The Best of Negombo

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Negombo (මීගමුව) is a town of about 65,000, approximately 37 km north of Colombo, in Sri Lanka. It is located at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon, about 7 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport. The proximity to Bandaranaike International Airport makes Negombo a convenient starting or ending point for many travellers exploring Sri Lanka.

Negombo has a small port, and its economy is mainly based on tourism and its centuries-old fishing industry. Their boats are made in two distinct forms, oruvas (a type of sailing canoe) and paruvas (a large, man-powered catamaran fitted with kurlon dividers), and are said to have originated in the islands off the Mozambican coast; they were brought to Sri Lanka by Portuguese traders in the 17th century.

Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple)
Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple) at Negombo

For generations, the lagoon has provided the fishermen with a plentiful supply of crabs, shrimp and many of the native species of fish, but with the onset of global warming, these sources of food have dwindled. The men are regularly forced to head out to the ocean to fish, often losing money in the chartering process. In recent years, the villagers have supplemented the income earned from fishing by collecting toddy, or palm sap, which is used to brew arrack.

Negombo is an ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the country’s international airport. The 100km long canal network running through the town is still used, and outrigger canoes and modern watercraft 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, and churches.

Negombo is also home to the country’s second-largest fish market, the Lelama, at the north end of the town’s lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, which give tourists a chance to meet the area’s colourful fishermen and even organise fishing trips into the lagoon and the ocean beyond. Other nearby attractions open to visitors include Muthurajawela, which is part of 6,000-hectare (14,826-acre) protected marshland, home to over 190 species of wildlife.

Negombo Fish Market
Negombo Fish Market photo by Janne Savukoski licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Negombo offers some of the better beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka and draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are also extremely popular among visitors, with a few well-preserved coral reefs and a 50-year-old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.

Since the beginning of European Colonization, the township of Negombo has a majority of Roman Catholics along with Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Negombo has been given the name “Little Rome” due to the highly ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches found within the township. The Katuwapitiya Church and the Grand Street Church are the two biggest parishes in Negombo. “Agurukaramulla Pansala” is a famous Buddhist temple bringing Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka to Negombo every year.

Negombo Attractions

  • A Ride Through the Historic Hamilton Canal (Dutch Canal)

    A Ride Through the Historic Hamilton Canal (Dutch Canal)

    The Hamilton Canal also known as the Dutch Canal and Paru Ela in Sinhalese, connecting Puttalam and Colombo, has a rich history dating back to the colonial era. It was first started by the Portuguese  (1505–1656) who started cutting the waterway from the Kelani Ganga River. They built the canal to redirect river floods and…


  • Negombo Lellama Fish Market : An Explosion of Colours

    Negombo Lellama Fish Market : An Explosion of Colours

    The Negombo Fish Market is a bustling hub of activity located in the coastal city of Negombo, Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and the wide variety of fresh seafood available for sale. Fishermen bring in their catches from the Indian Ocean, and the market comes alive with the sights, sounds, and…


  • Kandawala Survey Tower in Negombo (Destroyed)

    Kandawala Survey Tower in Negombo (Destroyed)

    The ancient survey tower of Kandawala in Negombo used to lie on the middle of the road on a small patch of land where the Negombo Base Line road meets the Negombo – Katana road. This 150 feet high tower is considered the oldest survey tower and was built during the Dutch occupation era, in…


  • Negombo Fort

    Negombo Fort

    The Portuguese fort that stood where the current Negombo Fort is situated was mostly destroyed by cannon during the Dutch siege in 1644. The Dutch fort was built on its ruins, not on the usual square pattern, but on a pentagonal one, though it had only four bulwarks. The fifth one was never bui


  • Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple)

    Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple)

    Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple), a well-known Buddhist temple in Negombo is a popular religious center in a predominant Catholic neighborhood


Also See

Map of Negombo

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Travel Directions to Negombo

Route from Colombo to Negombo
Though : Wattala – seeduwa – Katunayake
distance :40 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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