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Layover in Colombo – the ultimate guide 2021

11 September, 2021by Bounce

The capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the major entry point for most visitors to this fascinating island country. Bandaranaike Airport is the country’s main international transit hub, serving over nine million passengers a year. If you find yourself on a stopover in Sri Lanka, it can be tempting to spend your time exploring the city while you wait for your next connection.

The airport is 20 miles from the city it serves, but the two are linked by high-speed road E03 that can bring you to Colombo in about 30 minutes. Alternatively, there is an express bus which takes around an hour to get to the city. Therefore, on a short Colombo Airport layover, you’ll need to plan your time carefully. One way to make things easier is to drop your bags off at a Colombo luggage storage. Traveling light will help you move around the city more easily without having to worry about your bags.

6 hour layover in Colombo


With only six hours to kill on your Colombo layover, you’ll have to hustle. The quickest way into the city is to take a taxi. If the traffic isn’t too bad, you could reach the center of the city in around 30 minutes. Don’t forget to factor in time to clear customs and drop off your bags at a Colombo suitcase storage. By the time you’ve done all that, you may only have a couple of hours to spend in the city.

If you want to see as much of the city in as short a time as possible, there are few better ways to do it than with an organized tour. Depending on the company you choose, you could even get them to pick you up from the airport and drop you off in time to make your next flight. In the meantime, they can show you some of the city’s main attractions, such as the Gangaramaya Temple. A good guide will also ensure you understand what you’re seeing so that even though your time may be short, you’ll leave with a better impression of Sri Lanka.

  • Take a taxi into the city to make the best use of your limited time.

  • Consider taking a tour to see the highlights of the city in as short a time as possible.

  • Many tours can pick you up directly from the airport and drop you off again in time to make your next flight.

8 hour layover in Colombo


With an eight-hour layover in Colombo, you can afford to get a little more ambitious. If you take a tour, you may have an idea of particular sites you want to visit more in-depth by yourself. One place that is definitely worth seeing a little more of is Viharamahadevi Park. This public park was established during British colonial rule and remains the green heart of the city. It’s a wonderful place to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and recharge your batteries amid nature for the next stage of your journey. Kids will enjoy the mini zoo and the children’s play area, while adults will appreciate the chance to relax on the park’s many walking paths. It wouldn’t be hard to spend an hour or two here while you wait for your next flight.

  • Stretch your legs in Viharamahadevi Park.

  • Visit the mini zoo and let the kids burn off some energy on the playground.

  • Explore the walking trails and see the impressive golden Buddha statue.

10 hour layover in Colombo


If you have 10 hours to spend in Colombo, you can expand your horizons to include beautiful Beira Lake and the stunning Buddhist temple of Seema Malakaya. The lake is an oasis of calm in the middle of the bustling city, and the temple is one of Colombo’s main attractions. Constructed in the 19th century, the temple is mostly used for meditation, and given its peaceful lake setting, it’s not hard to see why. An hour or two exploring the lake and the temple will put you in a Zen state of mind before heading back to the airport to catch a connecting flight.

  • Explore Beira Lake, a peaceful body of water in the heart of the busy city.

  • Find serenity at Seema Malakaya Temple.

  • Head back to the airport with a newfound sense of peace.

12 hour layover in Colombo


With a 12 hour long layover in Colombo, you can step away from the historic beauty of the city and see more of its vibrant modern life. There are few better places to do that than at Pettah Floating Market. This incredible market consists of more than 90 different stalls set on boats in the lake, and it’s the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and take in the unique atmosphere of the city. Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, the market is worth exploring for its great food and lively vibe.

  • Visit Pettah Floating Market for a unique shopping experience.

  • Shop for souvenirs or try some of the local food.

  • Enjoy the lively vibe of the bustling market.

24 hour layover in Colombo


An overnight layover means you can explore much more of the city, including its nightlife. Once you’ve found a hotel and dropped off your bags at a luggage storage in Colombo, you’ll be ready to see how the city takes on a whole different aspect once the sun goes down. Colombo has a fun and riotous nightlife, and you can party the night away at places like ZAZA and Barefoot Garden. If that’s not your scene, you could enjoy a traditional puppet show instead. Puppets have been an important part of Sri Lankan culture for centuries, and the shows are great fun for kids and adults alike.

Before heading to your flight the next day, don’t forget to check out the Colombo National Museum. This is one of Sri Lanka’s most important museums, and is the best place to get to grips with the country’s rich and complex history. In the space of a 24-hour layover in Colombo, you can really get a glimpse of what makes the country so special.

  • Explore Colombo’s raucous nightlife at the city’s many bars and nightclubs.

  • Take in a puppet show for a truly Sri Lankan experience.

  • Check out the Colombo National Museum for taking your next flight.

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