, as it’s located only 0.6km from the temple.

Colombo Lighthouse

Standing 95ft tall, and located at the Galbokka point of the Port of Colombo, this lighthouse was built in 1952. As the lighthouse is maintained and operated by the Sri Lanka navel authority, access to the inner parts of the lighthouse has been restricted in the past few decades due to security reasons. However, you can still visit the premises. The seaward side of the lighthouse is painted a checkered black and whit pattern, while the land-facing side is a pleasant brick color¾giving it a majestic look. The four lions at the base of the tower adds to the glory of the lighthouse, while the naval gun battery also present is used by the Sri Lankan Navy for its traditional gun salutes.

Viharamahadevi Park

Formerly known as the Victoria park, and located right across the colonial-era town hall of Colombo city, this park is much loved by the locals. Though built by the British colonial administration, the park has been renovated several times, and is currently the largest park in the island. The park hosts many special events, and is known for the occasional food festivals. The old, towering trees that provide shade for the park are well maintained, as are the other greenery. As this is a popular spot for local families, it’s the ideal place to visit if you like “people watching”. 

Diyatha Uyana

Whether it’s for walking or the weekly good market, Diyatha Uyana is another much loved spot by the locals. The tranquil area, and the safe walking path attracts many health fans in the evenings, while the small circle aquarium (run by different private fish stores) draws the young ones.  Open 24 hours, Diyatha Uyana also boasts of a small food court; ideal for grabbing a quick bite after a brisk walk. The weekly market has everything from flowers to books and home grown vegetables, and makes a lovely morning activity. Once again, this is a great spot to “people watch” or mingle with the locals.