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A UNESCO World Heritage Site and former colonial trading post, Galle is Sri Lanka’s fourth largest city and the thriving capital of the south.
Originally used by the Portuguese in the 16th century as a hub for trading spices, gems and exotic goods, they were overthrown in the 18th century by the Dutch and later by the British.
At the heart of the city lies the magnificent Fort, the largest in Asia and Sri Lanka’s best preserved colonial town. The Dutch expanded the Fort to its grand scale, complete with a chain of huge bastions and towering granite walls to withstand enemy cannonballs.
More than 300 years later, those same walls saved the city from devastation during the 2004 tsunami. Today, the Fort is a historical gem and an absolute delight to explore.
The picturesque streets are lined with Dutch-colonial buildings, grand mansions, ancient mosques and churches, as well as touches of old Moorish architectural influences.
You can spend hours roaming the quiet cobblestone lanes filled with antique boutiques, stylish cafes and heritage houses. Take a walk with a resident guide who will entertain you tales of the fort’s rich history.
Beyond the Fort, you’ll find a town buzzing with local Sri Lankan culture. We’ll take you to a local village for a hands-on cooking demonstration, where you’ll discover a new layer of Sri Lanka’s proud heritage through its delicious cuisine.
Start with a visit to a local market to see the colourful array of tropical fruits and vegetables. Then, you’ll move to a traditional wattle and daub hut for an authentic culinary experience and a true feast for all your senses. In the evening, take part in traditional mask carving with your hosts.
Experience the local side of Galle with a tour around a nearby village by bike and boat, starting with a serene boat journey down the Kapu Ela River, accompanied by a local naturalist who will point out the local bird and reptile life along the way.
Take a nine-kilometre ride through Sri Lanka’s paddy fields, southern villages and rural Galle. Stop at local markets to observe villagers trading and take a rest in a cool mud hut to refresh yourself with homemade herbal teas.
A magical city steeped in history and culture, and unlike any other in Sri Lanka, Galle becomes a fast favourite for anyone who visits.
February to April is the best time to visit Galle, with warm temperatures, low rainfall, and fewer crowds. December to February is the hot, dry season and the only months with full days of sunshine, making it perfect for outdoor activities or lounging by the pool. However it’s also peak season with large crowds of tourists.
If you don’t mind the rain, May to September sees the lowest number of tourists, as these are the wettest months in Galle. October to November are the coolest months with lower rainfall. Visit Galle in May to witness the Vesak Festival, Sri Lanka’s main Buddhist festival. Literary enthusiasts should visit in January for the Galle Literary Festival, an international cultural event attracting renowned writers from all over the world.
A walk through Galle Fort with a fascinating local guide is the highlight of all our luxury tours featuring a trip to Galle. You can participate in traditional hands-on cooking demonstrations in most of our luxury Sri Lanka tours, while the Sri Lanka Wildlife Holiday features a scenic boat journey down the Kapu Ela River and a stunning bike ride through rural Galle.
In Galle, we work with Fort Bazaar, located inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort. It’s an 18-room luxury boutique hotel and is a must-see on the Fort’s sightseeing circuit itself. With beautiful Portuguese-style design, handmade Vietnamese floor tiles and stylish furnishings, this hotel is the perfect place to unwind after a spectacular day spent exploring.
Talk to the team
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our specialist team on +44 117 313 3300