Visit the beating heart of Sri Lanka’s Southern Province
Looking for the perfect combination of golden beaches, lush jungle and cultural experiences? Read our insider’s guide to find out why Galle should definitively be on your travel agenda in South East Asia.
Hi I am Sashika, the local ambassador for Galle and Sri Lanka. I grew up in Dalawella which is just outside the city of Galle, so I know all of the best things to see and do in the region. I love travelling, meeting new people and showing tourists the best that Galle and Sri Lanka has to offer.
Galle is the fourth largest city in the country and is the capital of the Southern Province. Built up by the Dutch the city is full of colonial wonders, and is even a Unesco World Heritage Site. The island has a diverse culture which is dominated by four religions – the main two are Buddhism and Hinduism, followed by Islam and Christianity. Dancing is an important part of Sri Lankan culture and you may see traditional dancers such as the Low Country dance, the Kandyan dance, folk dance and the Sabaragamuwa.
There’s so much to do in Galle, which has the atmosphere of a working city but the laid back charm of a holiday resort. Further inland, there are rainforests to discover, temples to visit and tea estates to encounter. Here are some of my highlights:
This mighty seventeenth century fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island, replete with hefty bastions, thick grass-topped ramparts and a collection of striking colonial buildings all in their crumbling, ochre-walled beauty. A gentle walk around this colonial landmark is the best way to admire her architectural marvels – dating back to the Portuguese, Dutch and British eras.
Galle’s golden beaches unfold to the north and south of town, with sand filling bays and coves under the shade of leaning coconut palms. Unawatuna Bay, a curve of sand lined with beach bars and cafes, offers safe swimming year round. Dalawella Beach tends to be quieter but is still well-facilitated. If you’re into watersports then you’ll be able to find beaches which offer surfing, kayaking, deep sea fishing and diving.
Guided Bicycle Rides
Inland the scene is luminous green. Lush expanses of paddy fields stretch between palm- dominated jungle, beneath which sit village homes and Buddhist temples fringed by white parapet walls. Guided bicycle rides are the best way to explore the narrow back lanes and bunds of this serene wildlife-filled hinterland. If you want to discover the canals and waterways of the landscape then you can also take a kayak tour.
Over on the western side of Galle you can visit a small but impressive whitewashed temple. Dating back to the 1800s this Buddhist temple may have former been used as a church. Inside you’ll find a large reclining Buddha and if you’re lucky, you can join in a yoga class.
Marine Archaeological Museum
This fairly new museum showcases Galle’s maritime past and tells the story of various shipwrecks in the surrounding waters. Located in a seventeenth century spice warehouse built by the Dutch, it is well worth a visit.
If you need any help planning your Galle or Sri Lanka itinerary, please get in touch!
When is the best time to go?
With a tropical climate, Sri Lanka has distinctive wet and dry seasons so it’s important to plan your trip around the weather. There are two monsoons each year with affect Sri Lanka, but only one which has an impact on the south west where Galle is located. Some pointers to help you decide when to visit:
Temperatures remain consistent throughout the year on the coasts of Sri Lanka, between 26-32˚C. Regardless of when you visit it will be hot and humid and perfect weather for a dip in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean!
The southwest monsoon affects the south and west coasts as well as the Hill Country between April and September. Remember that our lush scenery needs plenty of rain to remain beautiful and green.
December – March is the main dry season for the south and west coast.
Traditionally most tourists visit Sri Lanka between December and March but there is never a bad time to visit, so if you want to avoid the crowds you can choose another time of year to explore Sri Lanka. My favourite months are January and February which incorporate some great local events such as the Galle Literary Festival.
- Visit Church Street for a memorable shopping trip featuring silks, spices and saris
- Watch a cricket game at Galle International Stadium – Sri Lankans are very proud of their cricket team!
- Take a boat trip to spot ocean giants such as whales and dolphins
Care for sea turtles at the Habaraduwa Turtle Hatchery
- Visit Yala National Park to spot amazing wildlife such as leopards, crocodiles and elephants – it’s just a day trip from Galle
Savour the delicious Sri Lankan cuisine