Galle Fort Travel Guide, Sri Lanka

by Tsvete Popp
Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

There is no doubt – Galle Fort is the most beautiful coastal town in Sri Lanka! Charming, exotic, and full of history: Galle is a must-see on your next trip to the Resplendent Isle! From the moment we first entered Galle Fort, we knew it was love. In Galle Fort life slows down as locals play cricket alongside the beach, travelers walk on the ancient fort walls, and street vendors sell fresh tropical fruit under the palm trees. Its history makes it a melting pot of culture. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1588 and then extended on by the Dutch in the 17th century, It’s now a thriving Sri Lankan community on the Indian Ocean. Here’s a definitive guide for Galle with all the best things to do in Galle Fort!

Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Where to Stay

As you would expect from a major travel destination in South Asia, Sri Lanka has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.

Yara Galle Fort: We chose to stay close to the historical attractions inside the Fort. Our hotel Yara Galle Fort is the second oldest hotel in Galle Fort that was built by the Dutch in 1857 and was completely renovated in 2019. Because Yara Galle Fort is part of the UNESCO heritage site of Galle, the style remains unique as it was from the very beginning but as you can see the luxury vibe of the colonial Era was transformed into a tranquil restored residence in the heart of the Fort – perfect for couples! We spent 3 nights here while exploring the historical attractions on foot.

Yara Galle Fort is a colonial luxury boutique hotel in Galle Fort. One thing about picking a nice stay is by sorting the hotel’s rating. Yara Galle Fort came out as one with a very good rating of 9.2 on Booking.  You can also make a direct booking here.

Yara Galle FortYara Galle FortYara Galle FortYara Galle FortAfter the days spent inside the Fort, we decided to stay 10-15 minutes away from Galle in a private beach villa called Satiana Collection Galle just to enjoy some more couple of days here in the region.  Coming to Sri Lanka we already knew, that we will spend as much time as possible near the ocean.  The villa is located in Boossa, which is a small village not far away from Galle and we spent 3 more nights in this beautiful beach villa. Lucky us – as we are the only guests right now, we could have the whole area just for ourselves 💜 As we are on the west coast of Sri Lanka, we can enjoy the beautiful sunsets above the ocean just in front of our “home” 🙏 Everything we can ask for, to be honest!

Satiana Collection GalleSatiana Collection GalleSatiana Collection GalleSatiana Collection GalleBegin your search for the perfect accommodation now while the excitement is still fresh in your mind. Discover stylish and affordable options, and find the best accommodations at the lowest prices:

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Explore a wide range of hotels in Sri Lanka here (Tripadvisor)

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Easily compare prices and book hotels in Sri Lanka here (Hotellook)

Satiana Collection Galle

Things To Know Before You Go

Tips for Visiting Galle Fort

  • Start your visit by walking along the fortified walls of Galle Fort to admire the stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding area.
  • Explore the narrow streets of the fort and discover its colonial architecture, influenced by Portuguese, Dutch, and British styles.
  • Visit the iconic Dutch Reformed Church, a historic landmark within the fort known for its distinctive architecture and serene atmosphere.
  • Don’t miss the Galle Fort Lighthouse, an iconic symbol of the fort that offers panoramic views of the town and the coastline.
  • Explore the local shops and boutiques within the fort, offering a range of unique handicrafts, jewelry, and souvenirs.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the cobblestone streets, lined with charming cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.
  • Visit the Maritime Museum to learn about Galle’s maritime history and its importance as a trading hub in the past.
  • Step into the past by visiting the National Museum of Galle, which displays a collection of artifacts that highlight the region’s rich history.
  • Take a break at the enchanting Galle Fort Library, a serene and peaceful spot to relax and enjoy a good book.
  • End your visit by watching the sunset from the fort walls, as the golden hues cast a magical glow over the fort and the ocean beyond.

Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Things to do in Galle Fort

Galle Fort was first built in 1588 by the Portuguese and further fortified by the Dutch in the years after. It prevented attacks from colonial competitors both from the sea and the land. Along the walls, you would find battlements for defense in case of an invasion. Galle was handed over to the British in 1796 and they made a number of changes to the city, the most recognizable of which is the tower that you can see from various points in town. Over time, the fort has become a melting pot of architecture, cuisine, culture, and heritage sites. This makes it an incredible place to explore that has so much to see, eat and do.

Galle Fort Sri LankaSome of the must-see sights in Galle Fort are:

De Groote Kerk (Church St) – the most famous of all the churches in Galle. Its beautiful white facade is impressive, as well as its intricate interior.

Old Dutch Hospital  – one of the oldest buildings in Galle with beautiful white archways that perfectly complement the orange tiled roof.

All Saints Church  – Anglican style church in a gothic, victorian style.

Galle Fort Sri LankaGalle Fort Sri LankaVisit the Famous Galle Fort Lighthouse

The Galle Fort Lighthouse is one of the oldest coastal lighthouses inside the Galle Fort and is maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Also, famously known as the Pointe de Galle Light, this lighthouse is a replacement of a pre-existing lighthouse that was destroyed by fire in the year of 1934. Standing high at a height of 26.5 metres, this has become a classic beauty that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Especially, this spot is very well known as one of the best Instagram spots in Sri Lanka. So, make sure to click the most iconic picture on your vacation to Sri Lanka.

Galle Fort Sri LankaWalk Along Galle Fort Wall

The ramparts of Galle Fort are basically the outer walls on which you can walk. There are various bastions along these ramparts that encircle the entire fort. Entrance to Galle Fort is through the Main Gate, overlooking the cricket stadium around 250m/yds from the railway and bus stations. The gate was created by the British in 1873 by tunneling through the embankment that links the western Star Bastion with the eastern Sun Bastion, while in 1881 they added the clock tower that looms over the central Moon Bastion. The Dutch built the walls to withstand enemy cannonballs. More than 300 years later, the fort’s walls did a sterling job of keeping the 2004 tsunami at bay.

Galle Fort Sri LankaExplore Galle’s Fish & Vegetable Market

if you ever felt like visiting Sri Lanka’s market and getting the experience and seeing how the local people buy food for their day-to-day living this tour is the one for you. Visit Galle Vegetable and Fish Market situated in the city center here you can witness fresh fish caught from the nearby sea like fish, cuttlefish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and even sharks, and witness how local people buy fish for their daily dishes.

The next stop is the vegetable market where vegetables of different shapes, sizes, and colors, most native to Sri Lanka like the Banana Blossom, Breadfruit, Jak, Egg Plant, Drumsticks, and Snake Gourd, a wide range of exotic fruits, along with plenty of native greens, herbs, spices all enticingly laid out in rows. Remember to talk to the vendors if you want to know more about the product and learn the rule of thumb in choosing ‘just the right fruit or vegetables.

Galle Fort Sri LankaVisit One of the Many Galle Museums

If you’re like me, then you’ll love visiting museums when you travel! I don’t know why, but I find them so interesting. Being a bit of a history nerd, I love learning something new.

Galle is a melting pot of cultures from its colonial history and so you’ll find plenty of museums here to keep you occupied. Perfect if its rainy season.

Galle National Museum – Located inside the oldest remaining Dutch building in Galle, this delightful museum is set in the old commissariat store. It hopes to raise awareness to the cultural heritage of southern Sri Lanka.

National Maritime Museum – Opened to the public in 1992, this museum is also set in an old Dutch warehouse. Open daily from 8 am – 4 pm, you can learn all about Galle’s heritage as a center for sea trade. It also covers the Naval base and the Portuguese and Dutch eras.

Historic Mansion Museum – Located on Leyn Baan Street, this museum is set in an old Dutch home. It has been largely preserved and allows you to travel back in time to the 18th century.

Galle Fort Sri LankaGalle Fort Sri LankaSunset on the Fort’s Wall

After exploring the town itself and making the most out of the cafes, shops and best restaurants in Galle, definitely make sure to walk towards the walls of the fort, as from here you’ll get incredible views over the ocean.

Each afternoon at around 5:30 pm, locals and tourists alike gather along the fort walls to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. It’s a festive and happy affair; cricket games are played on the grass below, whole families gather to see off the last of the day, and travelers mingle and chat while Mother Nature streaks the sky all kinds of shades of blue, orange, pink, and purple.

Galle Fort Sri LankaGalle Fort Sri LankaJungle Beach

If you are done with the sightseeing in Galle Fort, you can go for some adventure. One of the most beautiful beaches in the region is Jungle Beach. The real Jungle Beach Unawatuna, however, is a small isolated beach close to Galle and Unawatuna Beach in Sri Lanka. We drove here with a tuk-tuk, on a narrow and steep path through the Jungle. Located west to Unawatuna, Jungle Beach is a pretty bay nestled in a forested area. It is one of the secret gems of Sri Lanka which has everything to make your holiday experience one of a kind. The place retains its pristine natural charm as it is not ventured by a large number of tourists throughout the year due to its secluded location.

Jungle Beach Sri lankaJungle Beach Sri lankaJapanese Peace Pagoda

Right next to Jungle Beach you will find the Japanese Peace Pagoda. The Japanese peace pagoda is a place of worship and peace. A huge white dome-shaped structure rising against the sky greets you from afar. Its shape is very unique with a golden ring on its pinnacle. Once you reach the top you are rewarded with a 360-degree stunning view of the pristine waters, lush green forests, and the bustling town of Galle. Wide granite corridors surround the stupa. A sprawling lawn adds beauty to it. Located close to the shore amidst thick foliage, the aerial view leaves you dumbstruck. The balustrade around the stupa is uniquely designed and a sight to behold. An early morning or late evening visit will reward you with breathtaking sunrise or sunset. With the waves dashing along the rocks, you will realize it is a singular place where the ocean meets the forest.

Japanese Peace Pagoda Sri LankaJapanese Peace Pagoda Sri Lanka

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