Visit the famous Galle Fort Lighthouse
Framed by palm trees and postcard-perfect; if you only do one thing in Galle, it has to be visiting the beautiful Galle Lighthouse and admiring the most instantly recognisable feature of the Fort.
This beautiful white lighthouse dates back to 1848, (although the current structure was rebuilt in 1939), and stands on the walls of the ancient Galle Fort, guiding the safe passage of ships into Galle Harbour.
The lighthouse is still very much in use, although it now has another, secondary role, as prop to those wanting the perfect Sri Lankan photo.
Wander through the Galle Fort interior
Without doubt, one of our favourite things to do in Galle Fort was getting wonderfully lost amongst the time-worn laneways and breezy Dutch colonial-style buildings of the historic centre.
Thankfully, due to the high ramparts of the Fort wall, much of this area survived the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which means that there are plenty of beautiful remnants still on display from ancient, Portuguese, and Dutch colonial times.
Watch sunset from Galle Fort Wall
Each afternoon at around 5:30pm, locals and tourists alike gather along the fort walls to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. It’s a festive and happy affair; cricket games are played on the grass below, whole families gather to see off the last of the day, and travellers mingle and chat while Mother Nature streaks the sky all kinds of shades of blue, orange, pink and purple.
Don’t forget to keep a lookout for the cliff jumpers at Flag Rock too; each evening a group of locals defy danger by leaping backwards off the ramparts to the ocean below.
Shop till you drop on Pedlar St, Galle Fort
There are literally hundreds of boutiques, art galleries, spice and gem stores, and handicrafts dotted throughout Galle Fort, with Pedlar St being the epicentre 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.
Places to Eat in Galle
You must indulge in Sri Lankan food here: seafood is abundant and the choice of prawn, lobster, fish are phenomenal and fresh in Galle city. It’s a fusion of Sri Lankan and other cuisines that makes it so delectable. At the Dutch Hospital is this trendy restaurant called ‘A Minute by Tuk Tuk’. Seated on the second floor with the sea around me, I tried the Sri Lankan prawn curry with roast ‘paan’ (a local bread that is so crunchy on the outside with a thin soft centre) accompanied by freshly squeezed papaya and lime juice.
The portion was more than enough for me and the food was flavoursome. The ‘Rampart Hotel’ on Rampart Street, which serves a decent Sri Lankan cuisine seafood lunch, comes at a more reasonable price with a nice sea view. It isn’t a hip place but may go easier on your pocket. And there are also many chic coffee shops and restaurants worth checking out too.
Nic Nacs & Souvenirs
There are many little boutiques which sell Sri Lankan gems, trinkets, batiks and vibrant handicrafts. I tend to slip into the curio shops that have quaint and startling bits of silver jewellery. There’s something so attractive about these charming shops in Galle Fort because you are bound to find a ring or a souvenir that you won’t find in the more commercialised stores, plus it is nice to have a souvenir from Galle Fort. But walk around and check a few shops before you settle for something as the prices can vary
Chat with the Galle Fort locals
Given Galle Fort has such a varied history, there are fascinating stories everywhere; you’ve just got to speak to the locals to hear them.
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