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.

From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

2. From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

Explore two of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO-listed highlights on a privately guided day trip to Dambulla and the Sigiriya Rock from Colombo. Start with an early morning pickup from your hotel in Colombo. Make your first stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple. View Sri Lanka’s countryside and villages as you journey to the atmospheric Dambulla Cave Temple, a Cliffside cave complex packed with Buddha images and frescoes. Enter the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, dating back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Gautama Buddha. Look at the hundreds of figurines of Buddha and other deities scattered throughout the five main caves. Visit the Cave of the Divine King, Cave of the Great King, and the Great New Monastery. See the giant golden Buddha Statue just a little distance outside the cave complex. Go to Sigiriya to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Climb the 5th century AD rock fortress, Sigiriya, where King Kassapa ruled. Walk through the entrance framed by the paws of a lion that is quite appropriate for its name, the Lion Rock. View the beautiful unfading murals that brought Sigiriya its fame. Climb the steep staircase to see the terraced gardens and still-working cisterns. Go through the tunnels leading to the palace as you get a feel for times long past.

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 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.

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

4. 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.

From Colombo: Hikkaduwa Village Tour with Boat Ride & BBQ

5. From Colombo: Hikkaduwa Village Tour with Boat Ride & BBQ

Start your tour from Colombo at 9:00am where you will begin the 2 to 3 hour drive to Hikkaduwa. Stop on the way at Kosgoda where you will visit a sea turtle farm run by a non-governmental organization and maintained by volunteers. Next, visit the Ariyapala Mask Museum where you can learn about ancient masks and their part in ancient rituals, followed by the Mask Factory where you will see how these masks are brought to life through the hard work of artisans. After this, you will visit a family run gem and jewellery store and find various items at very affordable rates. Then, visit the agriculture and coir industry of Hikkaduwa, meeting a family that makes various products using coir and see the hard work they put in to make various valuable items. A very important ecological asset of the region is the Hikkaduwa lagoon. Take a boating trip on which you will discover the many avian fauna species of the region. Next up, visit one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the area. The temple is virtually free of tourists and mostly frequented by the local people. Here you can learn all about Buddhism with our local guide. After a busy day full of discovery head to Hikkaduwa beach to have a leisurely stroll and take in the sunset. Taste the most popular Sri Lankan alcoholic drink, Arrack, distilled from 100% coconut syrup.  End your tour with a barbecue dinner, consisting of fish bought from the nearby fishing harbour.

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

6. 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

7. 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.

Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle hotspots 2-Day Tour

8. Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle hotspots 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.

Colombo Half-Day City Tour - Cruise terminal /Hotels

9. Colombo Half-Day City Tour - Cruise terminal /Hotels

Discover both the modern and traditional areas of Colombo and learn more about the city's colonial past on this tour, from a 100-year-old clock tower to British colonial-era buildings. During this tour, visit the Old Parliament, explore the affluent residential areas and admire the Bandaranaike memorial international conference hall, a gift to Sri Lanka from the people’s republic of China. Immerse yourself in a fascinating blend of cultures, religions, and socioeconomic classes and experience daily life for Sri Lankan residents. You will see attractions such as the Sambodhi Chaithya Buddhist Temple, the lighthouse, Red Mosque, the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the Town Hall, and Independence Square. You may also choose to visit a handicrafts emporium for a spot of shopping if you wish. Get dropped off back at your hotel at the end of the tour.

Pinnawala & Kandy Day Trip from Colombo

10. Pinnawala & Kandy Day Trip from Colombo

Benefit from pickup at your hotel in Colombo, and then relax in air-conditioned comfort on the journey to Kandy. Visit the Temple of the Tooth on arrival to see the sacred tooth of Buddha, a symbol of status that proved the worthiness of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka. Admire the beautiful architecture of the palace and look at the golden figurines in the shrine. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage You never miss the elephant gathering in river Then, explore some of the ancient crafts by traditional artisans, including gems, wood carving, and batik. Watch craft demonstrations and buy souvenir gifts before lunch at a local restaurant at your own expense. Continue to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya, and go for a stroll in the 147-acre grounds. See over 4,000 different species of plants, including an exclusive collection of orchids, spices, and medicinal plants. Learn the history of the 19th-century gardens, and see famous plants such as the cannonball tree, giant fig tree, and 40-meter tall Burma bamboo.

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What people are saying about Colombo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 75 reviews

Aaron was very professional and made sure that we were comfortable throughout the trip, and also stopped at a cafe because we had not had any breakfast before the trip started. He also suggested different places to go to besides the two trips and recommended suggestions for us to do in Colombo. Strongly recommend this trip and Aaron as a tour guide!

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

CJ was on time. Speaks good english and knows the area very well. He was very helpful and pleasant. Everything went as planned. Sigiriya is awesome. Prepare yourself for climbing the stairs! Great history in Dumbulla. Recommended.

Had excellent time, tour operators are second to none Driver Chris excellent fit for the job we are lucky to have him as driver and guide Me and my wife thanked Chris thousand times

The tour was excellent. I liked a lot the hotel in Sigirya and in Colombo. Keerthe, the driver, was very nice, respectful and always on time.