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Colombo is the only major metropolis on the island of Sri Lanka. The city flaunts its superior status by boasting the country’s best universities, museums, galleries, dining and cultural experiences. It is surprisingly verdant, with numerous parks and winding lanes lined by enormous plane trees. Located on the island’s west coast, Colombo also has fine sea views and some spectacular sunsets from beachside cafes. The oldest part of the city, Pettah, is as congested and chaotic as anywhere on the sub-continent but can be great fun for souvenir hunters and photographers – just try to avoid the afternoon crush. Farther south, Galle Face Green ...

Colombo is the only major metropolis on the island of Sri Lanka. The city flaunts its superior status by boasting the country’s best universities, museums, galleries, dining and cultural experiences. It is surprisingly verdant, with numerous parks and winding lanes lined by enormous plane trees. Located on the island’s west coast, Colombo also has fine sea views and some spectacular sunsets from beachside cafes. The oldest part of the city, Pettah, is as congested and chaotic as anywhere on the sub-continent but can be great fun for souvenir hunters and photographers – just try to avoid the afternoon crush. Farther south, Galle Face Green is a beautiful swath of lawn that meets the sea. The nearby Galle Face Hotel is a major landmark and just about perfect for a sundowner.

Colombo has few major tourist attractions but its excellent national museum, housed in a beautiful colonial-style edifice in Viharamahedevi Park, is definitely worth a look. Everything is easily reached by tuk-tuk, motorized rickshaws that buzz about the city like angry hornets. Good transportation links and services make Colombo the obvious jumping off point for the rest of the country.

Michael Kohn
About the Expert

Michael Kohn is the author of Lonely Planet guides to Israel & the Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tibet, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

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Michael Kohn for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Largest city and former administrative capital of Sri Lanka, it is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
  • Language: Sinhala, Tamil
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December to March or April to September