Although reclaiming its 19th-century moniker ‘the garden city of the East’ is unlikely, Colombo is rapidly emerging as a must-see stop in Sri Lanka. No longer just the sprawling city you have to endure on your way to the southern beaches, it has become a worthy destination in its own right.
The legacies of colonial Colombo’s garden roots are still very much intact along its often shady boulevards. Fort is in the midst of widespread historic restoration of its landmark colonial architecture, while Pettah brims with markets and rampant commerce. Even traffic-clogged Galle Rd is getting spiffier with glossy new hotel complexes, while the seafront benefits from new roads that are spurring hotel construction.
Colombo’s cosmopolitan side supports ever-more stylish eateries, galleries and museums. Surprises abound in its old quarters where you can find great local food and discover a characterful shop or tiny, convivial cafe. The capital is an excellent start – or finish – to your Sri Lankan adventures.