Galle is Sri Lanka’s most preferred destination amongst Foreigners and locals alike. Situated on the Southern coast, Galle features one of the most alluring beaches in Sri Lanka.
Galle is the best example of colonial impact by Europeans in South and South-East Asia and interaction between European architectural influences and South Asian traditions.
This is a perfect place for water sport enthusiasts, since this coastal town offers you all sorts of water sport activities starting from swimming, snorkeling, diving, Jet Ski, Shallow water Fishing, Deep water fishing, surfing, paddle boarding to just lying on the golden sands until you get that perfect tan, Galle has it all. Although it offers an array of Beach activities, Galle isn’t just about the beach, read below to find out what else this charming city has on offer and why it should be on most travelers itineraries.
Galle Fort - First built by the Portuguese in 1588 and was fortified by the Dutch in 1600, Galle Fort presently is a UNESCO declared world heritage site. Today this 90 acre fort is a compilation of various religions, architecture and cultures. The whole area is filled with a fusion of restaurants from all around the world and quaint little boutique shops displaying beautiful collections of old and new. The roads are adorned with unique items such as classic vehicles, bicycles and statues that scream the styles of bygone era in Down South Sri Lanka.
It is an ideal place to sip a hot cup of tea or coffee or a cool refreshing smoothie after a long day of walking, but if you’re looking for an alcoholic drink you’re better off in one of the restaurants along the beach, since the Fort cafes don’t serve alcohol due to various religious places also present inside the fort walls. But don’t get disheartened, as this unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries will keep you wandering down the roads of Galle Fort for a whole day.
Galle Lighthouse - The Lighthouse is built on the rampart of the landmark Galle Fort. This is Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse dating back to 1848, although the original lighthouse was destroyed in a fire on 1934 and was rebuilt to 26m height.
Japanese Peace Pagoda - If you look across the water from the Galle Fort you will see a mushroom like white shrine in the middle of lush green patch of forest. Japanese Peace Pagoda or Rumassala Saama Chathiya Located in the Rumassala hill is one of the five stupas of this kind in Sri Lanka (Sri Pada, Bandarawela, Walapane and Ampara.)
Dutch Reform Church - Dutch Reformed Church, also known as the Groote Kerk was built by the Dutch in 1755 and is paved with tombstones from the old Dutch cemetery. Special features of this church include the Burial chamber of General Hulft, memorial of Commander Abraham Samland & a wooden Church organ standing over the entrance.
National Maritime Archaeology Museum - Housed in the old Dutch East India Company VOC Warehouse in the fort of Galle that was originally built in 1671. The museum was open to the public on 9th May 1992. In the museum you will be able to learn about shipwrecks, evidence of old trade routes, old fishing techniques, warfare equipment and ocean life around Sri Lanka. And even if you’re not interested in maritime history, it is worth going in just to explore this amazing historic Warehouse building.
Watch a Cricket Match - Galle's cricket ground was established over 100 years ago and it has been used for international matches since 1998. The southern Sri Lankan port city of Galle's international Cricket Stadium is one of the most scenic in the world, surrounded by the UNESCO world heritage Galle Fort, palm tree lined port and waterside Dharmapala Park.
If you’re visiting Galle during an international cricket match, be sure to reserve accommodation and entry tickets before-hand to avoid disappointment.
Visit the Dutch Market - Housed under a 300-year-old columned roof, visiting the market is an experience in itself. If you are out and about in the area the locals will point you in the direction of this local market, you can also pick up some fresh local fruits to relish here.
Hike Rumassala - Rumassala or famously known as Buena Vista among the tourists, this picturesque natural site can be found within easy reach of the Galle harbour. The area in and around Rumassala is home to a rich biodiversity also home to the Japanese Peace Pagoda.
Kanneliya Rain Forest Reserve - Identified as one of the most floristically rich areas in South Asia, this forest reserve is one of the last two remaining rainforests in Sri Lanka, other one being the Sinharaja Rainforest. The forest boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna. You might see monkeys, snakes, chameleons, extensive birdlife and a vast range of tropical trees, plants and flowers. The walk through the forest is fairly easy due to the safe and flat terrain, making it a perfect spot to spend the day with the whole family.
Kottawa Jungle - About 17km drive from Galle, Kottawa is a small forest, spread in an area of 37 acres, yet it embrace all the features can be found in a rainforest with over 170 tree species and out of which 100 is identified as endemic. Kottawa Forest also attracts birdwatchers and butterfly watcher from all over the world.
Whale Watching - Book yourself a tour to witness Blue Whales the largest animal ever to have existed also have the opportunity of spotting playful dolphins, Humpback Whales, Killer Whales, Whale Sharks and perhaps even sea turtles. Make sure you begin the trip really early in the morning, which is the best time to spot these adorned sea creatures.
Galle is easily accessible via the Southern Expressway, the A2 Highway or the coastal rail line. Train ride is ideal if you enjoy learning about social and cultural aspects of Sri Lankan day-to-day life.
Southern Expressway is the quickest, easiest and most comfortable route by Air Conditioned buses or private transport.