The name “Negombo” The Sinhalese name Migamuva means “Village of the honeycomb”, gaining its name from a legend in Rajaveliya. The army of King Kavantissa found bee hive in a canoe near the seashore, for Viharamahadevi who was pregnant with the prince Dutugamunu. Because of this, the place was named “Mee-Gomuwa”in Sinhala. Today Negombo is a freedom city with multicultural, multi ethnic and multi religious people live in harmony as one Bee Hive.

The Little Rome

Negombo is a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, north of the capital, Colombo. Near the waterfront, the remains of the 17th-century Dutch Fort now house a prison. Negombo Lagoon, lined with fishermen’s huts, feeds into the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal. The canal leads south to Colombo. Neoclassical St. Mary’s Church, started in 1874 and completed in the 1920s, features a ceiling decorated with vivid religious paintings. Negombo has been named ‘Little Rome’ due to the highly ornate Portuguese-era. Over 90% of the population of Negombo is Roman Catholics. 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 busy centre of Negombo town lies to the west of the bus and train stations. Most places to stay, however, line the main road that heads north from the town centre, with the beachside hotel strip starting about 2km north of town.

Places to Visit

The Old Dutch Fort

The old Dutch Fort and the Dutch Canal would have to be Negombo’s two main attractions. The Dutch Fort is now part of the local prison. Built in 1672 and located near Munnakkaraya Bridge, you can easily walk from the Negombo bus station or hotel area to reach the fort.

The Dutch Canal

The old Dutch Fort and the Dutch Canal are certainly Negombo’s two main attractions. The Dutch Fort is now part of the local prison. Built in 1672 and located near Munnakkaraya Bridge, you can easily walk from the Negombo bus station or hotel area to reach the fort.

The Angurukaamulla Temple

Most Buddhist tourists would appreciate visiting the Angurukaamulla temple. Located near Harishchandra College, the temple boasts a giant Buddha image. There are also a number of old paintings and murals. In case you are interested in the kings of Sri Lanka of a bygone era, you will get a lot of information about them at this temple.

St. Mary’s Church

This is one of the larger cathedrals in Sri Lanka. Considering that the population of Negombo is 90% Roman Catholic it comes as no surprise that it is quite an important building in the city. The architecture is majestic and the church has some nice paintings. It is known as Mahaweediya Palliya in the Sinhala language and is quite easy to find.

Negombo Beach

Relax on the beach or take an early morning walk as you watch the boats set off from the beach for a day’s fishing. Come back later to see the day’s catch or head onwards to buy some from the fish market close by. The fish market has a lot of blood and an overpowering smell about it so make sure your tummy can take the experience before you decide to try it out, otherwise stick to the cleaner parts of the beach. It can get really sunny so make sure that you use a lot of sunscreen. The sunset is absolutely amazing and is a must see if you are spending the day at the beach.

Things to Do

Boat Trip

Take a boat trip from the delta area of the river. It will last about three hours and will include sightseeing through the rainforest, mangroves and a local farm. There is even a coconut picking display where the locals will shimmy up a tree and come back with the refreshing spoils for you. You can also try the local brandy known as Arak, (at your own risk). The boat will take between two to six people and you’ll need to bargain to get the best cost.

Canal Sailing

Sail along the canal. There are boats available for hire if you wish to sail along the Dutch canal and it can be quite a surprise to see a European-style canal in Negombo. There are guides who will point out the salient features of the city and take you along the beach to the harbour. It can be interesting when you imagine that the Dutch used the same route so many centuries ago, and it is still in existence.

Negombo Restaurants and Nightlife

Negombo has passed through the hands of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British in colonial times. Also, a number of descendants of the Arabic traders still live here. The influences of all these cultures can be seen in the cuisine and the town physically even today. So, you can eat regular continental food, Arabic food, Turkish food or the local sea food. Pick whatever tickles your fancy.

Catamaran Dining

While the regular nightlife is to be found in the hotel bars, you might enjoy hiring a catamaran and heading out on the water for a sail and a barbeque meal. It can be the experience of a lifetime. A crew of three will man the boat and you can imagine living the life of the rich and the famous by pretending it’s your private yacht!


While the regular shopping items such as clothes, tea and knick-knacks are available you can also pick up some interesting handicrafts, jewellery, Batik or explore modern shopping arcades, networks of popular shopping malls, and supermarkets in Negombo. Five minutes’ drive to the expressway and in 15 minutes you’ll be in Colombo.