Negombo is traditionally a fishing village and very close to the international airport and is known as Little Rome with many Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. The sprawling town of Negombo is of interest mainly thanks to its prox¬imity to the international airport, just 10km down the road — many visitors stagger off long-haul flights straight into one of the beach hotels here, or use the town as a last stop before flying home; it's also a good place to arrange onward tours and transport, and is convenient for boat trips to the wildlife-rich wetlands of Muthurajawela, just south of town. Negombo’s beach is very wide in places, but can feel rather shabby if you’ve visited any of the more pristine resorts further south (although if you’ve just arrived from Europe or North America, you’ll appreciate even Negombo’s rather down-at-heel tropical charms). With the influence of Portuguese, Dutch and English, Negombo has become one of the biggest Catholic bases in the island. Popularly known as the ‘Little Rome’, it was a humble fishing village half a century ago.