negombo sunset

You may not have heard about Negombo, Sri Lanka, but if you’re planning a trip to the capital Colombo, you need to read the next few sentences. Colombo is a bustling city, without a lot of obvious tourist attractions. The activity there is functional, in the way some capitals tend to be; meaning for travelers Colombo isn’t the ideal place to base yourself.

Nearby Negombo on the other hand is by the beach, infused with the culture waves and sand typically carry with them, close enough to Colombo, plus plenty to do on its own. Here’s a short guide to Negombo and why you probably should stay there instead of Colombo.

Where To Stay

The family run 8+ Plus Motels name is not confidence-inspiring but don’t let that discourage you. 8+ Plus Motels is a clean, modern, efficiently run motel (the rooms all face outward into a fenced courtyard area). A fairly hearty breakfast is included and the wifi connection is solid. In case food or Internet connectivity aren’t on the top of your list of priorities, they offer airport pickup, which is nice since the airport is in Negombo. International flights tend to leave in the middle of the night so having a ride arranged makes things easier for travelers who don’t like planning much.

8+ plus motels negombo

Add to that 8+ Plus Motels is less than a 10 minute walk to the beach as well as many of the restaurants and bars along the sleepy main road through town, it’s accommodation I can thoroughly recommend. I’ll add a few more nice features – air conditioning in the rooms, never a shortage of hot water, and complimentary coffee served throughout the day.

Speaking Of Coffee

When you search for good coffee in Negombo, you’ll inevitably come across one of the simplest places to enjoy it – aptly named Zen Cafe. This is the smile that greets you, the coffee is good, and there are plenty of vegan options too if you happen to be lactose intolerant or otherwise.

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zen cafe negombo

I’ve heard since I visited Zen Cafe may be under new management but hopefully not a lot will change to the staff, several seats, and table right outside. What makes Zen Cafe so adorable is how relaxed it is, just away from a lot of the action but close enough to people-watch, read, or simply dose yourself with caffeine.

zen cafe negombo

Keep It Simple

This isn’t a full guide (clearly) to Negomobo but why you should probably stay here, rather than Colombo on your next trip. Getting into Colombo is easy enough with public transportation (around 40 minutes) though getting out is the nice part too. The beach at sunset is particularly beautiful. Families come to watch the sun slip under the horizon, get snacks from the stalls, both of which you should do too. One of the better viewing spots is close to Lords Complex Restaurant, a good place to eat around 90-120 minutes before sundown or after, as the evening air cools slightly.

negombo sunset

Colombo is a busy place without much of the balance that Negombo provides to turn the activity level down. Under the radar almost to a fault, many find out about Negombo after they’ve checked into Colombo for a few days. Hopefully you now have in mind to flip that around a bit, spend the days away in Negombo with Colombo being your day trip destination.