How to spend 3 nights in Colombo
Sri Lanka is famous for having diverse landscapes ranging from rainforest and jungles to misty mountain and golden sand beaches within a few hours’ drive between destinations, so when planning your itinerary, it makes sense to spend more than just a night in each location, and Colombo is no exception. From colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers, lush gardens to vibrant art galleries, the capital city is an amalgamation of bustling marketplaces, 19th century buildings, leafy residential neighbourhoods, and an ever-evolving skyline. Colombo is also a melting pot of cultures, and the best destination in Sri Lanka for connecting with interesting personalities; be it an artist, dramatist, writers, historians, or designers. To really get a feel for this garden city, we’ve detailed our favourite ways to spend 3 nights in the capital.
A picture from the Gangarama Temple, by Luke Stackpoole
Long-haul flights from the west can take a toll on your first day of a holiday, especially after a hectic period of juggling work. More so when you’re travelling with kids. A private villa in Colombo will offer a base to be at complete ease, and Ishq Colombo has all the comforts to make you right at home, including a swimming pool, private spa, and butler service to boot. On arrival, head straight to the villa to wind down, after your flight.
Today, we recommend spending the rest of the day getting over the jetlag. Enjoy a dip in the pool, or a massage, and time at our rooftop steam room and jacuzzi.
If you’d like to take in a light yoga class, we’d be happy to arrange one for you at the villa, with an experienced yoga practitioner.
- Evening Dinner: Monsoon or Ministry of Crab
After a late and lazy breakfast, spend the morning getting to know Colombo’s art scene by checking out a series of the best art galleries and street art in the city.
Morning activity: The following spaces feature some of the best contemporary artists in Sri Lanka, and offer the opportunity of shopping unique local brands:
- Sapumal Art Gallery
- AOD Museum of Modern Contemporary Art
- Lionel Wendt
- Saskia Fernando & PR
- Barefoot Gallery
We recommend having lunch at Barefoot Gallery and, spending a few hours at leisure back at the villa, before your next activity.
Evening activity: After a few hours of down time, we recommend heading out on a walking tour of Colombo with a resident historian, Mark Forbes. Meet at the Dutch Hospital Shopping precinct and enjoy three exciting hours as Mark takes you through the streets, alleyways, passageways, shops, hotels, churches, and buildings of Fort and Pettah. While on your walk you will find the oldest clock-tower in Asia, see the original colonial era emblem of HSBC and learn about the budget allocated and spent by the British government to build the Grand Oriental Hotel. After the walk, we highly recommend sundown cocktails at the historic and atmospheric Galle Face Hotel.
Once you get back to the villa, you’re in for a special dinner, curated by our chef.
Dinner: Ishq Colombo
After breakfast go on an architecturally insightful experience of Colombo. Take a guided journey around Colombo with a focus on Sri Lanka’s great architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Your tour of Bawa’s Colombo begins at Number 11, the hub of Geoffrey’s city life. Your host is very knowledgeable on Bawa but also his notable friends on the art, architecture and textile scene, such as Barbara Sansoni (Barefoot), Minette (Sri Lanka’s first female architect) and Ena De Silva, who championed the craft of batik
Continue to Gallery Café and appreciate another of Bawa’s triumphs over lunch. Finally, visit Seema Malaka Temple on Beira Lake, which Bawa redesigned in the 1970s.
Evening Activity: In the afternoon, embark on a Ceylon tea manufacturing process. Learn the subtleties of tasting, grading, blending and brewing tea from professional tea tasters who regularly visit the Sri Lankan tea auction. Sri Lanka is recognized as one of the best tea producers in the world. You will visit one of the oldest tea producers in the country and get exclusive insights into the production process, and technology used in the different stages of refining, blending and packaging of tea as well as the unique grading process. The experience allows you to expand your knowledge of Ceylon tea by understanding subtle differences in grain, texture, colour, strength and flavour across high, mid and low grown teas.
Dinner: Paradise Road, The Gallery Café
- Best time to visit: Colombo is a year-round destination; however the best weather is experienced traditionally between December to March. The months of May, October and November tend to bear the brunt of the monsoon seasons, but still have plenty of days of sunshine.
- Your butler at Ishq will be happy to book in yoga or a spa treatment on request!
- If you’d like to include some fitness while taking in the sights, head to Vihara Maha Devi Park or Independence Square for a stunning backdrop to a morning jog or walk.