Long Layover in Colombo? Here is what to do

Let’s be honest. Colombo is not one of the most exciting cities in the world but if you have some spare time at the airport I suggest that you head out and explore this South Asian capital. (But not at night. There is not much going on that time of the day.)

The airport is around 45 minutes away from the city center and a taxi shouldn’t cost more than 2000 lkr ( 13 usd).

Once you get to the city here is what you can do:

  • Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil –  A hindu temple entirely made of South Indian granite, it looks quite simple from the outside but the awe moment comes as soon as  you step inside. I would say that its grandeur is comparable to that of the major cathedrals in Europe like the Duomo in Milan or St Paul in London. 1
  • Jami Ul-Afar – this mosque could easily be included in the top 10 list of the most beautiful ones. It’s distinctive candy-striped red-and-white brickwork is a show stopper
  • Walk around Pettah – it’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in town and can be a bit overwhelming if you are not used to the typical Asian chaos. It’s very hectic and busy and apart from the infinite number of shops selling flower ghirlands, fabrics, pots and memorabilia of all kinds, you could also witness a real time killing of a chicken for lunch. At least you know it’s fresh.
  • Gangarama temple – if you have never seen a temple which  is a mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Chinese and Indian architecture this is the right opportunity!
  • Have a tuk tuk ride – this is the easiest, and yes, most toxic way to move around. The good thing about tuk tuks here is that they use a meter and you can even book them with the local version of Uber – PickME.12
  • Have a crab at Ministry of Crab –  the restaurant is considered one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. You are a fan of the chili crab you can not miss this place. A reservation could be a good idea as the venue is very popular.

    Photo by @ministryofcrab
  • Watch the sunset on the beach – head to Galle Face Green around 6pm, mingle with the locals and try some local food from the street vendors.
    Photo by @hasannasarr


If you are heading to Sri Lanka and want to make the most of your time check out our guides from Pepper. They will show you the best of their country.

Also, if you need a driver, I used this guy, which a friend of mine found through Uber. I don’t know his name but he has been reliable in all the occasions I needed him. His number is +94758200484. He has Whatsapp.

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