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Galle

A 2 hour drive along the Southern expressway will lead you to the city named after the Dutch word for chickens, ‘Gallus’. It may be small in size, but is packed with an illustrious history and unique culture. The historic port city located in the southern coast of Sri Lanka is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the ‘Dutch Fort’ and serene beaches making it a haven for both, the traveller looking for a peaceful getaway and the traveller in search of knowledge and experiences.

Top Reason to Visit

The Galle Dutch Fort, being a UNESCO World Heritage site undoubtedly takes the top reason for visiting the city. Initially built by the Portuguese colonizers of the country to fend off any threats, the Dutch eventually took control of it and expanded it and still stands untouched by the changing times. The Dutch Fort will instantly transport you to the colonial past with its cobblestone paved narrow streets, historical buildings and monuments.

While You’re There

Visit the various museums and monuments inside the Dutch Fort:

The Portuguese colonizers saw the city of Galle as an ideal location for both, commercial and strategic purposes which prompted them to build a fortress to ward off any unwanted visitors. However, the Dutch, with the help of King Rajasinhe II, in 1640 overthrew the Portuguese and further expanded the fortress by building spectacular structures with architecture that can most often be seen only in history books. The structures, still standing today have been converted to museums and monuments that will teach you the importance of the city as a colonial stronghold. The Galle National Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Historical Mansion Museum, the Stone Clock Tower, the ramparts and the lighthouse are just some of the most notable museums and monuments to visit when in the fortress.

Have a gentle stroll or bike around the cobblestone roads and witness a sunset like no other:

With the strict regulation of the entering of vehicles inside the fort area, the empty cobblestone paved narrow streets make it ideal to walk or cycle around the fort and marvel at the historical buildings. Maybe have a little snack or drink at one of the stylish cafes along the way. You could also explore the jewellery shops and antique shops if you are looking for great memorabilia to take back home. One of the most picturesque sun sets can be witnessed in the evenings, especially along the ramparts at the edge of the fort since it gives you a clear view of the sun and sea without the obstruction of any man made structure.

Learn and play some cricket if you dare:

Sports enthusiasts could play some cricket (a game similar to baseball and is the most popular sport in the country) in the fort with the locals and have a great time connecting with the local society and their lifestyles. If you are lucky you can also witness an international cricket match at the Galle International Cricket Stadium just outside the fort.

Take a breather at the beach:

If you are looking to just relax, the sun kissed beaches of Galle is an excellent place to unwind and forget about your troubles. The exquisite scenery of the Unawatuna bay would make anyone reluctant to leave the tranquil area.

Insider Advice

Travel: Galle is a small town and most places are located within the fort area so getting about is easy. However, exploring the outskirts of Galle is best done by tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuk charges will be LKR 50 for the first kilometre and LKR 40 thereafter (Make sure the tuk-tuk has a metre).

Meals and refreshments: The Galle Fort area is quite a pricy place due to the fancy cafes and restaurants, but most of them accept credit or debit card. However, it is best to have cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, LKR 50s and LKR 100s just in case you need to buy bottled water or have some street food outside the fort area.

Clothing: Dress code within the fort area is casual or whatever works for you when travelling. It is always advisable to be a little conservative when travelling in the Galle Fort area because the society is conservative and has to be respected.

Safety: Keep your belongings close to you and have a watchful eye since there is a possibility of it getting snatched unknowingly, especially in crowded areas.

Customs: The society in Galle is a conservative one, follows tradition and it is deeply embedded in all the main faiths of the country. However, their friendly personality will assist you if ever you need help in getting about the place.

Weather: Galle generally experiences a tropical climate and is best experienced between the months of December to April when the sun is ripe and sky is clear most of the time.

All in all, the historic port city of Galle offers you to delve deep into the strong colonial impact of the country’s history and culture and further offering the ideal place for relaxation with its serene beaches and tranquil environment.

Title image by: Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau
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