Things to Do in Galle

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

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

Galle Sri Lanka Fortress Walls
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.

Inside 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.

Galle Sri Lanka Beach
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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Galle Sri Lanka Blue Building
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.

Dutch Markets Galle Sri Lanka
Inside the Old Dutch Market you will fnd fruit, vegetables, fish and spices.
Fruit market 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.

 This post on things to do in Galle first appeared on World Travel Family. 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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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

7 thoughts on “Things to Do in Galle”

  1. Informative article about Sri Lanka and especially Galle… Also worth mentioning is a visit to the Dutch Reformed Church. With a hand cranked organ. During my visit there was a Dutch speaking ‘I am the Koster’. We were allowed to play the organ for a while while he operated the bellows Jan

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

    • 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 !


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