Negombo is less than 20 minutes away from the Bandaranaike International Airport and is known to be the most favoured beach town near the airport. The town is situated at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon and offers the best of both worlds to those who want to experience life by the river and the sea.
The spiced history of Negombo began with the trade of cinnamon that thrived in the thick jungles. By the 16th century, the Portuguese invaded the island, took over the cinnamon trade from the Moors and built a fort to protect itself against other invaders. By 1644, the Dutch seized control of the town and its fort, thereby taking over the cinnamon trade. When the British invaded in 1796, the trade had drastically diminished, eventually driving this town to depend on fishing, thus making Negombo a major fishing hub.
The tourist-centric town is teeming with a plethora of high-scale stores and chic boutiques that serve for a great shopping spree. Buy souvenirs, trinkets and local crafts, or beach sarongs, flip-flops and sun-hats during your time in Negombo. For those looking to immerse themselves in a Sri Lankan shopping experience, head over to the local market, also known as the ‘pola’, to get fresh fruits, vegetables and more.
Things to do in the Negombo
From lying on the saffron beach to kite surfing, cruising along the Dutch Canal to visiting historic monuments, there are numerous things to do in Negombo.
- Dutch Canal – The canal was constructed in 1802 and stretches 14.5 km in length, connecting the cities of Colombo to Puttalam, through Negombo.
- Negombo Beach – With strong winds and an expansive stretch of golden sands, the beach is ideal for flying kites, soaking up the sun or making new friends with the locals.
- Religious Shrines – As a result of its colonial past, Negombo has over 25 churches within the city. In addition, there several Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship.
- Fishing – Regarded as the second oldest fishing town in Sri Lanka, you can embark on a deep-sea fishing excursion or visit the daily fish auction to get the fresh catch of the day.
- Diving – Explore the stunning 50-year-old shipwreck and the coral reefs as you embark on a diving expedition off the coast.
- Water Sports – From kite surfing, tube rides and boat rides along the lagoon, there is a range of water sports to join in.
- Muthurajawela Marshland – Belonging to the expansive 6,000-hectare natural reserve, the protected marshland is home to more than 190 wildlife species.
Best time to visit the Negombo
The best time to visit Negombo is between the months of November to March or May to August, when the weather is mostly warm, and the skies are bright, blue and clear. The months of June, July and August often usher in heavy rains.
Popular events in the Negombo
- Fisherman’s Festival – A festival that occurs in July, where local fishermen or anyone with a fishing craft, participates in a variety of fishing events that display their skills.
- National Festival of Kites – Strong winds from the Indian Ocean makes it the perfect weather to fly kites, and in the month of August, the sky is dotted with colourful kites of all shapes and sizes.
- Christmas – Due to the large population of Catholics, Christmas in Negombo is one of the more cherished and celebrated events.