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Colombo City Tour By Train

If you travel to Sri Lanka, a Colombo tour will most definitely be a part of your itinerary. For one thing, you are bound to land at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), no matter where you come from. Secondly, it’s connected to many other parts of the island. So, a hop on a bus, train, or cab from Colombo will take you to almost every corner of the country.

Colombo Tour with Skyline and Buddhist temple
Colombo City Tour – Buddhist Temple- Skyline

About Sri Lanka and Colombo

The commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, is the largest city on the island. Set in the western coastal region, its vibrancy and development are unparalleled to many of the central regions in Southeast Asia. With many economic projects underway, Colombo is a highly-developing city in the Asian region.

Sri Lanka is set amidst the Indian Ocean and is fondly known as “the pearl of the Indian Ocean.”

It is a tropical country where you can experience sunshine almost every day of the year. The country consists of terrains, mountains, beaches, rivers, and lakes, making it a country with fantastic geographical formations.

Without further ado, let’s dive into what you can expect on a two-day Colombo city tour, Sri Lanka specially curated by a Sri Lankan local.

What kind of clothing to pack for Colombo Tour?

Sri Lanka is tropical, so most areas have a warm climate. Expect to go sightseeing in the scorching sun. So, pack some light clothes, scarves, hats, and shades. Remember to pack your sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

The hottest period is typically from March to May. Moreover, the temperature goes considerably low from around the end of November until Late January. It gets windy in August and September. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka is a country with sunshine on almost all 365 days, so you need to be prepared for it.

The currency used in the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). The local language used is Sinhala. However, most citizens can manage to speak English too.

Landing at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo

There are international flights connecting most major cities to Colombo airport – Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), so you should be fine getting a flight here without much hassle. Popular airlines flying to Colombo include Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, IndiGo, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Aeroflot, and Korean Air. It means you can fly directly to Colombo from many regions, including The Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the US. 

We recommend selecting Emirates as your carrier due to its world-class treatment and ability to be connected from almost anywhere in the world. Besides, Emirates is also one of the leading carriers renowned for providing comfort on air, even in economy class. So, if you’re coming to Colombo from somewhere as far as the US, these flights will make your journey a seamless experience. It sets up the background for a great city in Colombo.

How to reach Colombo City from Airport?

People waiting for bus at a bus stop for Colombo Tour
Colombo People waiting for the bus at the bus stop

Once you land in Colombo, your first trip would be to reach your hotel or accommodation suite from the BIA. As you would be tired after the strenuous trip, especially if you’re coming from as far as the US / overseas, it’s best to get a cab. You can Uber from the airport to your place of accommodation. Expect to pay anywhere between $19 and $22 (including expressway toll charges) for your trip from BIA to Colombo.

Which are the Luxury and Budget hotels in Colombo City?

There is a wide array of accommodation suites in Sri Lanka with varying prices. Depending on your budget, you can choose the following accommodation types during your city tour in Colombo.

Colombo Luxury Hotel Accommodation recommendations for Colombo Tour
Colombo Luxury Hotel Accommodation

There are many luxury hotels in Colombo where you can enjoy creature comforts and the highest service standards during your city tour in Colombo. Here are some of these hotels, along with their rate for bed & breakfast. The distance from the hotel to the airport is given in brackets. Please note the price are only indicative.

Mandarina Colombo: $60 (31 km) 

Mandarina Colombo is set at the city’s heart, in Colombo 3. Its central location makes it easy to reach many of the prominent attractions in Colombo

Marino Beach Colombo: $96 (31 km) 

Marino Beach is located in Colombo 4 and is attached to the Marino Mall. It is a convenient location with the added benefit of having a mall where you can go shopping anytime you want.

Colombo Court Hotel & Spa: $64 (36 km) 

Colombo Court Hotel and Spa is located in Colombo 3. It’s conveniently located close to popular supermarkets.

Jetwing Colombo Seven: $80 (29 km) 

The Jetwing group has a reputation for providing high-end accommodation. The Jewing Colombo Seven is located in a highly residential and popular area in Colombo 7, from where you can easily reach many of the main historical attractions during your city tour in Colombo.

Movenpick Hotel: $76 (30 km) 

Movenpick is located opposite one of the main junctions in Colombo 3. You can easily catch a bus or tuk-tuk anywhere from this location.

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo: $66 (28 km)

Cinnamon Lakeside is a five-star hotel located in Colombo 2. It’s managed by one of the most popular conglomerates in Sri Lanka, thereby with a guarantee of high-quality service and delicious foods.

Galadari Hotel: $71 (27 km)

Hotel Galadari is a renowned five-star hotel located in Colombo 1. It’s just a walk away from the Galle Face Green, a popular recreational area in Colombo. You can also reach the Pettah markets conveniently from this location.

The Kingsbury Colombo: $99 (27 km) 

Kingsbury Colombo is a five-star hotel located in Colombo 3. It’s renowned for serving a wide range of international and excellent services.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo: $147 (29 km) 

Cinnamon Grand Colombo is a five-star hotel located in Colombo 3. It is managed by one of the largest conglomerates in Colombo and guarantees excellent service and a wide range of international cuisines.

For luxury accommodation and high service standards at a reasonable price, we recommend Jetwing Colombo Seven, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, Galadari Hotel, Movenpick Hotel, and Radisson Hotel Colombo. They are also very family-friendly hotels that help you settle in quickly with your children.

Colombo Budget Hotel Accommodation recommendation for Colombo Tour
Colombo Budget Hotel Accommodations

Regarding budget accommodation, air bnb has some great options to choose from. The following options are for good ratings, location, and cleanliness.

The entire serviced apartment by Gayan ($26 per night) is located in Colombo 3 and has a rating of 4.86, with some fantastic reviews. It’s located close to many of the top attractions in the city. The distance from the apartment to the BIA is approximately 30 km.

The Nook @FiftyFive is a tiny Home hosted by Thushi ($35 per night) located in a highly-residential area in Colombo 7 and has a rating of 4.88. It’s also easy to reach other popular attractions in Colombo from this location. Moreover, the BIA is located approximately 29 km from this location.

R7, a new B&B ($30 per night), is located in Colombo 3 and has a rating of 5.0. You can easily travel to many of the prime attractions in Colombo by bus or tuk-tuk from this location. The BIA is located approximately 30 km from this location.

Travel options within Colombo City for your 2-day city tour

Here is a breakdown of the different modes of transport available In Colombo, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury.

Colombo Tour – Bus Ride

Buses are one of the cheapest ways to travel in Sri Lanka. However, they can be pretty crowded, so it is not a good idea to travel in one if you have a lot of luggage. The morning and evening hours are the worst due to the rush hour. It will be the ideal mode of transport if you are traveling with a backpack. What’s more, many bus routes cover almost every corner of Colombo. You may have to take two or three buses, depending on where you are going. However, most of the time, they travel to a specific location in just one bus. 

The minimum bus fare is LKR 40, which is about $0.11.  

Colombo Tour – Train Ride

Train Ride for Colombo Tour
Colombo Train Ride

Trains are also an affordable mode of transport in Sri Lanka. Traveling out of Colombo is more suitable, such as to Kandy, Jaffna, etc. Many luxury coaching services provide the best experience traveling to different parts of Sri Lanka. However, traveling to locations within Colombo could be time-consuming and a hassle because you need to reach the railway station to catch the train.

If you are traveling in a train within Colombo, it could cost anywhere between $0.02 and $0.05. However, it would be best if you got to the particular railway station, which might cost you an additional amount depending on how you plan to get there. It is why we recommend using buses to travel within the city.

Colombo Tour – Tuk tuk

Colombo tour tuk tuk ride
Colombo tuk tuk ride for city tour

Tuk tuks are a convenient way to travel for about a group of three adults. There are many tuk-tuks available in Colombo, and it is a great way to travel if you have a lot of bags to carry. Expect to pay a minimum of $0.4 to $0.5 starting amount and $0.2 for every km traveled. However, many tuk-tuk drivers tend to increase the price for foreigners, so remember to bargain until you get a fair deal.

If it fits your budget, you can quickly grab a tuk-tuk and travel around Colombo.

Colombo Tour – Taxi / Cab

Cab services provide great comfort when traveling but may not be the best option for budget travelers. If you are traveling with very young kids or babies, then cabs will be a suitable mode of transport. You should pay about $10 for a journey of about 5 km. 

Colombo city tourDay 1 Itinerary

Morning – Best places for breakfast in Colombo City?

Upali’s by Nawaloka is one of the best places to indulge in traditional Sri Lankan breakfast when you are in the area. For lunch, stop by Park Street Mews or Nuga Gama at Cinnamon Grand, and choose from a range of cuisines. Also, The Food Studio at Colombo City Centre Mall has several eateries of different cuisines, such as Japanese, Indonesian, Singaporean, etc., where you can have lunch.

Morning – Visit Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo

Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo tour
Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo

The Gangaramaya Temple is an important temple with religious significance. It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo, which was completed in the late 19th century. The temple was built by Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera, who was a prominent Buddhist monk in the country. The central point of the grand Navam Perahera takes place during the Navam Full Moon Poya Day in February every year. The grand parade is colorful, with many talented traditional dancers, fire stuntmen, and various other performers. To experience this extravagant event, visit the temple around February. Further, the grand parade starts a few days before and goes until the full moon poya day. The procession starts at 7 pm and continues for a few hours, lighting the night sky in bright hues.

The best time to visit the temple is in the early morning, preferably between 7 am and 9 am, as it tends to get crowded while the day goes on, especially in the evening.

On any other day, the temple is worth a visit because of the mix of modern architecture and cultural essence you must experience in Colombo. Entrance to the temple is free.

Evening – Visit Independence Memorial Hall, Colombo

Colombo City Tour - Independence Memorial Hall, Colombo
Independence Memorial Hall, Colombo

A short visit to the Independence Memorial Hall is all you need to glimpse the country’s history before attaining freedom from the British rulers in 1948. The Independence Memorial Hall now stands as a historical monument and popular recreational venue. It has ample space for people to enjoy their evening walks or cycling. Next, you can also visit the Independence Memorial Museum in the basement of the Independence Memorial Hall. Here you can find details on all the patriots who fought for independence.

Construction of this memorial was completed in 1953. It was designed by renowned architects  Tom Neville Wynne-Jones CBE and included F. H. Billimoria, Shirley de Alwis, Oliver Weerasinghe, Homi Billimoria, Justin Samarasekera, and M. B. Morina.

Finally, you can visit the Arcade, Independence Square, a mall where you can shop for branded attire and even gourmet tea. 

Furthermore, the best time to visit is in the evening, at around 4 o’clock, when you can take a walk or cycle at the Independence Grounds adjacent to the hall.

Evening – Best places to have Lunch / Dinner in Colombo City?

The Asylum Restaurant, Lounge Bar, and Burger King are both at Arcade Independence Square, where you can go for lunch. Further, Café Shaze is another excellent place that serves everything from sandwiches to pasta and is ideal for lunch or dinner.

Colombo city tourDay 2 Itinerary

Morning – Best places for breakfast in Colombo City?

Sri lankan food rice and curry
sri lanka food colombo rice and curry

Cafe on the 5th in Colombo 3 is a great place to have breakfast in cozy surroundings. Head out to The Embassy in Colombo 7 for lunch, where you can select food from a range of international cuisines. Also, The Cricket Club Café in Colombo 7 has a good menu for lunch, while Agra Colombo is your go-to place for an authentic North Indian lunch.

Morning – Visit The National Museum of Colombo

The National Museum of Colombo is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. It was established in 1877 as a result of the approval of Sir William Henry Gregory, who was the British governor at the time. The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts from different eras, including the crown and throne of the Kandyan monarchs. It is a two-storied building that is worth a visit if you are in Colombo. The building is open for viewing throughout the year, except on public holidays so you can visit it any time of the year.

However, the best time to visit the museum would be from February to May, when the temperature ranges from 23 to 28 degrees Celsius. You can spend the day out exploring without any concerns about the weather going against you. Start your tour early by aiming to be at the museum by, at most, 9 am. The entrance ticket costs Rs. 600 (1.86 USD).

Evening – Visit Old Colombo Dutch Hospital, Colombo

Colombo City Tour - Old Colombo Dutch Hospital in Colombo
Old Colombo Dutch Hospital, Source Wiki

The Old Colombo Dutch Hospital is the oldest building in Colombo Fort and dates back to the Dutch colonial era. It was constructed by the Dutch in 1681 and went through several stages to become the shopping complex it is today. It has now been transformed into a shopping and dining precinct. Moreover, you can shop for beauty essentials at Spa Ceylon Ayurveda or indulge in your favorite meal at the Ministry of Crab, Colombo Fort Café, or Semondu. Take a stroll down its alleys at around 3 or 4 pm.

Evening – Visit Fort Railway Station, Colombo

Fort Railway Station , Colombo Sri Lanka
Fort Railway Station, Colombo Sri Lanka, Source Wiki

Once you are done at the Old Colombo Dutch Hospital, you can visit the Fort Railway Station, located about 2.7 km from the precinct. It is one of the most prominent railway hubs in Colombo, with intercity and commuter trains entering every day. It was built and put into operation in 1908. Moreover, the station provides easy access to the many business centers in Colombo Fort and the bargain markets at Pettah, where you can find everything from electronics to clothing and home essentials at very low prices. 

Further, the station inherits Victorian architecture and comprises 10 platforms. You can visit the station in the morning, afternoon, or evening. However, according to this itinerary, it’s best visited as your last stop for day 2, which will be in the evening, at around 5 or 6 o’clock.

Evening – Best places to have Lunch / Dinner in Colombo City?

Head out to The Colombo Food Court in Fort for a delicious Sri Lankan traditional rice & curry meal. The Lighthouse Galley in Fort is another place that serves excellent food for lunch. In addition, the REPUBLK Bar & Bistro and The Exchange Restaurant are the other options you can consider for lunch. They serve food from a range of cuisines that you can try.

Best places to buy Souvenirs?

Sri Lanka has many unique things to take back home as souvenirs.

Here are a few suggested souvenirs you can take back home after your tour and where you can buy them during your city tour in Colombo.

Ceylon Tea (Dilmah t-Boutique)

Sri Lanka Ceylon Tea as Souvenir
Sri Lanka Ceylon Tea

The t-Lounge by Dilmah is located on Chatham Street, Fort. Choose from a range of signature teas, special rare teas, and a selection of tea accessories while shopping here. 

Batik Wear (Buddhi Batiks)

Colombo City Tour- Sri Lanka Colombo Bati Wear Souvenirs
Sri Lanka Colombo Bati Wear Souvenirs

Buddhi Batiks have a collection of batik attire & designer wear that you can wear for any occasion. It is where batik craft meets contemporary design.

Porcelain Tableware (Noritake Porcelain)

Noritake is one of the best places to get the best-quality porcelain tableware in Sri Lanka. It is located in Colombo 7, with a branch and factory outlet in Piliyandala and Matale.

Elephant and Lord Buddha figurines (Laksala)

Laksala is a popular souvenir store located down Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. It has a brassware collection and other exquisite traditional souvenirs you can take back home. You can buy traditional masks and antiques from this state-owned gift and souvenir shop.

Finally, there you go, a 2-day tour of the vibrant capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo. There is so much to experience in this colorful and happening city, and simply two days might not be sufficient to cover it all!

Lastly, anything you know about hidden places in Colombo? Please feel free to add your comments below. We would love it if you could share your experience in traveling and the valuable advice that you could give our readers.

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  • Imran AK

    Meet Imran AK, the globetrotting virtuoso of the senior travel scene. Whether it’s discovering hidden gems in far-flung locales or delving into the heart of ancient cultures, he revels in each journey as an exploration of life's rich tapestry.

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