Best Things To Do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Are you looking for what to do in Colombo?

Colombo is a blend of old and new. The bustling city gives way to natural landscapes and pristine lakes and beaches that add to the tourist value of the city. From big museums such as The National museum of Colombo and museum of national history, to cathedrals and temples such as Wolvendaal church and Gangarayama temple, the city abounds in attractions to engage you during your stay here. Then, there are beaches such as Mount Lavinia beach that offer a balmy escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with sandy shorelines and dense bordering trees. The city is also famous for its colonial heritage that finds expression through its mansions and other buildings such as Old city Hall, Dutch Period museum and Old Dutch Hospital whose sight will transfer you back to the colonial times in the country. Take a tuk tuk ride and go around the city’s local markets to see local culture and people. For those who wish to enjoy, there are various pubs and dining options that will introduce you to the vibrant nightlife of Colombo.

Below we have a list of things to do in Colombo and the places where you want to spend the best moments of your trip. At the same time, the city offers you the best neighborhoods to explore and new foods to try.

This list should help you in deciding and prioritizing what you should plan on your Colombo getaway. Find a mix of must-see tourist spots, underrated local hangouts, and maybe even a few new experiences you can try out.

Make the most of your trip to Colombo with confidence.

Tourist Attractions in Colombo

Here is the list of things to do in Colombo and tourist attractions in city.

  1. Independence Square

    Walking Area, Statue, Leisure, Square

    Walking down Independence Avenue, you'll see a statue looming up before you. It is Hon. D. S. Senanayaka, father of the Nation, the first Prime Minister of Independent Ceylon, welcoming you to the square where Sri Lanka's freedom from British rule was celebrated in 1948. Right behind the statue is the Independence Memorial Hall. Around the square is a manicured grassy garden, popular with jogge...Read more
  2. Galle Face Green

    Park, Walking Area, Picnic Spot

    This lovely park, facing the Indian Ocean,  was once a marshland. The British Governor, Sir Henry Ward had it landscaped into a luxury promenade for the wealthy in 1856. Moreover, the clearing gave the cannons at the Fort a clear firing sight at any assaulting force from the sea. Today, it is THE place to be at sunset, when the grand colonial-era buildings surrounding the fort are bathed i...Read more
  3. Seema Malaka

    4.6 (3195 Votes)
    Seema Malaka

    Religious Site, Temple

    Most religious temples in Sri Lanka tend to be Christian or Hindu. Which serves for a double dose of irony when you find out the most popular tourist interest temple is this Buddhist one, and that it a place for meditation and rest, rather than worship. Technically the Seema Malaka is a part of the Gangaramaya temple, but since it is a few hundred metres away from the main complex, it can be th...Read more
  4. Independence Memorial Hall

    4.4 (3374 Votes)
    Independence Memorial Hall

    Memorial, Hall

    Rising in the heart of the Independence Square, this memorial hall serves as an open pavilion of sorts. Built to commemorate the  independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule, the hall where religious events and annual national holidays are marked. The architect of the elegant building was Tom Neville Wynne-Jones, who took inspiration from the the Magul Maduwa, the royal audience hall o...Read more
  5. St Anthony's Church Kochikade

    Church, Religious Site

    This is one of the most curious churches you'll ever visit. From the outside, it is by every appearance a regular Catholic Church. But the second you step in, it's as if you've stepped into a pagan temple. There are a dozen statues of Christian saints, and you will find lines of church-goers making offerings to each saint in a manner that is definitely non-traditional. The statue of St. Anthony...Read more
  6. Old Parliament Building

    Architecture , Heritage Building

    It could be ironic, that this, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, is not open to the public. But considering that people are well satisfied with merely taking photographs of its great architecture, it is not so surprising. Built in the 1930s in Neo-baroque style to house the Parliament, the building's function changed in 1983, when the parliament moved to Sri Jayawardenapu...Read more
  7. Jami Ul-alfar Mosque

    Mosque, Religious Site

    Imagine a building with the color scheme of a red-velvet pastry cake. Try to take it seriously. Then take a look at this mosque and the eye-catching white and red striped pattern on its towering, imposing body of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Surprising isn't it? It took one year to build this mosque, completed in 1909. Before the view was obscured, it is said that sailors used the mosque's dist...Read more
  8. Sri Kaileswaram

    4.6 (2316 Votes)
    Sri Kaileswaram

    Religious Site, Temple, Architecture

    This is the oldest (125 years old) and largest Hindu temple in the city. Like most major hindu temples, the architecture is incredibly ornate. Hundreds of sculptures and carvings of hindu deities adorn the high, sloping blue roof, the top of which is 80 feet above the ground. The inside is relatively plain, but the walls have some religious paintings and murals. There may be some classical devo...Read more
  9. Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple

    4.5 (3040 Votes)
    Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple

    Religious Site, Temple

    The tourist who comes upon this temple, and unmoved by ut's unimpressive exterior , and decides to not go in will miss out on something mindblowing. If you Google pictures of this temple, the results will always return images of its interior. The interior is magical. It's possible there is not a single space of its wall and ceiling that has not been heavily decorated with evocative statues, col...Read more
  10. Arcade Independence Square

    4.4 (3470 Votes)
    Arcade Independence Square

    Walking Area, Square, Picnic Spot

    This complex is an interesting juxtaposition of facts. It looks like a mansion. It looks new, but was built in 1889 as an lunatic asylum. It is now located adjacent to where Sri Lanka was declared free. And it is now the most popular shopping, leisure and entertainment complex in the city. Fashion apparel, sports apparel, watches, electronics, restaurants and even a wax museum, of all things, a...Read more
  11. Shri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil

    Religious Site, Temple

    Usually Hindu temples explore with color. Not this one. It's a little surprising to see. The whole temple is made from grey granite from South India. The only splash of color on the outside are the bright palm trees lining the avenue to the entrance. As you enter, you'll see the color scheme on the inside is identical. But instead of palm trees, it's the vivid orange of garlands strung across d...Read more
  12. Colombo Lighthouse

    Light House, View Point

    It's a shame one cannot climb up to the top anymore; access was restricted during the Sri Lankan Civil War. Still, the construct makes for some nice selfie opportunities and inventive photography. It was built in 1952, and has a height of 29 metres. At the base of the lighthouse is a naval gun battery, traditionally fired at least once a year on National Day, on the fourth of February. Also at ...Read more
  13. The Central Point - Economic History Museum

    History Museum

    When it was first built, the Central Point building was the tallest in the city. Restored after the damage it suffered in the 1996 bombing, the building is one of the best examples of Greco-Roman architecture in Colombo, especially the lovely atrium with its winding stairs. Also, the chandelier is supposed to be one of the tallest in Asia. There's a little museum on currency inside, but it's no...Read more
  14. Geoffrey Bawa Number 11

    4.4 (2831 Votes)
    Geoffrey Bawa Number 11


    Deshamanya Geoffrey Manning Bawa was a renowned Sri Lankan architect who nearly single handedly formed the style known as tropical modernism. The unassuming looking house is where he stayed for 40 years. It incorporates many of his influences. His bedrooms and office have been kept as he used them. You'll see his vintage cars, a collection of art and sculpture, documents, drawings and other art...Read more
  15. St. Thomas Chapel

    5 (749 Votes)
    St. Thomas Chapel

    Church, Religious Site

    Situated on a hillock, surrounded by grass and trees, the chapel is part of St. Thomas Anglican Church and the school of the same name. From the outside, it's an old and dignified looking building. Its true treasure lies inside - an incredible mural painting on the east wall, behind the altar, by renowned artist David Paynter. The work was completed in 1968. Its famous for the eyes of the figur...Read more