The exotic and frenetic capital of Sri Lanka
Colombo is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Like the fictional TV detective, Colombo sometimes seems a little clumsy but despite the hustle and bustle, it will surpass your expectations. There are tons of museums, ornate religious buildings, parks and historic architecture to enjoy in Sri Lanka's former capital. Colombo has a large natural harbour, from which the city grew to become a major seaport, rising to prominence when Portuguese traders started to arrive there in 1505. Take a day trip to Sigiriya, or ‘Lion’s Rock’, to see the remains of an ancient rock fortress dating back to the fifth century; it features detailed fifth century frescoes and is surrounded by a stunning network of gardens and reservoirs. The Sigirya site, which is also a very important Buddhist pilgrimage, can be reached by train, car or coach.
Before rushing off to one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beach resorts, spend some time enjoying the wonderfully hectic commercial centre of this incredible island nation. Seek out some of the charming little temples dotted among the urban sprawl, and grab a bag full of bargains from the shops and market stalls of Pettah bazaar.
When to Go?
Colombo tends to be hot and humid throughout the year however between May and August the monsoon season can make a holiday in Colombo a bit of a damp squib. The best time to book flights to Colombo is when the northeast of Sri Lanka is in the middle of their monsoon season, between November and April.
How to get there?
You can book direct flights to Colombo Bandaranayake (CMB) from Heathrow with Sri Lankan Airlines, but there are also charter flights to Colombo available through Thomson, which fly from Gatwick Airport. If you don’t mind a stop-off, Emirates offer Colombo flights from several regional airports throughout the UK including Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester, with a stop-off in Dubai. Etihad offer a similar service from Manchester via Abu Dhabi.
Attractions in Colombo include the National Museum at Cinnamon Gardens. The museum contains a huge collection of antiques and artefacts from centuries past that have been discovered in archaeological digs right across Sri Lanka. The neighbouring Natural History Museum features superb displays of Sri Lanka's beautiful natural flora and fauna. Colombo Zoological Gardens houses a wide variety of birds, mammals and reptiles, and visitors can enjoy elephant and pony rides.