Galle is a destination for foreign artists, writers, poets and photographers with Dutch colonial charm and an unspoilt tropical setting. As far as beach holidays go, Galle (pronounced ‘gawl’ in English), is one of the most interesting destinations you’ll find in Asia.
Tourists come to Galle for the Fort, a Unesco World Heritage Site set on 36 hectares. The Fort is located on a promontory, surrounded by ocean, and full of stunning architecture dating back to its 17th century Dutch origins. The Fort is not just a tourist destination; it is also a working commercial compound with government offices, companies as well as antique and gem shops. Walking around the Fort is free so beware of anyone asking for a fee to do so.
Where to eat and drink
With an estimated one-third of properties in Galle owned by foreigners, mostly of the artistic bent, Galle has become a destination for foodies and lounge lizards. For local fare with a modern Asian twist try Fortaleza which is located in an old spice warehouse. The Fort Printers has fresh-caught seafood set around a pool and decorated with fairylights – great for a romantic meal. Another one for proposing or falling in love is The Fernery Restaurant with its colonial interior and charm. For a cheap eat that’s delicious try Lucky Fort Restaurant. For a sunset cocktail go to the Galle Fort Hotel or The Sun House which is on a hill side and a short tuk-tuk ride from the centre. For the best afternoon tea go to Galle’s classiest hotel – the Amangalla.
You’ll find plenty of local curios in Galle but also a range of more upmarket galleries and boutiques appealing to Western sensibilities. Galle is famous for its gem shops which you’ll find all over Fort. To avoid getting ripped off stick to buying semi precious and not precious stones. A great range of historical collectibles are available at the Historical Mansion Museum Shop. You’ll find more expensive clothing at Mimimango and at the local Barefoot shop (a Sri Lankan chain) you’ll find many items that will make great gifts or souvenirs.
For the best accommodation in Galle, Villalet has selected the best private villas and villa complex, modern or colonial style; most with beachfront access.
Things to do in Galle
Sunset walk at the wall of the Fort but beware of hawkers.
Galle Light house
National Maritime Museum
St Mary’s Cathedral Cricket ground at Galle International Stadium
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