Flights to Colombo (CMB)

There’s a lot to love about Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo.
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Colombo, Sri Lanka

What to do in Colombo

Check out the art scene

Colombo’s contemporary art scene is gaining international recognition and its talented artists have more choice of representation than ever. Noted galleries include the Saskia Fernando Gallery, Hempel Galleries, and the Sapumal Foundation. Yet the best spot is open air; every day emerging artists, mostly students, display their efforts on the railings of the Viharamahadevi Park.

Viharamahadevi Park
7

Shop at Paradise Road

Colombo offers some great retail therapy. For vibrant cushions, sarongs, and toys, Barefoot is hard to beat, while for elegant interior decor, Paradise Road is the go-to place. Paradise Road is a chic concept store showcasing clothes by locally lauded fashion designers and one-of-a-kind Papillon du thé jewelry.

213 Srimath Anagarika
Dharmapala Mawatha
7
+94 11 2 686 043
paradiseroad.lk/retail_stores

Explore the city with Colombo City Walks

To really get familiar with Colombo, experience it first-hand with a local resident as your guide. These entertaining three-hour guided tours, often with a focus on photography or architecture, take you first to the Fort and then into Pettah’s buzzy bazaar. Tours also include a stop at the Dutch-era Wolvendaal Church.

Colombo City Walks
Colombo Fort Railway Station (tour starting point)
10
+94 773 017 091
colombocitywalks.blogspot.com

Visit Gangaramaya Vihara

The Gangaramaya Vihara, which backs onto Beira Lake, is Colombo’s most prominent Buddhist temple. As well as a hot spot for tourists—thanks to its dazzling array of gifted religious artifacts, antiques, and the odd vintage car—the area also serves as an educational hub.

Gangaramaya Vihara
61 Sri Jinarathana Road
2
+94 11 2 435 169
gangaramaya.com

Visit Number 11

A visit to the former residence of the late Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s architectural don, offers amazing insight into the mind of this visionary creator. Spread across three floors and four interlinked houses, the rooms, joined by garden courtyards, are full of Bawa’s private artwork, antiques, books, and architectural drawings.

Number 11
33rd Lane (off Bagatalle Road)
3
+94 11 4 337 335
geoffreybawa.com/number-11-colombo-residence

Enjoy a sunset on Galle Face Green

By late afternoon, the 800-meter Galle Face Green is brought to life by cricket matches, kite flyers, and picnicking families. The city’s best street food snacks are also hawked along a seaside promenade. For a bird’s-eye view of the scene, make for the Kingsbury Hotel's lofty Sky Lounge, a smart rooftop nightlife venue.

Sky Lounge
The Kingsbury Hotel
Janadhipathi Mawatha
1
+94 11 2 421 221
thekingsbury.lk/dining/sky-lounge

Where to eat in Colombo

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Clique Supper Club & Lounge Bar (International)

This fifth-floor lounge and restaurant, attached to a buzzy nightlife venue, has floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the Lipton Circus and Union Place. Popular with Colombo's in crowd, Clique’s international menu pulls in dishes from as far afield as Japan, Mexico, and Spain; the succulent sous-vide steaks are a specialty.

Dr Colvin R De Silva Mawatha
Union Place
10
+94 767 254 783
cliquecolombo.com

Ministry of Crab (Seafood)

Sri Lankan crab is incredible but most of it is exported, usually to Singapore. This restaurant, the brainchild of two Sri Lankan cricketers and a celebrated local chef, makes the island’s crustaceans available to everyone. Try the chili crab and clay pot prawn curry, best served with pol (coconut) sambol and sticky garlic rice.

Old Dutch Hospital
Bank of Ceylon Mawatha
1
+94 11 2 342 722
ministryofcrab.com

Nuga Gama (Sri Lankan)

In the heart of Kollupitiya’s high-rise entertainment district stands this rural village–style restaurant serving a menu of Sinhala cuisine that changes daily. The scene is man-made, but the sarong-clad stewards, the magnificent banyan tree, and the authentic dishes (order the jackfruit seed curry) make it feel traditional.

The Cinnamon Grand
77 Galle Road
3
+94 11 2 497 468
cinnamonhotels.com/dining

Barefoot Garden Café (International)

Part of the attraction of this popular al fresco courtyard cafe is the chance to browse the colorful hand-woven products sold in the attached shop. Ideally located for sightseeing pit stops, Barefoot serves up fresh juices, strong coffee, and a consistently good international menu of quiches, pasta, and sandwiches.

704 Galle Road
3
+94 11 2 589 305
barefootceylon.com/cafe

Café Français (French)

When the smart Café Français opened its doors in late 2014, it ushered in a new era of fine dining in the capital. The French cuisine served here is of very high quality and as creatively concocted as you’d expect from the acclaimed, Michelin-starred Pourcel twins.

48 Park Street
2
+94 11 4 502 602
cafefrancaisbypourcel.com

The Gallery Café (International)

Geoffrey Bawa’s former offices provide a stylish scene for some of the city’s best international fusion cuisine. Owned by Paradise Road founder Shanth Fernando, the restaurant features monochrome interiors adorned with contemporary art and tables that spill into a lively courtyard.

2 Alfred House Road
3
paradiseroad.lk/gallery_cafe

Places to stay in Colombo

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OZO Colombo

Located on the seafront along Marine Drive, this affordable high-rise offers rooms that are slick and contemporary, many with superb sea views. The rooftop of the hotel houses ON14, where you’ll find a pool and nightlife venue.

36–38 Clifford Place
Marina Place
4
+94 11 2 555 570
ozohotels.com/colombo-srilanka

Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo

Once home to the ruling Bandaranaike family and now a chic, 10-bedroom boutique hotel, Tintagel is located in the upmarket residential district of Cinnamon Gardens. The boldly striped rooms and suites spill out onto balconies and terraces, and there’s a courtyard pool, a gym, and indoor and outdoor dining facilities.

65 Rosmead Place
7
+94 11 4 602 121
paradiseroadhotels.com/tintagel

Casa Colombo Hotel

Proprietor Lalin Jinasena single-handedly designed every piece of furniture at this luxurious retro-chic hotel in Colombo’s central business district. The hotel is popular with couples and business travelers; the exterior of the 200-year-old Moorish mansion is a complete contrast to the 12 slick suites and pink pool inside.

231 Galle Road
4
+94 11 4 520 130
casacolombo.com

Lake Lodge

Boutique rooms on a budget are hard to beat at this well-located bed and breakfast. Set back from Beira Lake, a short stroll from Kollupitiya’s malls and Park Street’s restaurants, Lake Lodge’s double rooms span two floors of a modern building. There's dining space on the upper level and cushioned areas for relaxing below.

20 Alvis Terrace
Kollupitiya
3
+94 11 2 326 443
taruvillas.com/lake_lodge

Galle Face Hotel

This seaside heritage hotel dates back to 1864 and has one of the best locations in Colombo, right next to the Galle Face Green. Rooms are split across two wings, classic and contemporary, and share common facilities, including a saltwater pool, a spa, restaurants, lounges, and a lovely sea-facing terrace.

2 Galle Road
Kollupitiya
+94 11 2 541 010
gallefacehotel.com

The Cinnamon Grand

From the minute you check into the Cinnamon Grand, you know you’re in for an excellent stay. It houses excellent dining options (notably Nuga Gama and The Lagoon), a resort-style pool, and well-equipped rooms. There are rooms to suit all budgets, right up to penthouse suites, and most of them offer city views.

77 Galle Road
Galle Face
+94 11 2 437 437
cinnamonhotels.com/CinnamonGrandColombo

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