Exploring the mesmerizing attractions of Galle Fort will undoubtedly be a captivating experience during your visit to Sri Lanka. Immerse yourself in the rich Dutch heritage and vibrant culture by venturing through these enchanting Galle Fort landmarks. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the breathtaking destinations that make Galle Fort one of the most beautiful places to explore.
Located along one of the most important trade routes of the past, Sri Lanka is a country with amazing landscapes where you can have unique experiences. A trip to the island will feel like an exhilarating ride amidst various terrains and weather conditions. From the cool climate of Nuwara Eliya to the tropical beaches of the East Coast, you are bound to have a roller coaster ride on this tiny island.
Amidst all this lies the city of Galle, with its colonial touch and historical features emanating from the majestic fortress. Moreover, Galle Fort has a vibrant lifestyle of its own, which is unparalleled and that you cannot experience anywhere else in the world. A tour of Galle Fort is a must in your Sri Lank travel itinerary.
Reaching Galle Fort
Many major carriers worldwide connect to Sri Lanka via the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Colombo. You can fly from any primary carrier to Colombo, including Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Air China, Indigo, and Korean Air.
Emirates is a highly recommended carrier. It has many flights to Colombo every week, and you will experience the highest level of service and comfort on your trip. Further, traveling from as far away as the US could be pretty daunting, so you must choose the carrier wisely.
Once you reach Colombo, you must find a way to travel to Galle, which is approximately 146 km away from the capital. If you are staying overnight in a hotel in Colombo, you can book a cab via Uber and travel to your accommodation suite. Traveling from BIA to the heart of Colombo would cost anywhere between $19 and $22, where you find most of the budget and luxury accommodation.
You can travel from Colombo to Galle via the Southern Expressway (E01). The best way to do this is to get a cab to the Makumbura Highway Bus Stand, where you can catch a bus and travel comfortably to Galle. It will cost you about $10 to $12 to travel to Makumbura in a cab, and the highway bus charges would be approximately $3. Also, traveling by train is an option, which could cost roughly $1.5.
Galle Fort tour: The best way to travel in Galle
Once you reach Galle, there are several modes of transport to travel within the district, including bus, train, tuk-tuk, and cab. However, traveling within Galle Fort is possible either on foot or on a tuk-tuk. Here are some ways you can enjoy your Galle Fort tour.
The bus is a great way to go about in Galle, especially if you are a backpacker or traveling solo. Buses can get pretty crowded in the morning and evenings during the rush hour. At other times, they are one of the easiest ways to travel between different towns in Galle.
The train is a great way to travel between the city of Galle and other towns on the southern coast, such as Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Matara, etc. The minimum fare will be approximately $0.4.
Tuk tuks are ideal if you travel from Galle Fort to other parts of Galle, such as Unwatuna and Mirissa. The minimum fare starts at $0.5 and, after that, $0.2 for every km traveled.
Cab services are also available in Galle, especially if you want to travel with the highest comfort level. Expect to pay about $5 for a 5 km trip.
The best way to explore Galle Fort is by walking along the cobbled roads. Again, it is the perfect way to spend time with family and friends, savoring the glory of the Dutch architectural buildings.
Many hotels, motels, and budget accommodations in Galle Fort fit everyone. The accommodation suites below are approximately 153 km from the BIA and ideal for your Galle Fort tour.
Luxury accommodation recommendation for the Galle Fort tour
Luxury accommodation options in Galle Fort are inclusive of bed & breakfast. You can enjoy a wide array of cuisines every day.
Taru Villas: Approx $224
Taru Villas is a luxury boutique hotel located on Rampart Street in Galle Fort. It is close to many of the main attractions in Galle Fort. You can take a short walk to the ramparts whenever you have some free time.
Galle Fort Hotel: Approx $210
Galle Fort Hotel is a 4-star hotel located on Church Street, Galle Fort. Built to resemble colonial architecture, this hotel has all the amenities required for a couple of days’ stay in the fortified city.
The Merchant Galle Fort: Approx $146
The Merchant Galle Fort is a luxury hotel located on Pedlar Street, Galle Fort. It has many eateries around so you will have an excellent choice of meals.
Le Jardin du Fort: Approx $80
Le Jardin du Fort is a 4-star hotel located on Lay Baan Street, Galle Fort. It serves a range of international cuisines, including Asian, Italian, American, Continental, and more.
Budget Accommodation for the Galle Fort tour
There are many vacation rentals within Galle Fort that you can book via Airbnb. Here are some of the best Airbnb rentals you can try out for your stay in Galle Fort.
Entire condo hosted by Ranjit: $43
This condo in Galle Fort can host 2 guests as it has a single bedroom with 2 separate beds and a bath. It is well-equipped with all basic amenities and is an excellent choice for a couple’s stay.
No.16 Fort House: $121
This entire villa can be booked for $121 per night. It is perfect for a family of 4 and comes with 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, and 2 baths.
Entire villa hosted by Azwaan: $173
The entire villa in Church Street, Galle Fort, can be booked for a night for just $173. It can host 4 guests as it has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Renowned local architect Channa Daswatta has designed this two-story home with a courtyard.
The weather in Galle is very similar to how it is in Colombo. Most towns and villages of Sri Lanka experience sunlight throughout the year. Galle has a tropical rainforest climate; the drier months are from December to February. You should visit the historic city if you want to experience it while walking down the cobbled streets fully. However, even the other months will have sunshine for most days. May to September are the wettest months in Galle, and when you need to be geared up with raincoats and umbrellas, lest you need them.
Pack a lot of light clothes, sun hats, shades, scarves, sunscreen, and all you would want on a typical beach or Galle Fort tour. Moreover, the southern coast is well-known for its fantastic beaches and waves, where you might even want to do some activities like surfing, snorkeling, or simply sewing.
Galle Dutch Fort (Morning)
Get lost in history amidst the mighty walls of the Galle Fort and experience what it was like living in the Dutch colonial era. Being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all of Galle Fort’s buildings resemble colonial architecture. Moreover, head to the ramparts early to catch the morning sunshine and warm breeze. This tour is best done at around 7 or 8 in the morning when you can take a dip in the Indian Ocean overlooking the great fortress of the southern coast. Also, if you are heading to Galle Fort on the weekend, you’ll be lucky to catch some of the weekend markets where you can buy local products like batik clothing and souvenirs for a reasonable price.
Where to eat (Morning)
Head to Punto Cafe, located on Pedlar’s Street, a cozy place run by a small local family. You can have some traditional Sri Lankan food for breakfast and lunch at a reasonable price. In addition, the Pedlar’s Inn Cafe down Pedlar’s Street is also a great place that serves a range of cuisines for lunch. Once done, you can head to Pedlar’s Inn Gelato, located adjacent to Pedlar’s Inn Cafe, for a scoop of one of your favorite ice cream flavors to indulge under the scorching sun.
Galle Fort Clock Tower (Evening)
The best thing about Galle Fort is that everything is within walking distance. So, you can schedule your itinerary in any way you want, as everything is located close by.
After lunch, we recommend a tour of the Galle Clock Tower, located within the Fort. It is a famous landmark that stands overlooking the Central Moon Bastion, on the site of the old guard room. The tower was constructed in 1883 in recognition of a renowned Burger doctor named P.D. Anthonisz, which is why it is also known as Anthonisz Memorial Clock Tower. This historical landmark is visible even before you enter the Fort. Head over to the Clock Tower after lunch, at about 3 o’clock. You can also spend some time lazing around the ramparts, mingling with and getting to know some locals.
Where to eat (Evening)
A Minute By Tuk Tuk is a classic restaurant that serves an excellent range of cuisines for lunch and dinner. You can head to it, located at the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct down Hospital Street, for lunch or dinner. Elita Restaurant in Middle Street is also a great place to have dinner, specializing in seafood dishes.
Galle Lighthouse (Night)
The Galle Lighthouse is Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse. It stands at a height of 26.5 meters within the walls of the fortress. The Galle Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction built about 6 meters above ground level on the ramparts. Head to the Galle Lighthouse after an early dinner, at around 7.30 pm, to experience the ramparts and Galle Fort twinkling under the night sky.
Where to eat (Dinner)
After dinner, head to the Dairy King for some delicious ice cream in various flavors. A local family runs the business and serves the best ice cream flavors for an affordable price.
The National Museum of Galle (Morning)
The National Museum of Galle is worth visiting if you go to Galle Fort. Start your day early in the morning at about 8.30 to visit the museum, which is in the oldest Dutch building of Galle Fort. Established in 1986, the museum has a collection of artifacts, including traditional masks, ancient wooden carvings, and other archeological objects inherited in the Southern region.
Where to eat (Breakfast)
Church Street Social is a dine-in restaurant down Church Street where you can find both local and international cuisines. Head over to the restaurant to grab a delicious meal for lunch. The Tuna & The Crab is the perfect place to eat if you crave seafood. Also, it is located at the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct down Hospital Street in Galle Fort.
Dutch Reformed Church (Evening)
After lunch, you can visit the Dutch Reformed Church or Groote Kerk in Galle Fort. Besides, it is located just by the entrance to the Fort. Moreover, the Dutch built 1755 one of the oldest Protestant churches in Sri Lanka. Witness this church’s awe-inspiring stained glass windows and Doric-style architecture while touring Galle Fort.
Where to eat (Dinner)
Royal Dutch Cafe, situated on Leyn Baan Street, serves delicious food and is a great place to have an early dinner after a tiring day touring Galle Fort. The Bungalow Galle Fort Restaurant in Church Cross Street also serves excellent food and fine dining facilities.
Finally, Sri Lanka is an amazing country with so many rare and unique things that you can take back home as memoirs of your tour. Here are some suggestions of what to buy from Galle Fort and where to buy.
Gem & Jewelry (Ibrahim Jewellers)
Ibrahim Jewellers is a renowned and established jewelry store located on Church Street, Galle Fort. The store has some unique collections at competitive prices.
Antiques & Handicrafts (Laksala)
The state-owned gift and souvenir store, Laksala, also has a branch in Galle. It is the best place to buy everything from traditional Sri Lankan masks to wooden elephants and other local handicrafts.
Barefoot store is located on Pedlar Street, Galle Fort. It is one of the best places to buy a wide range of local handloom products, including clothes, bags, napkins, handkerchiefs, and many more.
A walk down the cobbled streets of Galle Fort, witnessing the Dutch architectural buildings, is the type of vacation that comes with a unique experience. Besides, there is nothing like experiencing a tour of Galle Fort, going back in history and living in the colonial era, to feel like it was back in the day.
Have you been to Galle before? Let us know what you like to do and see in Galle in the comments section below.