Colombo & Surrounds
Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo has a long history as a bustling port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Remnants if that heritage is found in the city’s architecture while its ever evolving cosmopolitan face shows off a booming skyline along with stylish eateries, galleries, museums and shops. Colombo is a safe and clean city, easily navigated by foot or in tuk-tuks. A city of shady boulevards, lakes and parks, Colombo is a worthy destination in its own right and is worth a night or two on arrival or exit of a Sri Lankan journey. Fort is a compelling place thanks to ongoing restoration of its landmark colonial architecture, while Pettah brims with markets and rampant commerce. Negombo, also located along the west coast, is a fishing village and the island’s first beach resort destination. Its famed lagoons are lined with fishermen’s huts and supplies the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal, which leads south to Colombo. Remnants of a Portuguese past are seen and experienced in the village’s Roman Catholic community, inspired architecture and cuisine.
Prized by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Colombo today is the vibrant and metropolitan capital of Sri Lanka. Travelers will enjoy glimpses of colonial Ceylon as they traverse through the busy streets of Fort, from the historic Red Mosque to the iconic Wolvendaal Dutch Church. Colombo has all that you’d expect of a dynamic capital; museums, art galleries, parks and beaches, a host of cafes, bars and restaurants, but retains a rather small town, sleepy feel for all that.
Savour authentic street food along the breezy Galle Face Green or visit the Gangaramaya Temple to experience the Buddhist way of Life. The traditional architecture of Independence Square and colonial hangovers such as the picturesque Mount Lavinia Hotel steeped in history and romantic folklore. From pub-quiz nights, to a vibrant theatre, art exhibitions, cinema, live music, to beach parties and cultural performances, Colombo is ideal for travelers and visitors keen on relaxing but also making the most of a night or two in an island city.
Flanked by both lagoon and sea, Negombo is where it all began for Sri Lanka’s tourism and home to the oldest beach resort in Sri Lanka. A winning combination of sun, sea and sand enshrined by the passing Dutch, Portuguese and British influences have helped this fishing town attract a loyal brand of die-hard visitors. At first light visitors can make their way to one of two buzzing fish markets where only the freshest catch of the day awaits. Larger than life tuna, prawns, crabs, squid and much more of the exotic can be expected on an early morning visit to the Negombo Fish Market. St Mary’s Church is one of the oldest and largest Catholic cathedrals in Sri Lanka that dates back to 1570 and presents a dramatic design. St Stephen’s Anglican Church is located right next to the Negombo fort and was consecrated in 1879. Its gothic revival architectural style is popular with visitors keen for a glimpse of Negombo’s colonial past. During the day, opt to laze around the long stretches of Negombo’s popular beaches that offer the best of tropical sun. At night Lewis Place comes alive with a range of shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars. Don’t miss the chance to taste some great seafood.