The Galle Fort, located on the southern coast of the country, is one of the five historical monuments visiting which is one of the things to do in Galle. The fort was initially built by the Portuguese and was later modified by the Dutch. Today the Galle Fort is also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a stunning blend of architecture, archaeology and history amidst a beautiful tropical setting.
Listed by UNESCO, the National Maritime Archaeology Museum occupies a 1671-built Dutch warehouse above the Galle Fort Old Gate. The museum introduces Sri Lanka’s history of navigation, marine life and anthropology, with 3,600 archaeological exhibits of sea-faring, maritime trade, scaled-down whale models, natural coral beds, deep sea fish, and life-size dioramas of traditional fishing. The final exhibit portrays methods to combat sea pollution.
Timings : Tuesday to Saturday - 9 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee : LKR 300
Unawatuna is one of the most popular attractions in Sri Lanka and a popular thing to do in Galle, which draws both tourists as well as the locals to its everlasting beauty. This banana shaped beach, with its golden sand, sparkling water, and lush palm trees is the perfect place to relax and spend some quality time with your family. There are sunbeds available for you to sit back relax and enjoy your day with a drink.
When in Unawatuna, make it a point to visit the famous Dalawella beach. If you are looking for a quieter escape from the main beach, head out to the Dalawella beach. The beach is the ideal location to spend some quiet and quality time with your family or loved ones, while you relax, sunbathe and swim under the beautiful blue sky.
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The Peace Pagoda is on the hillside of the Galle Fort and is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The Mahayana sect built the Peace Pagoda as an initiative to establish peace in the Sri Lankan conflict zone. The Pagoda is a spectacle to witness, especially when you view it from the side of Unawatuna, which makes it look like it has grown out of the jungle.
Located on the Rumassala Hill in Unawatuna, Rumassala Sanctuary has everything a nature enthusiast would want to see as the protected area is filled with rare birds, animals and even some medicinal plants. The hill is also known to be steeped in folklore and history as Rumassala has a place in Ramayana and is said to be the place from where Rama rescued princess Sita.
A private collection of a long-time resident of Galle, Abdul Gaffer, the Historical Mansion Museum is housed inside a restored Dutch house and is considered to be one of the largest private collections in Sri Lanka. Colonial artefacts of yesteryear are all over the place, and unlike other museums, most items displayed here are for sale. They also conduct events and presentations on traditional crafts like gem cutting and polishing.
Located at the southernmost end of Galle Fort, the Flag Rock was once a Portuguese bastion and is now one of the most popular places in Galle to catch the sunset and one of the only places in Sri Lanka there are cliff divers. During certain times of the day, cliff jumping is accessible and will cost about USD 10 per person.
Galle is much more than the historic fort and its attractions. The Old Dutch Market in Galle is one of the unique remnants of colonial times. As the name suggests, it is a marketplace, popular amongst locals as well as tourists for selling some of the freshest and exotic produce in all of Galle.
Timings : 7:00 AM- 6:00 PM
Time Required : 1-2 hours
Entry Fee : Free
Galle Fort Lighthouse, one of the oldest in Sri Lanka, is a coastal lighthouse inside Galle Fort. Initially built in 1848, it is one of the most visited attractions of the fort due to its picturesque surroundings, perfect for a serene stroll or an Instagram-worthy photo. It is important to note that visitors are not allowed to climb to the top of the lighthouse.
Constructed on the site of the former guard room, Galle Fort Clock Tower is a longstanding landmark within the ramparts of Galle Fort. Surrounded by old Dutch ruins, this four-storey-tall stone monument with a large clock face hails from 1883 and overlooks the oceanfront central Moon Bastion and Galle Cricket Stadium. There is a scenic stone ramp and walkway alongside.
Sea Turtle Hatchery Centre is a family-run conservation centre rescuing turtles in danger of losing their lives to fishing industries when caught in nets or hunted for meat. The centre features tanks for injured and newly-hatched turtles and is currently home to 40 turtles of four different species. In addition, visitors can enjoy guided tours of the farms and incubation centres.
Timings : Daily - 8 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee : LKR 500
The Dutch Reformed Church, also known as De Groote Kerk, is a church located inside the Galle Fort. Built in 1755, it is the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka and continues to be in use today. The Dutch Reformed Church is mostly renowned for its fascinating interiors. This piece of colonial architecture houses interesting relics as a testament to its long history, such as an organ, pulpit and stunning stained glasswork. Distinctive memorial tablets of former commanders of Galle serve as a reminder of the Dutch colonialists. A belfry whose origins lie in the early 18th century stands opposite the church.
Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
With scenic settings such as the interiors of Galle Fort, beside the ocean and in the old Dutch neighbourhood, the spas in Galle offer rejuvenating massages, scrubs, beauty treatments, and hot and cold plunge pools, and yoga lessons, steam rooms, saunas and much more. So whether you wish to relax after a day of sightseeing or get ready for a party, the best spas in Galle for men and women are Olu Spa, Galle Fort Spa, Spa Ceylon Royal Court, Spa Sandeshaya, and Niyagama House.
The Old Dutch Hospital is Galle’s longest-standing Dutch colonial building, now converted into a high-end shopping and dining precinct. Preserving its historic 17th-century architecture, this UNESCO-listed heritage building is now occupied by the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct overlooking the turquoise ocean. The complex features two central courtyards and long collonaded verandas with multi-cuisine restaurants, bars, coffee shops and souvenir stores.
Timings : Daily - 8 AM to 11 PM
Mirissa is hugely famous for its whale watching and dolphin watching activities. Whale watching in Mirissa allows visitors to enjoy watching them swim and play in their natural habitat. It is a completely unforgettable experience and a must-see for kids.
Rocky formations underwater along with black corals, shipwrecks and a variety of tropical fish species make Unawatuna a paradise for divers and snorkellers. Sites near the beach are ideal for beginners. At the same time, the more experienced can explore the underwater rock formations and the wreckage of the 100-year-old steamer “Rangoon” and experience the range of marine life this location has to offer.
Though this is a large and extensive list, one can definitely choose and pick some of these places from this masterlist to make a small and succinct itinerary for things to do in Galle!
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