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Updated by Amaya R on Jul 16, 2019
Headline for Galle Travel Guide: One-Day Trip to Galle
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Amaya R Amaya R
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Galle Travel Guide: One-Day Trip to Galle

If you are a first-time traveler or very unfamiliar with traveling in Sri Lanka, have no fear! Here is a Galle travel guide full of things to do in Galle, that can be followed by travel newbies, the directionally-challenged and the adventurously un-inclined alike (like us!). You can check out all these places while on foot (like us) or in a private vehicle. If you are going on foot, remember to take an umbrella, sunscreen and a lot of cold water.

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Take the Highway Bus to Return

If you took the train ride to Galle, you can opt to take the highway bus back to Colombo. Much quicker, a ticket would cost around Rs. 500 per person for a A/C bus with comfortable seats. The journey would take around an hour and the highway offers quite picturesque scenery along the way.

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Visit the Dutch Market

The Dutch Market is on the ever-busy Main Street, and is a collection of merchants offering fruits, vegetables, spices and other food items. Over 300 years old, it is probably the oldest market in Galle, and still continues to sell the freshest local produce.

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Visit Galle During the Galle Literary Festival

In the beginning of every year, Galle becomes a busy little hub of literary enthusiasts as it plays host to the annual Galle Literary Festival. The event brings down world-renowned authors and other figures of importance in the global and local arts communities, and allows enthusiasts to experience their work in intimate settings. Events at the festival include writing and theatre workshops, panel discussions, debates, poetry readings, literary lunches, jazz performances, wine tastings and so much more.

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Visit the Stick No Bills Art Gallery

Stick No Bills is a quaint little art gallery inside Galle Fort, that offers a quirky collection of postcards, paintings, art prints etc. all depicting the many faces of Sri Lanka (or Ceylon) as seen through the eyes of various artists. Prices are steep, but art does not deserve to be "cheap". Even if you are not buying, you should at least walk in to have a look.

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Cool Down at Isle of Gelato

After walking around sight-seeing, I am sure a cooling ice cream would be a welcome treat. Isle of Gelato is a popular brand of gelato in Sri Lanka and they have a bright little outlet inside Galle Fort. Fully air-conditioned with pretty interior, their range of ice creams are undeniably delicious too. I would say a must-visit. Expect to pay around Rs. 500 for a large scoop, which is quite pricey but I would say worth it for the experience.

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Climb the Flag Rock

If you take a walk up to Flag Rock in the afternoon or evening, it is hands down the best place to see the sunset. It is a giant natural rock, once used by the Portuguese as the defence wall. Now, you can climb up and stand on the ramparts and get an undisturbed view of the Indian Ocean. It is definitely one of the best places to catch amazing views and snap some great photos.

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Visit the Galle Lighthouse

The Galle lighthouse is the first light station to be built in Sri Lanka, built by the British in 1848 to ensure safe arrival of ships at the Galle harbour. The view from the lighthouse includes un-ending ocean views. The lighthouse is currently operated and managed by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and visitors are not allowed to climb the lighthouse.

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Visit the Galle National Museum

The Galle National Museum is also located inside the Galle Fort and is situated in what's considered to be the oldest Dutch building in Galle. The items on display cover a number of different types of archaeological and anthropological objects and artifacts. Some of the displays include traditional lace-making equipment (beeralu lace), ritual masks, ornaments made of turtle shells and wood carvings. There are a lot of Dutch objects as well, such as equipment from Dutch ships, arms and weapons of Dutch soldiers etc.

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Dutch Reformed Church

Stepping into the Dutch Reformed Church feels very sacred, with old cane and wood pews, Dutch coats-of-arms coating the walls, and beautiful stained-glasse. But the most gripping aspect of this place is the stone flooring, which is made up of old gravestones. You can see the carvings and inscriptions of the names, birthdates and deathdates of the deceased. There was also an unbelievably clean cat outside who was very friendly, probably accustomed to tourists. This is inside the Galle Fort as well.

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Visit the National Maritime Museum

Even if you are not a fan of maritime artifacts, the National Maritime Museum will not fail to amaze you. They have things that will capture the interest of any one, from models of real shipwrecks and skeletons of whales to foreign art pieces washed ashore during the 2004 tsunami. This museum is situated inside an old Dutch warehouse (inside the Galle Fort) which is awe-inspiring in itself. There is an entrance ticket to be purchased with separate prices for locals and foreigners.

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Go to Galle Fort

You can see Galle Fort towering in the distance from the train station / bus stop. It's a few minutes' walk there and you can enter free of charge and walk around to your heart's content, sightseeing, shopping and eating. There are a multitude of things to do inside and below are some of them.

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Take the Train to Galle

We took the train from Dehiwala train station to Galle. We did not pre-book - we tried to do this but we were unable to figure it out so we came to the station at about 6AM and bought second-class tickets to Galle. It was the middle of a long weekend so it was not too crowded however, we did not manage to get a seat. The rhythmic motion of the train gets monotonous after a while. There are fans inside so stay close to one of those if you hate the heat. You can stand by the entrances to the carriages but be careful to not fall off the train. One side of the train will have picturesque ocean views and glimpses into the beachside communities, and the other side will not. People will get off at various stops along the way so there is a possibility that you can snag a seat before the newcomers do. Expect ticket checkers and keep your ticket easily accessible and with you AT ALL TIME until you leave the train station at Galle, where they will take the ticket back from you. Do NOT lose your ticket. The journey took a few hours including a few delays along the way. Finally you will get to the Galle station - make sure to get off on time and follow the crowds out.