How to Spend 1 Day in Colombo
When time is of the essence, stick to Colombo’s highlights—seeing the sights, shopping for colorful crafts, and sampling the island’s delicate homegrown teas and cuisine. Check out our ideas for an engaging and enjoyable 24 hours in Sri Lanka’s capital.
Morning: Essential Colombo
Navigating Colombo’s busy streets can be challenging, so orient yourself on a guided tour. Most trips are private and let you view the landmarks with ease, courtesy of air-conditioned transport. Choose a half-day circuit around attractions such as the midlake Seema Malakaya temple and Old Parliament, or select a full-day foray that extends to Galle Face Green and time to shop. Otherwise, choose a tuk-tuk tour or take advantage of Colombo’s level roads on a bike tour: pedaling around the landmarks and enjoying an up-close-and-personal perspective on the city.
Afternoon: Widen Your Horizons
If you haven’t already taken a Colombo tour, take a tour with a twist this afternoon. Climb into a chauffeured World War II jeep for a panoramic city drive before visiting the nearby Attidiya Bird Sanctuary. Rumble around the wetlands to watch for heron, pelicans, and other wildlife, and perhaps take the wheel yourself for added fun. Alternatively, choose a Colombo tour that leaves at midday and includes a classic high tea. Sri Lanka was a British crown colony from 1801 to 1948, and many hotels still honor this quintessential English tradition. After seeing the sights, head for a plush hotel lounge to savor dainty cakes and sandwiches alongside a choice of the island’s teas.
Evening: Street Foods and Night Lights
Conclude your stay in Colombo by exploring its culinary repertoire. There are several tours to choose from: sampling the city’s lively entertainment and street-food spots by tuk-tuk or on a slower sightseeing walk that includes stops to sample snacks such as ‘hoppers’ (pancakes) and murukku (fried savory bites). If you’re more up for exploring than eating, however, don a helmet and set off on a breezy nighttime bike tour, admiring Colombo’s floodlit landmarks from two wheels.