Galle Sri Lanka – Located in southwest Sri Lanka, between Bentota and Mirissa, Galle is a beautiful fortified city you should absolutely visit if you’re planning on visiting south Sri Lanka. The city has a distinct colonial style because it was originally built by the Portuguese and ended up being conquered by the Dutch. Its port was developed by the famous Dutch East India Company to export cinnamon, a spice originating from Sri Lanka.
A great fort was built to protect this strategic city and remains its main attraction to this day. There are many other attractions to visit; in fact, the whole region around Galle is worth your time and money, with beautiful beaches in Unuwatuna, among other things. I’ll tell you more about that later; let’s go over a few tips to help you plan your trip to Galle first.
How To Get There
If you’re coming from Colombo, Bentota or Mirissa for example, the most convenient means of transportation to get to Galle is the train. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Colombo and just under an hour from Mirissa. For train schedules, please visit this (official) website.
By the way, if you are going to Galle from Colombo, I suggest you take the train from Maradana train station instead of Colombo Fort. Trains actually depart from Maradana and stop by Colombo Fort on their way to Galle. You’re therefore more likely to find a seat if you take the train from Maradana station. 🙂
If you’re looking for accommodation in Galle, you can book a hotel in the city center (and therefore close to the fort) or on a beach in the surrounding area. I went for the second option because the city center of Galle is quite a hectic place to stay and I thought a nice sea view would be a better landscape to wake up to. So I went ahead and booked a hut at Bara Beach Home, on Pitiwella beach. The setting is gorgeous, and the hotel is really nice, offers affordable prices and is an ideal place to make lots of new friends! 🙂
If you can afford better accommodation in the same area, I recommend Arabella on Boossa.
The beachfront property offers access to an outdoor pool and to very comfortable rooms. It’s the perfect hotel if you are traveling as a couple or with your family for example.
What to do in Galle
You’re all set to go to Galle! Here are all the places I loved visiting there. To enjoy all of them as much as possible, I recommend you get yourself at least two days in Galle and take your time to visit the city and its surroundings.
- Galle Fort
- Pitiwella Beach
- Unuwatuna Beach
- Jungle Beach
- Delawella Beach
- Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya Temple
Galle Sri Lanka – Galle Fort
If there is one place to visit in Galle, it’s obviously its fort. It covers a pretty impressive area and is pretty much a city by itself inside the city of Galle. You’ll need at least half a day to wander around the fort and get lost in its alleys.
The dominant colonial atmosphere makes you feel like you’re in a different time and country as soon as you pass through the fort gates. This magnificent site has been (understandably so) listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To help you organize your visit, I recommend you visit at least the following 3 places.
First, you can go to the old clock that should be on your right as you enter the fort (exact location). You can also climb up and enjoy the sheer size of the impressive stone walls.
Another place not to be missed is the old church built by the Dutch in 1755. You can also visit the church itself (exact location) by the way.
Last but not least, don’t forget to visit the southern part of the fort to see the beautiful lighthouse of Galle. It is the oldest lighthouse in Sri Lanka! It was built by the English in 1848 and has since been renovated several times (exact location).
Of course, there are many other things to see at Galle Fort so make sure to thoroughly explore the site. 🙂
Galle Sri Lanka – Pitiwella Beach
Pitiwella Beach is one of my favorite beaches in Galle, that’s why I recommend booking your accommodation in the surrounding area. The water is crystal clear, the beach is not crowded at all and you can enjoy a wonderful sunset every day there.
I spent long days on that beach working on my computer (on my articles on Sri Lanka for that matter) while admiring the magnificent view. 🙂
Galle Sri Lanka – Unuwatuna Beach
To find other beautiful beaches in the area, follow the coast to the east until you get to the neighboring village of Unuwatuna. It is about 7 kilometers away from Galle and you can get there by tuk-tuk in about 15 minutes. The beach you see above is the main beach of Unuwatuna. You can swim there or get something to eat or drink.
Galle Sri Lanka – Jungle Beach
If you want a more “isolated” beach, head to Jungle Beach. It’s also in Unuwatuna and is very popular among local people and recently even more so by tourists. It’s called Jungle Beach simply because you have to cross a small jungle for about 20 minutes to get there.
Remember to close your bags, especially if you carry food in them because you will meet lots of monkeys on your way! They look cute but they’re masterful thieves! 😀
After crossing the jungle, you will finally get to a beautiful sandy beach with small restaurants here and there if you want to have something to eat or drink. You can also rent snorkeling equipment for 500 rupees (~ $3).
By the way, there are two beaches in Jungle Beach. The one you see in the picture above is the one on the right, and you can access the one on the left if you follow a small path. Although they are very similar, I preferred the left one which you can see below:
Galle Sri Lanka – Delawella Beach
If you head eastwards, you will get to Delawella Beach which is very similar to Unuwatuna Beach. It became very popular, especially thanks to Instagram, because of the swing you can see above. If you want to take pictures like this one, this is where it’s at: exact location.
Galle Sri Lanka – Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya Temple
Let’s wrap up this tour of Galle with a slightly more spiritual visit. I am taking you to the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya Temple. It is a Buddhist temple located north of Unuwatuna. There are almost no tourists around, yet it is a beautiful site built on rocks during the Anuradhapura period. There’s a great standing Buddha statue, a pagoda, murals and many other things there waiting to be discovered.
Entry to the temple is free but you can help maintain the temple by making a small donation. 🙂 Our little adventure in Galle ends here! I’m sure you’re going to love Galle! What I really liked about it is the possibility of combining cultural and historical visits with some chill out sessions on the beautiful beaches of the region. 🙂 Galle is, therefore, a must-visit city you should absolutely include in your travel plans in Sri Lanka.
If you want to comment on this blog post or if you have questions about it, feel free to post them in the comments below. It’s always nice to read your reactions! 😉
See you around,