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Colombo is a cosmopolitan hub lying in the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Apart from white sandy beaches, colonial heritage buildings, and museums, day trips from Colombo is another element that makes it a perfect abode for a week’s long vacation. While Yala national park is a haven for wildlife lovers, Mirissa is an unparalleled gem boasting spectacular beaches. Besides this, the waterfalls, rainforests, and rivers of Rathnapura and the tea plantations & gardens of Kandy leave no stone unturned to impress you with their charm. With just a few hours drive, discover what Colombo’s neighborhood has to offer.

10 Best Day Trips From Colombo For 2023

Once witnessing the unparalleled charm of Colombo, spare some hours to explore its nearby areas. Below are top 10 places that make the perfect base for day trips from Colombo.

1. Kandy

Beautiful view of Kandy in Sri Lanka

Lying in the heart of Sri Lanka, Kandy is a plateau city that enjoys the vicinity of lofty mountains and lush green forests. The tea plantations, biodiverse rainforest, museums, temples, and botanical gardens truly justifies Kandy to be on your itinerary. A day trip to Kandy from Colombo could include a visit to Temple of Tooth Relic, having a fun-filled session with elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, strolling around Kandy Lake and admiring the untouched nature.

Major attractions: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Temple Of Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake, Hulu River Waterfall, Knuckles Mountain Range, Royal Botanical Garden
Distance from Colombo: 145.9 km

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2. Ratnapura

Deity Saman in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka

Ratnapura is a major city in Sri Lanka known primarily for gem mining that giesv its name ‘Ratna’ (gems) and ‘pura’ (town). Around a 3-hour drive from Colombo to the “City of Gems” takes you through rubber plantations, paddy fields, and rich tea estates. Walk through the Sinharaja Rainforest that enjoys being a UNESCO World Heritage Site while featuring exceptional flora and fauna. Furthermore, a visit to the gem mines and one of the gem museums is a must to complete the day tour of the city.

Major attractions: Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Udawalawe National Park, Boptah Ella Falls, Adam’s Peak, Kitulgala, Maha Saman Devalaya, Bambarakanda Waterfalls, Gem Mines, Batadombalena
Distance from Colombo: 95.4 km

3. Unawatuna

Beach view in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Unawatuna is a small town that takes pride in its historical sites, and coral reefs, palm-lined beaches making it a perfect abode for families and honeymooners. From marveling at Japanese Peace Pagoda to trying hands at snorkeling or diving at Unawatuna Beach and from learning about the intriguing life of turtle at the Sea Turtle Hatchery to going for a soothing spa/massage sessions at the sea-side spas, you can indulge in an array of soul-filling experiences and make the most of your day trip from Colombo.

Major attractions: Unawatuna Beach, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Jungle Beach, Sea Turtle Hatchery, Dewata Surfing Beach, Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Distance from Colombo: 144.9 km

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4. Sigiriya

Sigiriya Lion's Rock of Fortress in the middle of the forest in Sri Lanka island

Sigiriya, also known as the Lion Rock is a colossal rock located amid Dambulla and Haburane. Boasting a height of around 590.5 feet and often considered as the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya is a true treat to the senses. This iconic rock is the remnant of a volcano that eroded billions of years ago. Furthermore, the archaeological marvel features the ruins of an ancient royal complex built by King Kashyap. Inside the fortress, you will find fresco paintings of female figures, the Boulder Garden, the Lion’s Claw entrance, and several remains of the fortress.

Major attractions: NA
Distance from Colombo: 174.7 km

5. Kitugala

Kitulgala Rafting

Image Credit: Rehman Abubakr for Wikimedia Commons

The small town of Kitulgala offers a perfect blend of adventure and nature with its beaches, national parks, forest reserves, and waterfalls. While being a wet area, the destination makes an ideal spot for water adventure lovers. To taste the true adventure, opt for white water rafting and slash through the tides of Kelani River. Besides this, birdwatching, cave exploration, stream sliding, jungle trekking, and waterfall abseiling are some other activities that will take your holiday to the next level.

Major attractions: Laxapana Waterfalls, St. Clair, Sri Pada, Makandawa Forest Reserve
Distance from Colombo: 99.6 km

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6. Negombo

Little fishermen village in Negombo

Lying on the west coast of Sri Lana, Negombo is a less-explored destination that is known for its white sandy beaches and rich fishing industry. Located just an hour-ride from Colombo, this destination has a lot to offer for families as well as for couples. From walking down the small fishing villages to exploring attractions on a guided canal boat ride to relishing a meal on a catamaran, you can indulge in a wealth of experience. Besides this, trying hands at water adventures or simply relaxing by Negombo Beach is another worthwhile experience to list in your itinerary.

Major attractions: Fishing Village, Dutch Fort, St. Marys Church, Negombo Beaches, Negombo Lagoon, Kelaniya Buddhist Temple, Dutch Clock Tower, Hamilton Canal
Distance from Colombo: 37.9 km

7. Dambulla

Golden Temple of Dambulla

Positioned in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, the enchanting town of Dambulla basks in the glory of its historical sites. Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple which is the largest cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka features well-preserved paintings of Buddha and cave paintings dating back to the 2nd century BC. It is touted as the prime attraction of Dambulla enticing a large number of visitors every year. Additionally, Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium and Minneriya National Park are a few places worth visiting when in Dambulla.

Major attractions: Dambulla Cave Temple, Minneriya National Park, Pidurangala Rock, Pophams Arboretum, Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre
Distance from Colombo: 160.8 km

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8. Galle

Beautiful destination place in Galle

The historically rich city of Galle houses numerous ancient attractions showcasing Dutch colonial architecture. Be it the awe-inspiring beaches or the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort, each attraction of the place narrates its glorious story. Apart from exploring the magnificent Galle Fort, you can spend some time at Flag Rock, explore the Maritime Archeology Museum, and take a tour of Rumassala Sanctuary. To enjoy a complete day trip from Colombo to Galle, make sure to partake in water activities like snorkelling, diving, surfng, and more.

Major attractions: Galle Fort, Flag Rock, Maritime Archeology Museum, Unawatuna Beach, Rumassala Sanctuary
Distance from Colombo: 145.7 km

9. Bentota

Bentota is a resort town on Sri Lanka southwest coast

Bentota is a scintillating resort town positioned on the west coast of Sri Lanka. This splendid destination features the best of nature’s elements—estuaries, lagoons, beaches, and pleasant weather. The breathtaking beaches and coral-rick diving sites compel beach lovers to plan a day trip from Bentota to Colombo. This paradise makes an ideal spot for honeymooners who wish to ditch the crowded places and find some solace in the lap of nature. Furthermore, train, bus, and car are a few transportation options to swiftly reach from Colombo to Bentota in around two hours.

Major attractions: Brief Garden, Bentota Beach, Bentota Turtle Hatchery, Cinnamon Island, Galapata Vihara, Ambalangoda, Moragalla
Distance from Colombo: 101.8 km

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10. Mirissa

Aerial panorama of the tropical beach

A crescent-shaped beach village, Mirissa lets you enjoy the best of a beach destination. Sipping a refreshing mocktail while lying on the shacks along the coastline and admiring the playful tides is an experience worth gathering. Besides this, a whale watching tour coupled with water adventures like surfing, snorkeling etc. and cruising on deep blue waters are a few elements that complete your day trip from Colombo. Furthermore, Mirssa is easily accessible by train, bus, and car with a journey of around 3 hours.

Major attractions: Mirissa Beach, Coconut Tree Hill, Secret Beach Mirissa, Parrot Rock Bridge, Turtle Point, Parrot Rock Bridge
Distance from Colombo: 171.7 km

There is no denying that Colombo is a hub for travelers wanting to witness the best of Sri Lanka. However, there’s a lot more waiting for you just a few hours away from Colombo. While heading on these wonderful day trips from Colombo, you will not only witness the charm of neighborhood cities, but will also enjoy the scenic route. So, when you plan your next Colombo trip, don’t forget to incorporate these places to your itinerary and experience the varied elements of Sri Lanka.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Day Trips From Colombo

Which are the best day trips from Colombo?

Mirissa, Galle, Bentota, Negombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Ratnapura, Unawatuna, and Sigiriya are a few places that offer you the best day trips from Colombo. All the destinations are easily accessible by train, bus, and car.

What is the best time to visit Colombo?

The ideal time to visit Colombo is the dry season, between January and March. The temperature during these months ranges between 23 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees Celsius. During this time, you can enjoy day trips and indulge in outdoor activities.

Can I visit Colombo during the current Covid situation?

Yes, you can plan a visit to Colombo during the current Covid situation. However, make sure that you are completely vaccinated and always carry your vaccination certificate. Besides this, you need to follow government protocols that include wearing a mask when in public, sanitizing hands at certain intervals, and maintaining social distance.

Which are the best attractions in Colombo?

Some of the best places you can visit in Colombo are Galle Face Green, Gangaramaya Temple, Viharamahadevi Park, Independence Memorial Hall, National Museum of Colombo, Beira Lake, Seema Malakaya, Old Parliament Building, Pettah Floating Market, and Paradise Road.

What is the distance between Colombo and Sigiriya?

The distance between Colombo and Sigiriya is around 174.7 km. You can cover the distance in around 3 hours and 17 minutes.

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