Last Updated on 11/11/2021

Despite being notably known, Negombo is somewhat underrated. Nestled along the west coast beach shores of Sri Lanka, just 45-minutes from Colombo and 20-minutes from the airport, Negombo actually has a little bit of everything to enjoy – especially if you’re a first-time traveller to Sri Lanka. We want you to know exactly what you can expect if you choose to do a day tour as you head to Colombo or any part in Sri Lanka, or spend a couple of days in this lovely beach town. 

Tour the large Fish Market and buy some fresh fish!

Woman selling fish at Negombo Fish Market
Photo by llee_wu on Flickr

Location

Get ready for a fishy experience! Negombo has a long and proud history of being a thriving fishing village, that later developed into the bustling city you see today. With Fishing still being one of its significant charms, a tour to their famous Main Fish Market is a must add to your list of things to do in Negombo.

Cross the Mankuliya Bridge over the lagoon to visit this place. The quantities are huge. The freshness at its best. Varieties – endless. Once you get over the salty, fishy aroma that invades the air, you can explore the local fish market scene of Sri Lanka to your heart’s content and maybe purchase some fish too!

Cruise the scenic Negombo Lagoon!

Sunset at Negombo Lagoon
Photo by Sahan177 on Wikimedia Commons

Location

There are ample tour options available if you’re looking to explore the emerald waters of the Negombo Lagoon by boat. The lagoon has a lot of history attached to it from the time of the Dutch colonization. There’re many beautiful areas to observe diverse birds in their happy habitat. You can explore the scenic waters and learn a lot.

You can even make a stop on a small island that’s in the middle of the lagoon. Get down from the boat, have a cooling king coconut while enjoying the surrounding views.

Venture to the deep blue to go on a Fishing Cruise!

Fishing boast near Negombo Beach
Photo by Indi Samarajiva on Wikimedia Commons

The fishing game is quite strong in Negombo. If you enjoy a good fishing trip, then the deep blues of the Negombo Beach in Sri Lanka is just the place.  Keep in mind that to get the total experience, you must travel with an experienced fishing guide. If you’re staying close to the airport, it will take approx.15-minutes to get there.

Reach the deep waters as the sunrises. Close to coast catch fresh groupers, snapper emperors and bonefishes. Further out, you might get lucky with swordfish and even sharks. Depending on who you arrange the tour with, you can also have your freshly captured fish prepared and enjoyed too.

Discover the Wildlife Beauty at the Muthurajawela Marsh

Muthurajawela Marsh
Photo by David Stanley on Flickr

Location

Let’s tour the marshy trail along the southern region of the Lagoon in Negombo. If you’re visiting from Colombo, it will take about a 30-40 minute drive to reach. The marshland is another one of the most notable attractions for tourists thanks to its unique ecosystem. It’s the biggest saline coastal peat bog in Sri Lanka. Take a boat ride to explore its marshy pit through the Hamilton Canal.

Spot various migratory birds out of 102 species of birds. The region supports over 192 flora species and 209 fauna species. Fun Fact: Muthurajawela Marsh translates to “Swamp of Royal Treasure”. Does it really live up to its name? Visit to find out.

Explore the watercourse of the Dutch Canal (a.k.a. Hamilton Canal)

Dutch Canal
Photo by David Stanley on Flickr

Location

Of course, there are mixed reviews about exploring this channel. To look at the positives – the water passage is lined up with fishing boats and simple verdant sceneries. The 14.5 km stretch can be quite a quaint boat tour. But you can learn a lot about the inland canal structure and the Dutch colonizer history attached to it. It is another lovely way to spot different species of birds and even aquatic wildlife.

Ideal to do on a sunny clear day as it adds to the beauty. Some like it, some don’t. You be the judge of it.

Visit the St. Sebastian Church

St Sebastian Church
Photo by Bernard Gagnon on Wikimedia Commons

Location

It is one of the most famous Roman Catholic Church’s in Sri Lanka. It’s situated 15-minutes from the city of Negombo in Wellaweediya (approx. 1-hour if you are travelling from Colombo), near the Negombo sea beach. Built and completed in 1946. The structure is sculpted in gothic revival style similar to that of Reims Cathedral in France. The exterior can look a little imposing but alluring at the same time.

Despite its size, it homes a lighthearted calmness that is very soothing. If you enjoy exploring the architectural styles of different attraction sites, a visit to the St. Sebastian Church is worth adding to your list of things to do in Negombo.

Enjoy a relaxing beach stroll at the Negombo Beach  

Negombo Beach
Photo by S B on Wikimedia Commons

Location

Have you ever been to Negombo, if you have not visited the lovely Negombo Beach? Well, to be fair Sri Lanka being an island – sea beach destinations are ample. But the Negombo beach is one of the most popular attractions for tourists in Negombo, and it’s ideal for a leisurely walk. If you’re coming from Colombo, it takes about an hour to get there.

The beach stretch is lined with plenty of hotels and beach restaurants along the stretch. Enjoy the scenic sea beach views and the general crowds’ and the magical sunset too!

Explore the religious sanctuary of St. Mary’s Church

St Mary's Church
Photo by Z thomas on Wikimedia Commons

Location

With the majority of the crowd being Catholic and Christian, it is no real surprise to find many lovely churches in Negombo. St Mary’s is one such stunning church you can drop by for a quick visit. It’s a famous landmark, and it is, in fact, one of the largest cathedrals in Sri Lanka. Located within the city, quite close to the Negombo Lagoon, St Mary’s is one of the most popular attractions in all of Negombo. 

You can simply explore this beautiful cathedral – often known as Little Rome amongst the locals. Observe the stunning alabaster images of saints painted on the ceiling and maybe grab a tranquil moment to yourself. 

Shopping in Negombo Town

Rio Ice Cream Shop in Negombo
Photo by Dennis Sylvester Hurd on Flickr

If your stay in the city of Negombo is a short one, and you have little time to truly explore the gems of Negombo – including the beach, then the main road along the beach in the city of Negombo alone still has much to offer for a quick venture. Well-lit and inviting, the streets are lined up with shops, boutique cafes, restaurants, gem and art galleries – with a vibrant hustle and bustle flowing into the street as you explore it.

It’s definitely lovely enough to hang around, have some delicious food, a drink and enjoy the good vibes.

Enjoy good food and good times at The Hangar

The Hangar Bar and Restaurant
Photo from The Hangar Facebook Page

Location

Situated in the Poruthota Road, once you have explored Negombo city, this is a great place to stop by with your friends and other travel companions – or even by yourself – it doesn’t matter. Have some fantastic burgers and some boozy refreshments, and enjoy the night. Of course, burgers are not the only thing they have.

The theme here is good food and good times, and they deliver just that with flavour-packed dishes to keep you happy during your visit.

Explore what’s left of the Negombo Dutch Fort Ruins

Dutch Fort Ruins
Photo by Zapata1000 on Wikimedia Commons

Location

Located close to the Lagoon of Negombo and the beach as well, usually, it’s a quick visit, seeing as the fort is small and quite deteriorated. What is left is the remains of a tunnel and waned out landmark of a clock tower. If you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth seeing.  The cool thing here is that it’s built with stone and coral.

And if you walk past the tunnel and go a little ahead, you will find a quaint little church that looks lovely and inviting. Ideal for any history buff, as there is plenty to learn, about the Dutch colonization and how it took form in Sri Lanka.

Have some seafood and good beer at The Port Beach Restaurant & Pub

The Port Beach Restaurant
Photo from The Port Beach Restaurant & Pub Facebook Page

Location

If you want to experience a hyped-up atmosphere with some great music and enjoy some flavour-packed seafood dishes, then you are heading to the Port Beach Restaurant & Pub. Your taste buds are in for an unforgettable seafood treat! Located along the beach road, the restaurant is built like a small hut-much like a beach shack, perched along the coast, facing the lovely beach of Negombo.

There are sunbeds for you to lounge on while your drinks and dishes are getting prepared. Prompt service and lovely beach vibes. Worth a visit? Yes, we think so.

Get your Souvenirs from the Selyn!

Selyn
Photo from the Selyn Facebook Page

Location

Whether you are beginning your tour in Sri Lanka or spending the last night in Negombo before heading to the airport, some souvenirs would be great for the journey. The uniqueness of these hand-loomed products are that the base of their creation is rooted in the traditional craft of looms.

Located along the main beach road, passing some well-known hotels, feel free to drop in to have a look as you take a tour around the city!

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