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Getting around by air

Bandaranaike International Airport

Although Bandaranaike International Airport is at Katunayake, 30km north of the city, it is called Colombo (CMB) in airline schedules. Arriving by air – especially late at night – it is easiest to spend your first night near the airport, in Negombo, or in the city. You can then easily move on by road, rail, bus or private car to other parts of the country.

Transport Options

Completion of the Colombo–Katunayake Expressway has greatly reduced travel time between Bandaranaike International Airport and the city. From its start 4km northeast of Fort at Kelani Bridge, you can reach the airport in 30 minutes. Unfortunately the city streets remain as congested as ever during the day so add plenty of time for navigating Colombo itself. Avoid the old Colombo–Negombo Rd as it can take up to two hours.

Bus Fast airport buses using the expressway depart from Central Bus Station around the clock, take about 45 minutes and cost Rs 150. At the airport you'll find buses in the parking lot at the far left end of the terminal as you exit the arrivals hall.

Car You can arrange an airport car with most Colombo-area hotels for Rs 3000 to 5000. Hotels as far as Galle and beyond also often arrange airport transport. Drivers will meet you in the arrivals area of the airport.

Taxi You can book a car into Colombo (or elsewhere in Sri Lanka) at the desks in the arrivals hall or you can use the hassle-free taxi service outside. Rides cost Rs 2600 to 3500 depending on where you are going in Colombo. Be sure to specify you want to use the expressway and pay the Rs 300 toll.