Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, biggest city and major port, draws together all the colours and cultures that make up this island nation, condenses them into a patchwork of markets, gardens and buildings both humble and grand, and knocks them against a narrow slab of beachfront.
Many visitors will appreciate Colombo’s colonial heritage, its fine dining and shopping opportunities, and the dash of urban buzz in an overwhelmingly rural country. Others will tire quickly of the diesel fumes and the modern buildings on Galle Rd, the city’s main artery. If you’re only on a short trip to Sri Lanka, you may wish to pass by Colombo, but if you have the time – say at least two days – there are plenty of cultural and historical attractions in areas such as Fort, Cinnamon Gardens and Pettah.
Colombo is the political, economic and cultural centre of Sri Lanka, so if you need to extend your visa or buy a plane ticket, you’ll find yourself here. The city was the scene of quite a few bombings during the war years, but security has been relaxed since a cease-fire was declared and peace talks began.
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Best places to stay in Colombo
Sri Lanka - Colombo (Chapter)
No longer just the sprawling city you have to endure on your way to the southern beaches, Colombo has become a worthy destination in its own right. New restaurants, designer shops and other attractions open constantly.
Colombo destination guides
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Discover Kerala, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in one sweeping journey. From Cochin discover the rock fortress of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka and the translucent waters and white sand of the Maldives