Colombo is a city on a growth high. When the war ended some years back and the country opened up for tourism, the 30-something generation saw a bright opportunity to start their own businesses, ranging from coffee shops to restaurants, clothing shops and more. If you plan to stay in Colombo for a bit longer than a day or two, there is plenty to do! Here is a list of the coolest neighbourhoods in Colombo.
For navigational purposes, you need to know that the different neighbourhoods in Colombo are given numbers (from Colombo 1 to 15). Inside each one, there several hot spots, but it helps to know the number of the area you want to visit, especially when taking tuk-tuks. The classic Cinnamon Gardens neighbourhood stays just as quaint as ever with cool places popping up, while other neighbourhoods are just starting to become popular among locals and visitors alike.
Colombo 7 – Cinnamon Gardens
Cinnamon Gardens is the all-time coolest neighbourhood in Colombo. Lots of books have even been written about it. What used to be a huge area filled cinnamon trees, then a posh suburban area of large houses with even larger gardens, is now a bustling neighbourhood with boutique hotels and cafes with great WiFi. The main roads where all the action can be found are Horton Place, Wijerama Mawatha, Ward Place and Gregory Road.
Colombo 2 – Park Street and Slave Island
This is one of Colombo’s up and coming party neighbourhoods. Everything stems from one pedestrian street called Park Street. This is the area close to the famous Gangaramaya Temple visited by pretty much all visitors to Colombo. But Park Street has nothing to do with temples but more with restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. This area of Colombo 2 is a mix of business, pleasure and new condos. Beira Lake is only a few blocks away and so is the Viharamahadevi Park on the edge of Cinnamon Gardens. Slave Island is a large area surrounded by Beira Lake and a great place to walk around.
Park Street Mews
Park Street Gourmet
Colombo 5 – Thimbirigasyaya and Havelock
Colombo 5 is one of the largest neighbourhoods in Colombo but the coolest area is around Thimbirigasyaya and Havelock. Only a few years ago, Thimbirigasyaya Avenue was an uncomfortably skinny road, nothing special. Now, it’s a busy and bustling entrance to the city with businesses and condos popping up everywhere. The concentration of places to eat or have a coffee is pretty impressive, making it a great a place for expats to find a place to live. From big and small supermarkets to coffee shops, a bubble tea place and health food restaurants, this area just keeps getting better and better. Havelock road is the other large road that crosses paths with Thimbirigasyaya and has plenty of places as well.
Plenty of long-term rental apartments
Dolce Italia House
The Outlet Store
Indi & Co
Colombo 4 – Bambalapitiya
Bambalapitiya is an area that spans some of Galle Road and some of Marine Drive. It’s very central and quite busy. It houses the famous Barefoot Garden Cafe, as well as the popular Banana Leaf Curry House. This area is always in constant motion, be it with cars, people, buses or tuk-tuks. There is considerably less vegetation than in Cinnamon Gardens or Thimbirigasyaya, but it still has its charm. There are plenty of hotels on Marine Drive and some even have rooftop bars to enjoy the view.
Wight & Co
The Fat Crab
Banana Leaf Curry House