Galle Fort is located in southern Sri Lanka by the enchanting waters of Galle Bay. It takes just over two hours to reach the Fort from Colombo Airport. Galle Fort itself was built in 1588 by the Portuguese and reinforced by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British resumed work on it in 1796, but the significance of Galle diminished as the British concentrated on fortifying the capital, Colombo. The fortress has been beautifully preserved and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Galle Fort offers a unique blend of European architecture and South Asian heritage. Notably, UNESCO cites it as the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and Southeast Asia. Yet it isn’t the only thing worth seeing in and around Galle; read on to find out how best to spend a day in this quaint seaside city.

Where to Eat

Berry pepper, nutmeg, turmeric and vanilla orchids, cardamom and cloves grow wild on the island, especially in this area, and their scent permeates everything from tea to curry. Look for a sweet mango salad with swimmer crab meat and blue walnut – a local specialty that can be found in many restaurants. The fort is covered with honeycombs, and is surrounded by pleasant cafes which serve chai tea with spices and lemongrass. Poonie’s Kitchen on Pedlar Street is an ideal local secret for lunch, where you can enjoy organic salads with fresh coconut water under the Araliya trees on the patio.

Cultural Experiences

Since it’s foundation, Galle has built up its rich culture through the colonial era of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. All of these influences combined with Sri Lankan traditions and Galle’s geographic treasures have turned the city into an exciting holiday destination. The locals in Sri Lanka love cricket and Galle hosts the Galle International Cricket Stadium, one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world. You can see little kids playing cricket on the beach and next to the Fort. Even if there’s no game on, visitors are welcome to go in and take a look around the venue.

Apart from this, culture seeps through the walls in Galle. The most fascinating insights can be gained just by wandering around the streets – look out for shops selling handicrafts, and small neighborhood temples.

Unique Sights

Pagoda Of Japanese Peace

Peace Japanese Pagoda is located on Rumasalla Hill, overlooking the picturesque ocean. It is a nice addition to the various attractions of Galle. This colossal white structure was built in 2004 and embodies purity and serenity – ideal for those seeking inner peace. Beware though that some times of day draw sizeable crowds who are hoping to get a panoramic view of the city, so it might be worth getting up early to take it in without having to jostle for a place.

Jungle Beach

Enjoy the dazzling beauty of the waves of the sea, the golden sands, the huge rocks and the mild tropical atmosphere of the Sri Lanka beach, the jungle beach. This secluded beach is idyllic for those looking for dazzling landscapes, solitude, and serenity.

Outdoor Activities

Wildlife Safari in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Galle

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Lion Kingdom) is a paradise for nature and nature lovers. It houses a large number of endemic species of Sri Lankan birds and mammals. It is known that about 95% of endemic birds in Sri Lanka and more than 50% of endemic mammals have their habitat in this forest reserve. Guided tours are available for reasonable prices, and are led by certified rangers who know the forest and its inhabitants inside out. If you’re lucky you might even spot a reclusive leopard!

Walks and visits

Galle offers a relaxing atmosphere for hiking and sightseeing. As you walk, you can see some key attractions influenced by colonialism. These include the Galle Lighthouse, the Old Town, and Galle Fort.

Wind and kitesurfing

Galle has a tropical climate all year round and access to surfing beaches. If you want to surf or kitesurf, this is a great place for it. Renting a board only costs about $2, and lessons are also cheap at around $15 per person.

Whale watching

Whale watching is a must-do experience if you’re in Galle for the season. Sri Lanka is surrounded by prime waters that makes it easier to observe these huge marine mammals and many dolphins. You must start early on the beach to catch a boat though; they don’t wait around! The great thing about whale watching in Sri Lanka is that it is always whale watching season on one half of the island.