Flights to Colombo (CMB)

Book flights to Colombo to see why so many tourists are choosing Sri Lanka for excellent shopping, colonial architecture and street art.

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Flights to Colombo

Since 2009, Colombo has been enjoying a renaissance and tourism is consequently booming. Flights to Colombo will deliver you to smart new hotels, rooftop nightlife venues, fine dining restaurants, coffee shops and art galleries – all of which are rapidly reviving the fortunes of this increasingly cosmopolitan city.

Visually, this ancient port is imbued with contrasts. Between 1505 and 1948, Sri Lanka was subject to colonial rule and the architectural styles of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British are still very much in evidence. Striking landmarks include the Old Dutch Hospital, now a smart restaurant and shopping precinct, as well as the lovingly-restored National Museum and the Galle Face Hotel.

The up-and-coming Fort area is home to numerous colonial buildings in various states of repair, while the neighbourhood of Pettah boasts a multi-ethnic wholesale market.

The city has no obvious centre; sights, restaurants and shops are scattered over a large area. The affluent Cinnamon Gardens district, bordered by the city’s biggest green space, the Viharamahadevi Park, has chic coffee shops, boutique hotels and spas. Business-oriented Kollupitiya, a 15-minute walk from the World Trade Centre towers, is dotted with high-end hotel chains. Mount Lavinia, Colombo’s southernmost suburb, is where you’ll find the city’s main beach.

While Colombo doesn’t lack for smart places to stay, you can save a few rupees by opting for one of a growing number of budget and mid-range hotels and sticking to the local food joints, which dish up authentic Sri Lankan cuisine.

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 jewellery.

213 Srimath Anagarika
Dharmapala Mawatha
+94 11 2 686 043

Enjoy a sunset on Galle Face Green

By late afternoon, the 800m-long Galle Face Green is brought to life by cricket matches, kite flying and families picnicking. 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
48 Janadhipathi Mawatha
+94 11 2 421 221

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 Art Market
Viharamahadevi Park

Explore with Colombo City Walks

To really get to grips 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)
+94 773 017 091

Visit Gangaramaya Vihara

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

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

Visit Number 11

A visit to the former residence of the late Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s architectural don, offers an 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)
+94 11 4 337 335

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
+94 11 2 437 437

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.

505 Union Place
+94 767 254 783

The Gallery Café (International)

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

2 Alfred House Road

Barefoot Garden Café (International)

Part of the attraction of this popular al fresco courtyard cafe is the chance to browse the colourful 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
+94 11 2 589 305

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
+94 11 4 502 602

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 chilli crab and clay pot prawn curry, best served with pol (coconut) sambol and sticky garlic rice.

Old Dutch Hospital
Bank of Ceylon Mawatha
+94 11 2 342 722

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 of a salt-water pool, a spa, restaurants, lounges and a lovely sea-facing terrace.

2 Galle Road
+94 11 2 541 010

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 travellers, and 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
+94 11 4 520 130

The Cinnamon Grand

From the minute you book 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

OZO Colombo

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

36-38 Clifford Place
Marina Drive
+94 11 2 555 570

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
+94 11 4 602 121

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
+94 11 2 326 443

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