How to Spend 5 Days in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Temple entrance sculpture in Colombo © Gerald Pereira / Flickr
Temple entrance sculpture in Colombo © Gerald Pereira / Flickr
Photo of Orana Velarde
Sri Lanka Hub Writer4 February 2018

Colombo, the coastal capital of Sri Lanka is an often avoided stop when visiting the spice island. But as more entrepreneurs of the newer generation open more businesses and create interesting things to do, Colombo is fast becoming an unmissable stop. Read on to find out what you can see and do in just five days.

Getting around

Getting around in Colombo can be done via tuk-tuk, taxi, Uber or bus. From bus being the most “local” but also the most complex, next in terms of authenticity is the tuk-tuk. These are easy to find and easy to grab, just make sure the tuk-tuk has a meter so you don’t get overcharged. Also try and know exactly where you are going, like the street name and number. Showing a pin on Google Maps won’t always work. Taking a taxi is easy with or Kangaroo Cabs or Uber.

Day 1

Check in at a nice city hotel like the Jetwing Colombo Seven with a rooftop pool so you can see the city from above. The first area to check out is the Colombo Fort, and there are two really cool ways to do that, either with Mark Forbes and his Colombo City Walk or with a Tuk-Tuk Safari. If you can’t pick then do one on one day and the other on another day! There are different times of day for each option so it’s easy to find the right one for you.

After a day of exploring, have dinner at Kaema Sutra in the new Shangri La Hotel for some authentic Sri Lankan food.

Overlooking Colombo | © Courtesy of Jetwing Colombo Seven

Day 2

For your second day why not have a yummy breakfast at the Black Cat Cafe before taking a stroll around the Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood and visiting some of the temples in the city like the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple at Beira Lake and the Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil.

You should also visit the National Colombo Museum to see lots of ancient artifacts and learn more about Sri Lankan culture and history. For a night cap or maybe a night out, go check Park Street Mews for some drinks and Colombo nightlife.

Buddhas in Gangaramaya Temple | © Christiane Birr / Flickr

Day 3

Have breakfast at Barefoot Garden Cafe and do some unbeatable shopping for handmade crafts and woven sarongs for yourself or friends and family back home. After some gorgeous gift collecting, move hotels to the Galle Face Hotel for a historic Colombo experience.

After checking in, take a tour of the hotel and then spend the afternoon poolside until the sunset bagpipe show and have cocktails seaside. If you are into some sightseeing, take a stroll along the Galle Face Green.

The poolside at Galle Face Hotel is by the ocean | © S B / Flickr

Day 4

Have the legendary breakfast at the Galle Face Hotel, either western food or the delicious Sri Lankan breakfast with pol roti and dahl.

Why not spend a day at the beach at Mt. Lavinia? You can either go to pool at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel and then explore from there or go have a seafood lunch at one of the lovely little beachside cafes and restaurants. One of the all time favorites is Buba Beach Club and Restaurant.

Getting in the ocean isn’t always a great idea, it depends on the weather. Try the fresh thambili (King Coconut), and some fresh prawns on the grill.

Mount Lavinia Beach | © dronepicr / Flickr

Day 5

For the last day why not go for a spa treatment in your hotel or at the White Spa by Spa Ceylon. Treat yourself to Ayurvedic massages and a facial. Load up on marvelous Ayurvedic products manufactured here on the island and take it easy exploring the parts of the city you still haven’t seen. Have lunch at the yummy Cafe Kumbuk or go for some incredible crab curry at the Ministry of Crab.

Pack your bags to go back home or keep on exploring Sri Lanka!