Planning a one day in Colombo itinerary can be tough, with so much to see and do. So we’ve put together this Colombo in a day guide to help you.
Getting Around Colombo + Tips
Getting around Colombo couldn’t be easier. There are generally 3 options:
Before we start, if you’re looking for transfers from the airport to your hotel in Negombo, you can secure a cheap and easy Colombo Airport (CMB) to Negombo Hotel Transfer.
By Public Transport
Buses are frequent throughout Colombo, however be prepared to experience what it’s like to be a sardine in a can.
The on and off procedure is about as quick as they come, and the journeys can be a little bit sweaty.
The best way to find out which bus to take is just to ask people at the nearest stop.
Fares vary from Rs 10 to 50, depending on distance.
There is usually a sign on the front of the bus with the destination in English.
By Taxi/Tuk Tuk
Colombo taxis and tuk tuks start from 60 Rupees, and are easy to find anywhere in the city.
The traffic situation is relatively good in Colombo, so this is the most efficient way to get around the city.
Most taxis should operate on a meter, so if you’re unsure of a fair price always ask for the metered option.
Haggling is always a starting point of conversation with both taxis and tuk tuks, so have your wits about you and be sure to agree a price before you get in the vehicle.
Uber is also available in some parts of the city for a fixed price option.
Some of the best days out we’ve had in Colombo have been on private tours.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
From food tours, to safaris and village tours, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the Sri Lankan capital!
What To Pack
Explore The City & Temples
The first stop on your one day in Colombo itinerary will be to get out and explore the city.
With culture all around you, the temples of Colombo are some of the most popular and interesting places to visit.
We paid 300 rupees for a ticket that allowed us to visit Seema Malaka, the small Buddhist temple on the lake, and also Gangaramaya Temple, which was a beautiful introduction to the most practised religion in Sri Lanka!
A great way to tie in all of the city’s hot spots is to jump on a tour, and here are some of the most popular ones in the city:
Small-Group Tuk Tuk Tour with a Local Guide
The True Essence of Colombo: Private Highlights & Hidden Gems
Full-day Sightseeing Tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Tours like this allow your to head down narrow streets, past monuments, and to some of the most popular areas, the way locals do.
With an experienced local guide by your side, these tours could be the best way to get the most out of your one day in Colombo itinerary.
Galle Face Green
After exploring for the majority of your one day in Colombo itinerary, this scenic spot for sunset makes the evening a little more relaxed.
Galle Face Green is a 5 hectare ocean-side urban park, which stretches for 500m along the coast of Colombo.
Here you can see plenty of local kids playing, friends meeting for street food, and families strolling along the promenade.
You’ll get a glimpse of Galle Face Green if you take the Full-day Sightseeing Tour of Colombo. However we spent a couple of hours there in the evening, just giving our feet a break and taking in the atmosphere.
If you want to see the true culture of Colombo in a day, then the vendors and sea breeze of Galle Face Green will capture it for you.
The food is one of the largest parts of Sri Lankan culture, so save some space on your one day in Colombo itinerary to get fully immersed into the local delicacies.
The most common Sri Lankan street food’s are hoppers, vadai, and kothu. All of which we ate way too much of!
There are plenty of tours and taster sessions available around the city. The most popular food tour being Eat, Eat, Repeat, a small group tour with a local.
If you’re looking to explore alone a couple of our favourite dinner spots are:
Galle Face Green
The perfect spot to grab a local delicacy whilst taking a beach front walk.
Here we recommend stocking up on vegetable rottis or prawn vadai.
For something a bit more fancy or a sit down meal.
As the name suggests, an old hospital transformed into a huge outside food court with food varying from your average pub grub to some more upmarket fancy choices. It’s the perfect place for any kind of mood.
Wherever you choose to eat, be sure to try something local, and we’re sure you’ll finish off your Colombo in a day trip fully satisfied.
Where To Stay In Colombo
Luxury – Movenpick Hotel Colombo
Movenpick Hotel Colombo is located in the central business and shopping district off Galle Road, and is 35 minutes from the airport.
The hotel has the highest rooftop bar and infinity swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. Free WiFi and private parking is also available.
Every room at this hotel has air conditioning and comes with a flat-screen TV with cable channels.
Some units feature a seating area for your convenience. Some rooms include views of the sea or city.
For your comfort, you will find bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. All rooms have floor to ceiling glass windows.
Mid-Budget – Cinnamon Red Colombo
Strategicallyin , Cinnamon red Colombo offers modern and accommodation with access throughout the property.
It features aand provides complimentary parking on site.
The hotel is just a 10-minute walk from Liberty Cinema Hall and 1,000 yards from Sri Lanka National Museum.
Colombo Town Hall is about 0.7 miles away, while Bandaranaike International Airport is accessible within a 1-hour drive.
Budget – Backpack Hostel 44
Located in Colombo, 3.7 miles from U.S. Embassy, Backpack Hostel 44 provides accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a shared lounge and a garden.
Around 5 miles from R Premadasa Stadium, the property is also 5.6 miles away from Khan Clock Tower and offers free WiFi.
The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a shared kitchen and currency exchange for guests.
At the hostel, each room comes with air conditioning and a shared bathroom.
Guests at Backpack Hostel 44 can enjoy a à la carte breakfast.
For more places to stay in Colombo, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.
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