Discover what to do and where to stay in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo

Discover things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city, and find out more about it’s newest five star hotel, Mövenpick…

things to do in colombo

“I wouldn’t want to be on that train,” P tells me as the rain hammers down on ours. Why – because lightning is red he tells me. I look at the bright red train sitting next to us at the station and then back at him, bemused. “You know our train is red too?” I ask.

things to do in colombo

Not that it matters anyway, it is an old myth without any truth and it’s a good thing too because the lightning follows us all the way from Hikkaduwa to Colombo.

On arrival we agree to pay too much for a tuk tuk to the Mövenpick Hotel. It is the first time in two weeks a driver has tried to rip us off, but I suppose we are in the capital now.

When we get there we’re told we have been upgraded and make our way up to the 18th floor where our room has windows stretching the entire length of the room, from floor to ceiling, even bordering the shower.

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The hotel, which opened in January last year, is the first five-star hotel in Colombo for 25 years and it is no wonder it holds such an accolade.

The stunning 24-storey building offers chic, contemporary and spacious rooms as well as themed restaurants, a gym, spa and rooftop with an infinity pool, Jacuzzi and bar.

things to do in colombo

Things to do in Colombo

There are an abundance of religious sites to visit in Colombo and they’re all spectacuarlyl beaufiutl. There is the oldest Hindu temple in the city with mind blowing artwork, Sri Kailasanthar Swami Devasathnam Kovil, or the Hindu Shri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil with with intricate carvings and artwork.

Buddhist temples are aplenty, such as the Gangaramaya adorned in artefacts, or the floating Seema Malaka, and the Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya with a bodhi tree grown from one of the 32 saplings from the sacred Anuradhapura tree.

While I found the Seema Malaka to be the most peaceful, my favourite design was that of the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque. Unfortunately, as with many spots across Sri Lanka that are popular with tourists, a nearby snake charmer sent P scarpering and I went after him before getting a photo.

things to do in colombo

If you’re after a little history, or enjoyed yourself at Galle Fort, then head to the ocean park Galle Face Green (yes this is in Colombo), Independence Memorial Hall, the Galle Buck Lighthouse or Colombo Fort Clock Tower.

For an eclectic mix of everything from culture to shopping, head to the Pettah District. The different streets have specific goods on offer, with the market also stretching onto the river on floating stalls. It can be hard to navigate and extremely crowded, so prepare yourselves and take a map.

things to do in colombo

For a quieter experience head to Barefoot. It is full of colourful textiles, clothes, homewares and general trinkets. Ok it is a little touristy and pricey, but I bought some lovely little presents here.

Liberty Plaza, just next to Mövenpick Hotel, has three fantastic tea shops and a supermarket in the basement which also has a nice little collection. For those who don’t drink tea they also had coffee, flavoured coffee and Sri Lankan curry mixes!

things to do in colombo

Where to eat in Colombo

My absolute favourite restaurant in the entirety of Sri Lanka is Life Food. This kitsch health café is spread across three floors next to the river. It is way ahead of anywhere else in the country for food trends, serving smoothies, ‘super bowls’, toasted sandwiches and innovative main dishes,

My favourite was The Moroccan with Harissa baked cauliflower, chickpeas, tomatoes, rocket, feta, mint, cashews and a tahini dressing (1,100 LRS / £5 / $7). I added prawns (400 LRS / £1.80 / $2.60) and avocado (200 LRS / £0.85 / $1.30).

P loved All About That Bass – pan-fried sea bass with tamarin asala and mashed potatoes with broccoli and chargrilled tomatoes (1,390 LRS / £6.50 / $8.40).

things to do in colombo

 

We were full board at Mövenpick Hotel, so ate from the all day dining restaurant AYU. The standout food spots within the cavernous building has to be the Brasserie offers a relaxed atmosphere and fine French cuisine, while the Robata Grill and Lounge is our Japanese Izakaya restaurant and sushi bar.

For food a little more authentic to the country, visit Chutneys, Curry Leaf, Harpo’s Colombo Fort Café or Ministry of Crab.

Discover things to do in Mirissa, Kandy and Ella. See more travel ideas here.

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things to do in colombo

 

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17 Comments

  1. March 8, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    A very informative blog, well done. I’ll keep it in mind if I decide to travel there. X

    • mattielaceydavidson
      Author
      March 9, 2018 / 12:18 pm

      Thanks so much! I would definitely recommend it if you have the chance xxx

  2. March 22, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    I would love to go to Sri Lanka one day. That hotel is absolutely stunning – what an amazing infinity pool. I recognised the packages of tea – my sister went to Sri Lanka and brought me some of that back!

    • mattielaceydavidson
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 1:26 pm

      I hope you make it one day, it is such a beautiful country x

  3. March 23, 2018 / 10:00 am

    I went to Colombo about 15 years ago so it’s lovely to see some more recent pictures from there. The hotel looks amazing – love the pool!

    • mattielaceydavidson
      Author
      March 23, 2018 / 10:50 am

      I’m sure it has changed a lot in that time. (The pool was definitely a big highlight)

  4. March 23, 2018 / 10:19 am

    Colombo looks like a beautiful place to visit. Some fantastic photos here!

  5. March 23, 2018 / 8:28 pm

    What a beautiful place to visit! The hotel looks gorgeous, and your photography is stunning! I’m very jealous!

  6. Yeah Lifestyle
    March 23, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    OMG loving all the food photos on your blog and the pool shot is amazing. I have always wanted to visit Colombo but never had the chance, so when we do head to Colombo, I will be using your post as a guide on where to stay.

  7. March 24, 2018 / 5:05 am

    I have the same superstition about red and lightening lol, what an incredible hotel and that tub is calling my name

  8. March 24, 2018 / 9:23 am

    I’d absolutely love to go here but wow that hotel looks insane, the floor to ceiling windows must be amazing to just stand and watch the city x

  9. March 24, 2018 / 9:29 am

    I was actually looking the other day at going to Sri Lanka. It looks great

  10. March 24, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    I would love to go to Sri Lanka. I’ve been to some other Indian Ocean places but it would be great to see more culture xxx

  11. Ashleigh dougherty
    March 25, 2018 / 7:02 am

    Haven’t been here but would love to visit and ride in a tuk tuk!!

  12. lukeosaurusandme
    March 26, 2018 / 6:06 pm

    That hotel looks absolutely stunning. I think being upgraded must make up for being ripped off by the Tuk Tuk driver! Sometimes you just have to agree, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere. Liberty Plaza tea shops sound fantastic.

  13. March 27, 2018 / 7:39 am

    It certainly has changed a lot since my last visit. Was very different then, but that was 30 years ago

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