Negombo city is an ideal and liberal place with modern life style, for those who want quick access to and from the country's international airport. The 100 km long canal network running through the city is still used, and outrigger canoes and modern water-craft ply this route daily, for trade and tourist purposes. Remains of colonization include the Dutch fort built in 1672, as well as centuries-old Portuguese and Dutch houses, administrative buildings, and churches. Negombo is also home to the country's second-largest fish market, the "Lellama", at the north end of the town's lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, which give tourists a chance to meet the area's fishermen and even organise fishing trips into the lagoon and the ocean beyond. Other nearby attractions open to visitors include Muthurajawela, which is part of a 6,000-hectare (14,826-acre) protected marshland, home to over 190 species of wildlife.
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. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fishermen and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are also popular among visitors, with a few well-preserved coral reefs and a 50-year-old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicrafts, batiks and jewellery boutiques on the beaches and the shops in the city.