Street bazaars, malls, temples and colonial Dutch, Portuguese and British buildings jostle for space in this colourful capital, all evidence of its vibrant mix of cultures and bustling atmosphere.
It's a fascinating place for a break or to begin your Sri Lankan journey.
Top things to see and do
- Hunt down bargains at the Pettah Bazaar, which sells everything from handbags to cutlery, or check out modern boutiques and stores like Odel.
- See the glittering regalia of the 17th century Kandyan Kings when you visit the National Museum.
- Try some spicy Sri Lankan fish buns or deep fried prawn patties.
- Take a break from sightseeing in the lush greenery and fountains of Viharamahadevi Park.
- End the day with an evening stroll along the seafront promenade at Galle Face Green and watch the sun go down.
Tips for travellers
Start your break in Colombo then head out of the city for a beach holiday –the 'golden mile' at Mount Lavinia is just 12km away from the capital.