Galle Fort, a beautiful town rich in cultural heritage from the Dutch era, is truly a must-visit when you come to Sri Lanka. Meander through the town, and explore the rows of charming shops selling fine jewellery, as well as arts and craft pieces. When it nears the evening, keep your eyes peeled for the stunning sunset over the walls of the Fort. This captivating city also boasts a selection of lovely villas with colonial-style architecture and scenic surroundings.
Best things to do in Galle
Make your way past the imposing fort walls, and wander through the streets of the historic town of Galle. Its quaint streets, lined with colonial-style villas, churches and other remnants from the Dutch era, will make travellers feel as if they have stepped back in time.
You may also do your souvenir shopping at one of the charming boutique shops in the town. Other interesting sights to explore include the Galle Clock Tower and the Galle Light House.
Dating back to the 1750s, the Dutch Reformed Church is the oldest place of worship for the Protestants in Sri Lanka. Make a visit to the church to discover the ancient gravestones paving the floor, marvel at the beautiful stained glass windows adorning the church, and browse through wall tablets that detail the lives and deaths of British settlers.
Spend an engaging afternoon discovering the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum Complex, and examine exhibits ranging from dance costumes and instruments, to Sri Lankan clothing, weapons and transportation vehicles. Be sure to stop by at the bookshop within the museum, for it sells a wide collection of Wickramasinghe’s works.
The pristine, white dome-shaped exterior of the Kalutara Temple is hard to miss. Highly popular among tourists and the Buddhist community, the temple hosts a wide array of beautiful paintings detailing the stories of Buddha.
It is worth making a trip up to the peak of Rumasalla Mountain, for you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of Galle and Mirissa Harbour. Arrive at 6 P.M., and catch the beautiful sight of the evening sky and sunset. Make a stop by the Japanese Peace Pagoda, and enjoy the zen-like serenity of this tranquil place.
The largest surviving lowland rainforest in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve is home to a myriad of flora and fauna. Travellers will find themselves immersed in nature, with the sounds of chirping birds and cicadas filling the air and a diversity of exotic plant species surrounding them.
Do bring along food and water for your trek, as there are no eateries or shops within the forest area. Other handy items to pack for the trek include binoculars, as well as a pot of Tiger balm to ward off leeches.
Galle Fort Tours
The beautiful town of Galle is perfect for exploring on foot. Explore the charming boutique shops, cafes and hotels lining the streets within the town, and take a leisurely stroll along the fort walls to catch the mersmerising sunsets.
Villa travellers who are less inclined to embark on a walk may choose to hop on a tuk-tuk for a tour around the Fort and town area.
Spa and Massage in Galle
Release the tension in your knotted and tense muscles by indulging in a soothing spa treatment. You will find a range of pampering treatments at Galle Fort Spa, ranging from refreshing green tea detox scrubs and rejuvenating foot massages, to manicure and pedicure services.
Related: Best shopping spots in Galle Fort
If you do not fancy exploring Galle by foot or on a tuk-tuk, why not opt for a bike tour?
Mount your bikes, ramble along the cycling trails and breeze past paddy fields and mystical temples. Catch sight of the Sri Lankan stilt fisherman as they go about their daily activities by the sea. When you have arrived at the fort, hop off your bike, and take time to enjoy the sweeping views of the sea from the side of the fort walls.
Tucked away in a quiet spot on the beach, Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery is regarded at the best turtle hatcheries along the coast. The informative guides show show you around the hatchery, providing detailed explanations of the different breeds of the turtles, as well as how the hatchery is managed. If you arrive in the evening, you may participate in their activities by helping the staff to release hatchlings into the sea.
Where to eat in Galle
Foodie travellers are in for a treat, for gorgeous Galle presents a wide array of dining options:
Villa travellers in the mood for savouring local Sri Lankan fare should make a stop by Lucky Fort Restaurant. The restaurant has a charming setting, with seats situated indoors, as well as outdoors in the lovely garden courtyard.
On most evenings, the eatery is well-filled with diners hungry for its curry sets for two. A total of ten curry dishes are served in the set meal, along with steamed rice and crispy pappadums.
Punto Cafe is definitely worth a visit. This cosy little eatery offers diners with a selection of local dishes and Western fare. Each and every meal is prepared on the spot and served swiftly to diners, with the dishes piping hot from the stove. The friendly owners and staff offer great service and take pains to ensure that your meal there is a leisurely and enjoyable one.
Situated along a quaint little street, Pedlar’s Inn Cafe charms its diners with offerings of tasty food and friendly service. You will find a wide selection of dishes available here, ranging from salads, sandwiches and Western main courses, to local delicacies and desserts.
Step into The Old Railway Cafe, and you will feel as if you have stumbled into a magical cave filled with quirky and interesting finds. Apart from offering a selection of sumptuous Western mains, beverages and desserts, the cafe also sells a diverse array of beautiful antiques and ornaments.
Villa travellers hankering for a taste of authentic Italian food should make a visit to Marco Ristorante Italiano. The prices, similar to those set in European eateries, are significantly higher than that of most Sri Lankan eateries, but the excellent quality of the food and service makes the meal well worth the price paid.
Fancy the thought of feasting on tasty burgers, hand-cut chips and meaty kebabs? If you do, be sure to make a stop by Koko’s On The Beach. The eatery, managed by its genial and conversational owners, boasts a friendly and easy-going vibe, making it a great place to visit for a casual and enjoyable meal along the charming beach of Unawatuna.
Make your way down to Dairy King to finish off your meal with a sweet treat. It will be a challenge to resist ordering a dessert, for the cafe offers an ample selection of goodies, ranging from refreshing ice creams to decadent cakes and hot chocolate beverages.
Related: Foodie Guide: Where to Eat in Galle
Best bars in Galle
The Living Room has garnered rave reviews, with guests calling it the ‘best cocktail bar in Galle Fort’. The bar boasts a cosy and intimate setting, great music, attentive service and well-made cocktails. Guests hungry for a bite will find a small selection of snacks available on the menu.
Pilgrims Lounge, a cosy bar with a casual setting, is located close by to the beach. Amble up the steps leading from the handicrafts store on the first level, and you will find yourself in the rooftop cafe overlooking the sea.
The cafe offers a selection of Sri Lankan and Western fare, as well as alcoholic beverages. Guests will be immediately put to ease by the friendly and genial service of the staff.
Relax, rejuvenate and unwind at Luna Terrace. The bar offers a fine and fancy setting, and contains an array of posh amenities such as an infinity pool that boasts an underwater sound system, a gleaming cocktail bar and a rustic-looking kitchen. Guests can look forward to savouring a variety of delicious tapas food items and well-made cocktails.
Best Galle Villas for a comfortable stay
Villa 41 Lighthouse Street sure deserves to be called Sri Lanka’s ‘sexiest villa’.
Close detail has been paid to the beautiful design of the villa, which seamlessly blends together modern and traditional design elements. The well-manicured garden contains a spacious swimming pool, adorned with two fountains by its side.
Guests can also enjoy a range of luxurious amenities and services, such as having a service staff member on call, a private wine cellar, a pool table and an extensive menu prepared by the in-house chef.
Villa 32 Middle Street will greatly appeal to travellers seeking a serene and tranquil abode for a restful vacation. The villa, surrounded by high walls, envelopes its guests in a peaceful enclave.
Step inside, and you are welcomed into a warm, cosy and homely dwelling. The pristine white walls are tastefully adorned with paintings, and the rooms are furnished with teak wood flooring and intricate Sri Lankan ornaments. The living and dining areas in the villa are commodious, and serve as ideal spots for rest and relaxation.
A sprawling abode ideal for accommodating large groups of villa travellers, Villa Footprints contains a total of five bedrooms and occupies a spot along Thalpe Beach.
The villa is well decorated with bright pops of colour in each and every room and exudes a vibrant and cheerful vibe. Guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a spot to lounge and relax in, for cosy indoor and outdoor areas are aplenty in the villa.
The five-bedroom Villa Kingsley’s Pearl offers a warm and romantic setting for its guests. It has an Oriental-themed design, and is well-constructed to maximise the natural light and sea breeze flowing into the villa.
Without a doubt, our favourite spot is the stunning central courtyard containing a spacious pool in the middle of the villa. Guests in search of a quiet spot for an afternoon nap will be glad to sink into the cosy comforts of the dangling hammocks in the garden.
Take a look at our villas in Galle!
Featured image by Gane via Flickr