Updated on 21/08/2017 by Ella Davis.
Negombo is a small city just 37 km north of Colombo. Its convenient location makes it a great first stop when exploring Sri Lanka. The large stretch of golden sand makes Negombo a popular beach destination. While the impressive 3000-hectare lagoon is home to a wealth of wildlife and a perfect place for spotting crocodiles! We’ve put together a list of things to do and places to eat so that you can make the most out of your visit to Negombo.
How to get to Negombo
Bandaranaike International Airport is, in fact, closer to Negombo than it is to Colombo, allowing you to avoid the commercial centre altogether. The main mode of transport is the tuk-tuk and there will be plenty of these ready to take you on to your villa in Negombo. You will find yourself amazed by exactly how much luggage can be squeezed into a tuk-tuk. But for those who prefer to travel in comfort, opt for a standard taxi and be prepared to haggle!
Check out our article on how to get around Sri Lanka.
Things to know before you go to Negombo
Negombo is known as a beach resort and the main industries are tourism and fishing. If you are looking for Sri Lanka’s famed surf spots, Negombo is not for you. The wide beach and calm, safe seas are family friendly and relaxing. However, there are still water sports available, including great dive spots. Sea food is a big draw of Negombo and the ancient fishing traditions can still be witnessed up and down the coastline. Therefore be sure to keep an eye out for fisherman perched on stilts along the water’s edge.
Related: Family Retreat in Sri Lanka: 5 Family-friendly Beaches
What to see and do in Negombo
Negombo is not just another beach resort. While the wide sandy beach is the main attraction, nature lovers will be pleased to find plenty opportunities to experience Sri Lanka’s native species.
Muthurajawela Marsh or ‘Swamp of Royal Treasure’ in English, is exactly that. While this unique habitat attracts a wealth of wildlife it also attracts tourists all hoping to catch a glimpse of the crocodiles! The best and only way to explore this area at the edge of Negombo Lagoon is by boat. Tour operators offer guided boat tours with guides knowledgeable on the local wildlife. With over a hundred bird species calling this wetland home, and monkeys and otters spotted daily. This is a great place to take in Sri Lanka’s wildlife.
Sarath Boat tours offers a half day tour through the lagoon and onto the marshland spotting crocodiles as you go. The small boats and knowledgeable guide give a true jungle experience.
Located in the eastern areas of the town, the Angurukaramulla Temple wows visitors with its impressive entrance. Visitors enter the compounds of the temple through the open mouth of a dragon, located beneath a towering Buddha statue measuring six metres in height.
The large temple compound and intricate and colourful murals offer visitors plenty to explore. These works depict the Buddha’s journey to enlightenment, as well as the historical stories of Sri Lanka’s former rulers. With the 6-metre high Buddha statue, you can marvel at the history and culture of Sri Lanka whilst getting a welcome break from the sun-drenched beaches.
The crystal blue sea is certainly tempting and Negombo’s calm surf is perfect for cooling off. But if you want to see more of Sri Lanka’s beauty we recommend venturing under the sea! A dive tour will allow you to experience the stunning marine wildlife and coral sea bed, whilst having the security of a knowledgeable and experienced dive guide.
Sri Lanka Diving Tours offer an 8-day diving itinerary allowing you to fully explore the Sri Lanka’s marine wildlife. If you are new to driving Sri Lanka Diving tours are PADI certified and their helpful instructors will get you certified in no time. They even offer a free trial dive in a pool so you can decide if diving is right for you.
Where to Stay in Negombo
Since Negombo is all about relaxing and soaking up the Sri Lankan sun. We feel that a luxury villa is just what you’ll need to top your holiday off. Casa Heliconia is just that.
Located a short drive from Negombo, this villa is tucked away in the Sri Lankan jungle giving you a truly tropical experience. The 2-bedroom villa boasts a stunning private pool and luxurious bedrooms. The dining area and BBQ facilities allow you to dine alfresco each night. The villa comes with breakfast and dinner and gives you the chance to experience the local produce and Sri Lankan Cuisine at its finest. It is no surprise that this 4 person villa is rated 10/10 by visitors. It is a truly luxurious escape!
Where to eat in Negombo
With fishing forming one of the main industries in Negombo, it’s unsurprising that the seafood restaurants found here are some of the best in Sri Lanka. Aside from seafood almost every cuisine can be found along the beachfront. With plenty great restaurants serving Sri Lankan classics too.
Lords Restaurant is a truly unique experience offering so much more than a tasty meal. This extensive complex is restaurant, bar, gallery and fish spa! Never before will you have had your feet pampered and your belly filled in the same place! The unique atmosphere in Lords makes it an overwhelming success. However, it’s not just the uniqueness which will stay in your memory. The fantastic chefs at Lords cook up contemporary Asian cuisine. Drawing on Sri Lankan, Thai and Indian flavours this stand out menu is full of fresh flavours and hints of coconut, sweet onion and lime.
They support the local community and buy local, fresh and sustainable ingredients. There truly is something for everyone at Lords as they also have a Vegan and Gluten free menu.
This homely restaurant is known as much for its friendly owner as it is for the food! Scandic cooks up fresh seafood at reasonable prices. The large portions and attentive service are what they specialise in. I recommend dining family style and ordering a selection of dishes for the table. The Asian spices perfectly complement the fresh seafood. The prices are reasonable and the setting unassuming but the food is certainly the main event!
It’s no surprise that seafood is the star of the show at Sea View. This is a great spot to sample authentic Sri Lankan Cooking with Rice and curry present in many forms. The Fish curry is, of course, a favourite while the devilled cuttlefish are a speciality for more adventurous visitors. The service here is super friendly and the atmosphere relaxed- making it a perfect lunch or dinner spot!
Negombo is a great gateway for exploring Sri Lanka. The beautiful beaches are great for relaxing during the day. While the cities restaurant and bar scene will keep you entertained at night. With stunning villas available close to all the sights you are guaranteed a great stay in Negombo.
See our villas in Sri Lanka. Inspected and selected by Villa-Finder.com.