Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Galle, located on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, is a truly marvelous city that is certain to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. With its rich history, cultural heritage, and breathtaking scenery, Galle is a destination that truly has something for everyone. In this travel guide, we'll explore the best of what Galle has to offer, from its historic fortifications to its delicious cuisine and stunning beaches.

History and Culture of Galle

Galle was one of Sri Lanka's major cities and one of its main ports for many centuries. In the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka, establishing a strong presence in Galle. They built the original Galle Fort, which later became a key strategic location for the Dutch, who took control of the city in the 17th century.

The Dutch expanded and fortified the Galle Fort, creating the impressive structure that stands today. In the late 18th century, the British captured Galle, and their influence can also be seen throughout the city. Galle's unique blend of Dutch, Portuguese, and British influences is apparent in its architecture, which includes colonial-style buildings with intricate carvings and ornate details.

The city's vibrant culture is also reflected in its lively festivals, such as the Galle Literary Festival and the Galle Music Festival, which showcase a wide array of local and international talent. The city's cultural heritage is evident in its stunning colonial architecture, a unique blend of Dutch, Portuguese, and British influences.

Attractions and Things to Do in Galle

Galle is a city that offers a wealth of attractions and things to do for visitors of all interests.

The highlight of Galle is the iconic Galle Fort, also known as the Galle Dutch Fort, which was initially built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later heavily modified and expanded by the Dutch. This fort is considered one of the best-preserved colonial fortifications in Asia. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in history and architecture. You will find a range of cultural attractions within the fort, including the Old Dutch Hospital, the Maritime Museum, and the Galle Lighthouse.

An aerial view of the part of the Galle Fort, Sri Lanka with the fort, the Galle Fort Lighthouse and the ocean in sight.
An aeriel view of the part of the Galle Dutch Fort.

Another spectacular attraction is the All Saints Anglican Church, built in 1871 and known for its stained glass windows and Gothic architecture. For a glimpse into Galle's maritime history and culture, visit the National Maritime Museum, which showcases the city's rich history in fishing, navigation, and shipbuilding.

A popular photo spot inside the Galle Fort, Sri Lanka, with the National Maritime Museum's walls in the background.
A popular photo spot inside the Galle Fort, with the National Maritime Museum's walls in the background.

Another unique entertainment option is catching a cricket match at the Galle International Cricket Stadium, one of Sri Lanka's most famous cricket venues. However, make sure to check the schedule before your visit to see if there are any matches or events taking place during your stay.

Aside from the architectural landmarks, Galle is also renowned for its magnificent beaches. One of the best beaches in the Galle area is Unawatuna beach, which was once listed as the number one beach in the world. While enjoying this beach, Don't forget to explore the lovely town. Read more about the top things to do in Unawatuna.

An aerial view of Unawatuna beach.
An aerial view of Unawatuna beach.

Other beautiful beaches near Galle include Koggala Beach and Jungle Beach. Also, don't forget to visit the nearby Hikkaduwa Beach, which is about 30 minutes away. It is a famous spot for snorkeling and watersports, and colorful marine life. The Hikkaduwa town itself is one of the country's most beloved destinations. It's a good idea to stay a few days in this small coastal town and indulge in the activities there. Read more about the best things to do in Hikkaduwa.

The coastal town of Mirissa is a must-visit in your journey to Sri Lanka. Less than an hour's drive from Galle, Mirissa is one of the world's best spots for Whale watching. Being a vibrant coastal town, there is plenty to do and it's well worth spending a few days there. Find out more about things to do in Mirissa.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Hiyare Forest Reserve offers opportunities for birdwatching and trekking. It is an excellent place for a change from the city and to observe the local wildlife. The nearby Moonstone Mines and Handunugoda Tea Estate are also worth a visit, offering visitors a chance to learn about the traditional processes of mining moonstones and making tea.

Food and Drink

Galle offers a wide range of dining options, from delicious street food to upscale restaurants. Visitors can sample traditional Sri Lankan dishes such as rice and curry, hoppers, and kottu roti or try international cuisine with a local twist. For a unique dining experience, consider trying one of the many restaurants in the fort, which offer stunning views of Galle city and the ocean.

Shopping in Galle

Galle offers a unique and enjoyable shopping experience for visitors, with a wide array of shops, markets, and galleries selling locally crafted goods, souvenirs, and artworks. From traditional handicrafts to contemporary designs, Galle's shopping scene has it all. It is home to numerous boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries. Here, you can find a variety of traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts, including handloom textiles, intricate lacework, and colorful batiks.

If you're in search of unique souvenirs, Galle offers plenty of options. Local handicrafts like wooden masks, hand-carved elephant figurines, and traditional pottery make for great souvenirs or gifts.

Jewelry is another popular item to shop for in Galle, with many stores offering a range of precious and semi-precious stones like sapphires, rubies, and moonstones.

Finally, for a truly local shopping experience, visit the Galle Fish Market, where you can witness the lively atmosphere as fishermen bring in their daily catch. This market offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of the locals and provides an opportunity to buy fresh seafood at reasonable prices.

Hotels and Accommodation

Galle offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets, including budget-friendly guesthouses, mid-range hotels, and luxury resorts. Visitors can choose to stay within the historic Galle Fort, in the nearby town of Unawatuna, or in one of the many beachside resorts. Regardless of your preference, you will undoubtedly find a comfortable and convenient place to stay during your visit to Galle.

How to Get There

From Colombo, your best option is to take the Southern Expressway, and you can get to Galle within one and a half hours. Alternatively, you can take a scenic train journey from Colombo to Galle, which takes approximately 3 hours.

Getting Around in Galle

Once in Galle, visitors can get around the city by tuk-tuk, taxi, or public bus. Tuk-tuks and taxis are the most convenient and flexible transportation options while taking the bus is a budget-friendly alternative. You can also rent a bicycle or scooter for a more independent way to explore the city and its surroundings.

As one of Sri Lanka's most visited tourist destinations, Galle is a city that offers a truly unforgettable experience for visitors. From its stunning beaches and lush forests to its rich history and cultural heritage, Galle is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. So be sure to visit this incredible city on your visit to Sri Lanka.

You’ve successfully subscribed to Wonders of Ceylon
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Success! Your email is updated.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.