A survey conducted by Huawei revealed that Colombo was 2019's 'must-photograph' destination for 18 to 25-year-olds in the UK, and after a closer look it's easy to see why. But lest you think Colombo is all style and no substance, it's time to get to know the commercial heart of Sri Lanka just a little better.
1. It's far from small
With around 5.6 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area and over 700,000 inside the city itself, Colombo is hardly puny. It's home to a multicultural, multiethnic population and it's the country's main commercial center and port.
2. It's a hodge podge of architectural epochs
Partially occupied by the Dutch from 1640-1746, there are three major Dutch colonial buildings left in the city. The old dutch hospital, Colombo's oldest building, has been converted into a shopping center complete with trendy cafes and restaurants.
The temples around the city from a myriad of religious traditions are undoubtedly the crowning jewel of the city's architectural gems. Gangaramaya Temple is the most photographed with its Buddha sculptures metaphorically foregrounding the sweeping city skyline. Built in the 19th century, it's a grand mix of Sri Lanka's modern present and its rich cultural heritage. The Hindu temple of Sri Kaleshwaram is also worth a visit as it's the oldest temple in the city. The Red Mosque or Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid is also a highlight with its vibrant scarlet and white exterior dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.
3. Try the tea
Sri Lanka is home to some of the best tea in the world, so why not get a taste of it in Colombo? And there are plenty of varieties to choose from. From black ceylon tea, considered to be the purest in the world, to the up-and-coming varieties of green tea, Colombo concentrates all that Sri Lanka has to offer in one place. To get even closer to Sri Lanka's rich tea-making tradition, schedule a tasting with a true connoisseur and get to know the basics of what makes a great brew.
4. Visit the Pettah Market
You won't get closer to Colombo's heart than Pettah! The district just on the outskirts of the city is the oldest in Colombo and is in fact a nesting doll of markets with vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to electronics every single day. Pettah Market is a massive structure housing a grand mix of wares, and while it can be a bit of a sensory overload at first for those who aren't accustomed to it, it's an unforgettable experience.
5. Sample the cuisine and make some yourself
Seafood is a constant theme in Sri Lankan cuisine thanks to its location on the Indian Ocean, so lovers of surf will find something to delight at every turn. Cooking classes are offered regularly for curious tourists looking to try their hand at making some of the country's most sumptuous meals. Kottu roti is the reigning king of Sri Lankan street food, a grand mash-up of of roti, vegetables, eggs, and occasionally chicken. Hoppers are the breakfast of choice for most Sri Lankans: a crepe-like bowl with a soft center and an egg in the middle topped with chutney and other condiments. And of course, the ubiquitous samosa can be found everywhere.