Galle which lies 130km south of Colombo comes with its own inherent beauty. A fortified city with a wealth of attractions, Sri Lanka’s most charming city is definitely a tourist hub and one that you can’t afford to miss.

A perfect combination of beach and culture, Galle has it all. Galle is one of those destinations that you’ll instantly feel comfortable in with its beautiful locales that you can spend hours admiring and exploring

Galle Travel Guide

When in Galle you have a chance to visit some of the most popular historic places such as the Flag rock and it is one of the best places to catch beautiful sunsets.

If on your way of exploration you feel hungry, you can stop by Fortaleza which has some classy interiors which are well matched with some fine cuisine such as lamb chops and seafood.

Photo: Beautiful coastal city of Galle / CC0

Things To Do In Galle

Galle Fort

This is a must visit when in Galle. The Portuguese and Dutch fortification dates back hundreds of years to the 16th century and is heavy with history. The ramparts are so thick that you can walk along them – start at one end and finish at the other

There are other things to do in Galle Fort too. You can visit the museum, have a bite at one of the cafes, find souvenirs at the jewelry shop and even stay at the luxurious Amangalla Hotel set in the fort’s ramparts.

Photo: Galle fort in all its might / CC0

Dutch Reformed Church

The Dutch Reformed Church is the ancient building located in the premises of the fort. The building’s date goes back to the 18th century during the Dutch period.

A walk through the Fort ground along with the humble caretaker, immersing in his never-ending fancy stories will take you back to the era whence it was built. The Church is also known as Groot Kert.

Photo: The beautiful Dutch Reformed Church/ CC0

Lighthouse

Located in the Galle Fort, this onshore Lighthouse is one of the few remaining in Sri Lanka. Built in 1939, it is the oldest Lighthouse in the country. Lighthouses played an important role in ancient times as a symbol of hope for the Mariners. Galle Fort Lighthouse has an idyllic setting with panoramic ocean view and light sea breeze.

Flag Rock

The Flag Rock an ex-Portuguese Bastion, situated at the southernmost end of the Galle Fort, today is a popular destination for tourists to witness the sunset. This Rock was a natural defense center during the Dutch period, from where ships were alerted about dangers lurking and also from the unseen rocks underwater by firing Musket shots from the Pigeon Island.

Photo: The natural defense rock- flag rock / CC0

Maritime Archeology Museum

The museum showcases artifacts of maritime life such as models of boats, artillery and relics and features other attractions like statues and video presentations. Although damaged in the 2004 tsunami, the museum was restored and later reopened to the public.

Japanese Peace Pagoda

Built-in 2005 when Sri Lanka was in the midst of war, Japanese Buddhist monks built a peace pagoda on a hillside in Rumassala, Unawatuna. Today, it continues to stand as an important symbol of peace.

You can drive or walk although the latter is a better option as you get to enjoy the scenery better and really take in the beauty.

Photo: The Japanese peace pagoda / CC0

Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Ancient and peaceful, Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is a beautiful Buddhist rock temple with walls covered in murals in the Kandyan style. The complex also features a dramatic rock cavern and an old bodhi tree.

It’s rarely crowded as it can be difficult finding taxis to take you here. However, it only makes it more alluring. Spend some time gathering your thoughts here.

Photo: The buddhist rock temple/ CC0

Nature

Unawatuna Beach

Unawatuna Beach is quite possibly one of Sri Lanka’s best. Palm trees and vegetation border one side while the sand and sea stretch out on the other. Spending the day here is one of the best things to do in Galle, especially when you want to take a break from sightseeing. Nearby, a small hill with a big Buddha statue provides lovely views of the area.

Photo: Clean blue waters of Unawatuna Beach / CC0

Jungle Beach

This secluded beach is idyllic for those who are looking for stunning landscape, solitude, and serenity. A little road lying on the west of Unawatuna Beach will take you to the Jungle Beach, passing through the serene Peace Pagoda.

Rumassala Sanctuary

Once called ‘Buono Vista’ owing to its terrific views, Rumassala is now a sanctuary. It’s rich in biodiversity includes coral reefs and purple-faced langurs, which are endemic to the country. While here, visit the jungle beaches where lush vegetation provides welcome shade and creates an idyllic environment for relaxation.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Sinharaja Forest Reserve (kingdom of the lion), is a paradise for nature and wildlife lovers. It is home to a vast number of endemic species of birds and mammals of Sri Lanka.

About 95 percent of Sri Lankan endemic birds and more than 50 percent of endemic mammals are known to have their habitats in this Forest Reserve.

Photo: Take a hike at the Sinharaja Forest Reserve / CC0

Shop at

Mansion Museum

The Historical Mansion Museum is a quaint restored Dutch house inside Galle Fort that’s filled with artifacts from the past. Cupboards and shelves are lined with jewelry, antique typewriters and pottery to name a few. A lot of the items you see are on sale! Shopping for the best souvenirs can be done here.

Galle is famous for lace, gemstones, and wood carvings. At Shoba Gallery, women are taught the art of dyeing and lacework. The gallery is the place to learn traditional Sri Lankan craft, as it offers lace-making, paper-making, and toy-making classes.

Another place to shop is Barefoot, which has stylish clothing, jewelry, home decorations, and crafts. Elephant Walk Arcade also has a collection of shops worth browsing.

A creative shopping and eating experience in Galle, owned by British fashion designer Catherine Rawson, is the Old Railway. It has studio space, cafe, and shop. The shop is packed with hand-made clothes, crafts, and jewelry. The displays are in antique cupboards and fabric is bought in small quantities, so most pieces are created in limited editions.

Photo: Shopping at Galle can be a fun, classy event / CC0

Sports Activities

Since this a coastal town, there are numerous activities related to water. Unawatuna is a hub for all kinds of adventure sports activities.

Surfing

Unawatuna, the beach town in Galle, has pretty good waves for surfing. They aren’t particularly big, but they are perfect for some fun in the ocean. They are also great for new surfers, especially beginners.

Get in touch with Surf South Sri Lanka to grab some lessons if you still haven’t mastered the art of standing on a board! They also rent boards for travelling surfers that don’t have one.

Scuba Diving

Unawatuna is a little bay with white sandy beaches and a coral reef off the shore where you can do some scuba diving. Sea Horse Divers will take you out to the reef or to a wreck dive that’s only a 30-minute ride away. The Rangoon is a 100-year-old British ship that sank with its mast intact.

Photo: You must Scuba dive atleast once in Sri Lanka / CC0

Canoeing

Canoeing is a beautiful experience in Galle. Unawatuna is an astounding island where you can try renting a canoe. It is brimmed with canals, lagoons, beaches, rivers and reservoirs.

Snorkeling

The Jungle beach in Galle, which offers a perfect location for Snorkelling, is a semi-hidden bay enclosed in a jungle. The reef is not as dangerous as it is partially dead. The water is current is not strong so you can safely swim near the rocky edges.

Photo: Snorkeling is worth trying out at Galle / CC0

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is more fun than normal cycling. The rocky paths, graveled roads, tracks unused for years and the adrenalin rush to speed up are the absolute reasons to try this jaunt. At Galle, Unawatuna is the place where you would find centers for this sport.

You can choose your type of bikes from an array of selection and you will be provided with a local guide, helmets, and refreshments. The guide helps you to know the place better with his narrations and titbits of information.

Experiences to have

Spa

No vacation is complete without a luxurious spa treatment and Sri Lanka offers travelers numerous choices. You can get a facial, a full body massage or choose a combo treatment that includes a scrub, massage and facial. If there’s a special occasion like a birthday, hen party or a wedding, you can opt for a treatment to make you feel extra pampered.

Photo: Rejuvenate at a Spa / CC0

Cricket Match

A century ago, Galle International Stadium was a racecourse for the British. It’s now the city’s cricket grounds and has been since 1998. The first Test match was Sri Lanka v New Zealand. You should definitely visit a match if it happens when you are in town.

Where to stay

Galle has places to suit all budgets, from luxury resort to budget hotels. Airbnb also is a good option in the city. 

Depending on your budget you can check in on online sights like Make my trip or Trivago to get the best deal.

March 22, 2019 3:05 am Published by

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