Where to Stay in Colombo, Sri Lanka

What are the best places to stay in Colombo? Check out this guide featuring the best areas in the enchanting capital of Sri Lanka

Colombo is an excellent point to start your journey in Sri Lanka. Being the capital of the country, the city has a lot to offer and easy access to the other major cities in the country. If you’re not very familiar with the city, or if you are not sure of the best places to stay in Colombo, then this guide is for you.

where to stay in Colombo Sri Lanka
Colombo. Photo by Iris Liu

Tourism in Colombo: Overview

Colombo is not only the capital of Sri Lanka but also its largest city. It offers its visitors with plenty of activities and attractions, both rich in culture and variety. Given the large natural harbor and its strategic location to the popular sea routes, Colombo has historically attracted many traders from around the globe.

The closest airport to Colombo is the Bandaranayake International Airport (BIA) which is about 30 Km from the city center.

It’s connected through an expressway making it very convenient for travelers to get to the city, usually in less than half an hour by car. There are several bus services available too, giving the visitors a cheaper alternative. The airport is the biggest in the country, with various international flights.

If you are flying to Colombo in Sri Lanka you can find the cheapest flights on Jetradar.

Best areas to stay in Colombo

Colombo is a relatively well organized city. Some of the best areas to stay in Colombo is the famous Colombo Fort, and the known as Mount Lavinia. Let’s learn a bit more about these areas below:

Colombo Fort

This is the most central part of the city, making it very convenient for visitors to travel to the main attractions in the city. It is a prestigious location, with various accommodation options, as well as some of the best spots to eat and drink in the capital.

From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, this area has got it all covered. It is also the location of the Colombo Fort Railway Station, the most important in the city. Several popular Colombo attractions such as Gangaramaya Temple, Galle Face Green, Vihara Mahadevi Park etc. are all in close proximity to this area.

Mount Lavinia

Though a few kilometers away from the Colombo Fort, this area is home to some of the scenic beaches the city has to offer. Most commonly known as the “Golden Mile”, it’s beaches stretches as far as one can see. There are several restaurants by the beach in the area making it an ideal place to try some of the best seafood the city has to offer.

Many locals and tourists alike flock here with their families to play on the beach or just merely relax and watch the sun go down. It’s very popular amongst backpackers and families too.

Budget Accommodation in Colombo – $

CityRest Fort– an great option in the fort area, offering dorm beds and private rooms.

Reasonably Priced Accommodation in Colombo – $$

City Lake Residence by Sunrise – an excellent hotel in a very central location, close to the Gangaramaya Temple.

Fairway Colombo – a great hotel in one of the best places to stay in Colombo, in the Fort area.

Luxurious Hotels in Colombo – $$$

Shangri-La Hotel Colombo – one of the most luxurious hotels in the capital of Sri Lanka.

The Kingsbury Colombo – a prestigious hotel in the Fort area.

Cost of travel in Colombo

Colombo has a good road infrastructure  making it very convenient to get around the city. You can travel around using several options from cars, to buses, as well as trains and tuk-tuks.

The most common and handy option to get around in Colombo is in a tuk-tuk. These three-wheeled vehicles are a thrilling way to explore the city. They are very affordable (at approximately $0.35 per km) and can be easily booked through a mobile-app called PickMe – a local version of Uber.

Colombo Fort. Photo by Iris Liu

If you opt to use the public transport, it’s the cheapest option of all. Trains are very cheap but may not be as convenient as the buses. The former option is perfect for getting out of Colombo to other areas whereas buses are the ideal way to travel within Colombo. It is also a great way to absorb the sights and the local flavor of the city.

Renting a car can also be a good option to explore Colombo and the whole of Sri Lanka. Compare rental car prices on RentalCars.com.

When to Visit Sri Lanka

There are no major differences in the weather in Sri Lanka is tropical. However, Sri Lanka has monsoon seasons, and some months are known for its excessive amounts of rain.

Some of the best months to visit Colombo would be during one of the local festivals in April/May or in December. April is the Sinhala & Tamil New Year where most locals celebrate according to their very own calendar. It’s a fantastic opportunity for visitors to witness the local celebration. During May, the streets of Colombo are very beautifully lit up with lanterns and Pandols to celebrate Vesak. This is another wonderful way to explore the local celebrations.

Of course, during December, the Christmas and New Year celebrations are also pretty relevant in Sri Lanka as well. Many tourists visit Sri Lanka during this time to celebrate the holidays to end the year with a blast.

Another good time to visit would be to witness the Gangarama Perahera where approximately 10,000 tourists flock to attend the event. The event takes place only once a year in March. This is where you’d get fire eaters, acrobats, drummers and fire-bearers showcasing their talents. You can also book tours on Sri Lanka on GetYourGuide.

Other Resources to Travel in Asia

If you are traveling to South Asia you might want to check some of our other posts covering the region. Check where to stay in Yangon and the best places to stay in Agra, India.