Negombo is a modest beach town located close to Bandaranaike International Airport. In many ways it is a more salubrious introduction to the country than Colombo, and it’s a pleasant alternative to the monster traffic into and through the capital. In fact, some budget–conscious sun seekers just stay here, although doing this means missing the much nicer beaches to the south.

Bustling Negombo town is a historically interesting place, strongly influenced by the Catholic Church. The narrow strip of land to the south of the lagoon and the many canals make for good exploring.

The Dutch captured the town from the Portuguese in 1640, lost it, and then captured it again in 1644. The British then took it from them in 1796 without a struggle. Negombo was one of the most important sources of cinnamon during the Dutch era, and there are still reminders of the European days.

The wide sandy beaches and the safe sea are the major tourist attractions of Negombo, use the town for the first or the last night of their stay in Sri Lanka. Negombo offers some of the better beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka, and draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Several hotels ranging from luxury hotels to small hotels, guest houses and restaurants have in Negombo. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels. While others are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Water–sports and diving are also extremely popular among visitors, with a few well preserved coral reefs and a 50 year old shipwreck that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.