The City of Colombo is Sri Lanka’s largest city and most important seaport in addition to being its commercial and financial center. This busy city is a beautiful blending is old and new worlds, of Europe and Asia. The Port of Colombo’s climate is comfortable all year, with maximum average temperatures of 31°C (88°F). Monsoon season, when heavy rains are common, lasts from May through August and October through January. There are many attractions in the Port of Colombo that visitors will not want to miss.
The Port of Colombo’s Fort was built by the Portuguese and used by the Dutch and British. Today, it is an important commercial center with many offices, five-star hotels, nice shops, banks, post offices, and the city’s important business centers. The 19th Century Clock Tower was once a lighthouse. Other landmarks are the President’s House and Gardens where the British Governors lived. Today, it is the home of the Sri Lanka President, so it is not open to the public.
Next to Fort is Pettah, the Port of Colombo’s bazaar district. With narrow cobble streets, visitors find shops and stalls with wonderful bargains and a huge variety of goods ranging from fabrics to handbags to electrical equipment to jewelry and first-edition books. Each street has its own specialized character and products.
To the south of Fort is the Port of Colombo’s Slave Island where slaves slept. Today, the area is hardly recognizable as an island, and it is full of luxury office buildings, hotels, and shops. The island also houses several government departments. Its residents are primarily Moors, and there are a few wonderful temples.
The Port of Colombo’s famous beach called Mount Lavinia is about 12 kilometers from the city. The famous 1805 Mount Lavinia Hotel was once a Governor’s House built by Sir Thomas Maitland.
The National Zoological Gardens covers about 4.5 hectares and contains animals from all over the world. The elephant show, held every evening, is extremely popular. The Min Medura aquarium contains over 500 types of aquatic animals, and the reptile house contains tortoises, crocodiles, and cobras. The Zoo also contains a wonderful aviary, a nocturnal house, and a lovely butterfly park. The Port of Colombo’s Zoo has a marvelous cover of huge trees and beautiful landscaped gardens.
The Cinnamon Gardens in the Port of Colombo was at one time covered with cinnamon plantations. Today, it houses elegant tree-lined streets and mansions that are home to the country’s elite.
The Port of Colombo’s oldest and largest park, the Viharamahadevi Park, is located next to the National Museum. It offers many beautiful flowering trees, fountains, and water channels where visitors can relax and take time to enjoy the natural beauty they find there.
The National Museum of Colombo contains a great collection of the regalia, including the throne and crown, of the country’s 17th Century kings as well as many other exhibits telling the story of ancient Sri Lanka.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Colombo and Sri Lanka by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises at the Cruise Compete website.