7 Best Things to Do in Negombo

Negombo is the perfect starting point for your journey through Sri Lanka. This neighboring city of the capital Colombo is located right next to the airport and is much more relaxed and welcoming than the chaotic Colombo. If you want to take a day to recover from the long journey and leisurely acquaint yourself with Sri Lanka, then this is the ideal destination. In Negombo, there are a number of interesting sights such as an authentic fish market, a boat trip through the canals, or the beautiful temples. Below you can find our tips for what to do in Negombo.

What to do in Negombo?

Negombo is quite small and doesn’t have a ton of attractions, but there are definitely some things you shouldn’t miss.

Visit the Negombo fish market

We kick off this list with a place you absolutely can’t miss in Negombo; the fish market. There are two different markets; the wet market and the dry market. At the wet market, the fishermen land with their catch, while at the dry market, the fish are left to dry on the beach.

The wet market is the largest and most famous market to visit. Fishermen start arriving well before sunrise to display their day’s catch for sale. The market starts around 4:00 AM and ends in the morning around 7:30 AM. The best time to visit the fish market is around 6:00 AM. So, you’ll have to get up early, but it’s definitely impressive to see. At around 9:00 to 10:00 AM, the dry market officially opens, but you can go there earlier. The fish often start drying on the beach earlier.

Visit the colorful Angurukaramulla Temple in Negombo

The beautiful Angurukaramulla Temple is definitely a must-see in Negombo. You’ll recognize this unique temple by the colorful 6-meter-high Buddha and the dragon’s head that serves as the entrance to the temple. Inside the temple, you’ll find many wall paintings, ceiling paintings, and sculptures depicting Buddha’s journey to enlightenment. Make sure your shoulders and knees are covered when visiting this temple and remove your shoes before entering. Upon entry, you’ll receive a booklet with information about the temple. You can also take a guided tour that takes you through the entire story of Buddha.

Take a boat trip on Negombo Lagoon and canals

We’re leaving the bustling city and exploring the waters of Negombo! A boat trip through the Dutch canals, rivers, and the lagoon is something you definitely shouldn’t miss when you’re in Negombo. Especially because you won’t take many boat trips elsewhere in Sri Lanka. Plan your boat trip towards the end of the day when it’s cooler and you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. You can arrange the boat trip at almost any accommodation in Negombo.

Tip: Be sure to specify exactly where you want to take a boat trip. I thought I was going to sail through the canals and over the lagoon, but apparently, my boat trip went to the other side, over the rivers and through the mangroves. Also very beautiful, and I certainly enjoyed the peace, many birds, and a beautiful sunset. So, you have multiple options for a boat trip.

Experience the Sri Lankan cuisine in Negombo

When following our itinerary through Sri Lanka, Negombo is your first stop in Sri Lanka, where you’ll be introduced to Sri Lankan cuisine for the first time. So, it’s time to try some new dishes! Sri Lanka is known for its rice & curry, which you can order on almost every street corner. In Negombo, there are also many restaurants serving seafood. Be sure to try the famous crab curry at Salt Restaurant or have traditional Sri Lankan food at Lords Restaurant Complex, where traditional dance performances are held every evening. At Brown Beach, you’ll find many stalls with street food where you can try various local snacks. The vegetarian elawalu roti is one of our favorite snacks from Sri Lanka.

Enjoy the sunset on one of Negombo’s beaches

Negombo is situated on the coast, and what better way to relax after your long flight than by enjoying a beautiful sunset on the beach? Most locals gather at Browns Beach for this purpose. This beach is often bustling with people and street food stalls. If you want to watch the sunset on a quieter beach, head to Negombo Beach. Unlike many beach destinations in Sri Lanka, it’s less appropriate to walk in your swimwear on the beach in Negombo.

Tip: Ocean Floor Seafood Restaurant is one of the coziest beach bars in Negombo. Here, you can enjoy the sunset from the front row, with your feet in the sand, a drink in your hand, and pleasant music in the background.

Take a trip to Colombo

Curious about life in the capital? Then take a nice trip to Colombo. This city buzzes as a capital should. It’s much busier here than in Negombo, but that also has its charm. There are several attractions in Colombo worth visiting. Pettah Market is one of them. This is a large market where you can find a wide variety of products such as clothing, fresh vegetables and fruits, electronics, and much more. The most beautiful building in Colombo is the striking Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque. With its red and white color, this is a unique piece of architecture in the middle of the city. For a quieter spot, take a stroll along the waterfront promenade at Galle Face Beach to the large city park, Viharamahadevi Park.

Tips for good restaurants in Negombo

Lewis Place is a lively street in Negombo with restaurants, bars, and shops. Many of the restaurants listed below can be found on Lewis Place, but there are also some nice restaurants just outside.

Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions – Here you can enjoy delicious vegetarian Sri Lankan food. The dishes are prepared according to Ayurvedic principles, and you can also receive Ayurvedic treatments.
Lords Restaurant Complex – Enjoy good food in a cozy garden where traditional performances are often held in the evenings. As a guest, you can also use the fish spa for your feet for free.
Zen Cafe – This is a cozy café with comfortable seating. They serve falafel wraps and smoothie bowls, among other things. Lots of vegetarian options.
Grace Negombo Juice Bar – Get a freshly made smoothie at this tiny shop. Read about all the health benefits of each (exotic) fruit and order your favorite!
BOHO Negombo – You can go here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in this trendy restaurant. Whether you’re craving tacos, pizzas, burgers, or local food, you have plenty of options here.
Rodeo Pub & Restaurant – This is a cozy place to have a drink in the evening in Negombo.
Tuk Tuk Wine and Dine – You’re in for a good time here because there’s live music every evening. The menu features many international dishes. Everything is delicious, and they serve generous portions.

Our favorite spots in Negombo

Want to start your journey through Sri Lanka off right? Then we recommend the Serendib Village Guest House. This is definitely one of the best spots in the city, where you can expect a great stay for a small price. It’s located near the lively center and beautifully situated by the canal. You’ll feel like you’re staying in nature, but in the city! There’s a large swimming pool, the owner is incredibly hospitable, and in the morning, you’ll be treated to a delicious breakfast served on the terrace by the water. If Serendib Village Guest House is fully booked, then Negombo Boutique Villa is a good alternative. This small-scale hotel is also located by the canal and has a nice swimming pool too. For an even more luxurious stay, Negombo The Nature Villa and Cabanas is absolutely fantastic. There’s a relaxed atmosphere and here too, you’ll find a nice swimming pool surrounded by many tropical plants.