With its eclectic combination of cosmopolitan ambience and sophisticated colonial buildings, Colombo has emerged as a must-visit destination for the avid globetrotters in Sri Lanka. From the alluring local markets whirling with the aroma of the tempting street food to the exhilarating tuk-tuk ride to soak the natural beauty, Sri Lanka’s capital has come to the light as one of Asia’s most favoured destinations to escape the mundane lifestyle with family. Travelling to Sri Lanka with kids? Check out the best activities in Colombo to keep your little ones happy all day long!
1. National Museum – ‘A beautiful journey dating back to centuries.’
The oldest, largest and the most sought-after museum in Sri Lanka, The National Museum is a wonderful place to get an insight into the country’s rich and varied cultural heritage. With over 4000 palm leaf manuscripts and crown jewels belonging to the last kings of Kandy, this premier cultural institution is a gem worth discovering.
A large, magnificent 8th-century stone Buddha greets visitors with an enigmatic smile as they enter the 1877 built museum housed in a grand colonial building. Laying testimony to the early man’s presence on the tear-shaped island approximately 25,000 years ago, this treasure trove of knowledge also traces the arrival of Buddha in Sri Lanka!
Would kids enjoy this? Absolutely! The enthusiasm of the children amplifies as they witness the splendid displays of the past and listen to the gripping stories from professional guides. And after the informative tour, you can enjoy the peaceful green park that envelops the amazing museum, while the kids run around carefree, laughing.
2. Galle Face Green
A popular, ocean-side urban park stretching for half a kilometre along the coastline, Galle Face Green is rendezvous green spot that is still redolent of the colonial past of Sri Lanka. Its broad expanses and seaside promenade have become quite popular amongst tourists who flock this attraction to witness the soft hues chase each other in the evening sky.
What’s more? From kite flying in the speedy sea breeze to playing football at the shore to blowing the bubbles in ecstasy, this place definitely breeds a bracing feel of freedom to both kids and adults alike.
You can also relish a lively selection of food and merchandise from the sea-side stalls that are omnipresent at your service. From tantalizing seafood to mouth-watering Sri Lankan cuisines, deep-fried snacks to sugar-sweet desserts, treat your taste buds to a wide assortment of delicacies as you cheer the sun going down.
3. Gangaramaya Temple
Considered an epitome of architectural brilliance, Gangaramaya temple is one of the oldest temples in Colombo with an extraordinarily beautiful fusion of Indian, Chinese, and Thai architectural designs. This bustling temple features an unusual combination of a museum, library and training centres that lure the tourists to visit this peculiar, yet fantastic place!
What’s more? The temple complex reverberates with spiritual vibes and a touch of tranquillity that immediately calms down your nerves. A therapy, indeed! Moreover, you can add charm to your family trip by being a part of the conscientious endeavours of the temple to help the ones in need.
The museum encompasses an enticing collection of Buddha statues, leaf writings, and a life-sized stuffed elephant that make it worth the visit.
P.S. The best part, undoubtedly, is the temple’s beautiful pathways filled with eclectic artefacts! While the kids love being the maze-runners, adults can’t resist but admire the panoply of bejewelled relics as they meander through the complex.
4. Colombo Fort Area
Previously a fort surrounded by the sea and a moat, Colombo fort area is a trendy quarter ringed with contemporary tea lounges, eateries and cafes. Moreover, a number of impressive red structures and grand colonial-era buildings make this place worth a visit.
While the fort spans across a small area, it features an arcade of chunky columns, stunning Dutch-made monumental masterpieces and a couple of extensive courtyards that will leave you awe-struck. What’s more? Children delightfully climb up the stairs to the top of the archaic Colombo Lighthouse which once shone its light 17 miles out to the sea and paved the way for the ships to make a safe entry into the harbour.
Moreover, an Old Dutch Hospital remains the centrepiece of the entire Fort area. Since its construction in 1681, the historic hospital has served a number of purposes from a healthcare centre to a police station to a recently renovated shopping and dining area. Today, it houses a myriad of shops and restaurants where you can savour the local and international dishes after a long stroll in the Fort complex.
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4. Mount Lavinia Beach
Regarded as one of Sri Lanka’s most premier sunbathing spots, Mount Lavinia beach is well known for its amazing sunsets and perennially swimmable waves! Nestled along with the city steeped with a romantic history, it makes a favourite spot for people of all age brackets looking to plunge into bright Blue Ocean or soak up the stunning summer sun.
Children are bound to have the time of their lives on the widespread beach. While they run around with ecstasy, build incredible sand castles and play a variety of beach games, parents can enjoy the cool sea breeze complemented with a jaw-dropping view of the vast sea. All in all, the idyllic setting helps you earn a post-card perfect picture of the family and cherish it for a lifetime.
Feeling hungry? The coastline is filled with amazing restaurants and pubs that serve the most gastronomic local delights. Be a sport and try the local’s favourite isso wade or the shrimp topped Latin patties that taste even more heavenly when coupled with the breath-taking sight of the setting sun on the horizon and lively ambience.
5. Pettah Markets
The famous Pettah market brims with a wide assortment of shops and rampant commerce that gives a quick insight into the local trade. While it is tucked inside a loud chaotic and bustling area, it’s possibly the best place in the whole of Sri Lanka to find a combination of knick-knacks, a huge selection of farm produce and bails of clothing. Travellers endear making purchases as they interact with the vendors in either broken Tamil or Sinhalese. A whole new experience altogether!
Did you know, Pettah market is where the locals come to find the super-hot deals on almost everything? From attires to footwear, jewellery to electronics, fruits to vegetables, Pettah markets cater to the best-quality goods at even more affordable prices. Although parents find it quite a task to handle their kids in the crowd, the little ones love to plunge in the madness of the crowd and love talking excitedly to the vendors.
All in all, Pettah isn’t just about the overwhelming experience of shopping; it also has some of the famous mosques and churches. Inside these tranquil surroundings, one could easily spot people praying to the Almighty and meditating.
6. Beira Lake
A must-visit family destination while holidaying in Colombo, Beira Lake is located right in the beating heart of the capital city. It’s also close to Gangaramaya Temple. It is one of those few places of serene beauty and relaxation that helps you to become one with nature. It comprises nearly 65 hectares of area with plenty of attractions in its vicinity.
The best part of visiting Beira Lake is that one gets to cruise through the shimmering water on the swan pedal-boat after taking a relaxing stroll in its boulevards. Kids seek support from their parents to paddle out onto the lake and enjoy blissful moments closer to nature, and cross the bride to lovers’ island. In fact, you can also spot animals like storks, pelicans, monitor lizards, and several species of fish in the lake.
What’s more? Quite a number of visitors make sure they visit the Seema Malaykaya Meditation Centre which is adorned with bronze Buddhas and Bodhi trees. It is outstandingly striking when lit up at night, and a sight to behold!
7. A tuk-tuk ride
A tuk-tuk ride is a once-in-a-lifetime activity to try with your kids when in Colombo. Tuk-tuks are a local form of transportation in Colombo that has made commuting around the city extremely convenient. And since tuk-tuk ain’t available in every country, children absolutely love to travel in these refurbished retro-filled vehicles.
Other than the kids, grown-ups also let their hair down and join the merrymaking. After all, tuk-tuk has its own way of bringing out the child inside every adult! Moreover, riding around the city in this three-wheeler helps the travellers get a closer look at the lifestyle of the people of Colombo.
What’s even better? Tuk-tuks are available in abundance and you can find one anywhere anytime. And yes, the best part is the courteous chauffeurs who take immense pride in showing you around the authentic, real and rustic Sri Lanka.
P.S. During your ride, you can ask the driver to stop for a while and make some purchases. Convenience at its best, isn’t it?
8. Dehiwala Zoological Garden
Internationally known as Colombo Zoo, Dehiwala National Zoo boasts of an incredible collection of indigenous and foreign species of flora and fauna. Historically regarded as one of the oldest zoos of Asia, Dehiwala currently provides shelter to an assortment of species: from mammals to birds, reptiles to fish, and the list goes on and on.
To witness so many species under a roof is exciting and indeed a rare opportunity to learn about the various life forms on earth. Children’s enthusiasm and inquisitiveness get amplified every time they see an animal they’ve never seen before.
The appealing lush green landscapes also draw in the visitors to make this place a stop during their stay in Colombo. What’s more? The zoo also boasts of comprehensive efforts in the conservation of endangered species. It creates awareness among the children about the significance of animals and the indispensable role they have in maintaining the balance in nature. An informative tour indeed!
9. Viharamahadevi Park
Known for its excellent flowering, Viharmahadevi is Colombo’s biggest park that showcases historical monuments such as the colonial-era Town Hall building, the National Museum and the Colombo Public Library National museum. Covered with perfectly manicured grass, beautifully paved paths and lush palm trees, it is ideal for spending delightful moments with your family members.
A haven for children, this park has well-maintained slides, swings, castles and a water fountain that lures the children in numerous ways. Another unique children-centred joy ride activity is the tunnelled hills that entice the children to crawl in excitement. In the meantime, the adults can lounge on the wooden or concrete seats and watch their kids create unforgettable memories. In addition to these, riding bicycles through the sweet and sugary breeze is a whole new experience in itself.
What’s more, you may ask? There is also a zoo nestled inside the park’s premises to keep the children entertained! And not to forget an aquarium that shelters a wide variety of fishes to double their delight! Lastly, you can also bid a flavourful treat to your taste buds by purchasing the snacks, coconut water and ice-creams.
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