Top Museums To Visit In Colombo

From ancient civilisations to colonial influences, these museums provide a comprehensive experience that covers everything for those eager to delve into Sri Lanka's past
An aerial view of Colombo
An aerial view of Colombo Shutterstock

Embark on a cultural tour of the captivating island nation of Sri Lanka, where its museums bring history to life. Renowned for its diverse customs and rich legacy, the island nation is home to several museums that highlight the country's vibrant past. Join us on a virtual tour of Sri Lanka's cultural tapestry as we take you through the must-visit museums and reveal the intriguing tales and artefacts that echo the legacy of this glorious nation.

Colombo National Museum

Colombo National Museum
Colombo National MuseumShutterstock

Founded in 1877, this is one of the country's main museums. The architecture and design are influenced by the Italian architecture of yore.

The ground floor showcases artefacts from Pre and Proto-Historic, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, and transitional periods. The museum houses paintings, ancient textiles, pottery and ceramics, coins and currency, art and crafts, arms and armaments, presentations of traditional agricultural methods and rituals, and the DS Senanayake Memorial Gallery. 

Location: Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo 7, Colombo

Timings: 9 am to 4 pm

Entry Fee: INR 470 for adults and INR 235 for children

Independence Museum

The Independence Museum in Sri Lanka
The Independence Museum in Sri LankaShutterstock

As the name suggests, the purpose of this museum is to honour the heroes of the nation by preserving the history and significance of the Sri Lankan independence movement. Some exhibits highlight the hardships, sacrifices, and victories the Sri Lankan people have endured on their path to independence. Aside from portraits and busts, you can read about the real-life stories of all the major contributors to this movement.

 The museum features a special exhibit dedicated to honouring war heroes who laid down their lives between 1983 and 2009. This historic site located in the basement of the Independence Memorial Hall on Independence Square is a must-visit for history buffs.

Location: Independence Square, Colombo 7, Colombo

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm (Tuesday to Saturday) 

Entry Fee: INR 310 for adults and 155 for children

National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Natural HistoryShutterstock

Housed inside the National Museum in Colombo, this museum is a remarkable find. It's one of the must-visit places in the country, with almost 5,000 exhibits showcasing Sri Lanka's rich biodiversity and natural wonders. 

You will gain knowledge of diverse wildlife, geological formations, and archaeological artefacts. Learning more about the nation's unique ecology and natural heritage is a fantastic opportunity. From endemic to rare and endangered, you'll find every kind of species in this museum. 

Location: Nelum Pokuna Mawatha, Colombo 7

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm 

Entry fee: INR 180 for adults and INR 103 for children

Colombo Dutch Museum

Colombo Dutch Museum
Colombo Dutch MuseumShutterstock

Built during the Dutch occupation of Colombo, the Dutch legacy of Sri Lanka is currently housed in this building. which has undergone several phases over its years of existence. There are many old Dutch maps, swords, clothes, ceramics, mediums of exchange, furniture, and treat records among the many antiques. Furthermore, it boasts a lovely indoor courtyard garden that feels like a haven amidst the bustle of the city. From serving as a museum to an orphanage today, the scene is very different as throngs of tourists visit the building to catch a glimpse of its rich history.

Location: CPP Building, Prince Street, Colombo

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm (Tuesday to Saturday)

Entry Fee: INR 145 for adults and INR 90 for children

Traditional Puppet Art Museum

Traditional Puppet Art Museum
Traditional Puppet Art MuseumShutterstock

The Traditional Puppet Art Museum was established to preserve Sri Lanka's puppet legacy and provide a better venue for the puppeteers to exhibit their work. One of the best museums in Colombo, it showcases the social, religious, and cultural relationships of Sri Lanka. The museum houses the creative works of accomplished puppeteers from all over the island nation.

Location: Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha,Pinwaththa, Dehiwala, Colombo

Timings: 9 am to 4:30 pm every day 

Entry fee: INR 13 per person

Currency Museum

Central Bank of Sri Lanka
Central Bank of Sri LankaShutterstock

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) launched the Currency Museum, an initiative of the Economic History Museum, as a way to educate the public about the history of this country via its economic journey. Also referred to as the Money Museum, it boasts an impressive collection of currency spanning from ancient times, going back to 3 BCE, to modern usage notes and coins. The museum was founded on April 20, 1982. One can examine coins from multiple eras, including the Anuradhapura era (3 BCE to 107 CE) and the colonial era, the Polonnaruwa to Kotte Kingdoms era (1017 CE – 1597 CE).

Location: Chatham Street, Colombo 

Timings: 9 am to 1 15 pm and 2 15 pm to 4 pm

Entry fee: Free of cost

Sri Lanka Air Force Musuem

Sri Lanka Air Force Musuem
Sri Lanka Air Force MusuemShutterstock

This museum is for you if you have an interest in the Air Force and aviation in general. The Sri Lankan Air Force's illustrious past and several victories in combat are on exhibit at this national museum. The main hangar welcomes you with an impressive collection of vintage aircraft, several of which have been fully restored to operational condition. In addition, there are countless other items to adore and be amazed by, such as photos, uniforms, weapons, cars, and much more.

Location: Ratmalana, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Colombo

Timings: 8 30 am to 4 30 pm (Monday closed)

Entry fee: INR 130 for adults and INR 78 for children

Getting There

The Bandaranaike International Airport is the main international airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, operating flights from major locations worldwide. Assuming you're travelling from New Delhi, the distance between Colombo is about 2400 kilometres, so the best way to travel is by flight, which takes around 7 hours and 10 minutes to reach. 

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