Although the historical and archeological sites of Sri Lanka are more famously known in the north, the history in the city is a must-try experience in Colombo. Although the city is undergoing constant renovations, the history is still well preserved. The best things to do in Colombo include a tour of the National Museum, the Independence Memorial Hall, and the Old Dutch Hospital. You can also spot many of the beautiful colonial buildings as you travel around the city.
Colombo is the center of the food culture in Sri Lanka, and a food-lover’s dream. You can find a variety of styles of Halal food and cuisines from all around the country and the world. One of the best things to do in Colombo is experiencing the street food culture of isso vade, acharu, hoppers, kottu rotti, and so much more. If you’re feeling fancy, there are also a number of luxury and fine-dining restaurants in the city.
Add shopping to your list of things to do in Colombo, because this is one of the only places in Colombo where you will find shopping malls, high-end brands and luxury items. Being the economical center of the country, everything you need to find in Sri Lanka, you can find here (save for a few authentic items, but even those you can find if you look hard enough).
Another must-try experience in Colombo is using the public transport. Sure, you have hundreds of tuk-tuks and cabs at your service, take the bus or train to have an authentic Sri Lankan experience. Make sure to catch a bus that’s not too crowded or you might get squashed, or pick a time when the traffic is a bit low, during the off-peak times. Take the train down south or upcountry through gorgeous scenic routes to have one of the best travel experiences in Sri Lanka.
Another quintessential thing to do in Colombo is bargaining for items in the Pettah market. The best thing to do is to take a stroll down the bustling streets of Pettah, being careful of the ongoing traffic of people (or you might end up slamming into someone), the tuk-tuks and the men pushing long carts filled high with goods. A must-try experience in Colombo for travelers is haggling for the best price at the small shops and street vendors, and then stop for a quick snack and a cooling drink at one of the ‘petti kades’ or food shops.