When thinking about historical sites in Sri Lanka Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Galle Fort and Tea Plantations may spring to mind. The Capital city of Colombo, more often than not, gets unjustly overlooked. Often represented at the commercial and shopping heart of Sri Lanka, Colombo, in fact, has a hidden treasure trove of historical gems ready to be discovered!
Colombo City Walks offer a chance to explore the bustling city on foot through the market districts of Pettah, old Dutch Fort streets and modern commercial hub, but most importantly it offers a chance to submerge yourself in the city’s exotic and tumultuous past.
Colombo City Walk’s founders Mark and Ruby will pick you up from your hotel where they will transport you to a previous era (by Jeep!) to when the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British ruled the land. Starting out at city’s oldest church, the Wolvendaal church built in 1749, the walking tour winds its way through the old Dutch Fort streets of the Pettah district, today home to the thriving local market stalls. Down its small alleyways, and behind wooden doors, remain pockets of rich history not found on the usual tourist routes.
From Pettah guests are taken to the Grand Oriental Hotel which had its heyday in the British Colonial Period, and now offers spectacular views over Colombo’s expansive port. After passing many other interesting buildings, including a newly renovated Old Dutch Hospital (perfect for a quick beer and a rest!), the tour finishes up walking along the seafront at Galle Face Green where you can enjoy the local delicacies of spiced fruit and tapioca crisps.
Mark and Ruby’s infectious enthusiasm for the city and impressive knowledge of its past help to paint an incredibly detailed picture of the city’s bygone eras! With their genuine love of Colombo, it is hard not to be swept up in the histories and myths of the city. Their relaxed, informal and friendly nature also ensures that everyone has a good time!
The tour itself is flexible and relaxed, working to each group’s pace, though usually taking about three hours to complete (including a few well-placed refreshment stops). The land is flat and easy to walk, though a good pair of shoes is recommended, as is a camera for the spectacular sights and buildings you will see! Walks start late afternoon when the temperature is cooling and continue till after sunset.
For history lovers like myself, or for people just keen to have a bit of a nosy about the town this walking tour is incredibly interesting and a great way to explore the country’s capital. It’s a brilliant addition to any holiday in Sri Lanka with Experience Travel.