Sri Lanka is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and good vibes. However, a special place exists where you can see something totally different and historical! Galle Fort is one of Sri Lanka’s most well preserved monuments that doubles as a bustling town with many things to do. While it was once an important trading post and fortress for colonial powers, it has only recently been opened to tourism for us to explore. Whether you’re walking the fort walls, going for a swim at the local beaches, or just taking in the view of the impressive lighthouse from your hotel, you’re sure to have an amazing trip to Galle Sri Lanka Fort!
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Quick History of Fort Galle Sri Lanka
Galle has been a busy trading port for thousands of years dating back to when the world powers first began to sail the seas. The fort was initially built by the Portuguese in the mid 16th century not long after they landed on the Galle Sri Lanka beaches. Amazingly, the first Galle Fort was built with just mud and palm trees.
In 1640 it was taken over the by the Dutch with the help of the local Sinhalese King. The Dutch went on to greatly reinforce Galle Fort and added many pieces you still see today. The British were the next to capture the port town during their colonization of Sri Lanka in 1796.
It wasn’t until many years later when Galle was finally turned over to the Sri Lanka following their independence in 1948. Galle Fort is now not only a Unesco World Heritage Site, but also the largest European built fort still standing in Asia.
Things to do in Galle Sri Lanka
Visit the Galle Lighthouse
Built in 1938, the Galle Lighthouse is one of the more recent additions to the fort. It towers above the ocean at 60 feet high, and has grown to be one of the most recognized monuments in Sri Lanka. The surrounding palm trees only add to its tropical charm as there is truly no other lighthouse like it in the world.
Swim At the Galle Sri Lanka Beaches
Just under the Galle lighthouse is the perfect place to cool off from the hot sun. The main Galle beach gets very crowded (especially on holidays), but how often can you say you swam under a famous fort? If you’re a beach lover like us make sure to also visit the nearby beaches of Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Marissa.
Walk The City Walls
One of the best things to do in Galle Sri Lanka is to simply walk the fort walls. Honestly, the only way you can truly get an idea of how massive this place is will be to circle the entire thing! The far part of the wall faces the ocean, then wraps around to overlook the cricket stadium and natural beauty of Sri Lanka.
Go to a Cricket Match
Did someone say cricket?? Galle International is known as one of the most picturesque cricket stadiums in the world, and it’s easy to see why.
Located just outside the fort walls, the stadium is worth a visit even if there’s no match that day. If you’ve never been to a cricket match we highly recommend taking one in, too!
Get Lost In the City Streets
Unlike some other well preserved European forts, Galle Sri Lanka actually has an entire city inside its walls. Explore the architecture old and new, and take in the colorful buildings.
You’ll also find many great restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops (Yes I said gelato!) which we will discuss in our food section below. Galle was like walking into a tropical European city, and was the perfect change of pace for us after traveling through Asia for 5 months.
Watch The Sunset
There’s no better way to end your day in Galle Fort than to watch the beautiful sunset! Luckily, there’s plenty of places to enjoy it here. Anywhere on the fort walls will be a magnificent view of the Galle Sri Lanka beaches and sunset.
You can even find restaurants with rooftop views just one street back from the wall. Just be aware that almost everyone in town will be there at this magical time of day, so you won’t be the only one!
Local Meals in Galle Sri Lanka
While there are plenty of western food options in a touristy town like Galle, we HIGHLY recommend you take in a local meal during your stay. The traditional rice and curry dish may sound simple, but it’s made differently at every single restaurant.
The flavored curry vegetables over rice are bursting with flavor, and we ate it every day multiple times! Below are some more great recommendations for places to eat inside Galle Fort.
Where to Grab a Drink in Galle Sri Lanka
Ready for a beer? Well, we hope you like ginger! You’ll see the non-alcoholic ginger beer everywhere in Galle Fort and other parts of Sri Lanka. The cold beverage is super refreshing on a hot day, and you can find both brand names and local brews of the unique drink.
If you’re searching for a party you may want to head to Marissa or other beach towns in the south, as Galle is not really the place for that. In any case, here’s some places to grab a drink below.
Snacks and Sweets
You may need a little pick me up before or after your local meal, and over by the ocean side of the fort you’ll find some awesome street snacks. Hot chickpeas, samosas, and other yummy vegetarian baked goods are available, so don’t be afraid to dive in.
Ready for the biggest surprise of your trip to Sri Lanka? They have amazing gelato!! When arriving in Galle we were shocked to see so many gelato and ice cream places dotting the main strip. Yet once we tried this delicious dessert we quickly saw why! Pedlar’s Inn Gelato was one of the best we tasted on our visit.
Have any questions about our visit, or want to recommend other things to do in Galle Sri Lanka? Let us know in the comments!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay In Galle Sri Lanka
Ultra Luxury – Fort Bazaar – Boutique style luxury hotel located right in the heart of Fort Galle. Equipped with a beautiful private courtyard and spa.
Fun Vacation – Mango House – Fun and elegant dutch architecture with modern amenities. Great place to spend a couple days.
Budget Travel – Southern Comforts Guest House – Our home in Galle Fort! Great host family with rooms on the 2nd floor and private bathrooms.
Hostel Life – Pilgrims Hostel – Awesome hostel with private rooms and dorm bed. The in-house restaurant has one of the best rice and curry dishes in the city.
For more Galle Sri Lanka hotels you can check the latest prices here!
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50!
Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through South East Asia!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From food tours to skip the line entry passes!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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