When is the cheapest time to fly to Colombo?
January to June, and September to November are the best times to find cheap flights to Colombo. In July, August and December prices rise steeply. In terms of weather, the monsoon season usually affects Sri Lanka’s west coast from around April to September, so the best time to visit Colombo is between December and March. By booking your trip with Netflights, you can be sure you’re getting the best deal – you can compare prices on return flights, and find the one that best suits your budget.
When is the best time to book flights to Colombo?
Last-minute flights to Colombo are often available. So, if your dates are flexible and you wait until two weeks before you travel to book, you may be able to get a bargain. If your travel dates are set in stone, it's best to book your flight to Colombo about two months before your travel date. That way, you'll have a wide choice of airfares, including some cheap flights.
Which UK airports offer flights to Colombo?
Most major UK airports offer flights to Colombo, including London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. But you can only fly direct to Colombo from London Heathrow with SriLankan Airlines.
Which airlines fly to Colombo?
When it comes to picking an airline, you've got plenty of choice. Big names like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic all fly from either London Heathrow or London Gatwick. If you're looking for a cheap flight to Colombo, though, it's worth comparing a range of airlines. Look out for cheap flights with Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines. Unless you fly direct with SriLankan Airlines, you'll have at least one stopover – usually in a city like Doha, Dubai or Mumbai.
How long is the flight from the UK to Colombo?
A direct flight from London to Colombo takes around 10 hours 30 minutes. If you book an indirect flight with a stopover, your journey will take at least 12 hours 30 minutes – but flying indirectly could help you bag a cheap flight.
Flying to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) is located in Katunayake, around 30 kilometres north of the city. It’s the main airport serving Sri Lanka, and is also one of the busiest hub airports in Southeast Asia, operating direct flights to many other destinations.
On arrival and getting around the airport
CMB’s Terminal 1 handles international flights. A second terminal building is currently under construction to increase the airport’s capacity, and Terminal 3 is for domestic travel. When you arrive at Terminal 1, you’ll find customs and baggage reclaim are on the same level. There's also a currency exchange service, banking and duty-free shopping available for passengers in the arrivals area.
Getting to the city from Colombo Airport
The easiest way to travel to Colombo is by bus or taxi. Although it’s a long way to the city centre from the airport, the new expressway has slashed travel time between Bandaranaike International Airport and the capital.
Buses depart from the airport to the Pettah central bus station in the city every 15 minutes, with a journey time of around 30 minutes. There are taxi ranks located outside the terminals, or you can book a car into the city at the desks in the arrivals hall if you prefer. The nearest train station is one kilometre from the airport, and you would need to take a taxi, shuttle bus or tuk-tuk to reach it.
Why visit Colombo?
Sri Lanka’s capital is a bustling, buzzing city that attracts British tourists as the first or final stop on their route to Sri Lanka’s beach resorts. It’s a fascinating destination in its own right though, with a rich multi-ethnic history. You can glimpse its colonial past in buildings such as Wolvendaal Church and the Dutch Hospital, a shaded arcade filled with shops and restaurants. For contrast, head to the frenetic market at Pettah, where you can shop like a local at the myriad of stalls selling jewellery, electronics, fruit and vegetables.
Colombo’s varied and diverse cuisine is excellent, and worth seeking out whenever you can – it’s all about eating little and often here. Seafood is a speciality, as you’d expect from an Ocean City. The best place to indulge is Mount Lavinia, with its many restaurants and chilled-out beach atmosphere. Graze your way around the street food stalls at Galle Face Green, a vast promenade facing the sea, where you can try authentic Sri Lankan snacks such as kottu, hoppers and saravita.
Don't forget before you fly
British passport holders will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can get a short stay visa online from the Electronic Travel authority. Tourist visas are usually issued for a maximum stay of 30 days.