Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, boasts of a rich colonial heritage and is a melting pot of traditions, cultures and religions. With a wide array of attractions in the form of majestic temples, colorful Kovils, sprawling parks, glorious beaches, historic museums, beautiful galleries and glitzy shopping arcades, Colombo is a vibrant cosmopolitan city which has plenty of free things to do.
In fact, Colombo makes an excellent start or end to your Sri Lankan adventures and in this article, we highlight some amazing free things to do in Colombo as you indulge in this lively city.
STROLL IN THE VIHARAMAHADEVI PARK
Viharamahadevi Park, previously known as the Victorian Park, is the only large-scale park in Colombo that was built by some of the best-known British architects during the pre-independence era in Sri Lanka. Located near the Independence Memorial Hall, the Park, with its sprawling green spaces, gigantic trees, water fountains, large kids play area and small aquarium makes for the perfect place to sit back and soak in the Colombo ambiance. In the evenings, the park gets very crowded with kids splashing about in the play area, fitness enthusiasts jogging in the paved trails in the park, teenagers lounging and eating from the food stalls dotted around the park and families sitting down for a quiet picnic. The park also offers paddle boat rides in a serene lake and pony rides and if you just want to sit back and watch life pass by, this park is the place to be if you are looking for free things to do in Colombo.
Located right in the heart of Colombo near the Gangaramaya Temple is the huge Beira Lake. Back in the colonial days, the lake and its canals were used in order to transport goods within the city and it still holds it Portuguese name: Beira. While the lake is surrounded by modern buildings and plush storefronts, the lake remains idyllic, making for the perfect escape from your busy day of Colombo shopping or sightseeing. In the center of the lake is a small island that contains the Simamalaka Shrine that was built from donations from a Muslim donor. The Beira Lake connects with other lakes through small canals, eventually ending up in the Indian Ocean. Duck paddle boat rides are available for rent at the lake too.
JAMI UL-ALFAR MOSQUE
When exploring Colombo free things to do, it is impossible to miss the attractive red structure – the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque. Built in the year 1909 under the guidance of the Pettah Muslim Community, this mosque is one of the oldest structures in Colombo. This mosque, also known as the Red Mosque, once stood as a landmark for sailors who approached the city and was built by Habibu Lebbe Saibu Lebbe – an unlettered but creative individual who pioneered the construction of this beautiful mosque through his sheer passion and creativity.
NEW KATHIRESAN KOVIL
Located in Bambalapitiya, the New Kathiresan Kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to Skanda. The New Kathiresan Kovil and the Old Kathiresan Kovil houses the shrines of Lord Murugan, Lord Ganesha, Lord Indumpan and many others. The temple, which features intricate statues and frescoes, attracts various locals and tourists. If you happen to visit Colombo City in the month of July or August, you can even participate in the colorful Vela Festival.
WATCH THE GLORIOUS SUNSET AT THE GALLE FACE GREEN
Looking for more free things to do in Colombo? The Galle Face Green is a promenade that stretches for about a quarter mile along the coast of Colombo’s business district. This seaside esplanade is the perfect place from where you can watch the pristine Indian Ocean and catch the magical spectacle of the sun as it sets. The sidewalk vendors at the Galle Face Green sell a variety of delectable treats at unbelievably low costs and there are plenty of toys to entertain kids too. Some activities that can be enjoyed at the Galle Face Green include flying kites or simply taking a long stroll along the length of the promenade.
TAKE A DIP IN THE MOUNT LAVINIA BEACH
With the sun shining brilliantly overhead and the endless beach before, the Mount Lavinia beach is a great spot for some sunbathing and if the sea is not too rough, you can even take a dip in the waters before heading over to enjoy some tantalizing seafood in one of the many cafes and restaurants that dot the shoreline. Mount Lavinia is the most popular place in Colombo which offers wide array of things to do for tourist.