Galle is a city on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is famous for the Galle Dutch Fort plus breathtaking beaches along its coastline. Galle Dutch fort is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. It is a seventeenth-century colonial fort made of coral limestone and granite. In many ways, Galle is the holiday resort district in Sri Lanka. The stretching coastline boasts of pristine beaches blessed with picture-perfect sunsets. The most popular beaches are Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Koggala, Dalawella and Narigama. Thousands of sun worshippers, surfers, scuba divers and holidaymakers travel to Galle in Sri Lanka each year. The surrounding seas offer excellent coral reefs for snorkeling, superb surfing waves, and crystal clear shipwreck dive sites for your travel adventure.

Location

Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications,

Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.

Open Time

7.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

Weekdays & Weekends

Galle Highlights

Galle Dutch Fort

The Galle Dutch Fort is a seventeenth-century colonial fort in Sri Lanka. It stands on a rocky promontory facing the Indian Ocean. Rocky shores and an imposing landside rampart defend it on all four directions. It was the Portuguese who chose Galle as a permanent trading post in 1588. Following the siege of Galle (1640), the Dutch ousted them from Southern Sri Lanka. Then the Dutch extensively fortified the fort until 1729. Its present form was mainly conceived under Dutch company rule and hence the name Galle Dutch fort. In its heyday, the fortification also served as the island’s southern commandment of the Dutch East India trading company (VOC). Its sister cities were Colombo, Trincomalee, and Jaffna. The fort defended the main VOC trading port in Sri Lanka. In 1796, it was peacefully handed over to the British who maintained a military presence until 1948.

Many of Galle fort’s European inhabitants left it, following the 1972 constitution, which completed the transitional phase of Sri Lanka into a republic. Thereon, the structure became dilapidated until renovations started after the 2004 tsunami followed by the end of the war in 2009. Today, the Galle Dutch Fort is the most well preserved colonial fort in South Asia. Most of its main features are miraculously preserved. A rare Portuguese fortalice and thirteen Dutch bastions dot the original ramparts, each with a different story belonging to a different time.Its exotic blend of European and Asian architecture attracts many local and foreign visitors. Artists, photographers, writers, and architects own many restored colonial buildings inside the fort. Trendy cafes, boutique shops, and hotels add a unique character to the atmosphere of the fort’s colonial streets. However, the real energy of Galle fort comes from its active colonial court complexes, government offices, public schools, trading companies, and beautiful churches, harking back to a thriving European colony.
Now then, let us get into the forts main attractions!

The trail of bastions

The wide ramparts dotted with regular bastions make an interesting three-mile trail that circles the Galle fort. Three-quarters of these ramparts face the Indian Ocean and offer spectacular views. Three landside bastions named Star, Moon, and Sun are the most imposing structures in the fort. These three gun points defend at two levels (a lower one for short-range cannons and a higher for long-range cannons). The vanguard center point is the moon bastion (sometimes referred to as Mark). It is the largest of the three. It defended the landward side with 19 cannons. A Victorian-era clock tower (A later addition) dominates the higher level of the Moon bastion. This famous clock tower is more than 130 years old.
Following this trail will lead to bastions Fishmark, Commandment, Black fort (Zwart), Akersloot, Aurora, Point Utrecht, Flagrock, Triton, Neptune, Clippenberg, Aeolus and Star, in order. The black fort is actually a Portuguese fortalice. It is the oldest structure inside the fort. A British era gateway passes under the rampart between the Moon and Sun bastions. This is the Main Gate (1873) built by the British to ease the traffic to the fort from the Old Dutch gate (1668). Upon entering through the main gate, one finds a small roundabout leading to three throughways dividing the fortress’ well-aligned streets. The left throughway leads to a string of interesting colonial buildings.

Book a Tour Package

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

The Dutch Reformed Church – Groote Kerk

The Dutch Reformed Church (1755) stands 12 meters above sea level (highest point inside Galle fort). The church design is in the form of a Greek cross. It shows Doric architectural features similar to the Wolvendaal Church (1749) in Colombo. However, the interior has undergone many changes during the British era, with a stained glass window, a side canopy, altar, communion rails and a 1760 organ.

National Maritime Museum – The Galle Dutch Warehouse and the Old Gate

The highlight of the National Maritime Museum is its building, which is the seventeenth-century Dutch warehouse. It is a long warehouse, built into the ramparts facing the old port of Galle. The structure has thick walls and solid pillars, which can withstand direct cannon fire. The interior shows some artifacts belonging to Sri Lankan maritime history. The old gate runs through the warehouse. This was the original entrance to the fort of Galle. Both Dutch and British coat of arms can be seen above the entrance. The Dutch coat of arms hovers on the inner side whilst the British coat of arms faces the port side.

Flag Rock Bastion

The flag rock bastion served as the signal station for Galle port ships traffic. It is a bastion built on a natural boulder at the southernmost point of fort’s shoreline. The popular cliff jumpers risk their lives by hauling themselves from the flag rock down to the rocky waters below. An old wooden lighthouse stood here until a fire burned it down in 1930.

All Saints’ Church, Galle

The All Saints’ Church in Galle Fort is a British era Anglican Church built-in 1871. It shows Victorian Gothic Revival architecture with a basilica plan, which suits the climate of Galle. Architect J.G. Smithers designed the church. The location was a gallows in the early years of Dutch rule. The laterite rock (Kabok) arches are interesting local blend to its construction.

Galle Lighthouse on Point Utrecht Bastion and Lighthouse Beach

The Galle lighthouse (1939) is at the point Utrecht bastion. The onshore lighthouse is 92 feet high. The Lighthouse beach is right by the lighthouse. In the Victorian era, it was a ladies-only beach. A beautiful shaded courtyard borders the lighthouse beach until Old Dutch hospital shopping complex.

Other historical attractions in Sri Lanka :

Customize Your Tour

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Unawatuna Beach

Unawatuna bay is a paradise beach. Its circular beach sports panoramic views often blessed with spectacular sunsets. The best time to visit is from November to April. The water temperature never falls below 27o. A string of trendy restaurants and sunbed hotels dot the palm groves bordering the beach. Unawatuna beach is a cool place to chill out with some good food and drinks. It is a family vacation destination and there is something for everyone at Unawatuna. The beach is only five kilometers away from Galle city.

Surfing at Unawatuna Bay

Unawatuna has decent waves for surfing, especially for beginners. Its family-friendly setting makes it the perfect vacation surfing destination. Many surf schools and decent accommodation are available in and around Unawatuna bay. Some of the popular surfs are listed below.

  • Unawatuna beach break
  • Closenberg surf point
  • South beach point
  • Bonavista beach
  • Dalawella reef
  • Kabalana beach break
Unawatuna Nightlife

Unawatuna’s nightlife scene is slowly picking up pace. A pleasant array of bars, pubs and some nightclubs have sprung up to add color to the reveling spirit of increasing foreign visitors.

Sri Lankan Tour Packages :
Scuba Diving around Unawatuna

Unawatuna coral reef is a perfect beginner dive site. A number of shipwrecks (led by the famous SS Rangoon) attracts many AOW divers as well. SS Rangoon shipwreck (32m) is the highlight of scuba diving at Unawatuna. Visibility is excellent during the season from November to April. Popular dive sites and their depths at Unawatuna are listed below.

  • SS Rangoon Shipwreck (30m-32m)
  • Lord Nelson Shipwreck (8m-15m)
  • Galle Cannon Shipwreck (8m-15m)
  • SS Oreste Shipwreck (18m-22m)
  • Rala Gala Shipwreck (10m-15m)
  • Goda Kupatha (8m-15m)
  • Diyamba Kupatha (25m-30m)
  • Goda Gala Diyamba (8m-15m)
  • Delwaniya Gala Diyamba (8m-12m)
  • Aluth Gal Mattha (25m-30m)
  • Aluth Gala (20m-25m)
  • Gala Pita Gala (15m-20m)
  • Talpe reef (8m-15m)
  • Wreck reef (12m-17m)

Rent a Car

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Walking to the Unawatuna Jungle Beach

Unawatuna jungle beach is a tiny patch of sand surrounded by a small seaside hill. The path leading to jungle beach is a small hike through a shaded hillside. Walking along this trail has its own feel, which makes the visit worthwhile. Best to take your snorkeling equipment, as jungle beach is good for a bit of snorkeling.

Roomassala hill and the Japanese Peace Pagoda

Roomassala hill is a patch of seaside forest at the edge of Unawatuna bay. The forest is said to be full of Ayurveda medicinal plants. A Japanese peace pagoda marks the Roomassala peak. It is a superb place to view the panoramic Unawatuna bay.

Book a Hotel

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Things to do in Sri Lanka :

Koggala Beach

Koggala is a beautiful long beach. It is one of the oldest resorts in Sri Lanka. A set of holiday resorts border the beach, which makes it a beach that you can book for yourself. The nearby Koggala lagoon offers decent bird watching excursion to a beautiful lagoon island as well.

Whale-watching Flights from Koggala Airport

Koggala airport promotes special whale-watching flights at reasonable prices. Sri Lanka is one of the best places to spot blue whales and sperm whales. The nearby Mirissa fishing harbor operates whale-watching cruises regularly. However, authorities do not monitor the number of cruises operating from Mirissa. Because of this situation, a horde of boat circles the whales every day.
Due to these unfortunate developments, we recommend Koggala whale-watching flights over Mirissa boat-cruises. In our experience, nothing can be compared to following a giant blue whale from a light aircraft. You will not ever forget the exhilarating experience of seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural flow.

Martin Wickramasingha Folk Museum at Koggala

Martin Wickramasingha is the most important Sinhalese writer in the twentieth century. His works tackled many of Sri Lanka’s social issues and helped create a wave of national introspection. His childhood home was converted into a museum after his death. It stands today in celebration of Sinhalese life and literature.

Hikkaduwa Beach

Hikkaduwa beach is a beach for revelers and travelers. This colorful beach line is blessed with spectacular sunsets. The best time to visit is from November to April. Although, the popular Hikkaduwa Beach Fest falls around July and August every year. The water temperature is 27o, all year round. A string of seafood restaurants and cheap accommodation border the strip of land between Hikkaduwa beach and Galle-Colombo road. Hikkaduwa is a cool place to party and blow off some steam. It has long been famed as the hippie capital of Sri Lanka.

Surfing at Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa beach offers good surfing waves for everyone. The popular surf points are Bennys, Main reef, North jetty and the Beach break. Surf rentals at Hikkaduwa cater to the experienced while lots of surf schools offer decent packages for beginners.

Hikkaduwa Nightlife

Hikkaduwa nightlife scene peaked in the hippie era. Today, a pleasant array of bars, pubs and some nightclubs continue to add color to the reveling spirit of faithful foreign visitors.

Customize Your Tour

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Scuba Diving to the Hikkaduwa Shipwrecks

Hikkaduwa is a really good scuba diving spot. The shallow seas offer a diverse set of dive sites from coral sanctuaries to British shipwrecks. The popular shipwreck dive sites at Hikkaduwa are the Earl of Shaftsbury and SS Conch. All Hikkaduwa dive sites are listed here.

  • Earl of Shaftsbury Shipwreck
  • SS Conch Shipwreck
  • Kirala Gala
  • Diyamba Gala
  • Sunil Gala
  • Goda Gala
  • Wal Duwa Gala
  • Debe Gala
  • Black Coral Point
  • Hikkaduwa Reef
  • Tunatta
  • All PADI Scuba diving courses are provided by a well-organized diving community at Hikkaduwa as well.
Snorkeling at Hikkaduwa Marine National Park

Hikkaduwa marine national park is also known as the Hikkaduwa coral sanctuary. It is a good place for a swim with your snorkel on. The coral reef is very shallow and is filled with colorful fish. The reef is still recovering from the damage caused by the 2004 tsunami. The current changes after the new breakwater of Hikkaduwa fishing harbor were built caused some havoc in the reef as well. Today it is in a state of regeneration.

Rent a Car

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Things to do in Galle

Unawatuna Surfing

Unawatuna has decent waves for surfing, especially for beginners. Its family-friendly setting makes it the perfect vacation surfing destination. Many surf schools and decent accommodation are available in and around Unawatuna bay.

Best surf points in Unawatuna

  • Unawatuna beach break
  • Closenberg surf point
  • South beach point
  • Bonavista beach
  • Dalawella reef
  • Kabalana beach break

Advantages of surfing at Unawatuna

  • A kids-friendly beach.
  • Perfect for young surfers to feel the board.
  • Many experienced surf schools operate around the beach.
  • Good seafood restaurants and quality service.
  • Candlelight beach at night.
  • Friendly locals.
  • Away from the traffic.
  • Easy expressway access to Colombo.

Things to be concerned while surfing at Unawatuna

  • Double-check the accommodation amenities (especially the cheap ones)
  • Beware of the nearby Galle-Matara road traffic.
  • The beach can get crowded.
  • Hotels can get full.
  • Parking facilities are not very good.
  • Beware of surf school scams.
Hikkaduwa Surfing

Hikkaduwa beach offers good surfing waves for everyone. The popular surf points are Bennys, Main reef, North jetty, and the Beach break. Surf rentals at Hikkaduwa cater to the experienced while lots of surf schools offer decent packages for beginners.

Advantages of surfing at Hikkaduwa

  • A perfect surfers beach.
  • Perfect for both young and experienced surfers.
  • Many experienced surf schools operate around the beach.
  • Good seafood restaurants.
  • Friendly locals.
  • Easy expressway access to Colombo.

Things to be concerned while surfing at Hikkaduwa

  • Double-check the accommodation amenities (especially the cheap ones)
  • Beware of the nearby Galle road traffic.
  • The beach can get crowded on holidays.
  • Parking facilities are not very good.
  • Beware of surf school scams.
Other historical attractions in Sri Lanka :
Whale-watching Flights

Koggala airport promotes special whale-watching flights at reasonable prices. Sri Lanka is one of the best places to spot blue whales and sperm whales. The nearby Mirissa fishing harbor operates whale-watching cruises regularly. However, authorities do not monitor the number of cruises operating from Mirissa. Because of this situation, a horde of boat circles the whales every day. Due to these unfortunate developments, we recommend Koggala whale-watching flights over Mirissa boat-cruises. In our experience, nothing can be compared to following a giant blue whale from a light aircraft. You will not ever forget the exhilarating experience of seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural flow.

Book a Whale Watching Tour

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Things to do in Sri Lanka :
Scuba diving Unawatuna

Unawatuna coral reef is a perfect beginner dive site. A number of shipwrecks (led by the famous SS Rangoon) attracts many AOW divers as well. SS Rangoon shipwreck (32m) is the highlight of scuba diving at Unawatuna. Visibility is excellent during the season from November to April. Popular dive sites and their depths at Unawatuna are listed below.

Best dive sites at Unawatuna

  • SS Rangoon Shipwreck (30m-32m)
  • Lord Nelson Shipwreck (8m-15m)
  • Galle Cannon Shipwreck (8m-15m)
  • SS Oreste Shipwreck (18m-22m)
  • Rala Gala Shipwreck (10m-15m)
  • Goda Kupatha (8m-15m)
  • Diyamba Kupatha (25m-30m)
  • Goda Gala Diyamba (8m-15m)
  • Delwaniya Gala Diyamba (8m-12m)
  • Aluth Gal Mattha (25m-30m)
  • Aluth Gala (20m-25m)
  • Gala Pita Gala (15m-20m)
  • Talpe reef (8m-15m)
  • Wreck reef (12m-17m)

Advantages of Scuba diving at Unawatuna

  • Loads of dive sites.
  • Perfect for both young and experienced scuba divers.
  • Many experienced dive schools operate around the beach.
  • Friendly locals.
  • Easy expressway access to Colombo.

Things to be concerned while Scuba diving at Unawatuna

  • Double-check the accommodation amenities (especially the cheap ones)
  • Beware of the nearby Galle road traffic.
  • Parking facilities are not very good.
Scuba diving Hikkaduwa

Scuba Diving to the Hikkaduwa Shipwrecks

Hikkaduwa is a really good scuba diving spot. The shallow seas offer a diverse set of dive sites from coral sanctuaries to British shipwrecks. The popular shipwreck dive sites at Hikkaduwa are the Earl of Shaftsbury and SS Conch. All Hikkaduwa dive sites are listed here.

  • Earl of Shaftsbury Shipwreck
  • SS Conch Shipwreck
  • Kirala Gala
  • Diyamba Gala
  • Sunil Gala
  • Goda Gala
  • Wal Duwa Gala
  • Debe Gala
  • Black Coral Point
  • Hikkaduwa Reef
  • Tunatta

Customize Your Tour

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours

Kanneliya rain forest trek

Kanneliya forest is rich with a diverse range of flora and fauna.  It is especially famed for endemic animals in Sri Lanka. You will get a chance to see monkeys, snakes, lizards, birdlife and a vast range of tropical trees, plants, and flowers. December to April is the best time to travel Kanneliya because of low rainfall. Streams become active after rain. And this period is an ideal time to visit the waterfalls in Kanneliya. If you are seeking adventure-based tour locations in Sri Lanka, Kanneliya rainforest is the best place for you.

Advantages of trekking in Kanneliya rain forest

  • Low crowds
  • Easily accessible
  • Rare virgin rain forest
  • Relaxing place to walk
  • Bird watching opportunities
  • Only 20kms away from Galle
  • Good diversion from the usual travel route

Things to look out for when you are trekking in Kanneliya rain forest

  • Take an insect repellent and leech socks.
  • Bring back your food wrappings, plastic bottles, and other waste.

Book a Whale Watching Tour

in Sri Lanka

with Overa Tours