Places to visit in Negombo
Welcome to Negombo, a coastal gem nestled on the western shores of Sri Lanka. Just a short distance of 35 km north of Colombo, this vibrant city is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a memorable adventure. With its rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking landscapes, Negombo offers a plethora of attractions that will leave you spellbound. Begin your journey with a visit to Negombo Beach, where you can soak up the sun, feel the soft sand beneath your toes, and take a refreshing dip in the sparkling turquoise waters. Next, make your way to the Dutch Fort, a historic fortress dating back to the colonial era. Explore its sturdy walls, admire the old architecture, and learn about the city’s fascinating past. To experience spiritual serenity, visit St. Mary’s Church, an iconic landmark in Negombo. This majestic Catholic church showcases stunning architecture and intricate artwork, providing a serene space for reflection and prayer. Negombo truly offers a myriad of experiences for every traveller. From pristine beaches to rich history and captivating culture, this coastal city has it all. So, pack your bags, set your compass, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the enchanting places to visit in Negombo.
1. Browns Beach
Browns Beach, situated in the vibrant coastal town of Negombo, is not only a captivating destination itself but also serves as a gateway to explore the myriad of other enchanting places to visit in Negombo. Browns Beach boasts a stunning expanse of golden sands that stretch as far as the eye can see. Sink your toes into the soft grains and bask in the warmth of the tropical sun. The beach’s tranquil atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for sunbathing, picnicking, or simply enjoying a stroll along the shoreline. Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear turquoise waters of Browns Beach, where gentle waves beckon you for a refreshing dip. As you float amidst the tranquil embrace of the sea, take in the breathtaking views of swaying palm trees that line the shore. Let the soothing rhythm of the waves and the rustling of palm fronds transport you to a state of pure serenity. Browns Beach offers the perfect setting to rejuvenate both mind and body. Unwind on a comfortable beach chair and soak up the mesmerizing coastal vistas. Whether you choose to read a book, enjoy the sounds of the sea, or simply let your worries drift away with the tide, this idyllic haven provides the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
2. Negombo Lagoon
Negombo Lagoon is an idyllic estuarine lagoon nestled on the western coast of Sri Lanka. With its enchanting waters, thriving wildlife, and abundant natural splendour, Negombo Lagoon is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Negombo Lagoon owes its existence to a network of small rivers and a meandering canal that converges to create this picturesque body of water. The fertile lands surrounding Negombo Lagoon play a vital role in sustaining the local communities. Fishermen cast their nets in the lagoon’s waters, reaping the bounties of its rich aquatic life. Alongside fishing, the verdant fields surrounding the lagoon are adorned with vibrant rice paddies and flourishing coconut plantations, showcasing the harmonious relationship between land and water. Negombo Lagoon is not only a sanctuary for aquatic life but also a paradise for a diverse range of water birds. The lagoon’s extensive mangrove swamps and tranquil waters attract a myriad of avian species. Visitors can witness the graceful flight of cormorants, herons, egrets, gulls, terns, and a plethora of other waders that grace the lagoon’s shores. Negombo Lagoon, with its serene waters and thriving wildlife, is a captivating natural attraction that should be on the list of places to visit in Negombo.
3. Dutch Fort
One of the captivating places to visit in Negombo is Negombo Fort, an intriguing historical landmark showcasing the town’s colonial past. Negombo Fort, originally constructed by the Portuguese, stands proudly as a relic of their colonial influence. However, the Portuguese fort was not a formidable stronghold; it consisted merely of a square enclosed by walls. With two redoubts and a handful of cannons, it served as a meagre defence for the city of Colombo. In February 1640, Dutch forces led by Philip Lucasz seized control of the fort from the Portuguese. After several failed attempts by the Portuguese to reclaim their fortress. However, the Dutch captured it again in January 1644 under François Caron’s command. The Dutch, recognizing its strategic significance, rebuilt the fort in 1672. They departed from the traditional square pattern and opted for a pentagonal design, though only four bulwarks were ever completed. In February 1796, the British took possession of Negombo Fort without encountering any opposition. Towards the late 1800s, the British authorities made a fateful decision—to demolish the fort and erect a prison in its place. Utilising the very stones that once formed the fort, they created a new structure that now serves as a prison under the administration of the Department of Prisons.
4. Hamilton Canal
The Hamilton Canal, also known as the Dutch Canal, is a remarkable waterway that weaves its way through the charming town of Negombo. Constructed by the British in 1802 and completed in 1804, this canal holds a significant place in the country’s history. The main purpose behind the construction of the Hamilton Canal was to drain the salt water from the Muthurajawela wetlands. These wetlands are an important ecological area, and the canal played a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Named after Gavin Hamilton, the Government Agent of Revenue and Commerce, the canal stands as a tribute to his contributions and vision. In addition to its historical significance, the Hamilton Canal is also a popular attraction for nature enthusiasts. It serves as a habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various bird species, fish, and other aquatic life. Whether you choose to take a leisurely walk along the canal or hire a boat to navigate its waters, the Hamilton Canal promises a memorable experience for all visitors. So, Hamilton Canal is not only a significant historical landmark but also one of the top places to visit in Negombo.
5. St. Mary's Church
St. Mary’s Church is an awe-inspiring Roman Catholic landmark nestled in the heart of Negombo. With its rich history and exquisite architectural style, this grand cathedral is a testament to the harmonious fusion of cultures and artistic expressions. Construction of St. Mary’s Church commenced in 1874, and after a considerable interval, it was finally completed in 1922. The church stands as a splendid example of neoclassical architecture, characterised by its elegant columns and unadorned walls. Its design exudes a timeless charm that seamlessly blends European influences with local Sri Lankan artistry. One of the highlights of St. Mary’s Church lies above, the captivating ceiling adorned with unique paintings depicting the life of Christ. What makes these paintings truly remarkable is the fact that they were meticulously crafted by N.S. Godamanne, a gifted local Buddhist painter. His artistic prowess beautifully captures the essence of the Christian faith, showcasing the cultural amalgamation that can occur when different artistic traditions intertwine. The paintings on the nave, often described as “thunderous” in their beauty, serve as a visual journey through the life and teachings of Christ. When exploring the places to visit in Negombo, make sure to include St. Mary’s Church in your itinerary.
6. Negombo fish market
Negombo fish market offers an exciting and bustling experience for visitors. Starting as early as 4 AM, the market comes alive. It’s an opportunity to witness the lively activity of local fishermen and immerse oneself in the vibrant fishing culture of the region. One of the unique aspects of the fish market is the age-old method of open-air drying on enormous mats made of coconut fibre. The fishermen take advantage of the natural heat of the sun to remove all moisture from the fish, ensuring an extended shelf life. The dried fish, after the drying process, is then salted, adding a unique flavour to this popular ingredient in Sri Lankan cuisine. Adjacent to the drying area, the wet market awaits, offering an array of fresh seafood options. The market showcases a wide variety of choices, including tuna, mackerel, squid, sardines, and even sharks. The vibrant display of seafood is a testament to the rich marine resources of the region and the skill of the local fishermen. Negombo fish market is one of the fascinating places to visit in Negombo, offering a unique glimpse into the vibrant fishing culture and a wide array of fresh seafood delights.
7. Angurukaramulla Temple
Angurukaramulla Temple is a treasure trove of history, spirituality, and artistic splendour located in the enchanting city of Negombo. This sacred temple, renowned for its unique features, offers a mesmerising experience for visitors of all ages. As you approach the temple’s entrance, you will be greeted by a magnificent dragon head, serving as a symbolic guardian. Beyond this formidable entrance lies a sight that is truly awe-inspiring a majestic 6 m tall statue of Lord Buddha. The serene countenance of the statue emanates tranquillity and invites you to delve deeper into the spiritual realm of the temple. Prepare to be enchanted by the exquisite artwork that adorns the shrine room. From intricately carved deities to captivating paintings on the ceiling, every corner of the temple exudes a sense of divine beauty. As you gaze up, you will witness the depiction of significant Buddhist events that unfolded in Sri Lanka, adding a layer of cultural significance to your visit. Make sure to explore the temple’s Pilima Ge, a dedicated space that houses intricate sculptures and artistic representations of important Buddhist narratives. When exploring the vibrant city of Negombo, don’t miss the captivating Angurukaramulla Temple. It is truly one of the most remarkable places to visit in Negombo.
8. St. Sebastian's Church
One of the remarkable places to visit in Negombo is St. Sebastian’s Church, a captivating Roman Catholic church that stands out with its architectural resemblance to the magnificent Reims Cathedral in France. Father G. Gannon, with his vision and expertise, designed this awe-inspiring church that has become an integral part of Negombo’s religious and cultural landscape. The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Colombo, Pierre-Guillaume Marque, on 2 February 1936, marking the beginning of a significant journey in the construction of this magnificent structure. Stepping into St. Sebastian’s Church, one can feel a sense of tranquillity and awe-inspiring beauty. The intricate details of the architecture, the serene ambience, and the spiritual significance of the place create a profound experience for all who visit. The annual festival dedicated to St. Sebastian is a highlight for both locals and visitors alike. Celebrated on 20 January, this joyous occasion brings the community together in a spirit of reverence and celebration. The church premises are adorned with a beautifully decorated flagstaff, and lively processions fill the streets. It is a time when devotees seek the blessings of St. Sebastian and show acts of generosity by serving food to the less fortunate.