With three sides surrounded by the sea, the gorgeous coastal town of Galle Fort was easily my favorite place in Sri Lanka. We chose to stay in Galle Fort for a few nights as a home base due to its close proximity to the many lovely beaches along the south coast.
After arriving to Galle by train from Colombo, we entered the World Heritage Site in a tuk-tuk and immediately got a sense of the old colonial influences that make up the small fort town.
The original building of Galle Fort began in the 15th Century by the Portuguese, but was completely fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. Within the ancient fort walls the quaint, grey-brick lined streets are lined with boutique shops and delicious restaurants.
The shops stay open relatively late and the majority of restaurants typically close between 8-10pm. We spent the afternoons and evenings wandering the streets of Galle Fort before making our way to the top of the fort walls to experience the stunning sunset views.
Galle Fort’s iconic lighthouse was built in 1938 and is located directly along the old fort walls. The lighthouse marks a good starting point for walking along the walls and taking in the fresh, salty air.
Just outside the protective walls of the Dutch Fort is Galle’s popular fresh fruit and fish markets.
Located in a not-so-touristy part of town, we stopped at the local fruit market to purchase some bananas, a watermelon and a papaya. Right across the street is the photogenic Style Tailors & Textiles shop with its well-worn turquoise walls.
Shopping in Galle Fort
Galle Fort was my absolute favorite place to shop in Sri Lanka. The small streets are lined with unique shops that are filled with artisan handicrafts and beautiful treasures.
The bright colors and gorgeous patterns of their handloom fabrics first caught my eye in the Colombo shop. Their stunning fabrics are transformed into home items in the form of place mats, pillow cases, bedspreads and many other decorative items.
They are also sewn into clothes, purses, coin cases and stuffed animals. Barefoot isn’t solely fabrics though. They have a wide range of other items including books, jewelry, spices and spa luxuries.
I had to show some serious self-control in Barefoot, otherwise I might’ve bought their entire inventory.
Stick No Bills is a colorful, quirky poster gallery and art shop that sells vintage, retro-style poster art from Ceylon. They have a large collection of posters ranging in various sizes and prices.
They have so many beautiful designs that I had a hard time choosing so I purchased quite a few of their post-card sized ones as a fun souvenir from my visit to Sri Lanka.
The heavenly smells of Spa Ceylon waft out onto Pedlar Street in the center of Galle Fort. Filled floor to ceiling with beautifully packaged, lovely smelling spa luxuries, Spa Ceylon has something for everyone.
There are two identical shops located directly across the street from each other. The only difference is that the larger shop is home to their luxury spa, perfect for spoiling yourself with some of their fabulous spa treatments. I’m sure your feet could use a little pampering after walking around Galle Fort all day!
Eating in Galle Fort
There are plenty of eatery options in Galle Fort, offering its visitors something that suites all tastes and budgets.
Having eaten my fair share of Kottu Roshi for the past few days I was craving some wholesome, healthy food. Arriving at Poonie’s Kitchen for lunch made me feel like I’d stumbled upon a secret location in the heart of Galle Fort. Although easy to find, located directly off the main street, the cozy café is a quiet escape for a delicious meal.
I enjoyed it so much that I ate here twice and probably devoured more than I should have! But seriously, don’t leave Galle Fort without tasting their summery thai salad and, as they say, the best carrot cake ever!
For a unique twist on traditional Chinese cuisine, look no further than Summer Green. The open-air restaurant is beautifully designed with an inviting coastal feel. All their food is very fresh and super flavorful, with portions large enough to share. Make sure you also try their avocado milkshake, it is oh-so-good!
Getting to Galle Fort
We traveled to Galle Fort from Colombo by taking the train. The public transportation in Sri Lanka is easily the best way to travel from one location to another.
The trains and buses are inexpensive, reliable and everyone is always very helpful in making sure you get on the correct bus or train. At the Colombo train station we purchased our 2nd class ticket for 180 LKR per person (roughly $1.17) and rode the 3.5 hours to get to Galle Fort. Once we arrived in Galle Fort we took a tuk tuk into the fort and were dropped off at our Guesthouse Fort Heaven.
Best Time to Visit Galle Fort
While the temperature remains consistently warm year-round, Galle Fort does have a dry and wet season. Wet season is from May until September so it would be best to go during the dryer months. We were there in June during the rainy season and were lucky to experience only a few light showers in the mornings.
However, just a week before our arrival the south coast beaches experienced heavy flooding leaving many locals homeless or with severe damage to their homes. Just keep in mind that by traveling to the south of Sri Lanka during their wet season could create some unforeseen challenges during your stay.