Seemingly timeless, Galle Fort’s richly historic walls have given shelter to a dizzying array of merchants, traders, colonialists and foreign nationals over the years, who have all left their indelible mark on this seventeenth century Dutch fortress. Narrow streets bearing English and Dutch names exhibit an astounding concentration of colonial properties whose delicate fretwork, magnificent columns and ornate plasterwork constantly inspire. Walks atop the fort’s grassy western ramparts are a highlight for many and these stoic walls, mere footsteps from your front door, are the venue for boisterous cricket matches, couples stealing private moments together and kamikaze jumpers launching themselves into the sea below. Museums showcasing the fort’s rich history plus many restaurants, street side cafes and independent boutiques are a five-minute walk away.
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- 117 km
- International airport
- 145 km
- 232 km
- 264 km
- Nuwara Eliya
- 290 km
Things to do
Your villa supervisor has a wealth of information about nearby places of interest and will help arrange transport and make any bookings required. Do also ask the staff about the local area. Many of them live nearby and will be able to give an interesting insight into some of the fascinating aspects of Sri Lankan life.
In the meantime, here is a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of the villa:
Experience the living museum that surrounds you by taking a relaxing wander around Galle Fort’s charming backstreets; stop and chat with locals, admire the fort’s many heritage buildings, visit the growing collection of boutiques and finish off by watching life playing out on top of the ramparts at sunset.
Take a trip into Galle town to experience the multi-sensorial spectacle of the fish, fruit and vegetable markets and browse the colourful roadside wares of peddlers on its buzzing Main Street.
Visit buzzy Unawatuna Bay for a relaxing bathe on a curve of milky white beach. Many rustic restaurants, coffee shops and bars can all be found here and they all offer a little diversion from the warm turquoise sea.
Hidden well away from the road and below the mystical Rumassala Hill is secretive Jungle Beach where you can enjoy snorkelling and relaxing all to yourself just a ten-minute drive from Galle. Drop into the adjacent Japanese Pagoda on your way there.
Take a scenic bicycle ride through the emerald green paddy fields with Idle Tours. Enjoy the ride at your own pace and gain a unique perspective of village life before wrapping up at the beach with a glorious cool-down swim.
Yatagala Temple, just inland from Unawatuna, is an ancient Buddhist temple that’s best visited on a full moon holiday when white clothed devotees flock here clutching prayer flags and bunches of flowers.
Head to Koggala in the late afternoon to embark upon a boat trip atop the glorious lagoon to look for birds, visit spice gardens, watch fishermen and experience the sun setting over the water as you slowly meander this picturesque waterway, just 12km from Galle.
In Habaraduwa, close to Koggala, is a turtle hatchery that the kids will love. For a small fee you can admire the resident turtles and even watch as the hatchlings are released into the sea.
The late Martin Wickramasinghe, a famous local author, was once a resident of Koggala. You can now visit his old home in town, which has been made into an interesting folk museum.
Around 20 minutes drive from Galle is a tea estate, whose tealeaves are the closest of any in Sri Lanka to the sea. Handunugoda Tea Factory is not only famous for its black tea but also for its white tea, which retails as some of the world’s most expensive. Any tour of the tea factory includes a tasting session and a slice of homemade cake.
Eat Out! Galle Fort has many great restaurants including Amangalla, Fortaleza and The Galle Fort Hotel, which are also great places for sunset cocktails. Other atmospheric eating spots in the fort include Pedlar’s Inn Cafe and Mrs Khalid’s for excellent rice and curry.
Other fabulous dining options beyond Galle Fort include Talpe Beach House, Tartaruga and Kingfishers at Unawatuna Beach, and the Wijaya Beach Restaurant, whose rooftop bar is an excellent spot for sunset cocktails and where the menu is reasonably priced and the sea beyond is a lovely place to swim.