Dramatically beautiful, exotic and energetic, Galle is a large town stretching around the south-western coast of the drop-shaped island of Sri Lanka. Galle’s beautiful tropical scenery and the traditional lifestyle of Sri Lankan people perfectly match the modern appeal of the town, which is crammed full of colonial buildings, narrow streets and of course, Galle Fort – a celebrated World Heritage Site.
Galle is romantic and vibrant, naturally beautiful and modern, exotic yet a rather developed town that caters to travellers of all ages and nations, and once you arrive, you will instantly notice the unique charm inherent to the area.
Most of Galle inhabitants are local and foreign artists, writers, photographers and designers that have chosen this coastal town as their permanent home base. Not surprising, that Galle has fast gained the reputation of the trade city. Scammed full with tiny boutiques, small gem factories and various art shops, Galle is an ideal place to enjoy the retail therapy.
Housing several fantastic dining and drinking venues, Galle has already evolved into the gourmet’s haunt, eager to appease all palates with a rather ample range of restaurants and bars on offer. After the sumptuous dinner, most of the visitors head to the Galle Fort – a favourite place among locals and foreigners – to wander the old walls and streets at random and indulge in the timeless feeling this UNESCO World Heritage Site exudes.
WHAT WE LOVE
Galle Fort – a World Heritage Site
Dramatically beautiful natural scenery
Fabulous villas to suit all budgets
Beautiful beach excellent for swimming
The view of stilt fishermen on sunset
Situated towards the south of Colombo International Airport (a.k.a Bandaranaike International Airport) on the south-western coast of Sri Lanka, Galle is the ideal base to take in all sights of the South Sri Lanka and witness the cultural and historical significance of the town.
Although it is possible to get to Galle, Sri Lanka over land or water, the best way is to fly:
It can take anywhere between 1,5 hours to 2,5 hours to reach Galle from Colombo International Airport depending on traffic. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa.
Alternatively, there is a taxi desk at the arrival level which arranges one-way fares at a fixed-price. It is recommended to negotiate about the price before getting into the car, as metered taxis do not travel long distances from Colombo.
Minibus departs from the central bus station in Colombo, and it’s an economical way to get to Galle, though definitely not as convenient as a private car or a taxi. The bus seats only 25 persons, and the rest of passengers willing to travel to Galle would be standing in a passageway for hours till the bus arrival point. The trip can take more than 4 hours if the traffic in Colombo is congested, although, you will be rewarded by the beautiful ocean views all the way to Galle.
SOUTHERN EXPRESSWAY BUS
Southern Expressway bus is much faster than the private minibus as it travels via toll highway – an empty, modern and smooth Southern Expressway. However, there are no ocean views pleasing to the eye, as the highway is mainly surrounded by the forest and palm plantations. Southern Express bus service departs from Maharagama station, which is essentially further from the airport than Colombo central station.
You can take a train in Colombo to the direction of Mirissa, although, travelling by train is not recommended as getting a seat on the train is almost impossible. The trip from Colombo takes between 1,5 hours to 3,3 hours depending on the train, which you have opted.
There are plenty of options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. Depending on which villa you are staying in, the cost for the private car and chauffeur can vary, so it’s recommended to contact our Ministry of Villas team to get the complete information about the private transfers.
If you are planning to travel further afield, tuk-tuk is the best way to move around the city, as Galle, even large, still can be easily explored by tuk-tuk. You can always negotiate about the cost and reduce the first price the local driver announces.
If you prefer moving around on two wheels, there is no shortage of motorbike rental shops in Galle. Though, the traffic can be somewhat chaotic, so a certain level of experience is required. Moreover, you should have an international driver license on your person at all times, and for your safety always wear a helmet.
If you are planning to travel around the island, a rental car is an excellent option to move around and explore the most remote parts of Sri Lanka, otherwise, it is not recommended to rent a car in Galle, as the city can be easily covered on foot or explored by tuk-tuk or rental motorbike.
There are three Ministry Approved villas in Galle. As Galle is popular, yet, a rather remote city on the south-west of Sri Lanka villa prices tend to be lower than other parts of Sri Lanka. Galle villas range from USD $310 per night for three-bedroom villa accommodation to USD $600 per night for a five-bedroom luxury villa.
Most of our villas have dedicated staff including butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and many other services you won’t find in a hotel. This is why we say “Spend just one night in a villa and you’ll never stay in a hotel again.”
It is not surprising that such a cosmopolitan city as Galle is scammed full with various dining venues ranging from the simple local street stalls serving authentic Lankan cuisine to the sophisticated five-star fusion cuisine served in some of the most charming refurbished venues.
For the lovely romantic dining opt one of the beachfront cafes, serving a mouth-watering seafood and local curries. While waiting for your dinner to be served, you can even chill off in the crystal clear waters of Indian Ocean!
For the fine-dining experience opt one of the upmarket restaurants located in or around high-end hotel resorts, where the elaborated cuisine is perfectly accomplished with a charming and sometimes even exotic settings of the refurbished heritage buildings.
Galle is the most popular tourist destination after Colombo gathering travellers from all over the world to join the laidback and elegant nightlife. Represented by a couple of outstanding drinking venues, Galle bar scene caters to all travellers.
Try a signature cocktail at one of the establishments, or watch a cricket game on the huge tv screen, play darts or soak into the comfy plush coaches while sipping a cold beer – no matter what you are feeling for, you can be sure that Galle has it on offer.
Nature lovers will appreciate the unbeaten ocean vistas from one of the hilltop bars located slightly out of town. Indulge in the friendly atmosphere, impeccable service and delicious tropical cocktails in Galle bars, and you will get the perfect end of the day in this tropical paradise.
It’s not a secret anymore that Sri Lanka is famous for its quality gems and sapphires in particular. Spread around the city, there are numerous gem factories in Galle, where you can opt, shop or order jewellery at your taste with blue, purple or even white sapphire, yellow and azure topazes or lush green emeralds.
Endless fashion shops, fancy boutiques and tiny local stores lining streets of Galle will leave no one indifferent with variety, quality and design of the clothes, accessories and shoes they are selling.
Besides the serious shopping, there are numerous stalls in the heart of the town selling typical Lankan knick-knacks, souvenirs and mementoes. Tea lovers are blessed with several tea shops proving a sheer selection of fabulous Ceylon teas including the most expensive and famous genuine White Tea.
Galle boasts sightseeing and tourist attractions to be explored. Wandering old walls of the Galle Fort, exploring beautiful temples, pagodas and lighthouse, soaking in the pristine waters of Indian Ocean or visiting one of the turtle hatcheries are only a few activities to number available in Galle.
There are several holistic spas in Galle, offering the ultimate relaxation and pampering for travellers wishing to unwind and chill out.
On sunset, Galle Fort turns into the favourite meeting point of both locals and foreigners alike. It is not unusual to spot numerous groups of people, gathering to watch the mesmerising sunset, chat or even play cricket there.