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Colombo holiday packages

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City breaks in Colombo

Sun-dappled boulevards bear witness to Colombo's garden city past, while its blissful beaches are a testament to its oceanfront present. Beneath rocketing skyscrapers, chic bistros and boutiques abound, alongside colonial gems and markets teeming with treasures.

Package holidays in Colombo are the perfect leaping-off point for longer tours in Sri Lanka, although the city encapsulates much of the country's culture, with creamy curries and parks inhabited by elephants. Read on to find out what makes package holidays in Colombo so magical.

Before booking flights and hotels in Colombo

It couldn't be easier to book flights to and hotels in Colombo. Flights from Cork to Colombo depart regularly, as do flights from Dublin. Despite its exoticism, Sri Lanka is just 4.5 hours ahead of the UK. Sri Lanka's native languages are Sinhala and Tamil, but English is also widely spoken. Sri Lankan rupees are in circulation at a favourable exchange rate.

When is the best time for weekends in Colombo?

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Colombo is between April and September, when monsoons are less frequent. The proximity of the country to the equator means that temperatures remain constant throughout the year, although nights can be chilly. Humidity is also high throughout the year, so pack light attire.

What is there to do on city breaks in Colombo?

Explore Galle Face Green, a wide open space adjacent to a historic fort that's now populated by bubble-blowers rather than cannon balls. The seaside walkway is a popular meetup point – the sunshine and sea breeze are accompanied by plenty of excellent seafood vendors.

Delve into the Dutch past of the city at the Colombo Dutch Museum. Dating from the 17th century, the museum has functioned as a military hospital, police station and Catholic seminary during its history. It was also where King Rajasinghe signed Ceylon away to the Dutch. Another historic house of note is the Geoffrey Bawa House. The architect's home embraces the clear-cut, white aesthetic that distinguished his work, and its interior is marked by custom fittings.

What is there to see on weekends in Colombo?

The spice and verve of the city are palpable wherever you are. Here are some highlights to tick off:

  • Marvel at the 1,000-year-old Buddha statue that flanks the entrance to the National Museum of Colombo. Here, you can see art and artefacts recalling Sri Lanka's ancient history, as well as plenty of colonial items. A spectacular throne belonging to King Vimaladharmasuriya II crowns the exhibition.
  • Watch elephants munch palm branches in leafy and flower-filled Viharamahadevi Park. The city's largest park is lined with comfortable benches and flowering trees that bloom between March and May. Sometimes, you can see snake charmers in action on its elegant lawns.
  • Come face to face with the city's first councillors at the Old City Hall. The waxworks inhabiting the old council chambers are a rather offbeat attraction, making tours here all the more intriguing.

Cuisine in Colombo

Colombo is a great place to sample the subtle and sophisticated palette of Sri Lanka's culinary flavours. Rich yet light curries join spicy specialities in this seaside city. Dig into lagoon crab at Ministry of Crab, housed in a 400-year-old Dutch hospital. For elegant surroundings and evocative seafood dishes, The Lagoon is a top-of-the-line culinary establishment, with marvellous views of the Indian Ocean. Authentic local flavours are served up at Upali's by Nawaloka, which doubles as a patisserie. Critics' favourite Kaema Sutra, a new venture from the owner of Ministry of Crab, blends tradition and innovation.

Mementoes of Colombo

Sri Lanka is rich in resources and fine crafts. Famous for its shopping, Colombo offers all manner of exotic goods. Stock up on delicious Ceylon tea (Dilmah is a favourite brand) and local porcelain – you can pick china up for factory prices at Noritake's and Odel's showrooms. Sri Lanka is also the biggest exporter of cinnamon, so why not pick up some fresh sticks for that evocative scent? More permanent mementoes include wooden masks replicating those at the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Each colour has its own unique meaning, such as red for protection and yellow for wealth. The country is home to myriad gemstone mines, including moonstone mines, and the semiprecious jewellery is available throughout Colombo.