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.

Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

2. 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.

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

3. 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: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

4. 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.

Colombo: All-Inclusive Private City Tour

5. 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.

From Colombo: All Inclusive Sigiriya and Dambulla Tour

6. From Colombo: All Inclusive Sigiriya and Dambulla Tour

Begin your 14-hour tour with an early-morning drive to Sigiriya. When you arrive, climb the Sigiriya Rock fortress, considered to be the 8th Wonder of the World. In the 5th century, King Kashyapa built a palace atop the rock. Sigiriya commemorates some of the turbulence of Sri Lanka’s history. Stop to enjoy a restaurant lunch before heading to Dambulla. Visit the UNESCO-listed cave temple built by King Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. It is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of 5 caves features more than 2,000 square meters of painted walls and ceilings. See 150 images of the Buddha, of which the largest is a 14-meter-high image carved out of the rock.

From Colombo: Hikkaduwa Village Tour with Boat Ride & BBQ

7. 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.

Colombo Half-Day City Tour - Cruise terminal /Hotels

8. 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

9. 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.

Colombo or Negombo: Temple of the Tooth Kandy Day Trip

10. Colombo or Negombo: Temple of the Tooth Kandy Day Trip

Your day will begin with pickup from your Colombo or Negombo hotel from where you will transfer to Kandy. En route to Kandy you will visit a tea factory and a tea plantation. You will later visit the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden, which was formed by Alexandar Moon in 1821 during the British colonial period. He used the garden for coffee and cinnamon plants, and the garden includes more than 4,000 species of plants including orchids, spices, medicinal plants, and palm trees. Following the gardens you will enjoy lunch at a recommended restaurant, after which you will visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. This is the site that Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth relic calls home. The Kandy Temple of Tooth Relic is the most sacred and venerated temple in Sri Lanka, and is a must-see when visiting Sri Lanka. You will then enjoy a Kandy city tour which will include time for shopping. Following that you will transfer back to Colombo to be dropped off at your Colombo or Negombo hotel.

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What people are saying about Colombo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 75 reviews

Really good experience! At one of the attractions we should have visited, there was a really long queue and too many people, so our guide was good at coming up with a lot of other options we could see if we wanted. All the experiences were quite exciting! Our guide also found some great eateries along the way with really nice views each time. He was good at assessing when he was needed as a guide and when it was better for us to be alone and she stayed close by (eg at the restaurants). On the slightly long drive, he was also good at explaining what we saw when we looked out the windows and in general what Sri Lanka was like.

This is honestly on of the best city tours I have experienced. Due to COVID we were the only ones in the bus which made it a much more enjoyable experience as we really got to set the pace of the tour. Kurama was an excellent tour guide having in depth knowledge of the countries history and that of the locales we visited. The museum, independence square and the temple are just a few of the several places we got to visit. All in all a perfect outing except for the torrential downpour at the very end, but that is to be expected in Sri Lanka. Highly recommend this tour and be sure to ask for Kurama.

The driver (Kenneth) was very accommodative and managed our tight schedule very well. He even went the extra mile and helped us to see more than what we had initially agreed — with his help we were able to visit the Ranweli spice garden, which was the cherry on top.

Lalli (German speaking guide) and Jayasuriya (driver) did a super job. We got to see many places and were able to experience Sri Lankan culture. It was fun, thanks for that.

Very pleasant sunny day, with superb explanations. Lunch in a great spot, perfect day, thank you!