Experience a lush, tropical climate, beaches galore and a dizzying variety of cultural influences when you travel to Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka, and the island’s commercial, financial and cultural centre.
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Sri Lanka’s culture stems from multiple sources, from the Sinhalese and Tamils to Portuguese and Dutch colonial powers. You can learn more about these during your trip, by paying a visit to the National Museum of Colombo and the Dutch Period Museum. Other must-sees include the Buddhist temples of Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, Gangaramaya and Seema Malaka, famed for its peaceful lakeside location.
One of the quirkier attractions that you can visit during your trip to Colombo is the Traditional Puppet Art Museum, where you’ll see intricately crafted puppets and dioramas made by local artists.
Mount Lavinia beach is one of the most popular places to relax for both tourists and locals, and is lined with excellent restaurants. The greenery of Viharamahadevi Park offers a more tranquil setting. It is home to thousands of bats that hang from the trees by day, and take flight as the sun goes down. They’re perfectly harmless, and the locals are rather fond of their flying neighbours.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers should visit Talangama Wetland, which offers a unique chance to get up close to the diverse birdlife of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its eclecticism, which comes from its widespread cultural influences. Indian inspirations blend intriguingly with those from Europe, and are spiced by ingredients introduced to the island by ancient sea traders. Rice and curry dishes are particularly popular and are widely available in Mount Lavinia, Kollupitiya and many other areas. The result is a fusion of flavours – each of them exotic and unique to the island.
Colombo is also known for its street food, ranging from spicy egg rolls and fresh seafood to rotis and pittus. Pettah Market and Galle Face Green are good places to sample some local delicacies during your visit.
There are plenty of independent shops and stalls in the city where you can buy mementos of your travels. Galle Road is home to many shops selling indigenous crafts and fashions, as is Crescat Boulevard, a small yet upmarket shopping centre.
If you feel like trying your hand at haggling, then head back to Pettah Market to barter with local traders for everything from food to electrical goods and clothes.
Essential facts about Colombo
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