Galle is a city on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The city is well-known due to the old Dutch fort. It was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century and expended by the Dutch later.
It is the Dutch fort that is so attractive to tourists. The stone sea wall, the light house, the white church from the 18th century, the colonial buildings and the thin streets and more you can find on the small piece of land.
From Colombo there is a strait train to Galle train station. It will take about four hours and a half to get there. The trains are comfortable, but it is mostly third class, where they don’t have air conditioners, but they did have fans and the windows can be open, so the ride is quite comfortable. The tickets cost around Rs 400 ($2,2). Or you can take a taxi for about Rs 8000 ($45).
To get to Galle from the other coastal cities is easy. The tuktuk from Unawatuna will take 15 minutes and costs Rs 500 for Galle Fort and Rs 400 for Galle city, from Mirissa it is around an hour and the price is approximately Rs 1500 ($8) From the Hill Country cities like Ella the taxi will cost around Rs 12000 ($66) and it will take over four hours.
Location: Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Galle was the last city we visited in Sri Lanka before going to Colombo and taking a plane home. I highly recommend coming here at least for one night and don’t do just a day trip to the Dutch Fort. There are many things to do and the first place that you can start is to get to the old sea wall.
It is free to walk along the coastline on the fort wall viewing majestic blue water hitting the stone and trying to destroy it. The walk will take not more than 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stop at the observational platforms to get a nice picture.
Following along the sea wall you will get to the beautiful light house. It is the most crowded place in Galle during sunset, therefore my advice to you: get close to the light house during the day hours and take a few shots without the crowd. And of course, come here during golden hour to enjoy the beautiful view.
By the light house you can see a white mosque that was built by the Dutch sometime in the beginning of the 18th century and was used as the governor’s house. Later the building was turned into a mosque.
There is no reason to stay just on the coast of Galle. Go to the center of the old fort and explore the narrow streets, where cars can’t go through and the buildings look like they are from the old British colonial movies.
Behind the Galle light house there is a sweet spot, a small beach with white sand and no tourists. If you are staying overnight, you will have time to get to the beach and jump into cool clear water after all that walking.
The beach is surrounded by trees that give the privacy and shade for everyone who wants to spend some time relaxing. Although the beach is very soft, you probably need to wear water shoes for swimming, since on the bottom there are lots of sharp corals. Another piece of advice: don’t let kids swim by themselves, the current in that place is quite strong and even I as an adult had problems getting out of water (plus I didn’t bring the water shoes and it was painful to walk).
Remember when I said about the observational platform on the sea wall? So, this is the best spot for the sunset pictures. There is the view of the fortress wall and from the other side there is the light house and the mosque.
Come to the light house during golden hour and work your way to the round platform to get the best pictures and enjoy the Galle sunset at the best spot.
While exploring the center of the Galle Dutch Fort, you will notice how many cute and unique stores there are. Some of them offer souvenirs and the others cute dresses, hats, and sunglasses.
If you are planning on going out at night but afraid that you don’t have anything cute to wear, fear no more. The Galle Fort center is full of choices for a new outfit or just a cute accessory. But be warned that the clothes at these stores are quite expensive.
Another thing that people should pay attention to are the jewellery stores. There are a ton of them, and they offer a huge variety of stones. Sri Lanka is a big exporter of expensive stones and if you are thinking of buying something, Galle is great place to shop. The shops actually do offer competitive prices because of the competition…at least it is a lot more affordable than buying something in Europe!
Treat yourself and get a room at a nice colonial style hotel or a guest house. We got a room at The Bartizan boutique hotel, and it was a lovely experience. First of all the hotel was located by the fort wall not far from the light house and it had a cute little roof terrace with a great view. And second, it is nice to see where and how the Portuguese and then later the Dutch lived here.
Our hotel was great, with complementary afternoon tea at the old courtyard and beautiful plants everywhere including the white tree in the middle. Our hotel also had a very friendly staff and tasty breakfast in the morning. And of course, comfortable bed and well appointed room.
The Galle Fort is not just full of cute shops but also of cozy cute restaurants with good food. There will be tons of option where to get your dinner.
You can look up some restaurants and read reviews or you can just get lost and find something unexpected for yourself.
Surprisingly for me Galle is the place where they have very good ice cream. So I advise you to get an ice cream for dessert after your dinner and wander through the lit up colonial streets. The main street intersecting Galle Fort has quite a few ice cream/gelato shops but the one I think is the best is