Must Do: Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

Positioned on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Galle Fort was initially constructed by the Portuguese and later fortified by the Dutch in the 1600’s. Today this walled city preserves the distant memory of a gone by era. This UNESCO World Heritage site still possesses its elegant charm – the cobble stone streets, Dutch buildings and quaint hotels and cafes will make you feel like you have stepped back through the centuries. The old buildings still remain today but many have been transformed into restaurants, gift shops, cafes and hotels. If you are planning on staying in Galle Fort be aware the prices are much higher than the rest of Sri Lanka, but it is well worth it!!

Galle Fort Wall at sunset

Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful over water sunset I have seen. Pack a small picnic basket and head to the southern wall (Rampart St) of Galle Fort. Set up camp and enjoy the view – you can thank me later. Try and get there a little earlier to make sure you get front row seats!!

Galle Fort Lighthouse

This quaint little lighthouse stands proud on the southern wall of the Fort, and i can promise you, it is well worth the visit. I suggest packing you swimmers and a towel as the beach nestled in front of it is a great spot for a dip, tourists and locals alike.

Japanese Peace Pagoda

The Japanese Peace Pagoda was constructed with the help of Japanese Monks to act as a beacon of peace for people of all nationalities. If you walk to the south-eastern wall of Galle Fort and look across the bay you will see the Peace Pagoda standing gratified on the opposite headland. It is located approximately 6km east of Galle Fort and can be reached very easily by Tuk Tuk. Hugged tightly by rainforest, this Pagoda offers a 360 degree view of both the Sri Lankan jungle and the bay, well worth a visit on your way to Unawatuna Beach. Just remember this is a religious monument so make sure your shoulders and knees are covered and take off your shoes before exploring.

Self-guided Walking Tour

Galle Fort is really not that big so it is extremely easy to explore on foot without a map. There are very few cars within the walls of Galle Fort which makes walking the streets that much more enjoyable. You really don’t need to know where you are going, wondering the streets of Galle Fort gives you a nice glimpse of another era. If you would like to check out some of the popular landmarks, however, you can walk the Fort Walls and check out the crystal clear ocean water lapping up against it, visit the Main Gate, get a picture at Flag Rock and explore the many Museums.

If you are a fan of thick smoothies (lassies in Sri Lanka) I suggest cooling off at Pedlar’s Inn Café and ordering one of their mango smoothies, they are so GOOD – I will admit I came here every single day just for the smoothies, oops!! If you are a fan of local handcraft Galle Fort sell some of the most beautiful jewellery I saw during my Sri Lanka trip.

They specialising in Moon Stone – an iridescent white stone that you will see in many of the shop windows. There are a number of Moon Stone Mines scattered around Sri Lanka that you can visit if you are interested. Moon Stones are said to be the stone that protects travellers on there voyages which i found fitting given we were only just beginning our travels, so i purchased a ring.

Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct

The Dutch Hospital is considered to be one of the oldest building in Galle Fort, however, it has been so well maintained you could easily mistake its history. This building has served many purposes throughout its long life but more recently it has been transformed into a shopping precinct with lots of restaurants. This is a great place to perch up for dinner and some sundowners, another perfect spot to watch an over water sunset paint beautiful colours across the sky and ocean. We ate at A minute by Tuk Tuk which offered the best view and tasty food at a reasonable price.

Unawatuna Beach

Unawatuna Beach is an interesting place, I wouldn’t place it at the top of my ‘must stay’ locations but it is worth a day visit so I have included it in this list. Bordered by hundreds of restaurants and hotels, the sandy shore is filled with beach chairs and noisy shop owners trying to sell you the ‘best priced chair on the beach’ or offer you at seat at their restaurant. Once we finally caved and decided to lay on a chair to support local business we were inundated every few minutes by passers-by trying to sell us everything and anything.

If you can look past all this, which we did, this energy filled beach offers a refreshing swimming location and some great places to eat. There is quite an expanse of sand, unlike many lead you to believe, so don’t picture the buildings right up against the water, there is room to spread out and claim a section of sand as your own for the day. You can also opt in for surfing lessons, beach yoga, diving or join in on the late night ‘discos’. Overall Unawatuna it is the perfect place for a day visit to soak up some sun and indulge in the many food options.

 

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