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There are two ways to get to the Sri Lankan city of Galle. Some cruise ships dock in the Port of Galle, whilst many choose to visit on a Colombo shore excursion. It takes between 2.5 and 4 hours to travel from Colombo to Galle by train, yet the city remains popular due to its beautiful architecture, interesting attractions and historic forts, many of which survived the city’s 2004 tsunami disaster.
 
Galle’s beaches, including the beautiful Unawatuna Beach three miles from the centre of the city, are great places to relax and swim. The city also offers plenty of places to walk, hike and jog nearby scenic areas.
 
Tours/Excursions/Transportation:
The best ways to explore Galle are on foot, or by tuk-tuk. You’ll be able to view the impressive temples.
 
Be wary of unauthorized local or foreign guides who offer you a walk round the Fort for a fee. Walking round the Fort is free. Local Authorities do not charge any fees.
 
Take a boat trip in the lagoon and Kogggala Lake to see many of the small islands, which are popular destinations for bird watching. To see bigger game, make an excursion to one of the many wild life reserves, nature parks and sanctuaries established throughout Sri Lanka that are extremely popular with tourists.
 
The most common mode of transport in Sri Lanka is via a three wheeled automobile appropriately referred to as a three-wheeler (Tri-Shaw). Also known as Tuk-Tuks from the noise of their motors. These operate in a manner similar to taxis, and is a highly cost-efficient way to get around.
 
Nearby Places:
The nearby Unawatuna beaches are stunning. Approx 5 km away.
 
A short taxi ride from Galle, in the town of Habaraduwa, takes you to the Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery. Staff at the hatchery collect the eggs that are laid along the coast, and would otherwise be at risk. The hatchlings are raised until they’re large enough to be released, allowing the whole process to start again.
 
Things to See
The best ways to explore Galle are on foot, or by tuk-tuk. You’ll be able to view the impressive temples, and to walk around the fort along dusty paths that are free to access and enjoy. The city has a diverse past, having been occupied by the French, Dutch, British, Portuguese, German and Chinese. Influences from all of these cultures can be seen in the architectural designs, and can be read about in small local museums and the guide books on sale. The 2004 tsunami had a major impact on Galle, including the destruction of the International Cricket Stadium, though it’s now been rebuilt and the city shows few signs of the damage that was done.
 
The ancient Muslim port of Galle, reputedly the biblical Tarshish, has been alternately occupied by Portuguese, Dutch and British troops since the 16th century. The European influences are clearly visible in the faded colonial architecture.
The Dutch style Old Town is enclosed behind the imposing Fort walls and is now a World Heritage site. The Dutch Museum has period rooms depicting life as a colony of the Dutch and the Martin Wickramsinghe Folk Art Museum has a remarkable collection of masks and carriages. Sri Lanka has had a strategic importance for the world's traders since the 18th century, culminating in the 19th and 20th century obsession with the tea plant so a visit to the Talgaswella Tea Estate is worthwhile.
 
One of the city’s most famous buildings is the beautiful Kalutara Temple. It’s easy to spot, with a white domed roof that’s topped by a pointed tip.
 
Galle Fort's colonial streets
Galle divides into two parts: the bustling if nondescript new town, where you’ll find the bus and train stations; and the nearby Galle Fort, enclosed by towering bastions, which is where you’ll find the old Dutch town. The contrast between the two could hardly be more striking: as you head through the imposing walls, the pace of life changes and the centuries seem to slip away. Galle Fort seems barely to have changed in two hundred years, with low, quiet and mercifully traffic-free streets lined with old villas, churches and other mementoes of the Dutch era.
 
The atmospheric Dutch Reformed Church
The small Dutch Reformed Church is the oldest Protestant place of worship in Sri Lanka – dating from 1755, although the original structure was built 100 years earlier. The rather plain interior is one of Galle’s most atmospheric period pieces, its floor lined with the gravestones of former Dutch citizens and with a finely carved pulpit and organ loft and various wall tablets recording the lives (and deaths) of later British settlers.
 
The treasure-trove Historical Mansion Museum
This unusual shop-cum-museum showcases a vast collection of colonial-era (and other) bric-a-brac accumulated over the past three decades by its owner, Mr Gaffar. It’s also worth looking into the Olanda warehouse-shop, opposite, an old Dutch building stuffed full of colonial furniture and other bits and pieces.
 
The view from the ramparts
Leyn Baan Street leads down to the seafront ramparts, where you’ll find the florid Meeran Jumma Mosque, at the heart of Galle’s Muslim quarter, and the town’s picturesque old lighthouse. From here, you can walk all the way around the town’s well-preserved old stone and coral ramparts, which offer breezy sea views on one side and picturesque panoramas of the red-tiled rooftops of Galle Fort on the other. It’s particularly popular towards dusk, when half the town seems to come here to admire the spectacular sunsets, play impromptu games of cricket, or smooch under umbrellas.
 
Kalutara Temple
One of the city’s most famous buildings is the beautiful Kalutara Temple. It’s easy to spot, with a white domed roof that’s topped by a pointed tip. At night, the temple is often lit and is a particularly spectacular sight.
 
Peace Pagoda
Galle’s Peace Pagoda is a white and gold monument, built by a Buddhist monk and intended as a place where people of all races and religions could meet. The pagoda is similar in shape to the Kalutara Temple, but adorned with gold statues and decorative images.
 
Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery
A short taxi ride from Galle, in the town of Habaraduwa, takes you to this wonderful sanctuary. Staff at the hatchery collect the eggs that are laid along the coast, and would otherwise be at risk. The hatchlings are raised until they’re large enough to be released, allowing the whole process to start again the following summer. Visitors can see five varieties of sea turtle being raised on the farm.
 
Eating Out
Alongside traditional Sri Lankan restaurants, you’ll find that Galle is filled with little cafes serving sandwiches, milkshakes and snacks. Pizzas are popular on the island, as are traditional British dishes and Indian curries. Galle’s history has meant that European fusions are common, and that countries all over the world have played a part in developing the city’s local cuisine.
 
The beaches are home to cocktail bars and fish restaurants, whilst the city itself includes some lovely rooftop eateries where you can dine under the stars. You’ll find that prices are low in the city’s restaurants and it is a great place to enjoy a romantic dinner or drinks in friendly surroundings before returning to your cruise ship.
 
Shopping
Some of the easiest souvenirs to find are antique coins and tablecloths, often sold by travelling tradesmen who walk the walls of the fort. You might also want to visit Lihiniya Gems, established in 1982, where you can buy beautiful precious gems and hand-made gemstone jewellery.
 
Take time to visit the city’s clothing shops, which sell hand-crafted clothes as well as famous designer labels. One of the most unusual shops is the Shoba Display Gallery, where you can buy lace-adorned clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in a period drama.
 
In and around Galle Fort area, there are charming colonial streets with many a lovely store scattered about.
 
If you like jewelry the following are recommended. Please note though when I say jewelry in these parts, this means gemstones set in gold in traditional settings. And in some cases you can get knock off Bulgari but with real gold and stones. For me, this is not my taste (I prefer quirky things with a bit of character), but if it is yours, then try:
MM Ibrahim, 47Church Street…in Galle since 1909, known for their Bulgari copies
Laksana, 30 Hospital Street, wall-to-wall gemstones and jewelry, will custom make pieces as well
Mangala, 43a Columbo Road…more gems and jewelry if you haven’t had enough
Manika at Fort Gallery…original, unique jewelry and gem designs
 
If you are into local handcrafts, textiles, objects, etc…then we have a few favorites to share with you. All of these have lovely selections of rustic jewelry, textiles like pillows and table linens, books on the area, cute / quirky gifts and more:

Exotic Roots, 32 Church Street…painted bowls, wooden home décor objects and Sri Lankan handicrafts
Elephant Walk, 30 Church Street…more of the same, but somehow I actually like this one better… we bought a rustic wooden serving platter that we thought would make a nice plate of cheeses and antipasto back home.

Kanhanda Kanda Collection, Pedlar Street, we really like this one too…the owner of the Kanhanda Kanda villa, George Cooper, is also an interior designer and here are some of his selections for you to take home… George has impeccable taste.
Barefoot, 41 Pedlar Street…this was probably favourite of the bunch. Lots of local hand-loomed textiles and great gift items.




 
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