The Gangarama Temple In Beira Lake, Seema Malakaya
The Gangarama Temple In Beira Lake, Seema Malakaya


A city where luxury hotels rub shoulders with market bazaars, Colombo is an enchanting contrast of new world glam and ancient tradition. Once heralded the “garden city of the East”, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital is unlike anywhere else. Experience a city of senses with our Colombo travel guide. 

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Places to stay

There are plenty of places to stay in Colombo. For reasonably priced accommodation look to Dwell, a Japanese inspired design hotel. After a glitzy-sea-view-chandelier-in-the-lobby experience? We recommend the Shangri-La. Sitting right next to the sea, this five-star, 500-room, behemoth hotel is luxury at its finest. If you want a side of history with your accommodation, book a room at the Galle Face Hotel. Built in 1864, the colossal white building, complete with plantation shutters and dark wood floors is the perfect place to relax and watch the waves wash the green lawn with the obligatory gin and tonic in hand. Budget travellers head to Star Anise, a boutique alternative to a hostel.

Things to do

With plenty of history and culture, you’ll find much to see and do in Colombo. Discover the National Museum and learn more about Sri Lankan’s turbulent history.Shopaholics, visit the bustling markets of Pettah and try your luck bartering for goods and produce.

Grab lunch at the Ministry of Crab in the Old Dutch Hospital and be prepared to get your hands dirty, this is a hands-on experience. Pick up a fresh coconut juice and walk down the Galle Face Green to the Galle Face Hotel. If you’re there early enough, the hotel’s buffet breakfast is out of this world. Sit down on the sunny deck with a fresh mimosa and get stuck into Sri Lanka’s traditional breakfast hoppers, a pancake made from rice flour shaped like a bowl. Spicy curry and a cracked egg are served inside the pancake bowl.


Where to go

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Food and drink

Do not leave the country without eating Sri Lanka’s famous lagoon crabs at Ministry of Crab. Ranging from 500g to 2kg ‘crabzillas’ these delectable crustaceans are incredibly fresh. Smothered in pepper or chilli and garlic sauce, this is one messy dish, so bibs are advised.

If you want to experience local cuisine head to Pettah markets for some delicious street food, or just pop into one of the many corner restaurants for rice and five curries.

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Visitors wishing to pick up some treasures for their house back home, should hit up Plâté. A shop dedicated to antiques and art; you’re bound to find a statement piece for that awkward nook at home. For beautifully hand-loomed textiles look no further than Barefoot. A creatively curated shop with cloth-bound books, bedspreads and cushions.

For new clothes we suggest House of Fashions. The multi-storey complex houses Sri Lanka’s best textiles and clothing.

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Girl in car looking out the window

Getting around

From the airport: there are taxi counters at the airport, but it’s advisable to agree on the fare before departing. If arriving late, you may also choose to head to Negombo for the night which is a little closer to the international airport. Private transfers can be arranged prior to arriving to your hotel or Uber is also active in Colombo.

In and around the city: getting around by tuk-tuk is generally the most convenient option, however, you’ll also find air-conditioned ‘TATA Nano’ taxi cars in service. For long distance travel, buses can be an affordable option but check the services to confirm schedules, departure points and whether there is luggage space. Private cars can also be arranged.

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Important information

Disclaimer: ^ You must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program to earn and redeem Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions.

Disclaimer: ^ Qantas Frequent Flyer members will earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 value unless otherwise specified, for hotel stays booked through, except Classic Hotel Rewards and Airbnb bookings. Points Club members will earn 25% more Qantas Points, and Points Club Plus members will earn 50% more Qantas Points. Qantas Points will be credited to your account at least 8 weeks after check-out. Qantas Points may be earned by the member in whose name the booking is made. Members will not be able to earn points on additional charges paid to the accommodation provider for extras (including cots, breakfasts and other incidentals) on check-in or check-out (as applicable).  

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Disclaimer: ++ Status Credits are earned on eligible Qantas, Jetstar, oneworld® member and oneworld connect® airlines only - see the Airline Earning Tables and Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions for details. Status Credits may not be earned on some fare types and booking classes. 

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Disclaimer: ± Inflight entertainment varies by route and aircraft.