|Most popular in||July||High demand for flights, 17% potential price rise|
|Cheapest in||October||Best time to find cheap flights, 12% potential price drop|
|Average price||$1068||Price for this month|
|Cheapest price||$484||From New York to Colombo|
As is the case with many sprawling metropolises in the region, Colombo today is a sum of its many contrasting parts: historic religious sites against modern skyscrapers, a spread of ethnicities living side by side and extensive green spaces surrounded by the fumes of heavy traffic. History and modernity live side by side in Sri Lanka’s capital city on the ocean shore.
The first-time visitor may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people, traffic and activity that fill the streets of Colombo, but with time, the city’s charms begin to win over newcomers to the city. There’s plenty to see, but many visitors choose to start with the stunning temples found throughout Colombo. Of these, the colorful Gangaramaya Temple is a favorite among visitors for its incredible Buddhist statues and museum. Colombo’s past is on full display at sites like The National Museum of Colombo, the Natural History Museum and the Dutch Period Museum, while contemporary and Sri Lankan art greet visitors to the National Art Gallery.
A metropolis Colombo surely is, but there are ample opportunities to escape the urban in favor of a more natural retreat. The wildlife that takes up residence at Viharamahadevi Park adds a lively element to a stroll through this lushly landscaped green space, while the Talangama Wetland just outside the city proper offers lakeside relaxation amongst butterflies and greenery.
After recharging, visitors can head to Galle Face Green, an oceanfront promenade that attracts many for some of the best sunset views in the city.
Flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka from the United States range from about 20h-40h. Your precise flight time will depend on your departure city, as well as the number and length of any layovers. Departing from a major airport hub, such as out of JFK Airport in New York, Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta, O’Hare Airport in Chicago, and Los Angeles International Airport will more than likely put your flight time at the shorter end of the range. Longer flights are due to more connections, which occur when you’re not starting your journey from a major international airport or traveling via an airline that commonly services flights into Colombo.
Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Colombo from the United States. You can book flights limited to one or two stopovers if you’re traveling using an airline that regularly flies into Colombo, such as Srilankan, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and Kuwait Airways. Common layover cities for flights from the US to Colombo include New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur, depending on if you’re departing from the east or west coast.
When you travel to Colombo, you’ll fly into Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), about 18.5 miles north of Colombo city center. To reach downtown Colombo from the airport, you can take the local express bus, the HighWay-Bus from the airport. It will take about one hour to reach downtown Colombo, with a fare that is less than $1. You can also opt to take the shuttle-like number 178 minibus from the airport to Colombo, though this can take up to one and a half hours since it takes a less direct route. It costs about the same as the bus, although you will have to pay a bit extra for luggage. The final option is to book a taxi, which will take only about 45 minutes and costs about $30. If you book in advance, you can avoid any surprise fees, which you may face with the minibus.
Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka with a rich history as a trading port. It’s also a city with incredible natural beauty and unique architecture, making it a fun and interesting place for tourists. Here, you can visit spacious Viharamahadevi Park to see its beautiful statues and fountains and stroll beneath its charming flowering trees. Dutch Period Museum details the country’s history under Dutch colonial rule, housed in an inviting 17th-century mansion. Feel the tranquility at Gangaramaya Temple, where you can enjoy pagodas, statues, and a museum, all close to the shores of Beira Lake.
United States citizens need a passport with at least six months of validity remaining from the date of their arrival. You must also apply for a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before your arrival.
Two monsoon seasons deter travelers from visiting Colombo from May through August and October through December. In general, the best time to visit Colombo is between January and March, when rainfall is at its lowest and temperatures climb toward their highest. Travelers seeking a trip filled with festivals may want to consider braving the monsoon season and traveling in May for the celebration of Buddha’s birth, which sees Colombo covered in lanterns, lights and other decorations. Cheap flights to Colombo can be found outside of the peak travel months of January, February and March.
Colombo’s streets are filled with three-wheel vehicles known as tuk-tuks, and these motorized for-hire vehicles can be a convenient way to get around the city. Tourists should opt for metered tuk-tuks rather than trying to negotiate a rate with the driver or better yet, seek out a special tourist-friendly fleet of tuk-tuks operated by the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority. Taxis are also available, as are public buses and a train system.