Galle's old town with its fortifications have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
There are 2 options for bus transport between Colombo and the main bus station in Galle: private a/c minibus and luxury Southern Expressway bus.
- Private a/c minibus.. Smaller than the typical big buses, it seats only about 25 people (plus another 7 people will be jammed inside standing). 270rps, 3 hours in normal conditions; 4+ hours if Colombo traffic is bad. This option is more convenient than the Southern Expressway bus if you need to start or end in central Colombo. Also more comfortable than the train: on the bus, you can be sure to get a seat if you start at either Galle main bus station or Colombo Fort, whereas getting a seat on the train is a matter of luck (and ability to push). Beautiful ocean views during almost the entire trip (the road is even closer to the ocean than the train tracks and spends much more time on the edge of the water).
- Southern Expressway bus.. 370 rupees, 1.5 hours. Bus goes from Maharagama station, NOT Colombo Fort. Direct, comfortable "luxury" bus runs every 20 minutes in both directions. Travels via the Southern Exprssway, a very modern, smooth and essentially empty toll highway. Views of forests (many palm trees), but no ocean views. Much faster and direct than the private a/c buses which start and end at Colombo Fort, but not so convenient for tourists who want to be at Colombo Fort. Colombo Fort to Maharagama is around 60 minutes or more on the crowded public buses; luggage bigger than a small bag can be very difficult, but definitely easier than on the private a/c minibus.
Trains travel several times every day and used to be crowded:
- 1 Galle Railway Station, Colombo Rd (Right on the Seashore). Train timetable. From Colombo take beteween 1:30 min or 3:30 min depending of the train that you choose. 100 - 180 LKR (depending on class).
Tuk Tuk or on foot is your best bet if you are traveling in Galle or close by. The Old Town of Galle and its fortifications are within walking distance from the central bus station, so it's better to walk rather than to take a tuk-tuk.
- 2 Tourist Information Center, Colombo Rd (NE corner of the Dharmapala Park).
- 1 All Saint's Church, Church St, Fort. Massses: Fri,Sun 8AM. Anglican Churh
- Kalutara temple. is a place you must not miss
- Seenigama temple. Always make a donation and say a prayer for good luck.
- 2 Fort's walls, Rampart Rd. A walk here at sunset is very pleasant if you don't mind being hassled to buy table cloths, fake antique 'Dutch' coins, or powdered milk. Be wary of unauthorized local or foreign guides who offer you a walk round the Fort for a fee. Walking round the Fort is free. Local Authorities do not charge any fees.
- Peace Pagoda. the view from on a clear day is also quite lovely
- 3 Galle Port, Matara Rd (Cca. one km east from the Bus Station).
- 4 Meeran Masjid, Fort Galle, Rampart St.
- 5 [dead link] National Sea Museum, Queens Street, ☏ . is housed in the old Dutch East India Company VOC Warehouse in Galle Fort
- 6 Dutch Reformed church, Church Street (Middle St corner). Look inside
- 7 St-Mary's Cathedral (Kaluwella Catholic Church), Kaluwella, between Templers Rd and Prison Rd.
- 8 Arabic College (Al Bahjathul Ibrahimiya Arabic College), New Lane 2 (In the Fort, Church St corner). Found: 1892.
- 9 Historical Mansion Museum, 31-39, Layn Baan Streeet, Fort (Near to Front Cross Street).
- Small Green Mosque.
- Walk around the ramparts of Galle Fort, wander the streets inside the fort shopping for gems and antiques
- Visit one of the turtle hatcheries along the coast
- 1 Dharmapala Park, Colombo Road (Opposite to the Galle Railway Station).
- 2 Galle International Cricket Stadium, Colombo Road (Opposite to the Galle Central Bus Station).
- 3 Galle Library, Church St.
- 4 Talpe Beach, 1042, Matara Rd, Thalpe. Beach club with great vibe and excellent drinks. Bring your towel and enjoy the day there.
- If you're staying in the Fort get a bit of brisk exercise by walking around the ramparts first thing in the morning, as a lot of the locals do. (and take the advice above in the evenings.)
An around the world sailboat rally (30 boats in 2007) stops in Galle. The rally sails west to the country of Djibouti on the African Continent. Generally, from January to March boats sail in the direction of the Suez Canal.
- 1 Commercial Bank, 22 Church St, Matara (In the Fort, south of th Church Cross St), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Open weekdays 9.00AM to 3.00PM. Other unit: Galle City Branch, No. 130, MAIN St., Tel:+94 91-2225786/ +94 91-2234469 /+94 91-2234446, Fax:+94 91-2234356, email@example.com, Open weekdays 9.00AM to 3.00PM , Weekend & holidays 9.00AM to 1.30PM
- 2 National Savings Bank, Colombo Rd (West to the Galle Railway Station).
- 3 Fruit and Flower Market (Municipal Fruits Market), Sea St (Next to Municipal Shopping).
- 4 Fish Market, Fish Market St (Sea Street at corner of Dickson Street. (across from ocean, next to Fruits Market).). Relatively new fish market opened in 2011, paid for by the UN and BASF. The old colonial style market built by the British in the 1890s was destroyed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. There were fourteen fish stalls, trading in the traditional style. The new facility is more hygienic than the majority of fish stalls on the beach. Prices are typically 10-40% higher than for the same fish direct from fishermen on the beach (for example, compared to the informal market located a 5-minute walk away to the northeast (along the water towards Unawatuna)).
- 5 Green Market, Market Cross Rd.
You will find the best tourist shopping inside the Fort. But you will need to go into town if you want fresh fruits and veggies or clothing
- Lihiniya Gems, 42A.Hospital St, Fort (Opposite the lighthouse tower), ☏ . Established in 1983, this small family-run business deals in precious and semiprecious gems and hand made jewellery. Approved by the Sri Lanka Government.
- There is a good "gift" shop on Pedlar Street called Shoba - it is opposite the Peddlar's Inn and stocks a large range of handmade goods which are direct from the craftsman/women who have made them. It is a good alternative to the large retail chain "Barefoot" which you will find is often over-crowded with tourists. The owner is very nice and will stop and chat to you about the very interesting history of Galle if you are willing to listen. Their website says that they offer traditional craft courses (Dec 2012).
- 6 Municipal Shopping (GMS Shopping Complex), Main Street / Sea St (East to the Galle Central Bus Station).
- Seafood Restraurant (Fish Market Street at the corner of Dickson Road). Literally a hole in the wall located just behind the main Galle Fish Market.
- Anura's Restaurant (Inside the fort). serves a mixture of local foods, pizzas, sandwiches and other snacks.
- 1 Karunadasa Restaurant, 23 Light House St (In the Fort).
- Mama's. Authentic Sri Lanken food. Mama and her daughter run two cooking classes daily (morning and noon) which includes sitting down to eat the food you learn to cook. It is often difficult to get a table at the roof top restaurant so we found it easier to book the afternoon cooking class which included dinner. The cooking class was a highlight of Galle.
- Serindipity. A good option for dessert. It is can be quite hard to get them to serve you food as they often close their kitchen for cooking classes during the day and also closes quite early at night (went at around 9PM and they refused service due to kitchen shut). Despite being refused twice, the food is some of the best we ate in Galle and I would return there for it again.
- 2 Cafe The Pedler's Inn, 92, Pedler Street (In the Fort), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The milkshakes are a must for a hot day, and the sandwiches are pretty good, too! If staying for dinner be sure to finish it off with the home made chocolate brownies with ice cream.
- Ice cream parlour signed by a large 'Dairy King' poster, Church street. The products are a mixture of home made and bought produce. The home made mango and the home made coconut is particularly good. The brownies are better at the "Fort Galle Hotel".
- Lighthouse Hotel, See at 'Stay' chapter. For a treat, try the all-you-can eat buffet at this ultra posh palce for only about R1200/-. (You might not get any further than the hors d'oeuvres.)
- 1 Rampart Hotel, Rampart St (inside the fort on the south ramparts). does good local and "international" meals and serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It is quite expensive by local standards though at about R1600/- (US$15) for a meal with a couple of drinks.
- The Sydney Hotel, No. 10, Gamini Mawatha (Near the bus station opposite the International Galle Cricket Stadium), ☏ .
Galle has quite a few small boutique hotels, budget hotels and hostels and more seem to be cropping up after the tsunami. Within the Galle Fort there is Amangalla (within the renovated Oriental Hotel) and the Galle Fort Hotel. On the outskirts of Galle there is the Sun House.
On the road into Galle from Colombo there is the Lighthouse Resort designed by Bawa, famous architect.
- 1 Rampart View Guest House, 37 Rampart Street, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. The rooms have a shared balcony overlooking the ramparts at the southern end of Galle Fort with the Indian Ocean beyond, and it has a small roof garden. The rooms are clean, with air-con, and the owners are friendly and helpful. The breakfasts include lots of fresh fruit, bread, eggs and good rich tea.
- 2 Thenu Rest, 12 Hospital St, ☏ , . * This guest house has four well equipped clean rooms with traditional four poster double beds with hanging net curtains. Two of the rooms have air conditioning and the other two have fans. All rooms are well equipped with electric hot water showers. The main guest bedroom has a large balcony overlooking the main street and two of the other rooms have internal balconies overlooking the terrace. The owners are very friendly and helpful. They also provide dinner and breakfast. The breakfasts are either Continental or traditional Sri Lankan and include lots of fresh fruit, bread, eggs and good rich tea and coffee.
- 3 Rosa Shashi Cabanas, No. 517 Colombo Road, Dadalla, Gintota (Next to Amari Hotel), ☏ . Great little huts on the beach run by local family. 2 huts only. Third hut was built by the father as of May 2018, partly using recycled material. From 2000 LKR.
- Fort Inn Guest House, 31 Pedlar St, fort, ☏ . Four-room family-run guest house. Can provide breakfast, lunch and dinner by request. Free internet. Rooms have attached bathroom with hot shower, fan and two rooms with air conditioning. Roof top room with ocean view. From $20.
- Khalid's guest house, 102 Pedlar St, Fort Galle (Galle Fort), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Longest running family guest house in a historical Dutch fort. Good traditional meals. All rooms with attached bath and hot water and some rooms with balcony sea view. Good value. The establishment sets a night curfew to its guests and maintains a no pork and alcohol rule in its premise. 20US$.
- Mamas, 76 Lleyn Baan st, Galle Fort. * They have only two en suite rooms, but the best roof terrace in the fort. Fresh breakfast from local food served by a willing local family, fluent English speaking ex tour guide Jerome runs his own business. Good value. From 40$.
- Templeberg Villa, Barbaragoda Road, off Akuressa Road (Templeberg Villa is 500 m up the Barbaragoda Road entrance.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Templeberg Villa is a Boutique Estate with 5 rooms, including a standalone 2 bedroom Family Bungalow. Built in the 1800s and in private ownership until 2012, the property has been refurbished and updated and turned into a guest house. Situated next to a temple and on top of a hill, the house is situated on 5 acres of coconut plantation. You can enjoy birds in the sprawling terraced gardens. The villa's stone walls are over 200 years old. Breakfast included in the rate, free wifi, laundry service and complete with private cook and 10 staff. $USD100.
- 4 Aditya Resort, 719/1, Galle Rd, Devenigoda, Rathgama (13km NW. - Rajgama Railway Station 600m away), ☏ . Best rates on official website start at $208.00.
- 5 Amangalla Hotel and Restaurant, 10 Church St (Inside the Fort), ☏ . 5 star hotel housed in the former Dutch governor's residence
- Coral Rock by Amaya, 340 Galle Rd, Hikkaduwa, 80240 (19km NW), ☏ . Superior and deluxe rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, plasma-screen TV and in-room safe. Facilities and services are swimming pool, garden and restaurant. Several key destinations can also be spotted near this boutique hotel. From USD 110.00.
- The Fortress Resort & Spa, Koggala, Habaraduwa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2 pm, check-out: 12 pm. Consists of 49 guest rooms and 4 suites with facilities such as an infinity pool and spa. Starting from USD 170.
- 6 The Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel (2.5 Km NW from Galle town to Colombo side).
- 7 Tamarind Hill, No: 288, Galle Rd, Dadella (400m from Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 1400 hrs or 2 pm, check-out: 1200 hrs or noon. This sprawling manor, built in the 1800s by a prominent family in the Galle district was first occupied by a British Admiral and later by a High Court judge of the colonial era. Tamarind Hill was refurbished preserving the intricate details and style of a by-gone era - all the extensions and alterations to the property have been beautifully blended with the original main house, in keeping with the architecture and restoring it to its grand origins. Situated on a three acre hill with huge courtyards, sun-dappled verandahs and tropical gardens, Tamarind Hill has 10 rooms and two suites.
- 8 Fifty Lighthouse Street, Heritance Ahungalla, Galle Road, Ahungalla, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2 pm, check-out: 12 pm. Starting from USD 105.
- 3 Internet Cafe, Church St (Betweeen Small Cross St and New Lane 1).
- 4 Galle Main Post Office, Main Street (East to the Galle Central Bus Station), ☏ .
- 5 Sri Lanka Telecom & Mobitel, Wackwella Road (500 m North of the Galle Central Bus Station), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Services:Fault Reporting, New Connection, Prepaid Cards, Purchase CDMA, Bill Payment
- Unawatuna 5 km to the southeast on Route A2. A beautiful beach - take a swim; enjoy the best eating places. Buses run every 10-15 minutes in both directions, cost 20 rupees, take 10-15 minutes. Can be very crowded and play loud music. Tuk-tuks ask for 400-500, can usually be bargained down to 250-300.
- Matara, end of railway line from Colombo, approximately 50 km south following the coastline.
- Hikkaduwa 20 km north following the coast
- Madu River, 40 km north following the coast across the Balapitiya area, Take a boat tour. This extraordinary estuary with a cluster of 64 small islands scattered along its impressive breadth, most of which are covered with mangroves and uninhabited, and is also a haven for crocodiles.
- Kanneliya Forest Reserve — (Galle district). The waterfall “Naranga Ella” is one of the highlights. There is a safe place for bathing in Nannikitha also close to the entry to the Forest Reserve. There is a nature trial to Kabbale Kanda Mountain.
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage — is home to the biggest captive herd of elephants in the world. - Bathing times (1000hrs and 1400hrs) are a particular treat, as the elephants are led down to the nearby river.
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve — (districts of Ratnapura, Matara and Galle) is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rainforest in Sri Lanka. A World Heritage Site since 1989.
- Yala National Park — (141 km away) is open to the public, and is mostly made up of parkland and scrub jungle but also contains beaches, lagoons, freshwater lakes, rivers, enormous rocky outcrops and dense jungle.
- Ratnapura — Udawalawe National Park near Ratnapura is an area just over 308 sqkm and consists of dry lowland forest, thorny scrub jungle and grassland; several areas of the park have been planted with teak. One of the main attractions of its is the majestic Udawalawa Reservoir. There are also several large herds of Asian elephants, and species of large animals such as deer, buffalo and more.