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Colombo

Culture & history

Our most recommended Colombo Culture & History

Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

1. Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

Depart Colombo and travel by a shared vehicle, in a small group, to the city of Sigiriya, and head directly to Sigiriya Rock on arrival. Gaze in awe at the massive column of rock that, according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle The Culavamsa, was selected by King Kasyapa as the site of his new capital. Admire numerous paintings of historic queens, princesses, and maids inside the rock fortress before getting a break for lunch at your own expense. Then, explore some of the traditional crafts of the region, such as wood carving and batik textiles, with time to purchase souvenirs before departing. Start the journey back towards Colombo via Dambulla to explore the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Discover the magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and different shapes, painted from around the 2nd century B.C. up to the 18th-century Kandyan era.

Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

2. Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

After being picked up at your hotel, hop onboard your Madu Ganga Magrove boat safari and explore the Madu River. See the mangrove forests and marshlands that surround the river. Stop at a cinnamon garden, and try some of the area’s famous cinnamon. The Madu Ganga River region is home to some of the best quality cinnamon in the world as well as a flourishing cinnamon industry. Afterward, marvel at the fishermen who stoically sit atop large branches planted in the middle of the water waiting for their catch. Continue to a local Turtle Hatchery, where your guide will introduce you to the many local varieties of turtles. End your tour with a visit to the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort illustrates the unique interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. After discovering the fort, you will be returned to your hotel in Colombo.

Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

3. Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

Explore the best of Sri Lanka with this tour to the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, rolling tea tea plantations in Ella, the chance to see wild elephants in the Udawalawa National park. Have your hotels, dinners, and breakfasts arranged for you in this fantastic tour package. Day 1 - Be welcomed by your guide at the Colombo International Airport where your guide will take you to your hotel in Colombo. Day 2 - Journey from Colombo to Sigiriya after getting your negative test results and eating a filling breakfast. Visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Relax before heading to the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya before having dinner and staying at a 4star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 3 - Travel to Kandy after a hearty breakfast to visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which holds the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka. Take some time to unwind in your hotel before proceeding to see the amazing flora at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Eat dinner and stay overnight at a four star hotel in Kandy. Day 4 - Next, have a full breakfast before heading to Ella to walk among the lush tea plantations. Learn more about the colonial history of Sri Lanka and take in the stunning landscape views. Return to your hotel in Ella for dinner and to rest. Day 5 - After breakfast, drive to Udawalawa National park where you can spot elephants in their natural habitat.

The True Essence of Colombo:Private Highlights & Hidden Gems

4. The True Essence of Colombo:Private Highlights & Hidden Gems

Ayubowan! Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital: Colombo! Experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this vibrant city together with your private host. The very best must-sees, hidden gems, and local snacks await! So, hop on a colorful Tuk Tuk and let your private guide take you from one highlight to another. The Independence Square is a must visit and a great place to kick off your tour. Stroll through the spacious green lawns and marvel at one of the islands' longest standing colonial buildings. Your host can tell you all about Sri Lanka’s historic past and how the city has changed to the modern city of today. Do as the Sri Lankans do and grab some delicious hoppers and vegetable roti. Locals simply love to start the day with this tasty morning snack, especially when heading to Colombo’s biggest park! Filled with lush vegetation, 100-year-old trees and a replica of the White House, this park is a tranquil gem away from the city buzz. Tuk Tuk your way to the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo with a beautiful lake. Check out an amazing collection of Buddha statues, take a look at a holy tree and admire a relic of Buddha’s hair. Feel free to ask your host any burning questions! Get immersed in real local life and visit one of the liveliest markets. See where locals buy and sell everything from vegetables to electronics. Wander through the labyrinth streets and follow your nose to a nearby cassava chip vendor. See how this yummy snack is made and make your taste buds dance! Head to the banana market and try as many different bananas as you fancy! Curious what else awaits? How about a visit to a mosque in the shape of a pomegranate, followed by a beautifully minimalist Hindu temple? A visit to Sri Lanka’s last King’s jail cell is also a unique gem! While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the stunning view from the lighthouse. What better way to top off your tour than at the relaxing ocean side of Galle Face? Unwind and relax with a cold drink, a delicious prawn cake and a marvelous sunset over the western coast of Sri Lanka!

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

5. From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

Start your journey at 0600 hrs from Colombo and proceed to Kandy, pausing at Pinnawala for a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This is the home for young elephants who have been displaced from their natural habitat at Pinnawala village in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka. Now housing 70 elephants, Pinnawala is home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. Next, visit Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, renowned for its variety of ornamental, decorative & medicinal plants, more than 4000 species. This garden is best known for its collection of orchids, the largest in Asia. Thereafter, visit the Temple of the Tooth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century as the place of veneration and protection for Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth. Walk through the beautifully embellished passageways and elaborately painted halls. Lounge among delicately carved pillars and be amazed by the beautiful golden statues. Followed by a lunch break at a location of your choice. Cultural Dance Show - Be escorted to a performance of the traditional Kandyan dance, accompanied by tumultuous drumming. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisisila, showing power over fire. This entire frenetic and colorful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act. Finally, you will begin your journey back to your hotel in Colombo at approximately 1930 hrs. En-route, you will stop at Ambepussa (restaurant of your choice) and have dinner.

2-Day Whale Watching & Southern Sri Lanka Tour

6. 2-Day Whale Watching & Southern Sri Lanka Tour

The sea off Mirissa between Galle and Matara is one of the best places in the world to see endangered blue whales. This two-day tour also gives you the opportunity to see some of the important places in the southern coastal belt such as Galle fort, Unawatuna beach, sea turtle hatchery and more. On day one, meet your tour representative and proceed to your hotel in Mirissa, En-route enjoy a Bentota and Galle sightseeing tour. Bentota beach is the most popular beach holiday destination in the island. Galle is one of the ancient sea ports of Sri Lanka and was an anchor point in the Silk Route. It was later discovered by the Portuguese where they built a fortress and the Dutch that succeeded them fortified it further. This fortress is today a World Heritage Site. During the Galle city tour, visit Galle Fort, Bentota Beach, Galle coastal area, Galle lighthouse, Kande Vihara, Cinnamon Island, a handicraft center and mask carving center. Visit a sea turtle hatchery project, spice garden at Matale where spices and herbs used for Sri Lankan cuisine and medication are grown. Then take a Madu Ganga boat ride to discover this Ramsar Wetland. Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary is the place where you can have a glimpse of the fascinating underwater world and see the creatures that inhabit the unfathomable depths of the sea. The famed coral gardens are located here. Just get hold of a glass bottomed boat or goggles and flippers and plunge into the ocean. Overnight stay in Mirissa  Day two is filled with whale-watching experiences. Miriissa off the southern Sri Lanka coast is one of the best-known places for the greatest wildlife spectacle on the planet – lunge-feeding humpback whales and blue whales. Groups of whales construct enormous circular fishing nets with bubbles to catch vast shoals of herring and then launch themselves high into the air with their mouths wide open. This activity is most prevalent from November to April, but can be observed throughout year. 

From Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle 2-Day Tour

7. From Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle 2-Day Tour

Begin the tour by meeting your tour leader in Colombo and set off for the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. After exploring the history museum of Polonnaruwa, discover the ruins of the ancient city. Later, check in to a 3-star hotel in Sigiriya for your overnight stay.  The next morning, enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Set off for the Dambulla golden cave temple which was the site where a king of Anuradhapura took refuge from the South Induan invasion in the 1st-century BC. Learn about how when the king recaptured the region 13 years later, he converted the caves into a monastery and gifted it to the Buddhist monks. After this, head over to the ancient Sigiriya Rock, where a 5th-century prince who had committed patricide made it his hideout. Also make a stop at the Pidurangala ancient cave temple. At the end of the tour you will be returned to Colombo and dropped off at the start point.

From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

8. From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

After pickup from your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, drive to Dambulla. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site then spend overnight in Sigiriya. On day two get an early start and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa. Take a cycling tour through the well-preserved ancient city to see the beautiful stupas or dagobas, moonstones, parks, buildings and stunning statues. In the afternoon, you will be taken to the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya, regarded as one of the Wonders of World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend overnight in Sigiriya.   On day three after leisurely breakfast, visit an archetypal Sri Lankan village. Experience a bullock cart ride, see traditional cultivation methods, enjoy a boat ride and an authentic Sri Lankan lunch at a village house. After lunch, continue to Kandy, stopping at a wood carving center and a spice garden in Matale. Upon arrival, take a city tour of Kandy including a visit to the temple of the sacred tooth relic, upper lake drive, the market square, and more. Spend overnight in Kandy.     After breakfast on the fourth day, you will depart from Kandy and be driven back to your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, or dropped off at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

Colombo: All-Inclusive Private City Tour

9. Colombo: All-Inclusive Private City Tour

Your 4-hour journey will begin as your chauffeur-guide collects you from your hotel in a private air-conditioned vehicle. From here you will start your tour with a visit to National Museum, the oldest and largest museum in the country, highly regarded for its antiques collection. Following the museum, you will visit the colorful and chaotic Petah Market, one of the largest in Colombo. Here you can find almost everything, from tropical fruit to freshly-caught seafood to jewelry. Following some shopping, you will explore the Gangarama Temple, positioned both on land and on a lake, including its small but impressive museum. You can then soak up the views of the Indian Ocean at the Galle Face Green, as well as the views of the abundance of beautiful parkland in this cosmopolitan city. Upon completion of your tour, you will be returned back to your hotel.

Day Trip to the Ancient Capital of Polonnaruwa From Colombo

10. Day Trip to the Ancient Capital of Polonnaruwa From Colombo

Polonnaruwa is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. Most of the monuments in Polonnaruwa are closely related to either Buddhism or Hinduism.  The eastern corner of the Cultural Triangle was the Silver Capital of Polonnaruwa, which followed Anuradhapura. Though it lasted only a few decades over two centuries the colossal works of art and architecture, both Buddhist and Hindu, include stupendous image shrines. Marvel at the stone carved Buddha icons of the Galvihara. 

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What people are saying about Colombo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 75 reviews

We enjoyed our tour with Muditah a lot! He is an incredibly knowledgable guy, speaks flawless English due to his studies in the US, brought us to some fantastic places and shared some valuable tips with us. Now we feel even better prepared for our 4-week-trip through Sri Lanka! Thanks a lot, Muditah, and hopefully we see each other again at the end of our trip for your street food tour! :)

Very reliable tour pickup operator. No drama, I been contacted via WhatsApp 1 day before , driver was already at my hotel lobby 15 mnt before the pick up time. Good condition and nice car and the driver are polite and good at communication and everything are clear and reliable. Must book when you are in Colombo

We liked it very much. Our guide showed us other activities before we went stilt fishing, although they weren't included, it was really great and made us very happy. Now to the guide he was very friendly and nice and it was a great atmosphere fulfilled every wish of ours. Really to recommend. Keep it up

I had a tour guide Muditha from Withlocals. A well educated and very nice young man with proper knowledge of English and international experience. Enjoyed talking to him and his company. From the downside - expected to see more for this money.

That was a great tour but because our guide was top notch. We have seen and learned a lot from him - always a pleasure