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Things to Do in Galle Sri Lanka

As you’d expect from one of Sri Lanka’s major cities, things to do in Galle are numerous and diverse. However, a day visit or a longer stay in Galle needn’t have a city feel at all. Galle’s Dutch colonial fort lies on the south coast, a stunning setting with ocean views to three sides. Within its walls renovations and development has seen the growth of boutique hotels and coffee shops, but this area still has genuine Sri Lankan charm and original buildings. After exploring Galle Fort’s walls and fortifications, walk towards the town passing the fishermen selling their catch to the produce and fish markets. This area is delightful for tourist and food lovers.

 

Galle Fort Sri Lanka. Fortifications and the walls overlooking the ocean.

Galle Sri Lanka’s biggest attraction, Galle Fort, with the beautiful old town contained within its walls and these incredible sea views

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Lets have a look at things to do in Galle Fort and in the surrounding area and what you, as a visitor, can expect from this charming coastal city. All of Sri Lanka’s south coast is easy to explore by public bus, train or driver and vehicle, be it tourist mini-bus or tuk tuk. You should have no problem getting around this area or getting to Galle. Popular beach spot, Unawatuna is maybe 10 minutes south of Galle by road.

Things to do in Galle Fort, Old Town and Surrounding Areas

Galle Fort. Passing through the fortress walls, arriving by tuk tuk.

Tuk tuks and scooters squeeze through the tiny entrance to the fort, past the guardian giant banyans.

It was the Portuguese who started the ball rolling with Galle Fort way back in 1588. The Dutch continued the extensive fortifications from the mid 1600s. The Fort and old town has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site and deservedly so, you’ll find multi-cultural delights within its walls, fittingly restored and tastefully developed.

None of us will ever forget the images of the Boxing Day tsunami sweeping through the area in 2004, damage from that disaster has been repaired, the Fort stood strong through the tragic onslaught.

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Things to do in Galle Sri Lanka. What's inside Galle Fort?

Inside Galle Fort you will find street scenes like this, look out for cute coffee shops and stores.

Within the walls of Gale Fort you will find charming streets to explore, the old buildings have been restored to their former glory and some now house hotels, hostels and guest houses , restaurants, cafés and shops. We found a delightful free museum and gemstone workshop, with a little hard sell at the end, nevertheless, this museum was a lovely place to explore.

Things to do in Galle Sri Lanka .Gemstone working within the walls of Galle Fort Sri Lanka.

The gemstone museum inside Galle fort, step back in time and maybe spend some cash.

 

The National Maritime Museum of Sri Lanka also lies within the fortifications, it’s a small museum and sadly suffered losses in the tsunami, but well worth a look.

You will also find a working mosque at the seaward edge of the old town, not far from the lighthouse. Visitors are welcome.

Fishermen and fishingboats lined up on the shore outside Galle Fortress Srilanka.

Between Galle Fort and the town, fishermen sell the morning’s catch at the roadside.

Leave the fort and walk towards the town and you’ll pass rows of fishermen, their boats pulled up on the shore, selling the day’s catch. Fish lovers can buy direct from these stalls or cross the road to the purpose-built fish market beyond the cricket pitch.

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Blue building near Galle Fort and Fish Market. This blue catches the eye of many photographers.

This blue building captures the eye of many photographers, myself included. It’s near the fish market in Galle.

 

The markets are popular places to visit in Galle and the older markets are my favourite. The Old Dutch Market is usually crammed with the freshest local produce. Browse to see which tropical fruits are in season in this 300 year old marketplace.

 

Old Dutch Market Galle Sri Lanka

Inside the Old Dutch Market you will fnd fruit, vegetables, fish and spices.

Fruit for sale in Galle Sri Lanka

Buy a bag of mangostenes or mangos, Sri Lanka is famous for fruit.

There is plenty more to do in the Galle area, beaches, turtle hatcheries, cooking courses and more general exploration.

Where to Stay Near Galle?

We can personally recommend a couple of places in and near Galle. We got married near Galle, at the Lighthouse Hotel, Galle, an amazing and luxurious Jetwing resort for a Sri Lankan style beach wedding.

Also check out the Templeberg Villa, set in the hills behind the town, we can personally recommend it and you’ll find a review here. It’s not a low budget choice but it’s beautiful, a real treat with an incredible evening dining experience, check here for prices and availability. Unawatuna isn’t far away and makes a great base for exploring this area. In Unawatuna a solid low cost family choice is the Bird House Guest House set in the village, it has recently renovated rooms and is owned by a lovely older couple.

Dinner at The Temmpleberg Villa Galle SriLanka

The Templeberg villa, near Galle, comes highly recommended by us, check out our full review above.

 

 

If you’re touring Sri Lanka make sure you take the time to at least explore the fort, old town and surrounding area, it really is a delightful part of Sri Lanka, but then, we love all of this magical country.

If you want to stay in or around Galle try our price comparison box at the top of the page.

 

 This  post on things to do in Galle first appeared on World Travel Family. We occasionally include affiliate links on our site where we think they could be of use to you. They cost you nothing extra and we make a couple of cents in commission if you use them. Thanks! Want to go back to our Sri Lanka Travel home page? Click here for loads of tips and useful information on visiting Sri Lanka.

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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Rajith

Friday 17th of April 2020

Thanks for this lovely description of Galle and its environs. From a sri lankan who is a Galleion.(somebody living in Galle and having a deep affection to Galle)

PEnny Boden

Monday 8th of July 2019

We are “older travelers “and are considering spending a few months in Galle. We have been before as short term visitors but now would like to hire a cheapish furnished self catering place to stay in the fort. Any advice? Penny Boden.

Alyson Long

Monday 8th of July 2019

I know people do stay in Sri Lanka long term, I have many friends who have rented houses and appartments. I don't know of any who have stayed in Galle Fort, but it would be a lovely base. My first place to look would be Airbnb and I'd try to negotiate the price down with the owner for a longer stay. Best of luck ! Be sure you have the visa to stay !

travelcrazy

Saturday 13th of June 2015

Valuable information

travelFREAK

Tuesday 27th of January 2015

Thank you so much for sharing your experience in Galle! Some stunning photos that make you want to visit Sri Lanka!

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