A peaceful, historic Dutch town nestled close to the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Galle has emerged as a hot favourite destination among the avid globetrotters. From traditional Dutch landmarks to endlessly exotic Unawatuna beach to intrepid water sports, this fortified old city is a treasure of attractions, indeed! To make sure you enjoy the best of everything it has to offer, we’ve done the groundwork to assist you in making the most of your time with your family whilst in Galle:
1. Stroll through the streets of Galle Fort
A historic landmark snuggled close to the city’s Southern coast, Galle Fort (Dutch Fort) tops the list of the to-do-family-activities. Built by the Portuguese and extensively fortified by the Dutch, the fort is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site!
You will be astonished to witness the impeccable collection of European archaeology in the backdrop of the tropical Asian atmosphere! As you proceed with the tour, you will be flooded with admiration for the strategic yet scenic bastions dotted in the area. The Fort’s extraordinary walls are the perfect vantages to get Instagram-worthy photographs and turn your followers green with envy. The kids are awed with the historical narrations of the stronghold complemented with the picturesque ocean views. Overall, the place radiates inexplicable warmth to bid you a delightful, touristy experience to spend time with your family strolling in this sanctuary!
2. Check out a mesmerising sunset at Flag Rock
After a long tiring day meandering around the Dutch Fort, Flag Rock is the most idyllic place to wrap up the day. Locals and travellers flock to this magical place at dusk to see the spectacular sunset that exudes serenity with the finest glimpse of the horizon! Additionally, the soulful sound of the waves crashing against the rocks is the icing on the cake! The place is also crowded with numerous vendors selling mouth-watering street foods that can’t be left without trying. Moreover, impromptu games of cricket are regular at dusk and children love to be a part of them, even just for a short while.
The rock is equally swarming with people in the broad daylight to spot the daredevils dive into the water. It is exhilarating but spine-chilling to see these fearless cliff-divers take a colossal leap from the cliff, narrowly missing the dangerous rocky outcrops of the ocean. Daunting yet invigorating experience to be a part of, don’t you think?
3. SSS- Surf, Snorkel and Scuba Dive at Unawatuna Beach
Enclosed by turquoise sea on three sides, Galle is one of the best locations in Sri Lanka to throw yourself into the magical marine world! Thanks to the shallow waters that promise crystal clear visibility, you can catch glimpse of the dazzling tropical fishes, vibrant corals and historical shipwrecks left unexplored.
While uber-athletes have the time of their lives at the surf-friendly Unawatuna beach, it also makes an ideal setup for beginners who want to try their luck at water sports. In fact, Unawatuna is also a terrific location for scuba-diving. So, why not let the adventurer junkie in you enjoy the crispy blue water?
What’s more? The pristine beach offers a serene, laidback vibe that makes it a wow location to spend some memorable family time. Soak in the sun and get the gorgeous tan as you sip on coconut water, and savour the sumptuous seafood at the restaurants along the beach. And yes, being home to different birds, Unawatuna beach also offers bird watching as another amusement activity.
4. Visit Japanese Peace Pagoda
Overlooking the waters of the Unawatuna beach, this Buddhist shrine resembles a giant marshmallow rising out of the rainforest. Master-crafted with the assistance of Japanese monks, the Peace Pagoda makes a great place to soak in the peaceful ambience after an exhausting day at Unawatuna beach. To be blessed with the serenity and purity of the place, you have to take a 20-minute-steep hike of the Rumassala hill. Not too long a hike for the kids!
After scaling the mountain, you are rewarded with a spectacular, white bell-like structure that is surrounded by immaculately painted gold statues. Once at the top you’ll find peace and delight that makes you forget all your worries. An epitome of tranquillity!
What’s more? This beacon of peace offers the spellbinding 360-degree view of the rainforest and the Galle bay. It is worth every step you take to reach the top. So, why wait, revel in the panoramic view from atop. Sweeping sight for sore eyes!
Related: Dining in Galle: Top 5 Restaurants
5. Go back in time at the Dutch Reformed Church
Dating back to 1755, the Dutch Reformed Church is one of the most artistic monuments from the colonial times. Although the gabled roof may give an impression of it being austere, the church has some very intriguing aspects to it. One of them is the pristine white floor paved with the gravestones from the Dutch cemetery.
Moving inside this archaic church, you’ll discover the checkerboard stained glass windows that are truly a sight to behold. It also houses a well-carved calamander wood pulpit topped by an enormous hexagonal canopy.
All in all, this is a must-visit place to get a closer insight into the historical significance of Galle.
6. Cycle around the town
Cycling is one must-do activity that takes you through secret routes of Galle to make you feel closer and more connected to the place and its inhabitants. Plus, it is also a perfect way to get away from the humdrum lifestyle and pedal through the twisted roads in sheer ecstasy.
In fact, nothing can beat the priceless experience of riding a bicycle at your own pace and venturing on the less travelled routes. You will findgravelled paths full of lagoons, mangroves, paddy fields and grasslands.
P.S. You can rent a bicycle in the local market tucked beneath a 300-year-old columned roof. Also, you might find yourself immersed in learning how to make coconut ropes. It’d be such a talent.
7. Explore a Dutch Market
The Dutch market in Galle has earned itself a name worldwide for being the oldest Dutch market in South Asia. This place is flooded with freshest, exotic local fruit and vegetables. Browsing through a wide assortment of stalls, you can easily catch sights of rare South Asian vegetables from snake gourd and ochre to Sri Lankan eggplant and banana blossom. A haven for the herbivore in you!
Moreover, the market also lays testimony to various spice merchants who sell aromatic spices imported from all around the world. Is there more? Yes. Whilst in the market if you want to let the master-chef out in you, you can detour and squeeze in a couple of hours for local-cuisine-cooking class. Gain a completely wholesome experience of cooking with all your family members. It’s priceless.
8. Must-try: Hop on a tuk-tuk ride
Your stay at Galle won’t be complete without taking the most entertaining Tuk-tuk ride on the rambling lanes of the city. Plus, tuk-tuk is irrefutably the most convenient and fun way to commute and unveil the undiscovered nooks and corners of the city. Although slightly pricey, the money is worth the smile and laughter of the children. They absolutely fancy the ride as many countries lack this mode of transportation. From the string of bijou shops to the ancient ruins, the tuk-tuk ride is like a ride in the time machine.
In addition to witnessing the contrasting ambience of colonial and the contemporary era, you can shop for the traditional Sri Lankan souvenirs from the myriad of shops nestled along the streets. Moreover, due to its abundance in Galle, you can hop in any one of the tuk-tuks and continue with the exploration part!
9. Learn more about sea turtles
Galle is home to a rich and varied variety of wildlife that cannot be found in other parts of the world. And sea turtle is one of them. Due to the anthropogenic intervention in the coastline of Galle, sea turtles are struggling to keep their existence going. In order to sustain and increase the count of this beautiful species, quite a number of sea turtle hatcheries are built in Galle. And a visit to one of them is a must.
It’s purely a magical experience to see these endangered yet wondrous creatures in their haven distant from the threats of the poachers. This noble act of preserving these fascinating turtles will help arouse a sense of responsibility in your child!
What’s more? You are given a remarkable informative tour in the hatchery that surely refines your knowledge of this species. Moreover, you can relish the unforgettable moment of liberating baby sea turtles into the sea, where they belong. Such a satisfying feeling it is!
10. Relax and pamper yourself in Unawatuna
Unarguably the best way to bring a memorable end to a wonderful holiday with your family is to take a nourishing spa in Galle. You can find a number of luxurious spas offering rejuvenating Ayurveda therapies that go an extra mile to help you prepare for the monotonous life you’re about to get back to.
This coastal town also hosts authentic yoga and meditation courses that you can try to calm your nerves and relieve strain and anxiety. Enjoy a plethora of provisions in the serene atmosphere surrounded by overwhelmingly beautiful tropical flowers. Moreover, these healing treatments not only revive travel-bodies but also soothe the chaotic minds.
What about the children? They will thank you for letting them absorb the healing treatments in one of the most tranquil locations. After diving into the heavenly sensations, you all will feel a colossal amount of positive vibe radiating from you.
A perfect gift for you and your family!
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