Negombo is the nearest city to the Bandaranaike Airport, the fourth largest city of Sri Lanka. It is known for tourism, fishing and as a “small Rome”.
After a long flight to Sri Lanka, it is worth to planing the first night close to the airport. Our body, pressed for a long time into a form of an airplane seat, now asks for straightening and also our lazy radio vascular system needs to be activated. At this moment, it is a great idea to chooe a place in Negombo , near the Bandaranaike International Airport also called Katunayake Airport (www.airport.lk).
Negombo was the first place to stop in my travel plan to Sri Lanka, every time.
Negombo is located near the Negombo Lagoon, so you can choose one of the hotels located right on the beach. Another option is to staying in a local home, whose offer is also rich. If you have one or two days in Negombo, after arrival or before departure, the question is … what can you do with your time?
What is worth seeing? What must you see?
- You can spend this time relaxing, sunbathing, walking on the beach or you can take a catamaran trip. Beaches in Negombo are maybe not the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, but for a short stay, sufficient.
- Negombo is a city inhabited mainly by Catholics. You can find many Catholic churches here, among them the beautiful St.Mary Church Cathedral
The Buddhist temple Angurukaramulla Temple (Bodhirajaramaya) is also recommended
- The Fish Market is frequented by tourists. Here you can take interesting photos and take a look at the whole process, from emptying the nets to completely drying the fish. There are two places like that in Negombo. One of them is the Negombo Fish Market Complex located at Circular Raod, near the ruins of the old Dutch fort.
The second is called by the inhabitants of “Lellama” at Mankuliya Bridge, where local residents and restaurant owners buy the fresh fish. It is open every day, exept Sundays, in the morning (it is worth to be around 6 am) and in the late afternoon (before sunset).
- The Dutch Fort or exectly ruins of the fort are not a big attraction. There remind only a piece of the wall with the gate and tower. The gate shows the date 1678. The first, makeshift fort was built at this place by the Portuguese, who exported the cinnamon grown in the area, from the Negombo port. A more solid, stone fort was built here by the Dutch, next colonizers of the Island, after the Portuguese. The British, however, dismantled most of this fort and used it to build a nearby prison.
- Another option is morning or afternoon boat trip through mangrove in the Muthurajawela Marsh, where many species of birds and animals live in a natural setting. You can book it at the Muthurajawela Visitor Center (muthurajawelavisitorcentre.org). This trip is a little more expensive if you book it in any hotels.
- You can take a boat tour on the Dutch Canal (or Hamilton Canal). The Dutch Canal is a canal system built in the 19th century connecting Colombo to Negombo and further to the North, to Puttalam. The original canal built in the fifteenth century by one of the king, was expanded in the eighteenth century by the Dutch, who creating a system of waterways between the ports and distant parts of the territory under the Dutch rule. It has a length of over 120 kilometers. When the island came under British rule, in 1802-1804, a new canal was built, connecting Colombo-Negombo. It was named the Hamilton Canal.
In order to get to know the atmosphere of the city it is worth strolling through its streets, looking into the shops (the currency can be exchanged in Jewel Lanka – 188, Main Street Negombo, Tel. +94 031-2228240). When it’s dark, Lewis Street and Poruthota Road, which run parallel to the beach, start to be full of life. The lights are on and the rhythmic music comes from many restaurants along these streets. You can taste the seafood and drink a cold beer in the holiday atmosphere.
Where to stay?
Hotel: I once stayed at the J *** Hotel. A good hotel, especially due to the direct access to the beach. You can have breakfast on the terrace. It is worth booking a room with a sea view, because the other views are not very interesting. The hotel also has a swimming pool. This is a good place for a short stay.
Private accommodation: An excellent place very close to the airport, is a house, in a quiet and peaceful area. Comfortably equipped and perfectly clean. It offers home atmosphere. It is perfect for resting after arrival or before departure. It can be used as a base for a trip to Colombo , which is one hour’s drive away. I really recommend this place.