Colombo, Sri Lanka, Roundabout to Galle Face Beach
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Colombo iStock / Dmitry Chulov
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Buddhist temple on water
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Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple iStock / Chalabala
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Fast food crabs and prawn
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Crabs and Prawns iStock / Dmitry Chulov
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Galle Fort Road seafront
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Galle Fort Road seafront iStock / AsianDream
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sambodhi Chaithya Buddhist Temple
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Sambodhi Chaithya Buddhist Temple iStock / toxawww
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque downtown
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Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque iStock / Dmitry Chulov

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Hindu temple sculptures Murugan Hindu Temple iStock / AsianDream

This helter-skelter city on Sri Lanka's west coast mixes the lovable madness of urban India with bygone bits of the British Raj — it’s a place where all of your senses (but especially taste, sight, and smell) will be tested. Although the lush tea fields of Kandy and the south coast beaches beckon, Colombo offers an urban take on Sri Lanka's rich cultural milieu.

What We Love

Barefoot Craft Store: A Colombo landmark since 1964. Browse, buy, or just hang out at this combination café, bookstore, fashion boutique, and craft workshop on Galle Road.

Galle Face Green: This popular promenade along the seashore beside the grand dame Galle Face Hotel offers seafood stalls, incredible sunsets, and the city's best people watching.

Best Known For

Fort Neighborhood: Created by the Portuguese, improved by the Dutch, and perfected by the British, this waterfront neighborhood overflows with exquisite colonial architecture.

Temples: Introduced to the island 2,300 years ago, Buddhism thrives in both the countryside and the capital at places like the Gangaramaya Temple and the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara.

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Who It's Best For

Time Travelers: Places like the faded-but-still-elegant Fort, the crowded Pettah Market, and the Galle Face Hotel hark back to an era when this island was called Ceylon rather than Sri Lanka.

Urban Groupies: With its soothing temples and chaotic street markets, colonial architecture and bustling waterfront, Colombo personifies the exotic, tropical city.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Colombo Is Often Chaotic: Expect noise, dirt, and loads of people just about everywhere you venture.

Beware the Street Food: Even if you're a veteran of street stalls in Singapore or Bangkok, it pays to be more cautious eating along the roadside in Colombo.

Joe Yogerst

Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.

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Itineraries Including Colombo, Sri Lanka
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