It was the one place I had wished I had saved more time for — Galle Fort. With this first-timer’s guide to Galle Fort, you’ll see quickly that there’s so much to do. It’s a great base to have as well to explore some of Sri Lanka’s southern gems.
The old fort is grid of colonial style buildings, with tons of character and energy. It was built by the Portuguese in 1588, and the historical presence today has it listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Buzzing with merchants, cafes, and quaint hotels, Galle Fort offers a lot to do. You can easily walk the area by foot, seeing the outer-walls and lapping Indian Ocean for an iconic sunset — it’s truly magical.
The First-Timer’s Guide to Galle Fort
What to Know Before Visiting Galle Fort
- The whole fort is easily walkable by foot, so plan at least a half day to see it.
- It’s a good jumping point to do another things along the coast line.
- Cash is king, thought credit cards are more easily accepted here.
- Tuk tuks are readily available for any small excursions (cash-only).
Where to Stay in Galle Fort
When I went I stayed at a budget hotel, that was one of the cheaper options. I saw a few others and here is what I would recommend:
- Amangalla: This is one of Aman’s iconic properties right in the heart of the fort. It’s more classic and elegant, set in a traditional building.
- Fort Bazaar: I stopped by and peaked in this hotel, this would be my first choice. It’s quaint and charming, and have onsite amenities like a hip cafe and restaurant.
- The Bartizan: It seems that most bloggers come here to stay and I can imagine it has the best view in town of the ocean. Comparable to Fort Bazaar, this boutique hotel is also a great option.
- Fort Square Boutique Villa: This is the hotel I stayed in, it was correct and had a good location. The beds were decent and the room was clean enough.
Where to Eat in Galle Fort
- Poonie’s Kitchen: Set back from the street, this place was so good we came twice. Healthy options with tons of vegetarian, all served in good portions. It’s a must eat.
- Church Street Social: Inside the Fort Bazaar hotel is this lovely gem of a restaurant with tiled-floors and solid menu. It’s a good place to come hang out for the afternoon as well.
- Isle of Gelato: Who knew there would be world-class gelato in Sri Lanka? The owners of this newly-opened shop studied in Italy for the summer and has brought back the training and paired it with classic ingredients from Sri Lanka. It’s so good!
- Summer Green Chinese Restaurant: I didn’t personally eat here thought walked by and thought it would be a good back-up option as the space was beautiful and the menu looked good!
What to Do in Galle Fort
- Explore the fort by foot, there’s plenty to see and shop.
- See these monuments: Old Dutch Hospital, De Groote Kerk, National Maritime Archaeology Museum, and All Saints Church.
- Catch sunset on the outer-wall.
- Take in the view from the top of the lighthouse.
- Take a day trip to Unawatuna for a day at the beach and swing on the famous rope-swing.
- Explore the old market and spice halls outside of the walls.