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Entrance to the Galle Fort | Courtesy of Aman
Entrance to the Galle Fort | Courtesy of Aman

The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Galle, Sri Lanka

Picture of Orana Velarde
Sri Lanka Hub Writer
Updated: 22 December 2017

Galle is a coastal city 130 kilometres south of Colombo. There are two main areas to visit in Galle: the Galle Fort and Unawatuna. No visit to the south is complete without seeing both of these areas. A perfect combination of beach and culture, Galle has it all. Keep reading to discover the top 10 things to see and do in Galle, Sri Lanka.

Inside the Galle Fort

Take a walk on the ramparts

Galle is a walled city surrounded by thick ramparts. These were built by the Dutch merchants that controlled the city in the 17th century. The ramparts are so thick that you can walk along them – start at one end and finish at the other. Look towards the ocean, see the old prison between the ramparts and the waves, check out the lighthouse and the clock tower and watch the schoolboys during cricket practice.

Check out the Dutch architecture

When the Dutch ran the East India Company out of Galle Fort, they left behind plenty of constructions. The ramparts themselves are a pretty impressive architectural construction, but there are others worth seeing. The Maritime Archaeology Museum in a building inside the ramparts was once the Dutch Warehouse. Another great example of Dutch architecture is the Groote Kerk and the Amangalla hotel.

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The outside of the ramparts of Galle Fort | © Shehanw / WikiCommons

Go shopping

Inside the Galle Fort is where you can walk along the little streets and do some shopping. In between the boutique hotels and old houses, there are plenty of little shops and boutiques where you can buy plenty of local souvenirs and goods. The most notable of goods that can be found in the little Galle Fort shops are Sri Lankan gems and jewellery. You can also find handwoven sarongs and home linen.

Have kottu roti at Galle Things Roti

You’re probably going to get hungry from all the walking and shopping, so best to have some kottu roti for lunch. Kottu roti is a Sri Lankan favourite and the best one available in the Galle Fort is from a cute little eatery called Galle Things Roti. Kottu roti is a dish made with bits of roti, vegetables, eggs chicken and cheese if you want.

Have afternoon tea at Amangalla

Since Sri Lanka was a British colony for a while, some British customs are still in play among the people here. Afternoon tea is one of them. The Amangalla Hotel is one of the Dutch buildings left in the Galle Fort and in the eighties, it was used in a music video by Duran Duran. The afternoon tea at the Amangalla Hotel is top notch and definitely worth a try.

In and around Unawatuna

Go surfing

Unawatuna, the beach town in Galle, has pretty good waves for surfing. They aren’t particularly big, but they are perfect for some fun in the ocean. They are also great for new surfers, especially beginners. Get in touch with Surf South Sri Lanka to grab some lessons if you still haven’t mastered the art of standing on a board! They also rent boards for travelling surfers that don’t have one.

Chill out on the beach

There are plenty of restaurants and relaxing spots along the beach in Unawatuna. Have a dip, walk along the shore, drink some king coconuts, eat some seafood, sip on a beer and simply relax. Unawatuna is perfect for families as well, if you are looking for a kid-friendly beach in Sri Lanka.

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Unawatuna Beach | © Ian Campbell / Flickr

Go scuba diving

Unawatuna is a little bay with white sandy beaches and a coral reef off the shore where you can do some scuba diving. Sea Horse Divers will take you out to the reef or to a wreck dive that’s only a 30-minute ride away. The Rangoon is a 100-year-old British ship that sank with its mast intact.

Have a coffee at Kat’s

Everyone needs a treat and the best place to get sweets in Unawatuna is Kat’s Coffee. Delicious cake, coffee and good internet to boot, Kat’s Coffee is perfect for writing that blog post, answering those emails or just winding down from all the sightseeing, shopping and surfing.

Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda

For some culture and history after all the fun, visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda. You can see the pagoda from the actual beach during the walk and because it is up on a hill, the views are spectacular.