Unveiling the Hidden Treasures of Galle Fort: A UNESCO World Heritage Site Bursting with Color in Sri Lanka

Welcome to Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage treasure nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka. Walk through its picturesque streets, soak up its fascinating history and vibrate to the rhythm of this place full of mysteries. Prepare for an unforgettable immersion in this exceptional historic site.

A Historical Jewel in Sri Lanka

Nestled approximately 120 km from Colombo, Gall is a historic city in Sri Lanka that reveals deep colonial roots. Although the city attracts visitors throughout the year, the ideal time to visit is from December to March, when the climate is relatively cool and dry. What makes Galle famous is its Dutch Fort, a site of Unesco World Heritage beautifully preserved.

The Fascinating History of Galle Fort

The first historical records of Galle date back to Ptolemy’s world map dating from 125-150 AD. Thanks to its strategic position, Galle facilitated trade with the Greeks, Arabs and Chinese. Sri Lanka’s natural resources, including spices, gems and exotic wildlife, have made it a desirable trading partner.

The fort was initially built by the Portuguese, but after its capture by the Dutch in 1640, they expanded it and built a well-planned town. It remained a strategic and economic stronghold until the takeover by the British in 1796. The British made few changes, preserving the original Dutch architecture, which remains one of the fort’s notable features until our days.

How to Get to Galle

Galle is a transport hub in southern Sri Lanka offering excellent public transport options. From Colombo, it is possible to take the train or bus to Galle, a journey which takes approximately 3-4 hours. For a quicker trip, luxury highway buses can get you there in less than two hours.

Explore Galle Fort

THE Galle Fort is the most emblematic place in the city. Built by the Dutch and Portuguese as a defensive stronghold, it has transformed into a vibrant area filled with souvenir shops, boutique hotels and welcoming cafes.

The Essentials Not to Be Missed

As you stroll down Church Street, don’t miss the ‘Isle of Gelato’, known for its artisan gelatos made from locally sourced ingredients. Puttalam’s salt and caramel gelato is particularly popular throughout the year, while flavors like mangosteen gelato and rambutan sorbet are available seasonally.

As you walk the narrow streets of the Fort, you will discover remarkable architectural buildings. The Dutch Reformed Church and the Portuguese Church are notable for their magnificent stained glass windows, reflecting the city’s rich colonial history. As you walk along the fort walls, you can admire panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, with its crystal clear waters and picturesque sunsets.

If you want to extend your visit into the evening, Flag Rock Bastion is a great place to watch the sunset.

Where to Stay in Galle

Many modern boutique hotels are found in these ancient buildings built by the Dutch and Portuguese. In addition to the boutique hotels in the Fort, there are several well-known hotel chains in the town and on the outskirts of Galle.

Another notable site inside the Fort is the old Dutch Hospital. This historic building, once used to care for officers of the Dutch East India Company, now houses shops, restaurants and cafes, combining history with modern conveniences.

Where to Eat and Drink in Galle

For lunch, there are a variety of culinary options to choose from while exploring the Fort. Whether you prefer local Sri Lankan cuisine, pizza or Mediterranean dishes, you will find something to satisfy your taste buds. My favorites include Peddler’s Café, Isso and Simply strawberries by Jagro.

  • Aqua Forte: an Italian restaurant offering Italian wines and dishes in an intimate setting.
  • Church Street Social: known for its eclectic menu mixing Sri Lankan and international cuisine.
  • The Tuna and The Crab: located in the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, offering a fusion of Japanese and Sri Lankan flavors.
  • Sugar Bistro: Also in Dutch Hospital, famous for its vibrant ambiance and diverse menu.

You can also enjoy a traditional feast of rice and curry for lunch at local houses in the Fort.

Where to Shop in Galle

For a unique shopping experience, don’t miss ‘Stick No Bills’, a boutique specializing in vintage style posters and prints. Plus, the Orchid Shop on Hospital Street is a must-stop for all your souvenir needs, from incense sticks to jewelry.

A few meters from Stick No Bills you will find Barefoot, a boutique known for its handwoven clothing and products. This boutique’s product range captures the country’s rich history and culture, whilst being vibrant, colorful and creative, made with passion by local hands.

Activities to do in Galle

When visiting Galle, don’t miss the Galle Literary Festival, a leading literary festival in Asia. The Galle Fort has hosted this literary event for several years, and the next one is scheduled to be held in February 2025.

Galle Fort is also home to an international cricket stadium, renowned for being one of the most picturesque grounds in the world. It’s a great place to watch a match while mixing with locals.

If you like cooking, you can sign up for a cooking class! These courses are offered by hotels as well as locals. They will give you an idea of ​​using local spices to prepare traditional curry dishes.

All in all, a day trip to Galle Fort offers a delightful blend of history, culture and scenic beauty, making it a memorable destination for any traveler.