Negombo is a good starting point or a fair end stage for your vacation in Sri Lanka. In this article we will explain the things to do in Negombo. This is a town close to Colombo, the capital of the country. It is just 32 kilometers North of Fort or Pettah quartier and Bandaranaike International Airport is just there in town. 

Negombo is peaceful and calm and it has some resorts and hotels on the coast which make it a convenient option to rest after a long flight or to stay while waiting to depart. Negombo has many restaurants, bars and tourist offers. We actually rented a tuk tuk there and we had no problem choosing the most convenient offer for food and accommodation. 

We have to admit that Negombo is not our favorite town in Sri Lanka. You can read as well our article about why not to choose Negombo as your first option for your vacation in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless we will explain in this article what this town can offer to the visitor and we will underline its assets and what to do in Negombo.

What to expect from Negombo

Negombo is an important town. It is one of the major commercial hubs in the country and the administrative center of Negombo Division with about 142 thousand population. Negombo has a centuries old fishing industry and has been developed significantly because of tourism thanks to its very long beaches. 

Negombo has a large bilingual (Sinhala/Tamil) population with a clear Roman Catholic majority despite being located in a Buddhist / Hinduism country. People usually speak English and are able to interact with the tourist using its own cultural codes. That singularity in the country is due to the fact that Negombo is in the part of the country which received very much the influence of the colonial powers, first the Portuguese (16th Century), then the Dutch (17th) and finally the English (19th Century), following the demanded cinnamon and after on the tea. The 20th Century connected Negombo by train to Negombo in order to take the profit of the coconut plantations. Nowadays that connection between the two cities is even more important, by road, due to the presence of the International Airport and the strategic location of Negombo as a tourist hub.

Things to do in Negombo

  • Lewis Street: The cosmopolitan Lewis Street with some clubs, bars and restaurants connects the old colonial town with Browns Beach. There you can find everything you need to eat and drink. To take a stroll along Lewis Street will be like walking on a promenade in the jungle. A very interesting street for a tourist in Sri Lanka. 
  • Angurukaramulla Temple: in the center of Negombo you will be able to find some temples such as the Buddhist Angurukaramulla Temple. You will arrive there without  big expectations since this is not a very famous temple. However, if this is your first buddhist temple in the country you will enjoy it. The young monks will welcome you and ask for a 1000 rupees entrance fee which includes a book with some information about the wall paintings and the history of the temple.  
  • Sri Singama Kali Amman Kovil: This is a small and beautifully decorated Hindu temple in Negombo. It is worth visiting to put in a balance in your mind the different traditions and religions of Sri Lanka. 
  • St. Mary’s Church: The St. Mary’s Church, Negombo is a Roman Catholic church in the colonial heart of Negombo. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Sri Lanka and the people inside are very welcoming to foreigners. The church was built in the XIX Century and is a good testimony of the influence of Christianism in the colonial areas of the country. 
  • St. Sebastian Church: This church was built in 1946 following the inspiration of the Cathedral of Reims. In 2019 was a target of the terrorist attacks occuried in the city. 
  • The Dutch Fort: It could be a good example to understand the Dutch architecture. Sadly the building it is currently still used as a prison. You cannot see much more than the relatives of the prisoners waiting for the visits at the main gate.

More things to do in Negombo

  • Dutch Canal: The Dutch canal is a nice place for catching up with the colorful traditional boats of the Sri Lankian fishermen. It is a pity though that it is a bit dirty at many places where you can spot them.
  • The Century Townhouse: The Century Townhouse was built in 1904 and preserves its architectural elements of the Dutch colonial era. As well, the inner decoration fits with the construction period.

How to arrive to Negombo

The best option is to take a taxi or a transfer from the airport. You won’t pay more than 10 dollars for the car. In addition, it will drop you off at any location of Negombo, including the beaches. 

If you want to save some money on that, here you have some other options:

  • Express bus: It has very few stops along the way, since it goes on the highway. It takes about 40 minutes. When you arrive at the Negombo bus station, ask for the Express. Buses leave very frequently, so you will have to wait very little time. The price of the trip is about 1 dollar per person.
  • Local bus: The price of the trip is about 0.50 dollars per person. It has many stops and due to traffic it can take a little over an hour to get to Colombo. It is uncomfortable and always very crowded.

Train: The train station is a 10-minute walk from the bus station. It is a cheaper alternative to the bus. Each ticket costs about 30 cents of dollar, but it is quite slow and takes longer.

Where to stay in Negombo

  • Regal Réseau Hotel & Spa: This hotel has everything you need to spend a nice vacation. Everything keeps western standards. It can seem a bit overrated compared to the averages of the rest of the country. The pool could be bigger and the “ocean views” from some of the rooms too. The restaurant and the bar are worth it. 
  • Hotel J Negombo: This is a recently built hotel, quite comfortable and colorfully decorated. The location is very good, close to the center and in front of the beach. There are many shops and restaurants nearby and the rates are fair.

Check here all the options to stay in Negombo:

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