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Galle

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Practical information on Galle

  • Family
  • Encounters with locals
  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Viewpoint
  • Port
  • Festivals
  • Museums
  • Castle and fortress
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Unesco World Heritage
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
Five hours from Colombo by train
When to go
From October to May
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Galle

Romain Beuvart Seasoned Traveller
89 written opinions

Galle is a fortified city built by the Europeans and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

My suggestion:
Hire a scooter to get about more freely and see the surrounding area. Don't be surprised if the stick fishermen, who are famous in this region, ask you for money to pose for photographs...
My review

The main attraction of Galle is its fort, a vestige of Ceylon's (the former name of Sri Lanka) colonial past, and the biggest fortress constructed by the Europeans in Asia. I arrived by scooter and parked inside the outer walls. I continued on foot because the site is not that big. It's also more pleasant to walk through the old, narrow streets, some of which still house original buildings. I would particularly advise you to visit the old hospital, the courthouse and the Dutch church.

One of the symbols of Galle is the white lighthouse which stands proudly on the edge of the city. From there, I was able to admire the view of the Indian Ocean and the Peace Pagoda, given by the Japanese, which stands on the hill near Unawatuna. It was also here that I met a snake charmer for the first time in my life!

Because Galle is a coastal city, I took the time to go to the beach next to the fort, stopping on the way at the little fish market where fish are sold as they come off the fishing boats which can be seen still working in the bay behind the market. This was an unmissable stop for me and for anyone staying in Sri Lanka.

Anne Vergnaud Seasoned Traveller
36 written opinions

Galle: a little piece of Holland in Sri Lanka.

My suggestion:
Look out for the letters VOC, the logo of the Dutch East India Company, on the coats of arms.
My review

When travelling around Sri Lanka, you'll very likely pay a visit to Galle. This former port of the Dutch East India Company still has its European buildings.

I enjoyed walking around the top of the fort, which is the largest one in Asia built by Europeans, and seeing where they'd used corals instead of stones when constructing the walls. You'll find people walking on the path around it even when it's raining.

The area within the fort is still a very lively place today, and I had an enjoyable time there exploring the charming shops and seeing all the different kinds of architecture. I found it a particularly interesting experience walking over the graves decorated with skulls and crossbones inside the Dutch Reformed Church, which contain the bodies of people who died ravaged by malaria.

Paul Engel Seasoned Traveller
36 written opinions

A fortified city classed as UNESCO World Heritage, Galle is definitely my favourite place in Sri Lanka.

My suggestion:
Try to visit Galle's old town in the morning if possible: because the little cobbled streets there are sheltered from the wind, it can get oppressively hot. You need to spend a minimum of at least half a day in this city to explore it properly in my opini
My review

If you want to discover Sri Lanka and find out about its history, one of the places you really have to visit is Galle. The island's most important port in the 18th century and a key stop on the spice route, this city simply begs to be explored.

There's little point visiting Galle with a specific aim in mind. It's much better to simply wander the city's streets at leisure, discovering what there is to see at random. Every street has its own surprises to offer, with impeccably preserved colonial-style houses, small churches, temples and mosques – and don't hesitate to walk through the doors, as there are often very pleasant patio areas to be found inside, where you can get a drink to quench your thirst. 

The views over the sea front from the city ramparts are of course incredible. Head to the lighthouse, which lies along the magnolia-lined path leading to the Aurora Bastion. There you'll discover a tiny beach that's very popular with the city's women and children. One unusual detail about the city: the dazzling white Meeran Juman mosque, which stands proudly by the water, was formerly a church.

Tours and travel ideas Galle