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8 Things You Must Explore At Galle Fort

Alluring, exotic, and totally loveable, Galle Fort is one of the unmissable points of interest on your Sri Lankan itinerary!

Galle Fort was first built in 1588 by the Portuguese and further fortified by the Dutch in the years after. It prevented attacks from colonial competitors both from the sea as the land. Along the walls, you would find battlements for defense in case of an invasion. Galle was handed over to the British in 1796 and they made a number of changes to the city, the most recognizable of which is the tower that you can see from various points in town. Today, the Galle Fort area is unlike any other place we’ve found in Sri Lanka; a vaguely European-feeling city plonked in the deliciously salty tropics, a melting pot of culture and religion bursting with color, and where, thankfully, the taste of Ceylon tea and cinnamon is never far away.

1. The Famous Galle Lighthouse

The Galle Lighthouse, or Pointe de Galle Light as it was also known, was the very first light station to be built in Sri Lanka. Dating back to 1848; the lighthouse was built by the British to ensure the safe arrival of their ships at the Galle harbor. The current lighthouse structure was built in 1939; erected within the walls of the ancient Galle Fort with a height of 26.5m (87 feet). The light station stands at a strategic location at the southern end of the promontory; built approximately 6m above the road level on the ramparts of the Fort, at a place known as the Point Utrecht Bastion. This affords it an undisturbed view across the seascape; and allowing any incoming ships to see its light.

2. Walk Around the Ramparts of Galle Fort


Walking slowly along the Galle fort ramparts affords one a glimpse back in time, and a moment to reflect on the magic of travel. If these coral-mixed walls and ramparts could talk, they’d have many stories to share about Galle Fort’s long and varied history.  The walk is around 2kms and best done early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the temperatures are more manageable – the sun in Galle is infamously fierce!

3. Dutch Reform Church


Originally built in 1640, the present building dates from 1752. Its floor is paved with gravestones from Dutch cemeteries, while other impressive features include the organ and an imposing pulpit made from calamander wood and topped by a grand hexagonal canopy. You may encounter the friendly caretaker who will likely point out the (slightly bizarre) carved wooden memorial dedicated to a former Commander of Galle, Abraham Samlant – the tiny cotton shirt is said to be the one he was baptized in.

4. Old Dutch Hospital


Standing in its pristine white glory the Galle Dutch Hospital offers a good combination of shops, restaurants, and bars to fill a full day at Galle with shopping and pampering. The Galle Dutch Hospital houses 21 exclusive stores offering global and local brands in fashion, jewelry and tea including Colombo Jewellery Store, Zam Jems, and Tea Breeze and numerous restaurants and bars offering a range of cuisines. The Dutch Hospital at Galle Fort is just 3 minutes away from the Galley52, 14 min (3.8 km) away from Galle Town. 

5. Shop Till You Drop

There are literally hundreds of boutiques, art galleries, spice and gem stores, and handicrafts dotted throughout Galle Fort, with Pedlar St being the epicenter of the action. We definitely think the best shopping in Sri Lanka is within the walls of Galle Fort, so if you’re looking for a bargain, this is your place. Here are some shops that are worth a visit:

Stick No Bills – sells incredible ‘Ceylon’ retro prints

MimiMango – perfect for women, selling clothes and accessories with a Sri Lankan twist

Koccoriko Paola’s shop – beautifully textiles for the discerning backpacker, as well as a few handicrafts

Exotic Roots – a mother-daughter run boutique, selling handicrafts and artwork made by themselves.

 6. Explore Diverse Galle’s Markets


There is amazing local fruit, spice and flower markets that are located right outside of Galle Fort and truly worth a visit to embrace some authentic Sri Lankan culture. The colorful, bustling markets are home to some of the best fruit you will ever have, and the local shopkeepers are more than willing to let you taste all types of weird and wonderful tropical fruits. Make sure you try Mangosteen, a lychee type fruit which is absolutely delicious. Don’t forget to eat the pineapple there. The markets are also a great place to stock up on spices and curry mix. The spices here are about a 10th of the price of the ones within the fort walls.

7. Check out Amangalla


Amangalla is part of the fabric of Galle and its Unesco-protected fort. Beyond the old-world bustle of this remarkable citadel lie emerald-green tea plantations, tranquil temples and the exhilarating prospect of whale-spotting from November to March – though Amangalla is equally renowned for purifying, personalized Ayurveda in its spa complex, The Baths.

8. Dine at Minute By Tuk Tuk


Experience the fun and quirky side of Sri Lankan culture, food & hospitality at A Minute by Tuk Tuk. This unique lounge is first and foremost marked by its incredible location, on the eastern side of the Historic Galle Fort, with a wide verandah overlooking the pristine Indian ocean. The vibrantly colorful logos pay homage to ‘Tuk Tuk’, which is as synonymous with the country as tea and spices. This almost flamboyant style extends to the restaurant’s menu where the chef has dreamed up a variety of Asian inspired tapas, salads and mains that will indulge your taste buds.

Excited to explore this heavenly paradise?

With cozy cafes, small shops, and restaurants, a day trip to Galle should be on everyone’s to Sri Lanka’s list. To get direct contact of villas on rent in Galle, we have several properties listed with us that provide nothing but good vibes.

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