With Nuga Gama, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel has brought a piece of authentic Sri Lankan village life to the bustling capital. Set up around a 200-year-old Banyan tree, the traditional restaurant features an open kitchen where visitors can watch the preparation of the Sri Lankan dishes, an Ambalama (a resting place for travellers) and even a farm with livestock. The carbon-neutral venue is administered by friendly staff dressed in traditional clothes who are happy to teach visitors about their local culture. Their creamy curries and spicy flavors allow you to get a taste of the country’s sumptuous cuisine within the magical environment of a traditional village setting. Nuga Gama has created an idyllic getaway right in the middle of Kolluptiya and offers a truly memorable experience.
77, Galle Road, Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka, +94 773997052
The building in which one of the city’s busiest markets is housed may not be pleasing to the eye but it is filled with numerous vendors selling a wide range of goods including fresh meats, vegetables, clothes, electronic devices and other trinkets. Those willing to spend some time exploring the different stalls can find some real gems here. Next to handicrafts and convenience shops, this place also offers a surprising range of imported food products from Europe and America to the delight of many expats. The bustling market is always filled with locals looking to do their grocery shopping or inspect the goods on offer. Make sure to bargain before completing your purchase or check the prices for similar products at other stores.
Located close to Kollupitiya and run by one of the country’s most revered monks, Galboda Gnanissara Thera, the Gangaramaya Temple houses a library and a museum, and it exhibits a collection of eclectic artifacts given by devotees. Its architecture features Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese elements, with the Simamalaka Shrine as one of the most noteworthy constructions in the temple. The religious site is the center of the annual February poya, one of the most lavish Vesak celebrations in the city. Numerous Buddhist scholars have visited the temple in order to practice mindfulness and establish their inner balance. The temple is involved in a variety of welfare projects, bringing aid to old people’s homes, a vocational school and an orphanage. It has an outstanding reputation for its peaceful tolerance and openness to other religions. Gangaramaya Temple offers a wonderful insight into the cultural and religious heritage of the country.
61 Sri Jinarathana Rd, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2 435169
The Colombo Museum was established in 1877 by Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon. It’s the largest museum in Sri Lanka, home to a significant collection of national artifacts – most importantly the throne and the crown of the former kings of Kandy. Covering a period of 2500 years, it offers a marvelous insight into the culture as well as the colonial history of the country. The museum is divided into three sections, namely a natural science, a culture section, and a library. There’s also an additional section including intriguing botanical and zoological exhibits. Cultural artefacts have been arranged according to their age, allowing visitors to follow the development throughout the ages. The library houses a stunning collection of historical books and chronicles. If you are interested in becoming more involved in their activities, the National Museum also offers frequent lectures and seminars open to everyone.
Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2 695366
Stretching out over half a kilometre along the coast of the Indian Ocean, the urban seaside park of Galle Face was constructed in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward to serve as a place for horse racing, golfing, cricket and other activities. While its size has diminished over the years, the park still covers five hectares of land, making it the largest open space in the bustling capital. Whether you just want to stroll down the beach or watch the sun set behind the waves, Galle Face offers a peaceful refuge from the noise of Colombo. Numerous locals come here to fly kites, making for a unique spectacle. Market vendors are spread out over the area looking to satisfy any food cravings. The park is filled with couples secretly holding hands and children running along the sandy beach.
Close to Kollupitiya you can find one of the country’s most recognizable sights, the Prime Minister’s House, currently occupied by Ranil Wickremesinghe. Often referred to as Temple Trees, the building dates back to the 19th century when it was owned by numerous colonial British traders until it became the residence of the Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1948. Due to the conflict of the civil war that has affected the country in the previous decades, the building remains heavily protected. Temple Trees has been the scene of many events in the turbulent history of modern Sri Lanka and was the prime target of the attempted 1963 Ceylonese coup d’état. The grounds as well as many roads surrounding the mansion remain closed off. Nevertheless, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the historic building, which is a symbol of the country’s past, present and future, from the distance.
If you have grown tired of haggling with market vendors but do not want to leave the country without any souvenirs, make your way to Laksala, the only state owned gift and souvenir shop in the country with set prices, appealing products and helpful staff. The store puts strong emphasis on socially responsible trading in order to guarantee fair prices and fair trade. Playing a strong role in the fostering of local crafts, Laksala only offers authentic locally manufactured products. From wooden elephants to Buddha statues, jewellery and a vast selection of local teas, visitors can find anything they need in order to surprise friends and family at home or purchase memorabilia for themselves.
215 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2 580579
Cloud Red is one of the newest additions to Colombo’s rooftop bar scene, perched on the 26th floor of the marvelous Cinnamon Red Hotel. The highest of the city’s rooftop bars features both an indoor and an outdoor area both with dazzling panoramic views over the surrounding areas of the city and the Indian Ocean. The unobstructed 360º view over Colombo makes Cloud Red stand out from the competition, and the outstanding cocktails as well as the national and international wines, beers and spirits make for the perfect complement to watch the sun set behind the waves of the sea. Comfortable seats and contemporary jazz music in the background enhance the relaxed ambiance. Cloud Red also offers a delicious food menu featuring some tapas and fusion dishes. Kick back after a long day in the heat and soak in the calm atmosphere.
59, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 0030, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2 145145