Things to Do in Colombo: Day Trip
Colombo is an interesting place but it’s a working city with lots of traffic and not somewhere tourists generally spend much time, particularly tourists with kids. Some of the best sights in Sri Lanka can be seen in just a day trip from the city.
History & Culture
Colombo and its surrounding areas are rich in history and culture. Places to see include:
- Kandy – The historic capital of the hill country and home to the world-famous Temple of the Tooth.
- Dambulla – See ancient ruins, templesx and cave paintings, along with the fabulous mountain-top site at Sigiriya.
- Ape Gama – A place specially designed for people to get a knowledge of Sri Lankan cultural living. It also offers food and drinks that are used for festive seasons in Sri Lanka. A must-see place for anyone interested in Sri Lankan culture.
- Wellawatta – Tourists often drive through Wellawatta on their way south but rarely stop, which is a shame. It’s an interesting area with some splendid Hindu temples. Great place to go during Diwali. There’s also a nice beach here.
- Bambalapitiya – There is no real tourist area in Colombo like Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thamel in Kathmandu, or the East Village in NYC, but Bambalapitiya is probably the closest. Be careful at night, though.
Landscape & Nature
Being a coastal city, there are many other nearby places to see. Check out the beach at Mount Lavinia, the beach resorts at Negombo (to the north) or Kalutara (to the south), see stunning natural scenery at Horton Plains, or the tea towns of Ella and Hatton. Also, there is the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, where you can see the largest gathering of elephants in the world and watch them bathe and feed.
About 20 minutes drive, Diyatha Uyana is a new concept in Colombo. Here you can spend your day leisurely shopping, enjoying food and drinks, or just looking at the beautiful plants and flowers. This place gets crowded with locals in the evenings.
If you don’t want to make a day trip and are interested in religious history, there are many places to explore right in Colombo to fill a day’s planning.
- St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – The only Presbyterian Church in Sri Lanka, was opened to worshippers in 1842.
- Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque – It’ll dazzle you with its candy-striped red and white brick work. Built in 1909, it is one of the oldest mosques around.
- Wolvendaal Church – Started in 1749 and completed in 1757, it is now called the Christian Reformed Church.
- St. Lucia’s Cathedral – Built in 1760 as a small chapel during the Dutch regime, it has expanded considerably. It is the oldest/largest cathedral in Sri Lanka.
Even if you’ve only got a few days in Sri Lanka, Colombo is an ideal base to get a taste of the rest of the country. So there’s no excuse to just stay in the city and breathe in traffic fumes!
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about day trips to take from Colombo, Sri Lanka.