Top ChoiceMuseum in Colombo

National Museum

National Museum

A large 9th-century stone Buddha greets you with an enigmatic smile as you enter Sri Lanka’s premier cultural institution, which gets better (in small increments) each year. In galleries dating back as far as...

Top ChoicePark in Colombo

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green

This long open space traditionally faced a narrow beach and the sea. It was originally cleared by the Dutch to give the cannons of Fort a clear line of fire. Today its broad expanses and seaside promenade are a...

Top ChoicePark in Colombo

Viharamahadevi Park

Viharamahadevi Park

Colombo’s biggest park was originally called Victoria Park, but was renamed in the 1950s after the mother of King Dutugemunu. It’s notable for its superb flowering trees, which bloom in March, April and early...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Colombo

Dutch Period Museum

Dutch Period Museum

This unique museum was originally the 17th-century residence of the Dutch governor and has since been used as a Catholic seminary, a military hospital, a police station and a post office. The mansion contains a...

Top ChoiceHistoric Building in Colombo

Dutch Hospital

Dutch Hospital

Centrepiece of the vibrant Fort, this colonial-era complex dates back to the early 1600s. Lavishly restored, it is home to shops, cafes and restaurants run by some of Colombo’s best operators. Enjoy a pause for a...

Top ChoiceMarket in Colombo

Federation of Self Employees Market

Federation of Self Employees Market

The concentrated and manic commerce of Pettah is concentrated even further in its markets. Stretching along 5th Cross St, this don't-miss market is a hive of household goods interspersed with artful displays of...

Top ChoiceHistoric Building in Colombo

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

Dating to 1865, this municipal building from the British era is mostly empty today, save for some old trucks and municipal equipment on display in the ground-floor galleries. But let the attendants lead you up...

Museum in Colombo

Geoffrey Bawa House

At the end of this quiet little street is the house where the renowned architect Bawa lived from 1960 to 1970. The house combines his usual love for traditional local forms with the stark white architectural...

Religious Site in Colombo

Seema Malakaya Meditation Centre

One of Colombo’s most photographed sights is on an island on the east side of the South Beira Lake. This small but captivating meditation centre was designed by Geoffrey Bawa in 1985 and is run by Gangaramaya...

Mosque in Colombo

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

In the heart of Pettah, the decorative 1909 Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque is a show-stopper with its candy-striped red-and-white brickwork. Guards will usually let you in for a look, except during peak prayer times on...

Landmark in Colombo

Pelican Perches

Huge pelicans perch on light poles and otherwise lounge about at this roundabout. Watch where you walk.

Church in Colombo

Wolvendaal Church

Wolvendaal Church

The 1749 Wolvendaal Church is the most important Dutch building in Sri Lanka. When the church was built, this area was a wilderness beyond the city walls. The Europeans mistook the packs of roaming jackals for...

Church in Colombo

St Anthony’s Church

St Anthony’s Church

One of the city’s most interesting shrines is St Anthony’s Church. Outside it looks like a typical Portuguese Catholic church, but inside the atmosphere is distinctly subcontinental. There are heaving queues of...

Landmark in Colombo

De Soysa (Lipton) Circus

One corner of this bustling roundabout is occupied by the popular Odel department store. Opposite is the Cinnamon Gardens Baptist Church, which dates to 1877. Located just south of the church is the Dewata-Gaha...

Museum in Colombo

Traditional Puppet Art Museum

Puppet shows were long a part of traditional entertainment in Sri Lankan villages. Performing troupes would stage shows with intricate plots that lasted for hours. This engaging museum keeps the traditional...

Buddhist Temple in Colombo

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

It’s believed Buddha visited the site of this temple on his third visit to Sri Lanka. Suitably grand and labyrinthine, it has a dramatic past. The original temple was destroyed by Indian invaders, restored, and...

University in Colombo

University of Colombo

The 50-acre University of Colombo campus, which originally opened as the Ceylon Medical School in 1870, is surrounded by long tree-lined avenues lined with colonial-era mansions. Of note is Cumaratunga Munidasa...

Buddhist Temple in Colombo

Gangaramaya Temple

Gangaramaya Temple

Run by one of Sri Lanka’s more politically adept monks, Galboda Gnanissara Thera, this bustling temple complex has a library, a museum and an extraordinarily eclectic array of bejewelled and gilded gifts...

Historic Building in Colombo

Cargills Main Store

Local retail giant Cargills once had its main store on York St. The now mostly empty ornate 1906 red building still shows its faded elegance in its long arcades with old store signage such as the one noting...

Historic Building in Colombo

Central Point

Chatham St is seeing the ongoing renovations of old buildings, one of the grandest being the old colonnaded 1914 Central Bank building known as Central Point. The beautifully restored interior is a riot of...