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Sri Lanka's multicultural and historic city

Colombo in short

Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka

Colombo is a pleasant city, as colourful as it is lively. The Fort area, the historic part of the capital, is full of colonial monuments to visit. Sri Lanka's largest city is a place of sharing and respect, where the traditions of this magical country blend with the modernity of the shopping centres that are being built here.

Why visit Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka?

A magnificent city

Colombo is known for its ethnic and, indeed, architectural diversity. Sri Lanka's colonial period has left a legacy of historic monuments in every corner of the city, which you can visit by following our Colombo historical and religious itinerary, for example.

Sri Lanka's turbulent history

Sri Lanka has a long history. After three occupations, the country gained its independence in 1948 by holding its first parliamentary elections on the site where the Independence Monument now stands. The country's past makes it a multicultural place, rich in traditions and customs. The Colombo National Museum tells this story in a wonderful way.

Seema Malaka à Colombo, capitale du Sri Lanka.

- © TRphotos / Shutterstock

Sri Lankan cuisine: an explosion of flavours

Inspired by Indian cuisine, Sri Lanka's culinary culture has nothing to envy its big sister. The Sri Lankans sublimate what nature provides on the island into rich, spicy dishes:

  • "Kottu Roti", a dish based on vegetables, cheese, eggs and "rotis" (Sri Lankan bread) from the day before. These ingredients are chopped together to create the Sri Lankan must-have. You can easily recognise it by the metallic sound it makes.

  • "Appa", or "Hopper", is a delicious pancake made from fermented rice flour and palm wine. This dish is also found in India, and is eaten hot and crispy!

  • "Sambol" is a coconut and chilli-based condiment. You'll find it in every Sri Lankan restaurant, in a small bowl placed on the table. It accompanies all the country's curries and is absolutely fantastic. Use sparingly, though, as it's very spicy!

Respect for religions

Colombo is one of those rare places where religions coexist respectfully. Within the city, you can visit magnificent places of worship such as the Red Mosque in the Pettah district, the Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil Hindu temple, St Lucia Cathedral and the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple.

Visiting these places is an extraordinary experience, and a must during your stay in Colombo.

Gros plan sur la tour d'un temple hindou dédié à Lord Shiva à Colombo, Sri Lanka.

- © Nila Newsom / Shutterstock

Who is this destination for?

Colombo offers a multitude of activities for young and old alike. Children can spend a lovely afternoon strolling through Viharamahadevi Park, while adults can enjoy the historic monuments of the Fort district, for example.

Everyone can enjoy a meal in one of the capital's Sri Lankan canteens.

When to go to Colombo

Sri Lanka is a pleasant country all year round. However, we recommend that you visit Colombo outside the rainy season. There are two monsoons during the year, one from December to March and the other from May to October, during which the rains are regular but generally concentrated in the late afternoon.

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

From major French cities such as London and Edinburgh, it's easy to find a flight to Sri Lanka. In Colombo, the country's international airport is large and modern, and welcomes flights from all over the world.

✈️ Flights to Colombo Sri Lanka

✈️ Flights to Colombo

Fly to the pearl of the Indian Ocean, in the south of India.

Where to stay?

Colombo is a major tourist city. As such, the choice of accommodation can be confusing. To save you time searching for accommodation, we have selected the 8 best hotels with swimming pools in Sri Lanka's capital.

Top 7 best hotels with swimming pool, under €100 a night
Top 7 best hotels with swimming pool, under €100 a night
The city of Colombo is large and bustling. The international airport makes it a major transit point, where travellers pass through without necessarily staying. However, a few nights...

Practical information

Entry clearance

To enter Sri Lanka, you need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) from Sri Lanka's Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI & E) by going directly to the government website to apply online.

The ETA costs US$20 for a 30-day tourist stay with 2 entries and is valid for 6 months.

Our advice:

Beware of unofficial websites offering electronic travel authorisations. For greater security, go to the government website listed above.

Vaccinations for Sri Lanka

There are no compulsory vaccinations for entering Sri Lanka. However, certain vaccinations are recommended, such as :

  • diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DTP)
  • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) for children
  • anti-tuberculosis vaccination
  • typhoid fever
  • viral hepatitis A and B

Economic crisis in Sri Lanka

This information is valid as of April 20244 and is subject to change. Sri Lanka has been facing an unprecedented economic crisis for a few years. Fuel prices have risen sharply. It is difficult for tourists to obtain fuel if they have their own means of transport. Transport prices have followed the increases. Public and private transport operate at random, and there have been daily power cuts. Although the country is now on the road to recovery, Sri Lanka is still suffering the consequences of the economic crisis.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Although it's tempting to head straight to the more touristy destinations the country has to offer, we recommend staying in the capital for one or two nights. Colombo is full of life and activities, each more interesting than the last.

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