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Top 10 things to do in Colombo

Experience the charm of Colombo as Skyscanner takes a look at the amazing experiences this tiny port city has to offer.

Colombo is best described as a buzzing mix of modern buildings, temples, colonial structures and residences of all shapes and sizes. Take some time out of your Sri Lankan beach vacation to check out the capital city – quaint Colombo comes as quite a surprise. Skyscanner lists our top 10 things to do here.

1. Visit the National Museum

The National Museum in Colombo presents a cross section of Sri Lanka’s history. There’s a dash of Sri Lanka’s colonial past in some of the galleries while others detail the history of Buddhism in the country. When you are done soaking up Sri Lanka’s culture and history, be sure to take a tour of the beautiful building and shaded banyan tree lawns.

Read more: Colombo is also ranked a top 10 destination in Skyscanner’s Travel Trends for 2015.

2. Say a little prayer

Throughout Sri Lanka’s turbulent history, there has been a constant presence of Buddhism. A visit to the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple is a great way to gain a new perspective on Buddhism in the country. There is a museum in the complex, a sacred Bodhi tree, a lot of Buddhist art, stone carvings and some impressive brass work. Pop by for a visit, even if you’re a non-believer.

Read more: Top 10 temples to visit in India and Tirupati darshan: all you need to know.

3. Stroll down Galle Road

Locals enjoy saying "Colombo begins and ends at Galle Road" – and they are right. Spend some time on this road to experience the pulse of the city, meet some interesting personalities or sample some fabulous street food.

Read more: A long weekend in Sri Lanka.

4. Chase sunsets

For a great view of the Indian Ocean, head to the Galle Face Green Promenade, near Colombo Harbour. You can spend a day here with local food vendors, excited picnicking families as well as small stalls selling knick-knacks to keep you busy and entertained. However, the best time is during sundown, when the view is simply stunning!

Read more: Last minute weekend getaways from Bangalore.

5. Mingle with elephants

A charitable wildlife reserve that rehabilitates orphaned and wounded elephants for re-introduction into the wild, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an hour’s drive from Colombo. It makes for a good day trip with the jungle and the nearby river. Spend your time observing these hulks being fed and bathed!

6. Vegetate on the beach

Looking for a quick dip into the ocean? Head to Negombo, a small beach town half an hour from Colombo, where the waves are gentle and the trees are calmer than at Galle Face. But since there isn’t much else to do here, it’s a place to really sit back and relax, read a book, chill out and sunbathe… beach bliss!

Read more: Best beaches close to India.

7. Jostle at the local market

Head to Pettah Market for an authentic experience, immersing yourself in the heart of the crowds. Lose yourself in the hundreds of stalls selling odds and ends, spices, food, saris, souvenirs, milkshakes and many more. There is a method to the madness though; the market is organised street wise, with each street dedicated to one type of item. Remember to wear your bargaining hat here; wholesale prices make for great deals!

Read more: Top 10 honeymoon destinations from India.

8. Take a breather

Bang in the middle of Colombo, Beira Lake is surrounded by buildings and store fronts, yet the lake, with its charming Portuguese name, still manages to be idyllic. Despite shrinking to less than half its original size, its shores are perfect for a little breather-break during a busy day of sightseeing.

Read more: Top 5 most beautiful lake cities in India.

9. Recharge your senses

Just south of Beira Lake is Viharamahadevi Park, a huge green space with massive shady trees. There is a Buddha statue, a mini zoo, water fountains and a play area for children within the complex. Don’t get scared off with the mention of zoos and kids, the park is humongous and offers lots of peaceful areas to choose from.

Read more: Top budget foreign trips from India.

10. Take lots of photos at Independence Memorial Hall

A monument erected to commemorate independence from the British in 1948, the Independence Memorial Hall is airy and open, at the same time grand but understated. It’s very popular with local students and tourists alike, and a trip here usually translates into multiple photo ops of the space, with you in the pictures, and with the students and other tourists too!

Ready for Colombo? Book your flights, hotel or rent a car with Skyscanner today. You can do all of these on our mobile apps too.

Read more: Skyscanner’s prediction for 2015 travel hotspots.