a quick guide to Galle, Sri Lanka: how to spend an afternoon in the colonial town in southern Sri Lanka

Galle is a beautiful town in southern Sri Lanka. The colonial architecture reflects its history, which is actually quite recent. While Galle is becoming increasingly gentrified as the home of hip hostels, cute cafés, and boutique storefronts, it’s still easy to incorporate historical and authentic elements of Galle into your visit. With cricket games, delicious eateries, and walls to walk around, Galle has enough to fill up an afternoon’s worth of your vacation time.


READ ON FOR A QUICK GUIDE TO GALLE, SRI LANKA


A MOSQUE INSIDE THE DUTCH FORT IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

A MOSQUE INSIDE THE DUTCH FORT IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

GETTING TO GALLE

Galle is an easy day trip for Mirissa and makes for an easy afternoon getaway from Unawatuna. There are both train and bus options. The bus is the cheapest option {not that the train is expensive} and once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to use it as your main source of transportation around the island {except for the trip from Kandy to Ella, you’ll definitely want to train that journey}.

You’ll need to know what direction you’re going so that you are on the correct side of the road. Bus stops are on Google Maps. Look for the closest bus stop on the app {there is normally a blue sign for bus stops, but this isn’t always the case}. Wait at the stop until a bus comes by with “Galle” on the window. You’ll need to be quick! Buses don’t pause for long. Bus fare at time of publishing was 15 LKR per person (USD $0.09}.

For train timetables, check the official website here.

BUS FROM UNAWATUNA TO GALLE

BUS FROM UNAWATUNA TO GALLE

A SHORT HISTORY OF GALLE

Galle is known for its fort, which was seen as quite the jewel to colonists.

Despite Galle Fort commonly being called the “Dutch Fort”, it was first built in 1588 by the Portuguese. It wasn’t until years later that it was fortified by the Dutch. The fort existed to prevent attacks from colonial competitors. To this day, you can still see battle ramparts along the fort’s wall. While it was under the rule of the Dutch, 500 families lived inside, which explains the many churches and homes that remain from that era. You can see heaps of Portugese and Dutch influence reflected in the everything from the buildings and colonial churches to the cobblestone streets.

The city of Galle was “handed over” to the British in 1796 and they made a number of changes to the city, the most recognizable of which is the tower that you can see from various points in town. Galle was a busy trading port, conducting business with the likes of Greece, Arabia and China.

UNESCO has recognized the fort as a World Heritage Site. According to UNESCO, the site meets the category 4 criteria for being a World Heritage site due to its “unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries.”

CRICKET GAME IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

CRICKET GAME IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

THINGS TO DO IN GALLE FORT

There are plenty of things to do in Galle to fill an afternoon’s worth of your vacation, including museums, antique houses, and handicraft stores. Here are a few of my favourite things we did:

CATCH A CRICKET GAME- While strolling around the city, I stumbled upon a cricket match. And, guys, something about cricket still gets me all giddy inside. Not only is the stadium in Galle considered to be one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world, but it’s also considered to be one of the luckiest for the Sri Lankan national team.

WALK AROUND THE RAMPARTS- The city surrounded by thick ramparts, which is just a fancy name for defensive walls. The ramparts were built by Dutch merchants in the 17th century. The ramparts are thick enough to walk along {and free}, and if you follow them you’ll come across the old prison, the ocean, and the fort’s clock tower.

GALLE, SRI LANKA

GALLE, SRI LANKA

THE FAMOUS LIGHTHOUSE INSIDE THE DUTCH FORT IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

THE FAMOUS LIGHTHOUSE INSIDE THE DUTCH FORT IN GALLE, SRI LANKA

VISIT THE LIGHTHOUSE- The white lighthouse in Galle Fort is the oldest in Sri Lanka. Originally, the British built a similar lighthouse in a different location, but after it was destroyed in a fire, the existing lighthouse was built. It’s free to catch glimpses of the lighthouse and takes less than 5 minutes to walk around and grab photos at.

CHECK OUT THE MANY HOLY HOUSES IN THE TOWN- Mosques, cathedrals, temples, and churches pepper Galle. This is a testament to how culturally diverse the country is; something I loved about Sri Lanka. Many of the holy houses in Galle are free and open to the public, but please make sure you’re dressed appropriately {no bikinis}.

SUMMER GREEN CHINESE RESTAURANT + CAFÉ

SUMMER GREEN CHINESE RESTAURANT + CAFÉ

ESCAPE THE HEAT IN A CAFÉ- There’s no shortage of cafés in Galle. My favourite that we visited during the peak heat of the day was Summer Green Chinese Restaurant + Cafe. Though not exactly cultural at all {apart from a few Sri Lankan dishes on offer}, it is a very aesthetically pleasing café that serves delicious iced tea. Also, funnily enough, no Chinese food on the menu.

You’ll see Summer Green again in my upcoming post about the coolest cafés and eateries I visited in Sri Lanka.

GRAB CHEAP LOCAL EATS- Sri Lankan cuisine is some of my favourite food I’ve had around the world. Especially since I love spicy food. I love dhal and curries and rotis. After a refreshing drink from Summer Green, we hit up a local “bakery” selling newspapers and rotis. My travel companion and I grabbed some vegetarian rotis and the total for three of them came to 90 LKR {USD $0.52}. It’s not only a cheap lunch, but a delicious one. Note: every roti we had was spicy!

THE RED ROOFS OF GALLE, SRI LANKA

LIKED THIS POST? PIN IT!

A GUIDE TO GALLE, SRI LANKA
A GUIDE TO GALLE, SRI LANKA