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Galle Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2 days

Best Time: February Read More

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"Fortified beach city of the Portuguese"

Galle Tourism

Tucked into the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Galle is a major city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Blessed with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient churches and mosques, blond beaches, mansions and museums, quirky boutiques, and a convivial seaside promenade, Galle attracts locals, foreign travellers, history buffs and nature lovers alike.

Galle consists of a new side and an old side. The old part inside the walls, called Galle Fort, or the Dutch Fort, is the highlight of the city. It is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a fortress wall that offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Inside the fort, visitors can explore the Dutch Reformed Church, the Old Dutch Hospital (now a shopping and dining complex), and various colonial-era houses and mansions. The Galle Lighthouse stands as a prominent landmark near the fort. It provides picturesque views of the coastline and the Indian Ocean.

Beyond the fort, Galle showcases well-preserved colonial architecture throughout the city. Walking through the streets allows visitors to admire charming old buildings, vibrant markets, and atmospheric cafes. Galle is also perfect for a day trip from nearby Unawatuna and Mirissa.

Galle, with its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, offers a unique and charming experience for those exploring the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Must Know Before You Travel to Galle

  • Galle can easily be explored on foot, especially Galle Fort area. Tuk tuks are also available
  • Stay inside the Fort to avoid traffic and the buzz of the city. If looking for budget accommodations, stay outside the fort area.  
  • Though the old part of Galle can easily be covered on a day trip from Colombo, it is recommended to spend at least 1 night to fully explore Galle
  • The Western Ramparts of the Galle Fort is the best place to watch sunset. Follow the "Fort Walk" that starts from Galle Clock Tower and passes through the lighthouse.

Top Hotels In Galle

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Shopping in Galle

What do you expect out of a famous trading port? There are plenty of opportunities to buy, of course! One can shop for diverse products and souvenirs at Galle—precious gems at Lihiniya Gems and Ibrahim Jewellers, vintage posters and postcards at Stick No Bills, and lacework at Shoba Display Gallery. Visit the Old Dutch Market to purchase exotic fruits and vegetables such as wood apples and mangosteens.

Some of the most notable shopping places in Galle are - Barefoot known for stylish homeware, Elephant walk for spiced goods, Laksana for jewellery, Mimimango for designer clothes and accessories and MM Ibrahim for designer jewellery.
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Nightlife in Galle

Galle has a laid-back nightlife with some great restaurants and bars. Two notable bars to hang out at would be the Koha Surf Lounge known for its good vibes and the Blue Note bar which has friendly staff and great fruit drinks besides alcoholic beverages.

History of Galle

Historical records indicate that Galle was an important trading centre for the Arabs, Chinese and Malays, long before the Europeans occupied it. The colonial period began with the chance arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, who was on the way to the Maldives. They remained here and built a fort called Santa Cruz. The Dutch invaded Galle in 1640; after the conquest, they constructed the fort as seen in its present form. Galle’s significance decreased after the British occupied the fort in 1796, as Colombo was established as the capital.

During the Dutch colonial period, the city of Galle reached heights of development during the 18th century. From 1649, the Dutch settlers began fortifying the city and it is now the largest fortified city in Asia by European settlers. The fort is also a heritage site. Devastated by the tsunami in 2006, the city got back on its feet the very next year and the Galle cricket ground which is a spectacular ground was hosting test matches in 2007.

Best Time to Visit Galle

How to Reach Galle

How to Reach Overview

Galle is accessible through airways, land transport.

How to reach Galle by flight

Galle has no airports so one cannot fly directly to the place. However one can fly to Colombo and then take a bus or train to Galle

How to reach Galle by road

People can take a taxi or rent their own car but these are not options much favored.

How to reach Galle by train

Serviced by the Sri Lankan Railways Coastal Line, Galle railway station is also a major station.

How to reach Galle by bus

Galle is connected by a number of buses, some take the Southern Expressway.

Local transport in Galle

Tuk tuks and travelling on foot are the two best ways to get around Galle.

Galle Photos

Galle, Sri-Lanka
Sunset at Lighthouse Beach in Galle Fort Area
national maritime museum

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FAQs on Galle

What is the local food in Galle?

Be its hipster cafes, bistros or fine dining—Galle has a host of eateries that cater to every kind of food lover. One can try Sri Lankan staples such as rice and curry and sambol, or even enjoy international favourites like risotto, burgers and gelato. Seafood is usually the speciality at these restaurants, due to Galle being a seaside location. Several of Galle’s restaurants are within the fort; with great food and a colonial-style ambience, the eateries also offer stunning views of the ocean.

Seafood is very fresh in Galle and upscale dining options are plentiful including the Galle Fort Hotel, Mama's Galle Fort and Amangalla. 

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What are the places near Galle?

The top places near to Galle are Colombo which is 104 km from Galle, Kandy which is located 144 km from Galle, Nuwara eliya which is located 117 km from Galle, Bentota which is located 48 km from Galle, Anuradhapura which is located 251 km from Galle

What are the things to do in Galle?

The top things to do in Galle are Old Dutch Market , Flag Rock, Dutch Reformed Church, Amangalla, Old Gate, Galle Fort Lighthouse. You can see all the places to visit in Galle here

What are the top hotels in Galle?

There are 1120 in Galle which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Galle are Ambassador's House, Villa Orenka, Kalahe House, 511 JASMINE Sunrise Apartment, Etamba House, Rock Mountain. You can see all the hotels in Galle here

What is the best way to reach Galle?

Galle is accessible through airways, land transport.
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What is the best time to visit Galle?

The best time to visit Galle is from December to March since the rainfall in the city is at its lowest at this time; this is ideal for touring the fort and its attractions. Additionally, these months are excellent for water sports at the immensely popular beaches of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, which are near the city. Also, the Galle Literary Festival takes place here every January.

The off-season at Galle is usually from May to September, as the southwest (Yala) monsoon occurs at this time of the year.
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