A beautiful teardrop shaped island below India, it felt like Sri Lanka was the destination in 2015. After carrying out some research, my boyfriend and I decided to book a short backpacking trip to explore some of the island.
Due to the two monsoon seasons which the island experiences and as we visited end of November/December, we opted to explore the south and west of the island, which was dry and out of its rainy season.
Although we had come across quite a number of people saying that Colombo just wasn’t worth a visit, we were keen to visit the capital whilst in Sri Lanka. Whilst not as exciting as other Asian capitals like Tokyo and Bangkok, Colombo definitely has something to offer and is a good place to begin your trip.
We stayed at the Clock Inn on Galle Road, which I would recommend if you are looking for a clean and value for money hostel. The road is noisy but we didn’t find this much of an issue and the cool, air conditioned dorms offer great respite from the humid air outside.
During our time in Colombo, we visited the Gangaramaya temple and Beira Lake, which are close by one another. The temple was nice but not one of the better Buddhist temples I’ve visited. After this, we walked over to Viharamahadevi Park and then to Independence Square, both of which were lovely spots for an afternoon stroll.
On our second evening, we walked down Galle Face Green just before sunset. Seeing all the local families relaxing and children playing was a sight to behold.
The highlight of our time in Colombo would have to be watching the sunset at The Sky Lounge in the Kingsbury Hotel at the top of the Galle Face Green. Whilst drinks are pretty expensive by local standards, entry is free and the higher bar prices are well worth it for the view of the sunset.
In terms of food, we ate at one really good local restaurant called the Green Cabin near our hostel but weren’t particularly blown away by the cuisine in the capital.
Our next stop was Galle, where we stayed inside the fort for three nights. We took the train from Colombo and I can’t recommend doing this enough! The scenery is absolutely stunning as the railway runs right by the coast and it costs 80p (ish) for the two hour journey.
Inside the fort, it is very tourist focussed but I absolutely loved it! It’s a lovely mix of European architecture and cobbled streets, right by the beautiful Indian Ocean and surrounded by palm trees.
We stayed at the Pedlars Inn hostel, which offered great value for money as a place to stay. Whilst maybe not as clean as our first hostel, it more than made up for this with the location and its rustic charm.
During our stay in Galle, we explored the fort extensively, as well as Galle town and Unawatuna beach. The latter is a great place to spend the day or an afternoon sunbathing and sipping cocktails on the beach. Three nights was probably slightly longer than you need in Galle but we found the fort so charming that we really enjoyed just watching time pass and relaxing.
View of the Indian Ocean from Galle Fort
Offering great local food, we ate at Lucky Fort restaurant, which is situated down one of the quieter streets in the fort. For £2.50pp, we were served 10 different curries plus mountains of rice. The food is so delicious and the variety was great.
Another place that I would recommend is Tea Breeze within the Dutch Hospital in the fort. They serve amazing iced tea and the views out over the fort walls and ocean are incredible. One note- steer clear of the scones, they are not as us Brits would expect.
Finally, a great place for ice cream to cool down in the hot sun is Pedlars Inn Gelato, situated just around the corner from the hostel. Although not cheap, the gelato they serve is really delicious.
Rice & curry at Lucky Fort restaurant
Next we ventured over to our only destination in the rainy East- Tissaharama, ready for a safari in the famous Yala National Park. More next time…