Colombo is relatively new to kid-centered activities but there are plenty of great activities to enjoy as a family in the Sri Lankan capital. From visiting temples and museums, to taking time to hang out with locals and eat yummy food, read on to see how to keep the little ones entertained.
The Victoria Park is the largest green open space inside the city. It is easy to spend an hour or two here and is the one place where there are children-centered facilities. Apart from the paths to walk or run along, there are plenty of green areas to picnic or lounge on. In one corner of the park there is a nice little playground castle, some swings and slides and a water fountain that turns on a few times a day for the kids to cool off. There are some snack huts with king coconut water and ice cream carts to keep everyone happy. There is also a huge golden Buddha that kids love to say hi to.
Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf), Family Friendly, Kid Friendly
Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is by excellence the place of walking and relaxing for the locals. It’s a big open space next to the water with a brick walkway over the shore, lined with street food stalls and bubble machine sellers. Kids can fly kites, blow bubbles, and run around with the local kids in the nice breeze. In the drier months, the grass tends to dry out and it’s more of a brown open area but that doesn’t take away from the experience.
The Colombo Fort is where the Dutch built a fortified structure to protect the city. This are can be discovered on your own or with Colombo Fort Walks, which take it slow when there are kids involved. Children will love visiting the Colombo Lighthouse and checking out the Pettah Market. Visit the Old Dutch Hospital for some souvenirs or if your kids love crab and seafood, have a meal at Ministry of Crab.
In the area of Colombo called Slave Island, there is a great big lake called Biera Lake and only a block away is the Gangaramaya Temple complex that includes the large temple on Jinarathana Road and the Seema Malaka right on the lake. Kids will love exploring the main temple with its maze of rooms full of Buddha statues of all sizes and colors. There are also elephant statues of all sizes and plenty more to see.
The Colombo National Museum is across the road from the Victoria Park and is nice to have a walk around in. Lots of ancient and historical things to do but no hands on displays. This is a museum for the kids that like museums and history or looking (and not touching) old ancient things. Usually a visit to a museum like this is better with some previous information given to the kids about history and religious beliefs. That way they know somewhat what they are seeing.
The Barefoot Garden Cafe in Colombo. At dusk..
Architect: Amila de mel | Courtesy of Barefoot Garden Cafe
The Barefoot Garden Cafe is a favorite with the kids. There is an art gallery, an outdoor patio, a shop with the cutest souvenirs in Sri Lanka and a great cafe for some drinks and snacks. The kids will love seeing the cats that hang out there and the turtles in the fish pond and the lady doing the hand weave. They will love all the cool colorful toys to take home and the lovely baskets of chips. Great for hanging out for a couple hours.
If you are looking for a place to spend the day poolside and your hotel doesn’t have a pool or you are staying in Colombo for a bit and the place you stay has no pool, head on over to the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Walk-in guests can eat at the restaurant and cafe and use the pool as well. The hotel also has its own little beach which is nice to spend some time in, dipping your feet in the water and playing with the kids in the sand. A bit further on down the coast is the whole of Mt. Lavinia beach with lots of little restaurants and bars to have a seafood lunch.
If your kids really love the beach and you love seafood, then Buba Beach is your best bet for a day well spent. The seating is comfortable, the food is good and the kids will love spending their day on the shore. If you tire of being in one place, then just move on over to one of the other great beachside spots along Mount Lavinia Beach. To get to Buba Beach, take a tuk-tuk to Mount Lavinia Beach, get off and walk across the train tracks to the shore and walk along the back to the restaurant.
If your kids are into airplanes then a visit to the Sri Lanka Air Force Museum is a must. The museum compound is quite large with lots of old airplanes to check out. There are exhibits inside a huge hangar and also outside in black and white checkered floor displays and green areas to walk around in. The location is a bit further off from the center but well worth the visit for the airplane buffs.
Waters Edge park is a nice open area with a covered play castle and some swings. There are walking paths and some green areas to run around in. There is also a small aquarium and some local food eateries. This place is great if you are staying in the area but it’s not very close from the usual touristy areas and could take a while to get there. Waters Edge is more for the expat locals who need a bit of a change of air.