Best of Negombo

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Negombo
On the west coast just north of Colombo, Negombo is a city of both commerce and leisure. The town’s thriving fishing industry dates back centuries, and its golden sand beaches and seaside resorts make a great bookend for a trip to the capital. Vestiges of the European presence in Sri Lanka survive around town, particularly in the many ornate Portuguese churches that have helped earn Negombo the nickname of “Little Rome.” Given the abundance of seafood, Negombo not surprisingly has some excellent restaurants. 

It’s worth rising early to see the action at the open-air fish market, where fishers pull their outrigger canoes onto shore and unload a huge variety of seafood. At makeshift stalls on the sands, vendors and buyers haggle over tuna, mackerel and anchovies, while at the dry market nearby fishmongers lay out neatly halved fish on mats of coconut fiber to dry in the sun. Outside of Negombo, you can see the labor-intensive production of raa (also called toddy), an alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm trees. Workers climb the trees to collect sap, which is then left to ferment in a pot for a few days before distributing to local taverns.
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Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Map of Best of Sri Lanka - 6 Days
Best of Sri Lanka - 6 Days

From sacred Buddhist temples to rugged mountains, this six-day tour will take you through the best that Sri Lanka has to offer. Split your time between historic cities, ancient stone fortresses, and the Sri Lankan Highlands as you soak up the history, culture, and landscapes of this unique country.

A train overlooks tea estates on the way to Nuwara Eliya
Map of Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days
Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days

The misty mountains of Sri Lanka's Hill Country take center stage on this invigorating five-day itinerary. Start with touring temples in the historic city of Kandy, then head south on an unforgettable train journey through lush tea estates. After a night in the hilltop village of Nuwara Eliya, explore flora and fauna of Horton Plains National Park before traveling to the west coast for your final night in the laid-back beach town of Negombo.

Colorful boats in a Sri Lankan harbor
Map of Discover Sri Lanka & the Maldives - 10 Days
Discover Sri Lanka & the Maldives - 10 Days

On this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, you'll enjoy an excellent mix of cultural sightseeing and relaxation. Start in Negombo on the tropical island of Sri Lanka, touring various destinations to learn about the country's history at temples, palaces, forts, and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then hop on a quick flight to the Maldives, where you'll enjoy swimming and sunbathing on idyllic beaches, snorkeling in a lagoon, and spotting dolphins from the boat deck on a sunset cruise.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Map of Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days
Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days

Ancient history, fascinating culture, outstanding natural areas, and beautiful beaches—this six-day itinerary takes in the best of Sri Lanka's dry season. After arrival in Colombo, you'll be quickly immersed in the lushness of Minneriya National Park. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and marvel at its unlikely and enduring construction. Learn about the country's colonial past at Trincomalee, then wind down your trip with relaxing beach days or an exciting whale watching trip.

Ella Rock in Hill Country
Trekking in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

One of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka is on your own two feet, exploring quiet trails and beautiful landscapes on a guided trekking tour. This weeklong adventure takes you to Horton Plains National Park, Ella Rock, the famed Hill Country, and several other destinations for hiking, canoeing, and appreciating native wildlife. You'll also visit ancient temples and learn about the harvesting and production of tea, adding a cultural element to this outdoorsy itinerary.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days

See the best that Sri Lanka has to offer on this week-long itinerary around the country's cultural monuments and natural wonders. You'll visit historic temples in Kandy and Sigiriya, see the colorful fish market of Negombo, and learn about tea production in Hill Country. The trip features not one but two Jeep safaris in national parks, providing ample opportunities to see elephants, monkeys, and rare birds in their natural habitats.

A wild deer in Horton Plains National Park
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

Sri Lanka is a paradise for outdoor adventurers with expansive national parks, peaceful reservoirs, and rushing rivers. This 7-day tour, well-suited to families and active travelers of all ages, leads you around the country's natural wonders. Go whitewater rafting on the Kelani River, trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range, look for elusive leopards in Horton Plains National Park, and paddle a canoe through the quiet waters of Samanalawewa—it's all on the agenda.

Sunrise views over Sigiriya from Pidurangala
Map of Authentic Sri Lanka: Negombo, Dambulla, Kandy & Ahangama - 7 Days
Authentic Sri Lanka: Negombo, Dambulla, Kandy & Ahangama - 7 Days

Get to know Sri Lanka on this week-long exploration of ancient temples, unspoiled countryside, and idyllic beaches. Focusing on the southern half of the "Jewel of the Indian Ocean," you'll check off iconic sites like Pidirungala Rock, Sigiriya, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Immerse yourself in the surrounding landscapes as you cycle through rice paddies and country roads, take a wildlife safari through Minneriya National Park, and tour a working tea farm. After a visit to the fascinating fortified city of Galle, your adventure ends on the sweeping southern beaches of Ahangama.

Sunrise in Galle
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This 8-day itinerary takes you to the heart of Sri Lanka for ancient history, Buddhist culture, and exciting adventures in nature. From Negombo (near the capital), you'll experience a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tour a tea plantation, meet elephants, and explore towns loaded with Portuguese and Dutch colonial history. End each day with an opportunity to catch an alluring sunset that only South Asia can offer.

End your trip on the beaches of Unawatuna
Map of Miracles of Sri Lanka: Temples, Mountains & Beaches - 8 Days
Miracles of Sri Lanka: Temples, Mountains & Beaches - 8 Days

This 8-day getaway takes you on a circular journey through the highlights of central and southern Sri Lanka. Setting out from the west coast beach town of Negombo, you'll travel deep into the country's cultural heart—exploring the ancient fortress of Sigiriya, the cave temples of Dambulla, and the palaces and relics of Kandy along the way. After a refreshing trip through the lush mountains and tea estates of Ella, head back to the coast to wind down in the beach paradise of Unawatuna.

Traditional carved masks in Galle
Map of Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days
Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days

From intricate lacquerware to carved masks and exquisite weaving, Sri Lanka's traditional arts and crafts hold a special place in its cultural heritage. On this fascinating nine-day itinerary, you'll take a deep dive into the island's historical and contemporary artistry. You'll visit the famed weavers of Divulapitiya, admire the ancient treasures of Dambulla, learn the basics of ceremonial mask-making in Galle, and sit down with some of the island's pre-eminent artists in Colombo and Kandy.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

Ancient rock temples, wild elephants and whales, sloping hills planted with tea: this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka takes you to the country's incredibly diverse highlights. Go on a Jeep safari, taste tea where it's harvested, and scan the ocean's surface for whales. With a mix of cultural sites and outdoor adventures, plus time to relax on the idyllic beaches of Mirissa, this sweeping itinerary has something for everyone.

Sunrise over the Indian Ocean in Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Beaches & Villages of Sri Lanka: Kandy, Ella, & Tangalle - 10 Days

This relaxed 10-day itinerary around Sri Lanka is a treat for nature lovers. Along the journey, you'll see turtles hatching eggs on the beach, spot rare birds in the wild, hike to incredible vistas, and learn about the spices of Ceylon. There's a cultural element to the trip, too: you'll visit temples, learn to meditate with a Buddhist monk, dine in a Sri Lankan home in a small village, and ride an antique train route established by the British in the 18th century.

Kelani River in Sri Lanka
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 10 Days

From mountainous national parks to rushing rivers to the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, the landscapes featured on this tour around Sri Lanka are paradise for travelers who love the outdoors. On this action-packed itinerary, you'll hike and cycle, try whitewater rafting, and spot elephants in the wild. You'll end up at the beach for a free day of water sports, swimming, and sunbathing before the trip comes to an end.

Views across the Sri Lankan city of Kandy
Wonders of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Ahangama -10 Days

From ancient temples to mountain villages and national parks, this 10-day itinerary introduces you to the many wonders of southern and central Sri Lanka. Setting out from the laid-back beach town of Negombo, you'll visit some of the country's most remarkable cultural sites like Yapahuwa, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya, and explore the surrounding landscapes with memorable cycling and safari excursions. After a week of discovery and adventure, end your trip with a few days of relaxation on the Indian Ocean beaches of Ahangama.

A statue of Shiva at Trincomalee's Koneswaram Temple
Map of Ancient Cultures of Northern & Central Sri Lanka - 10 Days
Ancient Cultures of Northern & Central Sri Lanka - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary takes you off the beaten path to discover Sri Lanka's remarkable cultural and spiritual diversity. Traveling from the little-visited northern shores to the remote forests of the southeast, you'll seek enlightenment under the branches of Anuradhapura's sacred Bodhi tree, tour the colorful Hindu temples of Jaffna, admire the beachfront statues of Trincomalee, and learn about life in a Vedda village—home to the island's last indigenous forest-dwelling tribe.

The golden statue of Shiva at Trincomalee's oceanfront Koneswaram Temple
Map of Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days
Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days

This relaxed, 11-day family vacation combines Sri Lanka's classic highlights with some lesser-visited gems. Bouncing between the Hill Country, the Cultural Triangle, and the quiet northeastern beaches of Trincomalee, you'll embark on a series of hands-on experiences and excursions for all ages. Learn to play the Sri Lankan drums, take a forest walk with the island's last indigenous tribe, cycle through country villages, and snorkel amid tropical fish and reef sharks.

Elephants grazing at Yala National Park
Map of Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days
Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days

This 12-day honeymoon is perfect for couples who love exotic wildlife and natural scenery. Starting from the capital, you'll circle the island-nation exploring a boggling array of national parks, rainforests, ancient villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Buddhist relics. After each day of sightseeing with your private guide, you'll have quality time (alone) at your accommodations—a fun mix of resorts, beach hotels, and safari camps—for the ultimate romantic adventure.

Views from "World's End" in Sri Lanka's Horton Plains National Park
Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure: Rafting, Hiking & Waterfalls - 12 Days

Perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this jam-packed 12-day itinerary highlights Sri Lanka's most dramatic and diverse landscapes. Hike to five of the country's most scenic waterfalls, raft down the raging Kelani River, see rare wildlife in Horton Plains and Udawalawe National Parks, and end your adventure with some well-earned downtime on the white sand beaches of Weligama.

Take a safari into Yala National Park to meet its thriving population of Asian elephants
Map of Central & Southern Sri Lanka: Wildlife, Culture & Beaches  - 12 Days
Central & Southern Sri Lanka: Wildlife, Culture & Beaches - 12 Days

This 12-day itinerary combines cultural highlights with wildlife spotting and some low-key beach time for the ultimate introduction to Sri Lanka. Check off iconic highlights like Sigiriya, Dambulla, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, then head to the mountains to cool off in the heart of tea country. After searching for leopards, elephants, and sloth bears on a safari through Yala National Park, make your way to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for two days of downtime on Unawatuna's beaches.

The lush green mountains of Ella, Sri Lanka
Map of Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days

This is the quintessential Sri Lankan bike ride! On this two week trip, you will discover local tea plantations, small villages, and historically significant cities — along with some wonderfully diverse riding through a sizeable portion of the island. You'll cycle from the culturally rich north through tea country then down into the southern plains and Horton Plains National Park, finishing in Galle.

Explore Sri Lanka on a 14-day cycling adventure
Map of Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days
Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days

This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

Sunset over a beach in Tangalle
Map of Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

This two-week itinerary around Sri Lanka offers an ideal mix of activity and relaxation. You'll begin in Negombo and work your way around the island, stopping to visit ancient temple complexes, Buddhist shrines, and palaces carved into mountainsides. Along the journey, you'll spend two nights observing wildlife in Wilpattu National Park, enjoy the calm coastline in Pasikudah, explore charming colonial villages, and relax on breathtaking beaches with snorkeling and diving opportunities easily accessible offshore.

A tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days

National parks, ancient fortresses, gorgeous beaches, and one of the oldest cities in the world: this varied itinerary takes you far and wide to Sri Lanka's most fascinating sights. You'll explore a quiet island and spot dolphins on boat tours, hike to viewpoints for sweeping views over tea plantations, look for leopards during a Jeep safari, and learn about Buddhist principles during guided tours. Whether you're interested in cultural history, colorful wildlife, or the process behind the production of Ceylon tea, this two-week highlights tour has plenty to offer.

A traditional boat in the Maldives
Map of Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days
Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days

This 14-day island-hopping trip offers equal parts exploration and relaxation. Uncover the history and culture of Sri Lanka, a jewel of the Indian Ocean, from ancient rock fortresses and historical capital cities to quiet tea plantations and national parks home to elephants and other endangered wildlife. You'll spend some time unwinding on the beaches of Unawatuna before heading to the capital city of Colombo to catch your flight to the Maldives. You'll spend the last few days of the trip snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying epic sunsets in this island paradise.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Sigiriya · Colombo · Ella · Nuwara Eliya · Udawalawe · Yala National Park · Galle · Bentota · Wilpattu · Mirissa · Anuradhapura · Tangalle · Dambulla · Pasikudah · Habarana