Negombo is a quiet town in the western coastal area of Sri Lanka, with a tourist strip to the north on Jetwing Beach. Its key attraction is proximity to the international airport. Formerly the haunt of budget travellers, rising hotel rates and luxury resorts (Jetwing) mean it now attracts an elderly European crowd for its yellow, sandy beaches and its relaxing and friendly environment. There are a few other tourist attractions, and decent opportunities for diving and watersports.
The 100 km long canal network running through the city is still used, and outrigger canoes and modern water-craft ply this route daily, for trade and tourist purposes. Remains of colonization include the Dutch fort built in 1672, as well as centuries-old Portuguese and Dutch houses, Administrative buildings, Churches and the ceiling frescoes of St. Mary's cathedral church. Negombo is the centre of Sri-Lanka's Catholic community, and you can expect to see many shrines during a visit.
Negombo is also home to the country's second-largest fish market, the "Lellama", at the north end of the town's lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, which give tourists a chance to meet the area's fishermen and even organise fishing trips into the lagoon and the ocean beyond. Other nearby attractions open to visitors include Muthurajawela marshland, which is part.
Katunayake International Airport (CMB) is closer to Negombo than the capital Colombo. Most hotels in Negombo arrange pickups. A taxi costs 1500 LKR, although you may need to negotiate to get that price.
There used to be a free shuttle bus from the Arrival Terminal to Katunayake bus stop, but no longer. The bus now goes directly to Colombo. You may try your luck asking driver to drop you off at Katunayake, but he may ask for the full fare to Colombo, anyway. Otherwise, it is 15-min walk to the "Airport" bus terminal.
A regular bus fare to Negombo bus terminal is 22LKR (May 2015, or up to 4x depends on fare collector). Then, bus #905 will take you to Negombo Beach for 12LKR. A trishaw to your hotel in Negombo is for 400 to 800LKR.
Public transport available for any person at a very low cost to go around and in and out of Negombo city. (Eg. Train service from Colombo, Katunayaka, Buses 24 hours)
Vehicle renting services are available and easiest is the trishaws or "Tuk Tuks" available to travel around. Be sure to negotiate your price ahead of the ride. These days, drivers tends to charge "fixed price" for tourists (Eg. 200 LKR from the Negombo Bus/Train Station to hotels in lewis Place) and especially from Lewis Place it is difficult to catch the passing ones carrying locals if these "stationary" drivers are around.
Negombo being very close to the Katunayake International airport of Sri Lanka, it becomes first place for a traveller comes to Sri Lanka, before travelling around the country, they can have a nice relaxed time with lovely food, relaxation, sea plus hot sun and other entertainments like visiting the city, boat rides, etc. Also similarly just before leaving the county most of the visitors select Negombo to have a peaceful time before they take long journeys back to their mother counties.
- St. Mary's church.
- Katuwapitiya Church, Katuwapitiya Rd. Dedicated to the city's patron saint, St. Sebastian. Modeled on the Reims Cathedral in France. Built in 1990s.
- Sea street church.
- Grand Street Church.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intersection of Ave Maria street and Old Chilaw street.
- Negombo Grand Jumma Masjid.
- Agurukaramulla Raja maha viharaya Buddhist temple, Temple rd.
- Abhayasekararamaya temple.
- Sri Sudarshanaramaya Buddhist temple.
- Asapuwa Buddhist temple.
- Dutugamunu viharaya Buddhist temples.
- Boat rides in shallow waters of the Negombo lagoon
- Nice sandy beaches under to hot sun for relaxing
- Handicraft and other interesting gift hopping
- Arranged sea diving in to view reefs and experience the beauty of the underwater sea (Indian Ocean) and get the fun and adventure. There are two diving centers along the main strip, with boats departing from the beach, and roughly 30 dive sites.
- Visiting the Negombo Dutch fort built in 1672
- Visiting ancient and beautiful churches around the city
- Shopping around the city
Negombo was formerly a major producer of cinnamon. While the trade has moved on, you can still find local cinnamon and vanilla for sale at roadside shops.
Negombo has a few souvenir shops selling generic Sri Lankan items:
- Handicraft items
- Jewellery created with Sri Lankan gems
- Batik clouds, etc.
Local curry houses offer authentic dining for ~200 LKR. Cheaper, local restaurants are inland from the main strip, Porutota Rd. Roti Talk, on Porutota Rd and opposite Jetwing Blue, offers excellent local roti and chutney for 200-300 LKR, and local curry and rice for 700-900-LKR.
A mid-range destination, recommended by locals, is "King Coconut" located on the southern end of Jetwing beach. It offers Sri Lankan curry & rice, but is most recommended for its pizzas. Expect to pay ~1000 LKR for a meal.
Lords, on Porutota Rd opposite Jewting Blue, is somewhat pricey by local standards, and is very much for western visitors. It also showcases local art, and has a cultural show on Wednesdays. Expect to pay ~2000 LKR for a meal.
The three Jetwing resorts dominate the upper end of dining. Expect to pay ~3000 LKR for a meal.
Fine dining is one of the most satisfying factor enjoyed by any visitor who comes to Negombo.
- Finest sea food can be tasted in Negombo. Fresh fish, Lobsters, crabs, prawns and shellfish can be ordered in many restaurants and many enjoy seafood platters irrespective of their age or culture of origin. Crabs are sourced from the local lagoons.
- At the same time visitors who are interested can go and have visit to its popular fish markets which are active every day.
- Also any juicy topical fruits can be purchased at Negombo food markets. Tropical fruits have become a popular search of Negombo’s visitors.
All types of hot/cold drinks and cocktails are available to one's choice. Specially Sri Lankan fresh kind coconut as a drink can be ordered at a very low cost. If you search a bit you will be lucky enough to taste fresh toddy from area.
The local beers are Three Coins and Lion lagers. Locals are generally indifferent, although Three Coins is somewhat more full bodied. Arrack is the local spirit, made from coconut and tasting similar to rum.
There're plenty of hotels (both budget and mid-ranged) and hostels in town, mostly scattered around the beach area.
- Dion's Guest House, Guesthouse Address 137 Lewis Place, ☎ +94 31 22 37373. Check-in: 11am, check-out: 11am. Has a nice large lawn and a spacious dining area. Rooms are equipped with flat screen TV, air-conditioning and in-room free WiFi. Can arrange pick-up drop from airport, bus or railway station. LKR 4,000.
- Hostel First Colombo Airport, No 477 Negombo Road (Follow the road away from the airport until it crosses with Negombo Road. Turn right and follow Negombo Road until you see the hostel's sign on the left), ☎ +94 (0)76 7286 788, e-mail: email@example.com. Offers spacious accommodation, 24-hour front desk service, free WiFi and parking, and airport transfers and tours can be arranged upon request at a surcharge. Dorm US $10, private rooms $25-40.
- Marine Tourist Guest House, 118 Lewis Place (1 km from the city center), ☎ +94 715641827. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. 1,500.
- Mr Silal Fernando Homestay, Just outside Negombo, ☎ +94 31 2222481. Mr Fernando is an amicable gentleman who runs this small homestay. He offers airport pickups for 800 rupees. Meals available. Sgl 1000, Dbl 1500 With A/C 2500.
- Prince Residence, 91, Lewis Place (Next to Ice Bear on Beach Road), ☎ +94 11 3 10 10 10, e-mail: PrinceToursLanka@GMail.com. Check-in: 12 Noon, check-out: 12 Noon. Very clean accommodation next to the beach, with A/C, TV, mini-fridge and 24 hours hot water. 3000 LKR.
- St. Lachlan Hotel & Suites, St. Lachlans Beach Villa, St. Anthony's Lane, Ettukala, ☎ +94 11 4766350. The hotel comprises 16 guest rooms and suites, all of which have LED TV, DVD player, mini-bar, and tea/coffee making facilities. Some of its amenities are a pool bar, swimming pool, and a gift/souvenir Shop. Rates on official website start at USD 176.00.
- Star Beach Hotel, 83/3 Lewis Place (beside Golden Star Beach Hotel, Opposite Ocean View Tourist Guest House), ☎ +94 31 2222606. Non-air conditioned room ground floor 800 Rupees, worn and old rooms. Air conditioned rooms first floor 1600 Rupees.
The main roads and beach areas of Negombo have their share of touts and tricksters. Expect to be hailed by taxi drivers, souvenir-sellers and beggars. One man walks the beach with a monkey on a rope, trained to grab hold of tourists' legs.
Airport: Buses leave the main Negombo Bus Stand every 30 mins. The journey costs about 40 LKR.
Colombo: Buses leave the main Negombo Bus Stand every 30 mins. The journey costs 75 LKR and lasts one hour to one and half, depending on the traffic.