I must admit that Sri Lanka wasn’t on my ‘must see list’, but it should’ve been, and I only visited Colombo and an estate in Bentota, and only for a weekend!
You can either get your visa online, or on arrival, depending on your nationality of course!
I always make sure I download the Triposo guide of the country I am visiting, the app is amazing, and you will have all possible information there, including maps, gps, sightseeing, restaurants, hotels,.. and all totally offline.
If you get a local SIM card, there’s an app like Uber in Sri Lanka, called PickMe, you have different types/sizes of cars, and it will tell you the rate etc, it’s super convenient if you prefer to use a car rather than public transportation.
There was an amazing architect in Sri Lanka, called Geoffrey Bawa, he designed some of the most amazing buildings, and is a reference for Architects and Interior Designers when we visit Sri Lanka.
We actually stayed at Bawa’s old house, Residence no 11, in Colombo. They only allow 1 group to stay there at a time, in the upper floor there are two rooms, one bathroom, and a big living study area, where everything is exactly where it was before.
In the ground floor, there are several small spaces, rooms, areas, all linked and all with its own identity. The whole house as an amazing link between the interior and exterior, which is a key to Bawa’s architecture.
The Lunuganga Estate, in Bentota is about 2 hours drive from Colombo, you need to book to be able to visit, and you can also stay there in one of the few Rooms they have available. The estate is gorgeous, near a big lake, it was Bawa’s attempt to recreate a bit of Italy’s Lake Como for himself, as he never managed to buy a house there as he wanted.
Every single building, water feature and tree, was meticulously planned and designed, nothing was by chance, and everything has its own meaning.
In Colombo, there is also Bawa’s old office, that is now a great café/restaurant called Gallery House, the space is again amazing, and has the most FANTASTIC shop, with the best things for your home, or as gifts, not the touristic type, but the actual good things from Sri Lanka. As an Interior Designer I have to say that this place is both my death and paradise!
Last but not least, from Bawa, if you have time, spend one night at the Heritance Kandalama it’s 4hours drive from Colombo, but is supposed to be absolutely amazing.
A few other must see places in Colombo, are the Seema Malakaya Temple and the Parliament both also by Bawa. The Red Mosque, and the National Museum are other two must see.
We had lunch at the Tintagel Hotel, with a very cool colonial design and quite good food.
And of course — sunset at the Galle Face, in the outdoor bar, which has a beautiful view over the sea. We ended up eating from the Hotel’s buffet — I know, I know, buffet (!!?) I am not a fan of it myself, but this was surprisingly very good, and we tried all sorts of local food.
The people of Sri Lanka were absolutely amazing, and welcoming, I was stopped by the police when I was leaving the airport – because I was going the wrong way, and instead of telling me that I was going to a dead end, these officers started asking me a few questions, about where I was from (we talked about Cristiano Ronaldo of course), what I was planning to visit – very happy I knew Bawa (!), if I had ever been to Sri Lanka,.. and then with a huge smile, told me that the entrance to their country was on the opposite direction!