How to Get From Bandaranaike Airport to Colombo Fort Station

Travelers who are booking a flight to Sri Lanka usually land at Bandaranaike Airport. Bandaranaike is a regular-looking and decently sized airport that is not hard to navigate. As soon as our plane arrived, we breezed through immigration and into the lobby area with no complications. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get from the international airport to Colombo.

1. Choose your mode of transport.

As other airports, Bandaranaike Airport is equipped with airport car service desks that provide transfers to hotels in the Colombo area. The rate is around Rs 3000 – 4000. You should also expect to see some men, presumably taxi drivers, offering their independent services once you step out of the airport arrival area. Their asking rate is anywhere from Rs 2000 – 3000 to get to Colombo. It is also possible to ask them to take you to Negombo or even Galle.

Average Rate: 
Negombo – Rs 1500
Galle – Rs 5000

Although there is a dedicated taxi desk with set prices, you can also encounter taxi drivers who are willing to negotiate the costs.

The way out of the airport to the bus
The way out of the airport to the bus

2. If you want to take public transport, then take the bus service that goes to Colombo Fort Station- the main train station in the city.

You may read in some guidebooks that there is a free shuttle that takes passengers outside the arrival area to where buses heading to Colombo are parked. However, in our experience, we were able to take the local bus that goes directly to Colombo Fort station just by walking a few meters outside the airport.

The bus parked at Colombo Airport
The bus parked at Colombo Airport

The bus is hard to miss as it is conspicuously parked with taxis and has a sign on top of its windshield that reads “Colombo Fort.” You will also see a flow of passengers getting on it with their luggage.

The bus waiting for passengers at the airport
The bus waiting for passengers at the airport

3. Pay your fare.

Once you’re settled in your seat, a person (also referred to as bus conductor) will walk through the isle to take the fare. We paid 250 rupees for two people. This rate is very cheap given the number of kilometers the bus has to cover.

At the time of writing bus tickets to and from the Colombo Airport to Colombo costed 120 rupees
At the time of writing bus tickets to and from the Colombo Airport to Colombo costed 120 rupees

In the past, public buses from the airport took almost two hours to reach Colombo. But because the new Colombo-Katunayake Highway is now opened, the journey is significantly shortened to less than an hour.

Once we got dropped off in Colombo we got a quick ride over to our hotel with our luggage and we were good to go.

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Getting from the Colombo Area to Bandaranaike Airport

1. To take the public bus to reach Bandaranaike Airport, make your way to the Bastian Mawatha station. This bus service leaves every 15 minutes starting at 6 am up until 9 pm.

The drop off point at Colombo Fort Bus Terminal
The drop off point at Colombo Fort Bus Terminal

2. You can reach Bastian Mawatha by taking a tuk tuk or taxi. All drivers should know where this station is. If they say they don’t, don’t attempt to show them, as it may end badly.

3. Once you arrive at the bus station, it is somewhat difficult to find the correct bus heading to the airport. We managed to quickly find it by asking a few locals who kindly directed us to the correct bus.

The bus at Colombo Station, waiting to go to the airport
The bus at Colombo Station, waiting to go to the airport

Where did we stay in Colombo?

While we were researching for rooms in Colombo we found it quite challenging to find ‘cheap’ budget options that were rated favorably by past guests.  Our main priorities were conserving our budget and finding something close to the train station for connections to cities such as Kandy and Galle. Eventually, we decided to book at Port View City Hotel. We have no direct affiliation with this property or any property in Sri Lanka. Therefore, our opinion is an unbiased one. Overall, the place itself was a well-managed property.  Our room was spacious, clean and everything worked well (television, air conditioning, etc.). The road it was located on was a bit busy for our liking though.  Quite challenging to cross the street at night. It took us about 20 minutes to walk to the train station. At the time of writing is had a score of 7.4/10 based on 208 verified guest reviews. We consider this to be a fairly accurate representation of this property based on our experience there.

I would recommend staying near the Galle Face Green if you’re budget can allow for it. We felt that this was a much nicer part of the city to stay in.  Here are a few favorably reviewed properties near the Galle Face Green based on our experience and research:

The Kingsbury (rated 8.3/10)

Cinnamon Grand Colombo (rated 8.4/10) 

Taj Samudra Colombo (rated 8.1/10)

How to find good hotel deals in Colombo?

Finding affordable, safe and clean rooms in Colombo is not a particularly easy endeavor.  Therefore, to save valuable time and effort we recommend using the world’s top hotel comparison site.  Within seconds you will have the best selection of rooms in Colombo based on the prices of leading providers around the world. If you always book with www.agoda.com or www.booking.com they are also solid options in Colombo, with Agoda having slightly more rooms to choose from.  All of these sites are quite reputable, therefore they are a good place to start your search. To save you some time, I have included links below to their respective properties in Colombo:

Top Rated Properties in Colombo

Based on Verified Guest Reviews

Important: Mobile Users must swipe from left to right to see entire table.

Criteria:

  • Properties rated based on ‘overall’ review scores from each respective website’s verified guests.
  • Minimum of 50 verified guest reviews required to be considered eligible for comparison.
  • All star ratings and verified guest review scores are tallied at the time of writing, and therefore, are subject to change.

Flight Information – Getting to Colombo

What is the closest airport to Colombo?

The closest airport to Colombo is Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code = CMB). It’s around 34 km’s from Colombo’s city center.

Do major airlines fly to Bandaranaike International Airport?

The answer is yes.  Emirates, Etihad, American Airlines and a solid range of other airlines service Colombo from destinations all over the world. Therefore, if you book your flight using a price comparison site that bundles codeshare flights, you should have no problem finding a flight to Colombo from your city of origin.

How can you find the cheapest flights to Colombo?

Colombo (Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code = CMB) is not the biggest airport hub when compared to London or Hong Kong for instance. Therefore, the smartest strategy for finding the cheapest prices is starting off with a price comparison site and then narrowing down your search from there.

In our particular case, we used BookingBuddy for our trip to Colombo. It saved us quite a bit of time because it allowed us to search up to 8 different sites at the same time.  Here is a link if you want to get a feel for the prices to Colombo from your city of origin:

COMPARE FLIGHT PRICES TO COLOMBO – BookingBuddy

How many terminals are located at Colombo International Airport?

There are three terminals at Bandaranaike International Airport. 

Terminal #1: International Flights

Terminal #2: Under construction in 2017.

Terminal #3: Domestic Flights

If you have any questions or comments regarding our connections to/from the airport please feel free to share below.

25 thoughts on “How to Get From Bandaranaike Airport to Colombo Fort Station”

  1. Hi, we arrive at the Bandaranaike airport at 5am and according to the train schedule, will have to catch a train at 7am. Is taking the bus to the station feasible, considering the clearance time could be around 30-40mins? And will taxis be available this early in the morning? Also, how much is the maximum a taxi ride may cost?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Not sure about the taxi fare ride but I think that taxis are available at that time. You will have to pay way more than the bus but I suggest you haggle to a price you are comfortable with; that is if the driver does not want to use the meter.

    2. Hi! Can you please tell me if you managed to catch the train at 7am landing at 5am? Did you use the bus or taxi? I will appreciate your help.
      Thank you!

  2. i will be lnad to colombo airport at.05:00 am and then i need to catch train from colombo fort to kandy wich train i should get and wich train station near to kandy center thank you

  3. HI,

    I see the bus to Colombo forte in your picture is a bigger bus was their space for big luggage underneath we are travelling with surfboards?

  4. FAZAL MAHMOOD KHAN NIAZI

    HI TOMORROW I FLY BANGKOK TO COLOMBO ARRIVED 17:50 HOW I HAVE TO GO MY HOTEL NEAR FORT STATION KINDLY LAT ME KNOW. THANKYOU SO MUCH

  5. Hi
    I found ur blog very informative and useful in getting acquainted with many factors on how to get around..I’m coming to SL in Oct for a 6 night vacation with my wife and 16yr old son..we want it to be leisurely and a.combination of beach and culture and food..pls.advice itinerary..tks

    1. Hi Hanif, Thanks for the compliment. If you want beach and culture, then I suggest you explore the south. YOu will most likely land in Colombo. Spend a day to in the capital to experience the busy Sri Lankan life. Then head to Galle and stay within the Walled Old Quarter. There, you will experience culture and sample Sri Lankan Food. Galle’s Old Town faces the sea and has spectacular views. Then find a beach or two along the coast. There are many, you just need to find one that suits your taste. Because it is convenient, we chose to head to Unawatuna Beach from Galle. Unawatuna is beautiful. And although people might say that it is the more touristy beach, it is quite laid back. Because it is more developed, the choices in terms of accommodation and restaurants are more extensive than other beaches. I hope I help you in some way in planning for your trip. I hope you become a regular visitor to the site. Have a fun and memorable travel experience!

  6. Hi,
    I m arriving on 10/08/2017 at 9.55pm. Can i take a bus to Colombo Fort Railway n immediately take a train to ANAURADHAPURA ?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Thompson! There should a bus to Colombo Fort Railway all throughout the day. But I’m not sure if there is still a bus service at around 10 pm. I suggest to ask someone at the assistance desk at the airport. As for the train, they follow a certain schedule. It runs a couple of times during the day but in our case, we couldn’t pre book the train tickets. We spent the night in Colombo and bought the train tickets the next day. You may have to do the same. If you really want to purchase advance tickets, I suggest you call a travel agency based in Colombo and asked them to purchase the ticket on your behalf. Choose a reputable travel agency and pick their brain on how they can help you. I wish you all the luck. And if you have the time, please let us know what happened with your trip. If you like our free travel information, please like us on Facebook.

  7. Hello everybody , I will arrive in Colombo the day 15 January around 10 pm . I would like to know if there are pubblic bus from the airport to Colombo at that time . Thanks in advance

  8. Hi,

    What can I expect to pay for a taxi from colombo Airport to Beruwala, then another taxi some days later from Beruwala to Kandy? I am trying to calculate my costs as much as possible and anything would be great!

    Thank you,
    Jedda

    1. Hello, Colombo Airport to Beruwala is a long ride, it could be at least around 40 USD. Try bargaining with the driver. Let him come up with the price there, and take negotiate from there.

  9. Hi

    I need to get from the Galle fort area to the airport next week and need to arrive at the airport at 6.25pm. How would I get there?

    1. Hi Charly, you need to take the train back to Colombo. You also have the option of taking a bus or hiring a taxi. The train and bus stations are just walking distance from the Galle Fort. If you take the train or bus to Colombo, you will need to get off the Colombo Train Station, then you have to make your way to Bastian Mawatha station by taking a taxi or tuktuk. Read the article for instructions on how to get to Bastian Mawarta.
      You can of course hire a taxi from Galle all the way to the airport, but you need to spend more for it. If you need to reach the airport at a certain time, my suggestion is leave Galle Fort a day before and stay in Colombo. This will make sure you have plenty of time to reach the airport even if you encounter problems with transit.

  10. Are these buses available on a specific time only or is it 24×7.
    We reach Colombo airport at 1:45AM.

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