What to do in Galle, Sri Lanka

What to do in Galle, Sri Lanka

I don’t know about you but when I think of Sri Lanka I think about amazing temples, national parks filled with elephants and leopards, beautiful tea plantations and miles of sandy beaches. But what I don’t think about when I think about Sri Lanka is the cities. During our time in Sri Lanka, we decided to only visit one city, the amazing city of Galle Fort. I think Galle should be on any Sri Lanka itinerary. If you are wondering what to do in Galle, this guide will tell you everything you need to know from the best things to do in Galle, the best places to stay and where to eat and shop! 

A bit about Galle!

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Did you know that Galle is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site? This was one of the things that persuaded us to visit the town when we visited Sri Lanka. Galle was first conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th Century and then taken over by the Dutch in the 17th Century. As such, the city of Galle is full of delightful European style architecture! What I love about Galle is the way the European influence meshes with traditional Sri Lanka culture into quite a cosmopolitan place today.

Today, many people may remember Galle from the 2004 tsunami. Despite this catastrophic weather, the fort of Galle kept standing! In the wake of the tsunami, the city has been going through a process of gentrification and today the fort is filled with boutique shops, and hipster hangouts. Really Galle has something for everyone.

What to do in Galle, Sri Lanka

Best Things to do in Galle

Explore Galle Fort

Galle is a colonial town on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Its’ fortress, one of the must dos when in Galle. It is a world heritage site and is a must do for any visitor. Unfortunately during our visit to Galle there was torrential rain which wasn’t great for photographs but it didn’t stop us walking around the fort.Some of the must see buildings in Galle fort are:

  • Dutch Reform Church
  • The Lighthouse
  • Old Dutch Hospital
  • Amangalla Colonial House
  • Meeran Mosque
  • Temple
  • Sudharmalaya Temple
  • All Saints Anglican Church

A Church in Galle

Visit The Lighthouse! 

The Lighthouse is one of the most iconic sites in Galle. Flanked by beautiful palm trees the lighthouse is an important feature of the fort given its role in the spice trade.

Walking the fort! Best things to don In Galle - what to do in Galle

Walking the fort!

 

Walk the Walls! 

If I go to somewhere with city walls I simply have to walk them. It is a great way to get to know a city and it a great place for taking some interesting photographs! To walk the entirety of the Galle City Walls is about 2kms and isn’t too difficult a trek! I recommend doing this first thing when you get to Galle early in the morning. one because you get some amazing sunlight and secondly to beat the Galle heat!

Visit the Cricket Ground

This was not on my Galle bucket list but it was on my cricket obsessed husband!

Things to do in Galle – Shopping

What surprised me about Galle was how European it felt and how good the shopping was. The process of gentrification has meant that Galle has some amazing boutique places. Our favourite shops were

  • Stick No Bills, a shop dedicated to vintage travel and movie posters. It also had a small exhibition which was definitely worth a visit if you are a travel poster fan as I am. My other favourite was
  • Barefoot Boutique where you could buy lots of artisan products from the area. We purchased some beautiful batik placemats.
  • Exotic Roots – an amazing art and handicraft store!

Other things that you should look to buy while in Galle are Sri Lankan coffee!

Things to Do Near Galle Fort

Virgin White Tea Plantation

The Virgin White Tea Plantation, Galle

The Virgin White Tea Plantation, Galle

We combined our visit to Galle with a trip to the nearby Virgin White Tea Plantation where you can sample a variety of teas in beautiful surroundings. Virgin White refers to the method of tea picking based on an ancient Chinese tradition. Virgin White Tea is never touched by human hands and all pickers where gloves and use golden scissors. It was very interesting to see. Our guide was very knowledgable about the tea making process and while perhaps not as striking as tea plantations around Kandy was definitely worth a visit.

Visit the Beach 

Galle is surrounded by miles of lovely beaches and resorts. If you are wanting some beach time after spending time in Galle we recommend heading to Unawatuna Beach.

Where to eat in Galle

We stopped for lunch a the beautiful Amangalla Hotel. A luxury 5* hotel set in the ramparts of the fort.  I thoroughly recommend stopping there for a Club Sandwich and a G&T. It is also a great place to people watch from the terrace!

The beautiful Amangalle Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

The beautiful Amangalle Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Enjoying a G&T at the Amangalle hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Enjoying a G&T at the Amangalle hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Another brilliant place to eat in Galle, especially if you are wanting some more local flavours then we recommend trying out the highly rated A Minute by Tuk Tuk! It also has some amazing sea front views!

Best Places to Stay in Galle

If you are looking for somewhere amazing to stay in Galle the following are highly rated luxury hotels set in historic properties to get the true Galle experience!

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in finding out more about Southern Sri Lanka you may also want to check out these posts:

Buckingham Place – Best Hotel Ever! Our Recommended hotel for visiting south Sri Lanka
Elephant Safari at Udewalawe National Park – Our favourite place in South Sri Lanka

Or this fab itinerary for Sri Lanka that covers more of the island!

This post may contain  affiliate links which means if you click a link and make a purchase i make a small commission at no extra cost to you!

43 Comments

  1. September 6, 2016 / 6:45 am

    We never made it as far south as Galle with annewborn at the time but of course I keep seeing everyone’s write ups since our trip in 2014! We live so close (UAE) so it will definitely be back on our agenda for another look (and well done in the rain too!!!_)

    • September 6, 2016 / 8:34 am

      It was really lovely. The hotel we stayed at doesn’t take children unfortunately so will have to find somewhere else to stay on our next visit! 🙁

      We are in Qatar so as with you, Sri Lanka is a great place to get away too!

  2. September 6, 2016 / 10:04 am

    I so want to visit Sri Lanka, I keep reading more and more tempting things about it. Interesting to hear that you found Galle European. #citytripping

  3. September 6, 2016 / 10:29 am

    So nice to learn about somewhere new in Sri Lanka! Isn’t it great when the shopping is amazing and you enjoy a place more than you thought you would! #CityTripping

    • September 6, 2016 / 11:41 am

      It really is. I must admit I was expecting tourist tat and really didn’t find any. We collect tacky mugs and have to say the Sri Lanka one is the most sophisticated in our collection.

  4. September 6, 2016 / 10:35 am

    My cousin went not so long ago and really loved it. She didn’t make it here but the photos were such a mix of traditional Sri Lankan and colonial, very much like yours. These are beautiful shots #citytripping

    • September 6, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Thank you so much. I would thoroughly recommend. Taking good photos is easy when you have a beautiful city subject

  5. September 6, 2016 / 6:09 pm

    We visited Sri Lanka, and Galle, earlier this year so great reading about your visit there. It is a wonderful place to wander around and take in the Portuguese and Dutch influences in the city. The fort is fab. We didn’t indulge in much shopping there which is a shame but we did go for a drink at the Amangalla hotel although as I was pregnant had to make do with a coconut water. Thank you for linking to #citytripping

    • September 6, 2016 / 6:16 pm

      Glad you enjoyed. A shame you couldn’t have a drink. My worst was being pregnant in Tuscany and watching my other half have wine, cheese and deli meats

  6. September 6, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    Ahh! Your post is making me homesick (I was born and brought up in Sri Lanka). I go back once a year usually, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to Galle. Must visit next time. Great post. Thank you for sharing. #citytripping

    • September 6, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      Thank you! We would really love to explore it more

  7. September 7, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    Sri Lanka is a place I hope to make it to some day soon. So beautiful. The tea plantation sounds really interesting, golden scissors and all. #citytripping

    • September 7, 2016 / 1:50 pm

      I think it should be on everyone’s bucket list. It won’t disappoint. I hope you make it there soon! ?

  8. September 7, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    I loved Galle- was definitely hotter when I visited but we still made it to the fort which is fantastic and had time for some shopping. I agree, Barefoot is fantastic. The colonial atmosphere does make it quite different from the rest of Sri Lanka which is so interesting too. Loved the photos and the reminder. #citytripping

    • September 8, 2016 / 4:06 am

      Thank you . I agree colonial Galle very different from the rest of the country. Want to go back and explore more

  9. September 7, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    Such a shame it was raining, sounds like an interesting place

    • September 8, 2016 / 4:04 am

      Thank you. We live in the desert so a bit of rain is a welcome change but this was pretty epic rain

  10. September 12, 2016 / 6:36 am

    My son is going to Sri Lanka for 3 days on his way to India. I shall tell him about Galle it sounds interesting.

    • September 12, 2016 / 7:57 am

      It really was. I would recommend wholeheartedly

  11. November 10, 2016 / 9:34 am

    I’ve been to Sri Lanka twice but only once to Galle and that was just a day trip which I wished we had a stayed a night there 🙁 Your post brought back memories of Sri Lanka. If I travel to Sri Lanka again, I’m definitely going to stay in Galle for a night or two! 🙂

    • November 10, 2016 / 9:54 am

      It is truly wonderful – my favourite hotel in the world is in Sri Lanka A Buckingham place – there is a post on the site if you are interested

  12. December 1, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this unique corner for #FarawayFiles. I don’t know much about #SriLanka – but it looks so lovely and interesting! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  13. December 1, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    White tea and a cheeky G&T – two things that are enticing me to this part of Sri Lanka. Great to hear how you found some interesting independent shops too.
    #farawayfiles

    • December 1, 2016 / 1:25 pm

      Two of my great loves. I really hadn’t expected such good unique shops

  14. December 1, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    Ooh this place looks lovely! I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #farawayfiles

  15. December 2, 2016 / 9:08 am

    Hoping to get to Sri Lanka next summer and Galle is definitely somewhere we plan to go! Will be checking out your others posts about Sri lanka too! #citytripping #farawayfiles

    • December 2, 2016 / 10:19 am

      You’ll have a fab time. Please do check the other posts – they might be of use and can’t recommend the hotel enough

  16. December 2, 2016 / 9:38 am

    I’m fascinated by that Virgin White Tea making process! I’d love to do a taste test to see if it really does taste any better than ordinary tea. Did you try some? Sri Lanka is somewhere I’d love to visit. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

    • December 2, 2016 / 10:20 am

      We tried lots of tea actually. We tried one with no milk or sugar but where they added cinnamon which was delicious and I’m a cinnamon hater

        • December 2, 2016 / 12:10 pm

          Hadn’t thought about for Xmas but you’re right it is! Have some in the cupboard so might have to break it out

  17. December 2, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Looks gorgeous. I love a drink in those super-colonial places; the Amangalla Hotel looks fabulous. I’ve always wondered about White Tea: I must try it. Nice post #farawayfiles

    • December 2, 2016 / 12:11 pm

      Me too – g&t in a colonial hotel can’t be beaten

  18. December 2, 2016 / 2:36 pm

    I loved Galle too. We were there for my brother’s wedding and it was just lovely. There is something about the tropical weather that just calls out for gin and tonic. Thanks for the memories on #FarawayFiles

    • December 2, 2016 / 3:12 pm

      I bet a wedding there would be beautiful! You’re right the weather makes g&t an essential

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