Visiting Galle is on every Sri Lankan bucket list and most importantly, having a good old wander around the famous and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort. Galle is a city in the South West of Sri Lanka, slightly west of Weligama and further South of Hikkaduwa. Galle is coastal, with a stretch featuring the Fort offering beach frontage but it also stretches back into the land. You can base yourself here on your trip if you wish as it is well situated for exploring the Southern Province, or like us, take a day trip from your beach location of choice. Ours was Ahangama and it took us around twenty minutes by tuk tuk to get straight to the Fort entrance.
Galle Fort is an old colonial Fort and has a very different vibe to the rest of the island. This fortified old city was originally found by the Portuguese in the 16th Century until the Dutch and British finally took over. The Fort is walled and these walls are made of stone and coral, if you’re lucky enough you’ll find spots in the wall where the coral is peaking through!
Nowadays, Galle Fort is a very popular destination for your Sri Lankan holiday with many boutique shops lining the streets full of artisan goods. Keep a special eye out for beautiful hand crafted homewares, postcards by Sticks No Bills which have a really cool vintage style and linen hand printed clothing. Along the streets you will find tuk tuks slowly driving through but little else so you can calmly stroll around and pop in and out all the shops and get yourself an ice cream!
Naturally, there’s a lot of British influence in Galle with a lot of cool retro cars around. They’re not used now, just positioned infront of cafes and shops to pull you in but it’s still cool to see. Some of the buildings are very beautiful with the Dutch architecture and a lot of the shops still have open courtyards with ponds within them.
There’s a lot of places to eat in Galle but I’d read about Poonies before and our tuk tuk conveniently dropped us off right outside so I took a mental note of where it was and we found our way back. Poonies is set behind a beautiful shop, in a cool courtyard offering delicious healthy lunches. I went with their infamous Salad Thali which is a collection of salads and topped with a meat of your choice – it was just as good as it looks! A few fresh juices and a sit by the fan and we were ready to head back out to explore some more!
The cliche Galle Fort picture and one that is most commonly associated with the city, the lighthouse. This lighthouse is the oldest one in Sri Lanka and was built by important cast iron plates from England, and erected in 1848. It’s still active to this day and is beautifully set on the coastline offering the perfect image over looking the ocean with the wall of the Fort surrounding the area.
There is access to a small beach right by the lighthouse and you can walk the Fort wall to find a nice quiet spot. It is very hot down in Galle with very little relief from the sun so you may well be grateful for a midday dip of the toes!
It’s very easy to get to Galle Fort. As a well known tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s no tuk tuk driver out there who doesn’t know where he’s going! If you’re in the neighbouring beach towns that is generally the easiest way to get there. If you want to go more local, there’s a large train station in Galle which is based just outside the Fort, hop on the train and navigate your way across the road to head in or if you’re really brave, grab the bus!
Overall, Galle Fort is absolutely worth a visit and somewhere I highly recommend giving yourself the day to explore. You won’t need a full day up here but as there’s a lot of shops and boutiques worth slowly exploring and the heat does mean that an ice cream break is very much compulsory, you’ll want to take your time.