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Why Fly to Colombo?
Sri Lanka is best known for its seemingly endless strips of golden beaches but its bustling city Colombo has plenty more to offer tourists than sun and sea. This west coast commercial centre of the country is a blend of old colonialism and 21st century high-rises and is buzzing with bazaars and malls where city dwellers haggle as if their life depended on it. You can use Travelzoo's SuperSearch tlo find cheap flights to Colombo.
Flying to Colombo from the UK
Direct flights to Colombo depart from London Heathrow. There are two airlines offering non-stop flights to the Sri Lankan city and this journey takes just under 11 hours. You’ll be charged £100 or so less to travel indirectly to Colombo and there are a number of Asian and Middle Eastern carriers that will fly you from London Heathrow via their own hubs to the city. Go for this option and you’ll have to stop off in Doha, Male, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City. There’s also an option to fly from Gatwick with one stop at Dubai. If you can bear two stop overs, there’s a route from London Heathrow that takes in Mumbai and Delhi or Chennai.
Popular Flight Routes to Colombo
Which Airlines Fly to Colombo?
Sri Lankan Airlines and BMI are the only carriers that will fly you directly to Colombo from the UK, departing from London Heathrow. There are more options if you choose to fly indirectly in order to get a cheap flight, although it can take anything between 12 and 22 hours this way. Emirates departs from London Gatwick and will fly to Colombo via Dubai, Qatar Airways flies from LHR via Doha and Sri Lankan also does a one-stop service out of London Heathrow stopping at Male. Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways also flies from London Heathrow but stops at Abu Dhabi and Kuwait Airways flies to Colombo from LHR via Kuwait City. Indian carrier Jet Airways leaves London Heathrow for Colombo via Mumbai or will stop twice, at Mumbai and Delhi.
Mini Travel Guide to Colombo
To get a thorough grounding in what made the city what it is, don’t miss a trip to the National Museum. To see what the Colombo dweller at play, head for the gorgeous Galle Face Green. This strip of lawns overlooking the sea was originally a parade ground for the British military back in the 1800s but now serves as a playground for the locals where they fly kites, play cricket, hold family picnics or just people watch. Dress up and nip into Galle Face Hotel for tea on the veranda (following in the Queen and Noel Coward’s footsteps) or watch the sun go down there with a cocktail and friends.
If the heat of the city starts to tire you, Slave Island on the inner city Beira Lake is the perfect antidote. The island, built by the Dutch to house their slaves, has its own mini island, the Sima Malaka Meditation Island, a perfect place to sit quietly and contemplate the serene Buddha statues that surround you. Afterwards, across the road you can prolong your sense of serenity at the Gangaramaya Temple. Beira Lake itself is now surrounded by commercial buildings and quite a surprise to see, slap bang in the middle of such a tightly packed city.
Evidence of Colombo as a westernised city is Kollupitiya where the Crescat Boulevard shopping area is crammed with places to blow your budget. There’s also lots of international food outlets in case spicy curries begin to pall.
For a sense of how the wealthy half of Colombo lives, take a trip out to Cinnamon Gardens where leafy tree-lined streets holding discreetly large mansions are home to some of the richest people in town.