Colombo or Negombo, where to go?
As more and more bloggers tip Negombo over Colombo it is slowly becoming a trend among travelers to skip Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and head straight to the laid back coastal town of Negombo instead. But why would you do that?! And is this the right decision?! In this post a brief description of both places to help you plan the perfect start of your journey.
Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and the island’s largest city. With a population of roughly 650.000 it’s by far the most crowded city of the island. And although a little research might be needed, there’s a ton of things to do in this bustling city;
Get introduced to Sri Lanka’s long and rich history at the county’s largest historical museum, admire amazing colonial heritage, feast your eyes on the cities sprawling market and get lost in its narrow alleys. See the cultural and religious diversity in one of the many temples as well as every street corner. Enjoy a variety of street food or simply relax under jungle-like trees in the cities’ oldest park.
Depending on the place you visit you can both find crowded, chaotic street life full of sound, dirt and sweat as well as hip, modern restaurants and carefree, leisurely places.
Being the starting point of some fantastic railway journeys; the coastal train to Galle and the luscious journey to Kandy. As well as having buses to fairly all destinations in Sri Lanka, Colombo is an excellent gateway to the counties riches.
Click here to read 6 unmissable places to see local life and culture in Colombo. Extended map included.
A lot less crowded is Negombo. With less than 137.000 inhabitants, the pace of life is a lot slower and more relaxed. People are well prepared for tourists and you’ll find facilities such as Western restaurants, accommodation and souvenir shops everywhere along the main road. Adding to Negombo’s convenience.
Most people head straight to Negombo because of the beach and although yes, there is a long stretch of beach, it’s not nearly as beautiful as other beaches in Sri Lanka due to plastic and waste. If you do want to experience beach life, be sure to visit between mid September and April, when the sea allows you to swim.
More interesting is the local life; visit the daily fish market or watch fisherman catch their goods. Gaze at some amazingly beautiful churches and stroll along 300 year old canals. Explore the shallow waters of the lagoon by boat and watch a spectacular sunset on the beach.
Located within 20 minutes from the airport, Negombo is a good place to relax after a long flight and to acclimatize to Sri Lanka’s hot and humid weather. It’s in close distance to Colombo, which can easily be reached by bus, train or private transportation.
Colombo or Negombo, where to go?!
I enjoyed Colombo over Negombo. Mainly because Colombo showed me a melting pot of modern life, culture, religion and history unlike any other city in Sri Lanka. And although I felt jet lagged from a long flight, the city gave me enough energy to go exploring.
Negombo was on the disappointing side for me because I expected a relaxed last day at the beach.
But besides the plastic and trash, the ocean was way too dangerous to swim in when I visited halfway august. And overall the beach just couldn’t compete with some other beautiful beaches that I’d seen on the island.
That doesn’t take away that the local fish market and boating in the lagoon can still make up for a great experience.
As for yourself
In the end it all comes down to what you are looking for;
If you like to indulge yourself in city life, see the large, bustling street market, experience delicious street food and learn about the cultural and religious melting pot that Sri Lanka is today, then Colombo is an excellent place to start exploring.
If you rather fancy to take things slow, relax, swim in a calm ocean during the season, go boating in the lagoon or see the smaller scale coastal town life instead then Negombo might just be the better option 😉
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To get an impression of the awesome day I had in Colombo read my travel story here.