10 fun and interesting things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo Sri Lanka
Photo by Nazly Ahmed

Sri Lanka’s economic capital Colombo and its surrounding suburbs offers visitors an array of attractions that make great backdrops for photos, in addition to the plethora of eateries, beaches and cultural sites to explore, which can all be a lot of fun—there are plenty of fun and interesting things to do in Colombo.

Colombo is often one of the first stops for tourists after arriving in Sri Lanka, and it’s along the way to beach resorts in the south of the island, so getting out and exploring this city by the sea should not be overlooked.

From diving excursions off the seas of Colombo to visiting a turtle hatchery—there are many interesting things to do in Colombo that are often missed by travellers and travel guidebooks.

Here are a 10 fun and interesting things to do in Colombo.

1. Release turtles into the ocean

Turtles in Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka
© Alexander Solovyov

Supporting turtle conservation is deeply rewarding, given that these gentle creatures are listed as endangered species. A visit to Our Turtle Conservation Project in Mount Lavinia (view on Google Maps), which is home to a turtle hatchery and rehabilitation centre, is one of Colombo’s must-do things. Visitors are expected to pay a fee of Rs1000 (around $6) per person for a tour lasting approximately 30 minutes and are encouraged to leave a voluntary donation to assist the facility at the end of the tour.

2. Learn to scuba dive and explore shipwrecks

Scuba diving in Colombo Sri Lanka

Several shipwrecks are found around Colombo’s waters, and dive tours are conducted in Mount Lavinia from October to April by Colombo Divers, who also offer scuba training courses. As many as 17 dive sites boasting wrecks dating back to World War I and reefs teeming with many species are yours to explore.

3. Unwind and relax with a massage or spa treatment

Escape the heat and humidity of Colombo and rid yourself of jet lag by enjoying one of Spa Ceylon’s famed spa rituals. Visit the Royal Indulgence Spa by Spa Ceylon (view on Google Maps) to de-stress and treat yourself and your loved ones to a luxurious experience.

4. Visit Mount Lavinia Beach

Mount Lavinia Beach (view on Google Maps) in Mount Lavinia is a popular beach amongst Colombo residents, and it can get busy on Sundays. A section of Mount Beach however belongs to the Mount Lavinia Hotel. It is a private beach with a restaurant and bar that serves food and cocktails right on the beach. The private beach can be accessed via the hotel, and patrons of the hotel’s beach-side restaurant and bar are allowed to utilise the private beach and cabanas. The swimming pool too is available for use by non-guests of this gorgeous colonial beach hotel when you pay for the lunch buffet.

5. Visit the National Museum of Colombo

National Museum in Colombo. © Nigel Swales
© Nigel Swales

Sri Lanka’s largest museum (view on Google Maps) draws in visitors of all ages for the many archaeological discoveries, dating back thousands of years, on display and also for the surrounding gardens. The artefacts at the National Museum in Colombo showcase the ingenuity and brilliance of ancient Sri Lankans, and treasures from vibrant and thriving kingdoms of the past too are on display. The priceless sculptures and art, as well as the big banyan tree and other interesting tropical foliage at the immaculately landscaped premises, make great clicks for Instagram!

6. Grab a bite and shop at Arcade Independence Square

Arcade Independence Square (view on Google Maps) is a shopping mall and entertainment complex situated in colonial-era buildings in a beautiful setting. Fancy a movie? Check out the cinema here and then hit some of the island’s best fusion restaurants, or grab a burger at a fast food restaurant, all within the complex.

7. Take a tuk-tuk ride around Colombo

Tuk Tuk Safari Sri Lanka
© Rozanne Willenberg

A metered tuk-tuk, known by locals as a three-wheel or three-wheeler, is an inexpensive way to get around. Tuk-tuks provide a fun way to experience the city, with rates as low as one US dollar for every four-five kilometres travelled. Take a tuk-tuk from Colombo Fort and travel with views of the sea when taking Galle Road south to Marine Drive, and then travel further south to Mount Lavinia. Remember to avoid rush hour (weekdays between 3-5 pm), as Colombo’s notorious traffic will leave you fuming, and make sure the tuk-tuk’s meter is on and working. The weekend, or after 6 pm on any day, is when roads are least congested—it can be the most desirable time to journey around Colombo.

8. Feast at a Sunday brunch buffet

All of Colombo’s major hotels have scrumptious buffets consisting of diverse offerings, from pasta stations to the freshest sushi and sashimi you will find anywhere, as well as freshly-baked pizza, steak, chicken, sausage and seafood on the grill; in addition to many Sri Lankan and other Asian delicacies, all for under US$ 25 per person in most cases.

9. Fly a kite, try a deep-fried seafood snack and watch the sunset at Galle Face

Galle Face Colombo
© Erwin Schoonderwaldt

Locals gather just before sunset at Galle Face Green (view on Google Maps), where kite vendors offer their novel creations to kids and street food hawkers serve up spicy treats. Hop over to the nearby Galle Face Hotel for a more upscale view of the sunset, best enjoyed with cocktails at the hotel’s ocean-view bar or restaurant.

10. Pop champagne and dance the night away

Nightclub in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Friday and Saturday nights are when Colombo’s clubs come to life, although most remain open all week. Visit Club Silk (view on Google Maps) to start your night off at 10 or 11 pm, then head to Disques (view on Google Maps) between 1-2 am, before visiting Rhythm and Blues (view on Google Maps) at 3 am — yeah, you can club-hop until the break of dawn! End the madness with a lavish breakfast buffet at a nearby five-star hotel for as little as $17.

© Island Life