Negombo was a trading centre for the Portuguese and Dutch and at one time was a cinnamon producing region. However, as an easy stop for the airport and the pristine beaches, Negombo is a popular place to stay.
Nowadays Negombo relies heavily on tourism and it also produces ceramics and brassware. Fishing is key for the locals and they can be seen in their carved out canoes or catamarans. As the lagoon is no longer as plentiful, nowadays the fishermen head out into the ocean for their catch.
Attractions in the city are the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 , which is now a part of the prison, and the Dutch Canal once a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villagers. The canal runs through the town and is still being used today. Muthurajawela Marsh off Negombo lagoon just south of the town is a unique wetland habitat and the largest marsh in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist temple in the town is an unique structure where beautiful statures depicting various Buddhist events are built beneath a giant Buddhist statue.