Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Colombo

Although it's unlikely it will reclaim its 19th-century moniker 'the garden city of the East', Colombo has nevertheless emerged as a must-see stop in Sri Lanka. No longer just the sprawling city you have to endure on your way to the beaches, it has become a worthy destination in its own right and makes an excellent start – or finish – to your Sri Lankan adventures.

The legacies of colonial Colombo's garden roots are still very much intact along its often-shady boulevards. Fort is a compelling place thanks to ongoing restoration of its landmark colonial architecture, while Pettah brims with markets and rampant commerce. Even traffic-clogged Galle Rd is getting spiffier with glossy new hotel complexes.

Colombo’s cosmopolitan side supports ever-more stylish eateries, galleries and shops. Surprises abound: with a little exploration you'll find great local food, characterful shops and tiny, convivial cafes. Meanwhile, a building boom like no other is transforming the city's skyline.

Explore Colombo

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Colombo.

Guidebooks

Learn more about Colombo

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.