places to visit sri lanka with friends

25 Best Places to Visit in Colombo with Friends in 2024

As a travel expert based in Colombo, I’ve had the privilege of exploring every nook and cranny of this vibrant city over the years. Living here has given me countless opportunities to discover its hidden gems and popular attractions alike. Colombo is a city full of life and surprises. Exploring it with friends can make your experience even more memorable. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s always something new to experience. From serene parks to bustling markets, Colombo offers a wide array of places to visit with friends. Let me take you through some of my favorite spots in this wonderful city.

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a favorite spot for both locals and tourists in Colombo. This urban park stretches along the coast, offering a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean. It’s a great place to unwind with friends. You can fly kites, enjoy street food, or just sit and chat while watching the sunset. On weekends, the place buzzes with activity as families, couples, and groups of friends come together to enjoy the open space. Vendors selling delicious local snacks like isso wade (prawn fritters) and fresh coconuts are a common sight. The salty sea breeze and the lively atmosphere make Galle Face Green a must-visit spot.

Viharamahadevi Park

Just a short distance from Galle Face Green, you’ll find Viharamahadevi Park. It’s the largest and oldest park in Colombo, providing a green oasis in the city. The park is perfect for a picnic with friends, a leisurely walk, or even a paddleboat ride on the small lake. The park is home to beautiful flowering trees and well-maintained gardens. There’s a playground for children, making it an ideal spot for families too. On a sunny day, you can relax under the shade of a tree, enjoying the serene environment and good company.

Gangaramaya Temple

Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most significant temples in Colombo. It’s a blend of modern architecture and cultural essence. Visiting this temple with friends can be a spiritually enriching experience. The temple complex includes a museum, library, and a learning center. The intricate details of the Buddhist statues and artifacts are mesmerizing. The temple is also known for its annual Navam Perahera, a grand procession with elephants, dancers, and drummers. Exploring the temple grounds, you’ll find peace and a sense of history that’s truly captivating.

Pettah Market

Pettah Market is the bustling bazaar of Colombo. It’s a place where you can experience the vibrant local life. Exploring the narrow, crowded streets with friends can be quite an adventure. You’ll find a wide array of goods from fresh produce, textiles, electronics to spices and jewelry. Haggling with vendors is part of the fun. The market’s chaotic charm offers a sensory overload with its sights, sounds, and smells. If you’re looking to buy souvenirs or just want to soak in the local culture, Pettah Market is the place to be.

National Museum of Colombo

For a dose of history and culture, visit the National Museum of Colombo. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that span centuries of Sri Lankan history. Walking through its halls, you’ll encounter ancient sculptures, royal regalia, and intricate carvings. The building itself is a piece of history, with its colonial architecture and grand halls. Visiting the museum with friends can be an educational experience, as you learn about the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. The museum also has a lovely garden where you can relax after your visit.

Independence Square

Independence Square is a significant landmark in Colombo, commemorating the country’s independence from British rule in 1948. The square is a popular spot for locals to jog, walk, and exercise. The Independence Memorial Hall, with its majestic architecture, is the centerpiece here. Visiting Independence Square with friends is a great way to delve into the country’s history while enjoying a leisurely stroll. The surrounding area is beautifully landscaped, making it a pleasant place to relax and take photos.

Colombo Fort

Colombo Fort is an area that blends the old and the new. Historically, it was a fort during the Portuguese and Dutch colonial periods. Today, it’s a bustling commercial area with modern buildings, historic sites, and plenty of shops and restaurants. Exploring Colombo Fort with friends can be a delightful experience. You can visit the Old Dutch Hospital, which has been converted into a shopping and dining precinct, or take a walk to see the colonial-era buildings. The mix of history and modernity gives this area a unique charm.

Beira Lake

Beira Lake is one of Colombo’s most scenic spots. It’s located in the heart of the city, surrounded by lush greenery and towering skyscrapers. The lake offers various activities such as swan boat rides, which can be a lot of fun with friends. There are also walking paths and benches where you can sit and enjoy the tranquil environment. The Seema Malaka temple, which sits on the lake, adds to the beauty of this place. Beira Lake is a perfect spot for a relaxing day out.

Mount Lavinia Beach

A short drive from the city center will take you to Mount Lavinia Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Colombo. It’s known for its golden sands and clear waters. Spending a day at the beach with friends is always a good idea. You can swim, sunbathe, or indulge in some beach volleyball. The area is lined with restaurants and bars, offering a variety of food and drinks. The beach is also famous for its stunning sunsets, making it a perfect spot to end your day.

Colombo City Centre Mall

If you’re in the mood for some shopping, head over to Colombo City Centre Mall. This modern shopping mall offers a wide range of local and international brands. It’s a great place to shop, dine, and even catch a movie. Visiting the mall with friends can be a fun experience, as you explore the different stores and enjoy the various entertainment options. The food court offers a variety of cuisines, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Diyatha Uyana

Diyatha Uyana is a park located near the Parliament complex. It’s a beautifully landscaped area with walking paths, gardens, and a lake. The park also hosts a popular weekend market where you can buy fresh produce, plants, and crafts. Visiting Diyatha Uyana with friends is a great way to spend a relaxing day outdoors. You can take a leisurely walk, have a picnic, or even rent a paddleboat. The serene environment and the vibrant market make it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre

For a dose of culture, visit the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre. This state-of-the-art performing arts center hosts a variety of events, including concerts, plays, and dance performances. Attending a show with friends can be a memorable experience. The theatre’s architecture is inspired by the lotus flower, adding to its aesthetic appeal. Check the event schedule before you go, as there’s always something interesting happening at this venue.

Colombo Dutch Museum

The Colombo Dutch Museum is housed in a beautiful 17th-century building that was once the residence of a Dutch governor. The museum showcases the Dutch colonial history of Sri Lanka through a collection of artifacts, furniture, and documents. Visiting the museum with friends can be an enlightening experience, as you learn about the colonial past and its impact on the country. The building itself is a piece of history, with its charming architecture and well-preserved interiors.

Royal Colombo Golf Club

If you’re a fan of golf, the Royal Colombo Golf Club is the place to be. Established in 1879, it’s one of the oldest golf clubs in Asia. The club offers an 18-hole golf course set amidst lush greenery. Spending a day at the golf club with friends can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Even if you’re not into golf, the club’s restaurant and bar offer a great place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Barefoot Gallery

Barefoot Gallery is a cultural hub in Colombo. It’s a combination of an art gallery, a craft shop, and a café. The gallery showcases contemporary art from both local and international artists. Visiting Barefoot Gallery with friends can be a delightful experience, as you explore the vibrant art scene and enjoy the cozy café. The craft shop offers a variety of handmade items, including textiles, jewelry, and home décor, making it a great place to buy unique gifts and souvenirs.

Old Parliament Building

The Old Parliament Building is a striking example of colonial architecture in Colombo. It was the seat of the Parliament of Sri Lanka until 1983. Today, it houses the Presidential Secretariat. The building’s grand facade and well-manicured gardens make it a significant landmark in the city. Visiting the Old Parliament Building with friends can be a fascinating experience, especially if you’re interested in history and architecture. While the building is not open to the public, you can admire its beauty from the outside and take some memorable photos.

National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka

The National Zoological Gardens, also known as the Dehiwala Zoo, is a popular attraction in Colombo. It’s home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, and exotic birds. Visiting the zoo with friends can be a fun and educational experience. The zoo also features a beautiful aquarium and a butterfly garden. It’s a great place to learn about wildlife and conservation efforts. The well-maintained grounds and the diverse range of animals make the zoo a favorite spot for both locals and tourists.

 Colombo Racecourse

The Colombo Racecourse is a historic venue that has been transformed into a modern shopping and dining complex. The original racecourse, built in the 19th century, has been preserved, and the new development blends seamlessly with the old architecture. Visiting the Colombo Racecourse with friends can be a fun experience. You can shop for the latest fashion, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants, or just relax and soak in the historic ambiance. The racecourse also hosts various events, adding to its lively atmosphere.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple located just outside Colombo. It’s one of the most important religious sites in Sri Lanka, believed to be visited by Lord Buddha himself. The temple is known for its stunning murals and sculptures. Visiting Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara with friends can be a spiritually uplifting experience. The serene environment and the beautiful artwork provide a sense of peace and tranquility. The temple also hosts an annual procession called the Duruthu Perahera, which is a spectacular event to witness.

Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya

Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya is another significant Buddhist temple in Colombo. It’s famous for its ancient Bodhi tree, which is believed to have miraculous powers. Visiting this temple with friends can be a serene and calming experience. The temple grounds are peaceful, with beautiful statues and well-maintained gardens. The annual Bellanwila Esala Perahera is a grand procession that attracts thousands of devotees. The temple’s spiritual ambiance and the beauty of its surroundings make it a must-visit spot.

Wolvendaal Church

Wolvendaal Church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in Sri Lanka, dating back to the Dutch colonial period. The church’s architecture is a blend of Dutch and Sri Lankan styles. Visiting Wolvendaal Church with friends can be a fascinating experience, especially if you’re interested in history and architecture. The church’s interior is simple yet elegant, with wooden pews and a beautiful altar. The churchyard is also worth exploring, with its old gravestones and peaceful surroundings.

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, also known as the Red Mosque, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Colombo. Its striking red and white exterior makes it stand out in the bustling Pettah area. Visiting the mosque with friends can be a unique cultural experience. The mosque’s architecture is a blend of Indo-Saracenic and Gothic styles, making it a visual treat. While non-Muslims are not allowed inside the prayer hall, you can admire the mosque’s beauty from the outside and take some stunning photos.

St. Anthony’s Shrine

St. Anthony’s Shrine is a Roman Catholic church located in Kochchikade, Colombo. It’s a place of worship and pilgrimage for people of all faiths. The church is known for its miraculous statue of St. Anthony. Visiting the shrine with friends can be a spiritually enriching experience. The church’s serene atmosphere and beautiful architecture make it a peaceful place to reflect and pray. The shrine also hosts an annual feast that attracts thousands of devotees.

Lotus Tower

The Lotus Tower is the tallest structure in South Asia and a new addition to Colombo’s skyline. It’s a telecommunications tower with an observation deck that offers stunning views of the city and the ocean. Visiting the Lotus Tower with friends can be an exciting experience. The tower’s design is inspired by the lotus flower, adding to its visual appeal. The observation deck provides a panoramic view of Colombo, making it a great spot for photography. It is one of the most visited places in colombo with friends.

Arcade Independence Square

Arcade Independence Square is a shopping and dining complex housed in a beautifully restored colonial building. The complex offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Visiting Arcade Independence Square with friends can be a fun and relaxing experience. You can shop for local and international brands, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants, or watch a movie at the cinema. The complex also hosts various events and exhibitions, adding to its lively atmosphere.

 

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