Capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a dynamic city filled with good hotels, restaurants, shopping and the charming legacy of colonial beginnings. Just off the north end of Galle Road, the city's main road and centre of activity, is the Fort, once a colonial stronghold but now the site of many government buildings. To the south is Galle Face Green, a seaside expanse where informal cricket games are played out amongst city folk. Just east of the Fort is the Pettah, the traditional bazaar where you can enjoy a colourful retail experience.
The two World Trade Centre towers used to be the most recognized landmarks of the city. Before these towers were completed in 1997, the adjacent Bank of Ceylon tower was the tallest structure and the most prominent landmark of the city. Another important landmark of the city is the Independence Hall at Independence Square in Cinnamon Gardens. Even before the parliament was built, the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque was recognized as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port. Another landmark is St. Paul's Church Milagiriya, one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka, first built by the Portuguese and re-built by the British in 1848.
Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was used by ancient traders some 2,000 years ago. However, it was only made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. Today the influence of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British is clearly visible in Colombo and architecture from all three eras stand in their glory as reminders of the turbulent past.
Here are some popular itineraries for a trip to Colombo
If you are planning a Colombo holiday, have a look at some of the accommodation that we recommend. 'Our Rating' indicates how we feel each property rates according to normal Western hotel standards. 'Local Rating' indicates how the property is categorised/rated locally:
Casa Colombo Colombo
Set in a 200 year old moorish mansion, Casa Colombo is a luxury boutique property with just 12 suite rooms. Every suite offers high levels of elegance, luxury and exclusive room amenities including a personal concierge service. The Casa has a number of excellent restaurants and bars including ZAZA Bar - a curious glass cube that contains and ultra chic luxurious setting. Why not head to the relaxing Poolside Lounge for cocktails at sunset? A great way to end the day. Perfectly located in Bambalapitiya in Colombo 4, the heart of Colombo’s business district.
Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo
Voted one of the best 5 star hotels in Colombo, the Cinnamon Lakeside is the perfect urban getawary with elegant and spacious rooms and excellent facilities. All guestrooms have a spectacular view of either the city's skyline or the tranquil waters of the Beira Lake and feature a pillow menu for the ultimate night's sleep and WiFi. The Azmaara Spa offers a tantalizing range of treatments administered by Balinese therapists. The resort also houses ten different restaurants, considered the best in Colombo, including the specialty lounge bar, 7 Degrees North.
Galle Face Hotel Colombo
Built in 1864 and a popular haunt for royalty, world leaders and celebrities alike, the Galle Face Hotel is an icon on the Colombo seafront. Elegance and tradition walk hand in hand here with rooms beautifully furnished and all affording spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. Sipping a cocktail on the Veranda is a great way to enjoy a glorious sunset. Perfectly located on the seafront in central Sri Lanka.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
Colombo Tailor made suggestions
Here are some of the recent tailor made itineraries we have created for our clients which include a visit to Colombo.