This is a post about things you can do when you travel to Colombo with kids. When I was researching, I came across many posts about things to do in Colombo written by travelers without kids or about things to do with kids for expat families who live in Colombo. I wanted to know what would be fun for us to do in Colombo with the kids within the limited time we had in the city. My hope was to see things I like as opposed to gearing everything towards my children. This post is for you to help find fun things to do in Colombo with kids in toe.
My second child had picked up a stomach bug before the Sri Lanka trip (every time we travel one of us is sick…) and started having cramps as soon as we landed in Colombo. Thus, what we could do on the first and only day in Colombo was quite restricted. My husband decided to stay back in the hotel with our middle one and did some work (do your spouses also work even during holidays?) and I got to take out the two kids. The only occasion the whole family could go out was for lunch to Paradise Road. The two things among many that I enjoyed the most in Colombo was that as a woman I felt very safe to walk around with my two children and the city was very easy to get around. I valued these two more than anything during a trip overseas.
Fort is the financial district of Colombo as well as the area that hosts hotels, government departments and offices. In the 16th century, the area was the site of first landings by the Portuguese. The Portuguese developed the area into a fortified base and harbor to control the island. Then the Dutch seized the control over the fort in 1656. The fort was developed in order to protect them from any attacks from the sea and the interior of the island. The Dutch built a military base in the fort as they faced the conflicts with the Sinhalese kings of the interior. Later when the British acquired control of the Dutch-controlled areas on the coast of the island, they made the fort the center of its administration. The walls of the fort were demolished as they were considered an obstruction to the urban development in the area and the buildings were also demolished to give the area a sense of British colonialism. I find it very interesting how different countries had different perspectives on how they govern the colonized state and designed the city based on their style of governance. (source)
Below are the places my two children and I toured around in Fort and I recommend seeing.
GALLE FACE GREEN
THE DUTCH HOSPITAL
The Dutch Hospital is a heritage building with shopping and dining areas. Originally it was built by the Dutch to serve as a hospital and is considered to be the oldest building in the Fort area in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It looked after the officers and other employees who worked under the Dutch East India Company as well as Dutch sailors. After having served a few other purposes, in 2011, the Dutch Hospital was transformed into a shopping and dining complex. It seems to be a convenient area for dining for business people as well as tourists.
Cargill (Ceylon) PLC is a Sri Lankan company founded by William Miller and David Sime Cargill in 1844. The historical Cargills and Millers building is currently used as headquarters of the company. When I saw Cargills Building on Getty Images, I told myself I have to go see it myself.
GRAND ORIENTAL HOTEL
SHOPPING AT PARADISE ROAD
This is one of the places that I think you could go shopping with your kids if you aim the timing around the lunch time. You also do not want to miss the opportunity to see and shop at Paradise Road. If you are interested in seeing Paradise Road, please click here to open the post on my blog.
There is also PR, a fashion concept store by Paradise Road nearby. I took my two little ones to PR by myself and I purchased a beautiful crochet necklace. If you can go to PR without kids, you will be able to shop with more ease. If you love fashion, I highly recommend checking out PR during your time in Colombo.
This is Annika in the photo above. She is the director of PR, the newest store by the Paradise Road Group of Companies. Her restaurant recommendations in Colombo are listed below. Please scroll down to see them!
I regret that I did not get a chance to visit Gangaramaya Temple during our time in Colombo as our time ran out. If you have the time, you should go visit Gangaramaya Temple. It is one of the most important temples in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The photos you can find online of the temple look amazing and I would have loved to take photos of the temple. Please click here to view the photos of Gangaramaya Temple on Flickr.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF COLOMBO
National Museum Of Colombo is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. The Museum was founded in 1877 by Sir William Henry Gregory who was the governor of Ceylon at the time. Apparently the museum displays many artifacts from different eras in the Sri Lankan history. This is another place I did not get to visit, but I wish we did. The building seemed to be under renovation or being repainted as it was covered with white sheets when we passed by, so I would have not been able to take photos of the beautiful architecture. However, it would have been fun to visit the museum. Since I have not visited there, I am not able to tell if the museum is interesting for young children, but I imagine that they would enjoy the Natural Science section.
OTHER RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATIONS
I asked Annika, the director and curator of PR, who is a local from Colombo and seems very stylish, where she would recommend people for dining in Colombo. I told her that I was looking for places that serve great food and have nice interior and lovely ambiance. Here are the restaurants recommended by Annika.
Ministry of Crab
Sri Lanka is also known for their crabs. If you like crabs, you should go eat crabs in Colombo. Ministry of Crab is located inside the Dutch Hospital which is shown in the photos above.
Cafe Francais is located in the heart of business district in Colombo. I wanted to check it out, but the driver we hired did not know where it was located. I am not sure how it was possible, but I wished I had a cell phone service on my phone so that I could look it up.
Coming from Mumbai where Japanese food is hard to get, Nihonbashi looked impressive. We did not get to go to the Honten, which means a head restaurant or main restaurant in Japanese. We were able to experience Japanese food at Nihonbashi in ODEL, though. ODEL is a top design shopping mall which you can find all over Sri Lanka. It is a great place to find souvenirs as well.
Tintagel Colombo is a hotel by Paradise Road and has the courtyard, the dining room, the private dining room and the red bar. The photos look amazing on their site.