Mary Ann Issac
How to make the most of a Stopover in Colombo
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Sri Lanka is a stunning island in the Indian Ocean that has so much to offer whether it is scenic train rides, stunning beaches, or lush mountains, but its capital of Colombo, may not be its best ambassador.
So when planning a trip to Sri Lanka, make Colombo a stopover destination for a day or two, and explore what the city has to offer.
1. Explore the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa
Geoffrey Bawa was Sri Lanka’s most noted architect whose work changed the landscape of the country. Colombo is home to many of his celebrated works.
Visit Geoffrey Bawa’s home which is now a museum/hotel. Join in one of the daily tours to understand his sensibilities.
-Seema Malaka Buddhist temple on Beira Lake
Another stunning example of Bawa’s work- the building appears to be floating in the water.
-The Sri Lankan Parliament building on Diyawanna Lake
Not many countries can boast of having their parliament in such a serene setting! It is built on an island & looks like a luxe bungalow and nothing like a government building.
Check out my guide to Whale watching in Sri Lanka!
2. Visit the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple
It is one of the most important buddhist temples in the country. It’s striking feature is the beautiful installation of Buddha statues. I was lucky to have witnessed a prayer at the time that I was there. It’s a rather small property, so it can be covered really quickly.
3. Visit the Dutch Hospital
Built in 1681 as a hospital, it is one of the oldest buildings in the Fort area in Colombo. Over the years it has been used for many things, but now it is an upscale shopping & restaurant complex.
Check out my guide to Mirissa Beach
Check out my guide to Weligama Beach
4. Eat the street food at Galle Face Green
For a great yet affordable dining experience, hit the streets to try the local fare. Galle face green is a public walk that stretches along the beach. There are multiple food vendors here that can be a great initiation into what Sri Lankan cuisine has to offer.
5. Visit Jami-Ul- Alfar Mosque
If you have looked online for pictures of Colombo, you definitely would have seen picture of this stunning red & white mosque that has been an important landmark in the city since 1909. It is said that the two storied mosque was a landmark for sailors coming into the port back in the day! The mosque is an Instagram hotspot because of its candy cane like exterior- even if you don't want pictures for your Instagram, go there, because it really is a sight to behold!
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6. Eat at Ministry of Crab
You cannot leave Colombo without eating at Ministry of Crab! It is a seafood restaurant whose speciality is the CRAB! It is definitely going to be one of the best meals you will have in Sri Lanka. It is a busy restaurant, so consider making a reservation, or expect to wait.
7. Take a train from fort railway station
The rail gateway to the rest of Sri Lanka, this bustling railway hub is not to be missed to catch local life at its best. It’s a huge station, where it can be difficult to find your platforms if you are running late. So get there early.
Get a train to the Galle/Weligama/Mirissa the beach towns on the south western coast.
Or go to the highlands, to Kandy/Ella to see the lush mountains & tea estates of the country. Both these train journeys are absolutely stunning, and it would be a shame to miss out on it when in Sri Lanka.