Blog

Visiting Colombo: Everything You Need To Know

If you’ve landed in Sri Lanka and you’ve got Colombo on your travel radar, you’ve made a fantastic choice! It doesn’t matter if you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a sun-soaked adventure seeker, the island nation’s capital has countless escapades in store. Let’s break it down, keep it breezy, and explore the metropolitan city alongside Hotel MaRadha! Picture this: the sun painting the sky with its golden hues all around Hotel MaRadha, a gentle breeze carrying whispers of holiday cheer, and Colombo’s streets putting on their festive attire. It’s the end of the year in the heart of Sri Lanka, where Christmas vibes intertwine with the island’s traditions, crafting a holiday experience that’s nothing short of enchanting.

How Do I Get To Colombo? (Planes, Trains, and Cars)

First things first, getting to Colombo. Unless you’ve recently acquired a magic carpet, chances are you’ll be hopping on a plane. Bandaranaike International Airport is Colombo’s main gateway, and no, they don’t offer elephant rides as an airport shuttle, though that would be pretty cool. From the airport, taxis, tuk-tuks, or a fleet of acrobatic squirrels (just kidding, stick to taxis) can whisk you away to your Colombo adventure.

When To Go, And How Long Should You Stay In Colombo

Now, let’s dive into the shopping scene because, trust us, it’s a journey. Colombo’s markets are a treasure trove of goodies. Regardless of whether you’re exploring fancy malls or navigating bustling street bazaars, each stall is a promise of something unique. Handmade crafts, traditional fabrics, and quirky ornaments fill the stalls, turning your shopping spree into a delightful adventure.

Quick Escape: Whirlwind Weekend (2-3 Days)

If you’re on a tight schedule and Colombo’s just a tasty appetizer in your Sri Lankan feast, a quick 2–3 day whirlwind could do the trick. Hit the main attractions, sample some street eats, and catch a glimpse of the city’s rhythm.

Immersive Explorer: A Week of Wonder (5-7 Days)

For those with a bit more time to spare, stretching your stay to a week unveils the layers of Colombo’s cultural cake. Delve into museums, meander through markets, and take leisurely strolls along the coast. It’s like turning the pages of a travel book, savoring each chapter.

Slow and Savvy: Over 10 Days (or More!)

Now, if you’re all about embracing the local lifestyle, 10 days or more is your golden ticket. Go beyond the guidebooks, dive into neighbourhood nooks, and maybe even master the art of haggling at the markets. It’s the difference between breezing through a city and becoming a part of its story.

A List of Sights You Shouldn't Miss Out on While in Colombo

Here’s a curated list of sights that you simply can’t afford to miss during your visit:

1. Colombo Fort

Start your journey with a visit to Colombo Fort, a historical enclave that seamlessly blends the colonial charm of yesteryears with the bustling energy of today. Explore the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, a colonial-era hospital turned shopping and dining haven.

2. Galle Face Green

Head to Galle Face Green for an evening of serenity and sea breeze. This expansive promenade along the Indian Ocean is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and if you time it right, catch the breathtaking sunset over the waves.

3. Gangaramaya Temple

Gangaramaya Temple, a vibrant Buddhist temple, is a testament to the spiritual richness of Colombo. Intricate carvings, religious artifacts, and the eclectic mix of architectural styles make this temple a must-visit.

4. National Museum of Colombo

Delve into Sri Lanka’s rich history by exploring the National Museum of Colombo. From ancient artifacts to colonial relics, this museum offers a captivating journey through the island’s diverse past.

5. Independence Memorial Hall

Pay your respects to Sri Lanka’s struggle for independence at the Independence Memorial Hall. The sprawling architecture and well-manicured gardens provide a peaceful setting for reflection, if you’re in that sort of mood.

6. Pettah Market

The Pettah Market is full of chaos. You’ll find yourself navigating through narrow alleys packed with colourful stalls, selling everything from spices to textiles. It’s a sensory explosion and a shopper’s paradise.

7. Viharamahadevi Park

Escape the urban hustle and bustle at Viharamahadevi Park. This green oasis in the heart of Colombo offers a tranquil retreat with scenic pathways, a giant Buddha statue, and plenty of space for a leisurely picnic.

8. Wolvendaal Church

For a touch of colonial history, visit Wolvendaal Church. This Dutch Reformed church, dating back to the 18th century, stands as a reminder of Colombo’s colonial past, with its distinctive architecture and ancient tombstones.

Where To Go Shopping in Colombo Looking to do some shopping?

Here’s where to do it while in Colombo:

1. One Galle Face

One Galle Face blends high-end shopping, exquisite dining, and leisure into a single, massive, modern shopping mall. Located along the Galle Face Green promenade, it offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, creating a serene ambiance amidst the urban bustle. Boasting an array of international and local brands, One Galle Face Mall caters to discerning shoppers seeking a premium retail experience.

2. Havelock City

Spread across six floors, Sri Lanka’s most modern and exotic shopping mall, Havelock City Mall, offers a diverse range of retailers and a plethora of entertaining activities. The mall features iconic international brands, a remarkable food court offering global and local cuisines, and an entertainment complex that includes Sri Lanka’s inaugural IMAX cinema, a six-theatre multiplex, a spa zone a gaming arcade, and an adventure zone for children.

3. Pettah Market

If you’re into chaos and disorder, the heart of Colombo’s busiest shopping scene is at Pettah Market. From fresh produce to electronics, textiles to jewelry, this lively marketplace offers a variety of items at bargain prices. Navigate the narrow streets filled with vendors for a bustling and colorful shopping adventure.

4. Majestic City

A paradise for shopaholics, Majestic City is a sprawling shopping mall with over 130 shops, ranging from high-end boutiques to budget-friendly stores. Explore everything from clothing to electronics, home goods to souvenirs. Don’t forget to refuel at the food court before continuing your retail therapy.

5. Arcade Independence Square

Arcade Independence Square is your go-to for upscale shopping. This beautifully restored colonial-era building houses high-end boutiques, trendy cafes, and restaurants. Indulge in upscale brands, including international fashion and beauty labels, while enjoying the landscaped outdoor space between shopping sprees.

6. Odel

Odel is a Sri Lankan fashion powerhouse. Offering stylish clothing, accessories, and homeware, Odel’s impeccably designed stores provide a high-end shopping experience. With multiple locations, including a flagship store in Alexandra Place, Odel is your go-to for fashionable souvenirs and gifts.

7. Good Market

Shop with a conscience at Good Market, a sustainable and ethical shopping destination. Held every Saturday at the Colombo Racecourse, this weekly market features locally made, sustainable, and ethical products. From handmade soaps to organic produce, support sustainability and fair trade while exploring unique and eco-friendly finds.

Currency Used In Colombo: Rupees

Colombo operates on Sri Lankan Rupees, not Monopoly money, no matter how tempting it is to try paying for your street food with a get-out-of-jail-free card. ATMs are scattered around the city, so no need to carry stacks of rupees like you’re preparing for a spontaneous game of money-based Jenga.

Best Bars and Restaurants in Colombo

From spicy curries to string hoppers (nope, not a Cirque du Soleil act, but delicious steamed rice noodles), Colombo’s food scene is a flavour firework. Pro tip: If you’re handed a chili, don’t take it as a friendly gesture – it’s a culinary challenge.

If you’re in search of a place to refuel (in the most colourful, delicious way), here are our top picks:

Looking for a place to sail off into a tipsy sunset? Here are the best bars in Colombo:

Leaving Colombo, but Not Without Memories

When it’s time to bid Colombo adieu, remember it’s not a goodbye; it’s a see-you-later. Snap a few more pics, savour that last cup of Ceylon tea, and maybe do a little happy dance to commemorate your time in this vibrant city. Colombo’s not just a destination; it’s a collection of stories waiting to be told.

So, there you have it – the Colombo lowdown. Pack your bags, your sense of adventure, and get ready for a journey that’s as delightful to plan as it is to experience. Colombo awaits, and it’s ready to share its warmth, flavours, and maybe a few traffic jams with you. Safe travels!

picture of the Hotel Maradha

Picking a Hotel in Colombo: Hotel MaRadha

With an enviable location in the heart of the financial district Hotel MaRadha – Colombo provides a comfortable stay for all business and leisure travellers, with easy access to your shopping, entertainment, and business needs. Hotel MaRadha – Colombo overlooks the Indian Ocean and is truly one of a kind, featuring 35 premium hotel rooms, suites, and apartments. We will ensure your stay in Colombo is truly perfect.