Home to Bandaranaike International Airport (the main gateway to Sri Lanka), Katunayake is a residential suburb north of Colombo. It lies adjacent to the bird-filled shores of Negombo Lagoon and the waterfront city of Negombo, which has been nicknamed “Little Rome” due to its large number of churches.
Things to do in Katunayake
Join a boat excursion to explore the Negombo Lagoon, a large estuarine water body that sprawls on Katunayake’s western edge. It connects to the Laccadive Sea through a narrow channel and features extensive mangrove swamps, which provide a habitat for a range of waterbirds that include cormorants, egrets and terns. Soak up the scenic views of the surrounding rice paddies and coconut plantations or join the locals to fish for crabs and prawns.
Overlooking the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of the Dutch Fort, a Portuguese-built fortification that was captured by the Dutch in 1640. Although the site is now off-limits to the public as a prison, you can still admire its decorative gate and remaining ramparts before watching the locals play cricket on the adjacent Esplanade.
Nearby Negombo is home to one of the largest cathedrals in Sri Lanka, St. Mary’s Church, a Neoclassical landmark that was completed in 1922. Its interior exhibits a fusion of Sri Lankan art and European Christian traditions, with sculptures of saints and paintings depicting the life of Christ on its ceilings.
Getting around Katunayake
Katunayake is a 35-minute drive from the centre of Colombo and encompasses Bandaranaike International Airport. Katunayake railway station is located on the Puttalam line, which connects the Sri Lankan capital with destinations across north-west Sri Lanka. Buses and rickshaws are the main means of getting around.