Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka located 40 minutes away from the Katunayaka Airport. It is great for anyone who wants to enjoy shopping in high-end malls, explore colonial architecture, and try Sri Lankan cuisine. Colombo is more fast-paced in its journey to modernization compared to other cities in Sri Lanka.
Many travelers who have visited Sri Lanka say they almost skipped Colombo but glad they didn’t because it has plenty of historical, cultural, and modern points of interest to explore. It is a good city to spend a day or two before you head out to other regions in the country especially if your flight journey was exhausting with a long layover. So if you have 2 days in Colombo, here's our itinerary to help you plan your trip better.
Itinerary For 2 Days In Colombo, Sri Lanka
Day 1 in Colombo: See the sights in the city
For your first day in Colombo, check out this list of best places to visit in the city. You don't have to do everything on the same day but this will give you an idea how to prioritize what you want to see during your 2 days in Colombo.
Best Places to Visit in Colombo
As Colombo is a small city, it doesn’t take a lot of time to explore it but sometimes traffic congestion can slow you down. You can hire a taxi cab or a tuk-tuk to get around the city as they are the most convenient modes of transport. Below is a list of top highlights in Colombo.
It is one of the oldest and highly revered temples in Sri Lanka, and helps you learn a lot about Buddhism and Sinhalese culture. It has a very serene appeal to it because it is surrounded by the Beria Lake and this is probably why travelers love this place. The Buddha statues, intricate wooden carvings, and old paintings housed here are very interesting to observe. The temple premises are adorned with colorful lanterns during Vesak, the festival of lights that takes place in May.
Old Dutch Hospital
This building is a highlight of the Dutch architecture in Colombo and is located in the Old Hospital Street, Colombo 01. The Old Dutch Hospital now serves as a shopping complex with many high-end boutiques and restaurants. Many travelers loved visiting this place but noted that prices are a bit on the high-side in comparison to other places in Colombo.
It is also known as Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque and is located on the Main Street of Pettah. It is recognizable from afar as it is painted in bright red and white colors. As a tourist, you can only view the mosque from outside as it’s strictly reserved for prayers. But, sometimes the gatekeepers might allow you to have a quick peek inside.
The museum is a great place to start your journey to learn about Sri Lanka. The ground floor has exhibits of the prehistoric era as well as artifacts belonging to different kingdoms of Sri Lanka in the past. The upper floor has ancient paintings, coinage, and armaments of both local and colonial rule. Adjoining to the main building is the Museum of Natural History and Science showcasing facts on geography, climate, and wildlife.
Independence Memorial Hall
A national monument built to recognize the independence of the country in 1948, popular among both locals and foreign tourists. Travelers consider this an ideal spot to take a break from hot weather as you can sit and chill in the shade enjoying the soft breeze. There’s a museum in the basement of the hall housing statues of people considered as national heroes.
Day 2 in Colombo: Do the best things in the city
There are several things to do in Colombo and for your second day in the city, try out these exciting activities.
An Ayurvedic Spa Treatment
Getting an Ayurvedic spa treatment is one of the lesser-known things to do among travelers. It’s a traditional Indian spa treatment that utilizes herbal-infused essential oils and non-conventional massaging techniques. It’s good for overall health and well-being and said to boost the immune system. Two places highly recommended by travelers are Spa Ceylon and Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa.
Try Street Food at Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is a large open space where you can take a brisk walk, try a bit of street food, and view the ocean. Although, being mentioned as a place to go, travelers don’t think it is worth the time. There is not much to do here and the place can get quite crowded especially in the afternoon.
Shop in the Pettah Market
You can purchase clothes, accessories, electronics, toys, and just about anything for a good price here. This is perhaps the busiest place in Colombo with vendors screaming prices, impatient shoppers making bargains, and carts transporting goods around. But, many bloggers with their first-hand experience visiting this chaotic place have absolutely loved it.
Go on a city tour
If you have allocated less time to spend in Colombo, you should go on a city sightseeing tour. Some options include an open-deck bus tour and a tuk-tuk tour that will take you through the main highlights of the city. Colombo City Tour service that many travelers recommend offers three main packages such as Glimpse of Colombo, Heritage of Colombo, and Colombo at Night.
Other tips for your 2 days in Colombo
For the best places to eat and where to stay, check out our recommended places below.
Best Places to Eat in Colombo
Known for their great selection of wine and the variety of food derived from east and west. The main branch of the restaurant is located in Crescat Boulevard, Colombo- 03. The staff members are very friendly and offer prompt service. YogaWineTravel blog recommends lamb spring rolls and pumpkin soup as must-try.
The Gallery Café
The café has an indoor and outdoor area for dining. The menu features a range of Sri Lankan, Italian, French, and Asian food varieties and even though they are quite expensive, the service and the quality exceed it. As the name implies, the café also has an adjoining gallery, which exhibits an interesting collection of art.
Ce La Vis Bar and Restaurant
A restaurant with a rooftop bar located in Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. The menu mainly centers on modern Asian cuisine that you can try while enjoying the stunning views of the city. The restaurant requires its customers to be in ‘Stylish Chic Attire’ after 6.30 p.m.
Best Places to Stay in Colombo
Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel
It is one of the best places to stay in Colombo as recommended by many travelers. It is in a convenient location and provides good value for money. The rooms are equipped with amenities such as flat-screen TV, free wifi, safety deposit box, and coffee making facilities. The hotel also provides delicious Sri Lankan meals and provides access to facilities such as gym, wellness center, tennis court, and swimming pool.
This is a spacious boutique hotel with a laid-back ambiance ideal for anyone looking for a less crowded place to stay. It’s small with only five bedrooms but impressively has two swimming pools. The amenities you receive here include a minibar, private safety box, free wifi, and laundry service.
Mövenpick Hotel Colombo
A bit more extravagant and expensive than previous options. They have both regular and luxury suites depending on your preference. There’s a spa, rooftop bar, fitness center and swimming pool here. The choice of food is excellent with Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese, and western dishes to pick from.
Itineraries for more than 2 days in Colombo
If you plan to see a few places on your trip, then spending 2 days in Colombo should suffice. Here are some great stopover itineraries that you should take a look at.
5 Days in Colombo
Bhavna from Travel Triangle, a wanderlust enthusiast offers a 5- day tour. He has some suggestions on great places to eat and stay, so do check her article to get the best experience.