Galle is a great place for any history lovers. This little Sri Lankan town is filled with colonial history and has quite a unique atmosphere. If you have a bucket list regarding what to see in Sri Lanka, Galle should be there for sure. Since there are no good beaches in the town, it is worth it just to take a one day trip to Galle from Mirrisa or some other places nearby. Galle will surprise you with all it can offer.
One day trip to Galle
Galle is mainly famous for its history, you might be amazed by just how many interesting historical places there is. However, what you find in Galle is mainly colonial history. So nothing regarding old kingdoms in Sri Lanka, like you might have seen in Sigiriya or Kandy. Never the less, Galle is still a very interesting place to visit even for its colonial history.
Visit Galle Fort
Let’s start at the beginning, more specifically at the heart of Galle. Even though the Galle fort is about 450 years old, it still keeps it’s polished look. You can find a lot of various shop fancy restaurants and markets inside of this fort. This little old town is still surrounded by big fort walls. Even when the tsunami hit Galle in 2004. The place where Tsunami hit has been restored, but up till now, you can still see where the water was.
Because of its rich history, Galle is part of Unesco heritage. So how it all started? Even though Galle is known as a dutch place, the fort is also called a dutch fort, it was actually Portuguese who built it. Portugal reaches Sri Lanka in the 16th century and so in 1588, they build this amazing fort. But how it comes quite often with colonization – they kept it only for about a hundred years. In the 17th century, the Dutch came and kept it ever since. Of course, Sri Lanka eventually managed to free itself. Both from British and from Dutch. But some Dutch still own houses here. There is a rumor going around that both the Sri Lankan government and Dutch people who have property want to make Galle one of the new wonders of the world. I hope they manage!
Since the place works basically as an old town quarter of Galle, there are no entry fees. Unless you want to see the museum of Galle fort. You would get to know there everything about the history of Galle. But it is not necessarily a perk of this one day trip to Galle. However, the ticket to the Galle fort museum costs 5 USD.
Lighthouse in Galle
If you are already entering Galle fort, there is a place you must see. If you are researching a bit about Galle, there is a chance you will see it from the pictures. The Galle Lighthouse is one of the dominants of the town and it gives the whole Galle specific look. Tropical with a bit of exotic vibe.
But anyway, a bit of history. The lighthouse is actually the oldest light station currently operated by Sri Lankan port authorities. When I say it is the oldest light station, it might feel like the Lighthouse has always been there. But that is not true. The first lighthouse that stood here was built by Brittons in 1848. And it has been significantly smaller than the one that is standing in Galle right now. The lighthouse that is currently standing there was built in 1939 and is about 100 meters high.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to go and see the insides of the lighthouse since it is still operating by port authorities. But you are more than free to walk all around it and enjoy the building’s significance.
Galle National Maritime Museum
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Seems like I have been beating around the bush for very long now. I mentioned the Galle being a port and the lighthouse, so yes, it is true, it has interesting Maritime history.
This museum first opened in 1992 and up till 2004, it was mainly dedicated to flora and fauna that was found around the port or in the sea. Basically what fisherman used to feed on. But then the tsunami came in 2004 and the museum got a massive hit. Due to that tragic event, the Maritime museum lost about 20% of its exposition that just got washed away by the sea. The museum reopened again in 2010 when the whole building renovated and some new expositions came to the light of day.
Currently, it is possible to see some of the things that have been found in shipwrecks nearby such as mugs, ropes but also some of the naval art. You can also see how the sea exploration was organized by showcasing it. In general, it is a very modern museum.
It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is 300 LKR (about 2 dollars).
Visiting Galle church
Galle is a very multicultural and multireligious place. There is a majority of Buddhists like in most places in Sri Lanka, but since colonization, there are also some Christians as well. So no wonder that there is a church in Galle.
The Anglican church that you can see here was built in 1868 and it stays active until now. So if you come at the right time, you might even come for a mass here. The church has an Anglican congregation because it was built by Dutch.
Visiting All Saints church in Galle might not be the longest visit that you experience but it is still interesting. This way you might see the victorian architecture in this place. The church is well-kept and very light inside.
Galle fort clock tower
One of the most interesting buildings in Galle. Similarly to the lighthouse, the clock tower is one of the dominants of the town. A lot of people would hike around the fort walls that are close to the Galle clock tower. The tower itself was built in 1883 and the clock in it was a gift from the architect of this tower to the town.
Usually, you would enter the gates of Galle fort very close to this tower so it might be the first thing that you would see.
The beach of Galle – yes or no
A little known fact is that Galle also has its own beach. You might try to visit it. But it is not the most popular beach in Sri Lanka. Especially by foreign tourists.
So here is a thing – people who mostly visit this beach are locals. There is nothing bad about that. Not at all. But as a foreigner, especially if you are female, you are used to bathing in a bikini. Which means that you will be stared at and sometimes very closely. Which is kind of uncomfortable.
Another thing is that the beach isn’t really clean. There are leftovers and cigarettes buts everywhere. So it is not really comfortable to lay there. There is also a lot of trees which means that you won’t get too much sun. And then there is the bathing possibility. Well, there are a lot of stones and corals everywhere. So there is a risk of you getting hit by one of those things and it is not really nice.
So here is my recommendation – if you are taking your kids with you, it might be nice for them to bathe in. People won’t stare at them and the place where they can reach is very safe without any bigger problems with sharp stones or corals. But if you come here as an adult couple or solo female traveler and want to enjoy the beach – it is not necessary. There is a lot of better beaches in Sri Lanka.
One day trip to Galle – Practical information
Is one day trip to Galle worth it?
Yes! In fact, I would say that Galle is one of those places where it is worth it only as a day trip. Here is the thing. As a person who wants to go to Sri Lanka, you are probably looking to enjoy some culture and beach. Well, if you decide to get an accommodation in Galle, you will certainly get enough culture for one day but no beach. So it is better to get accommodation in Mirrisa or some other beach nearby and then organize a day trip to Galle. Otherwise, you might get too bored in Galle.
Besides you might have noticed that this day trip is based mainly around the fort in Galle. Believe me, I did the mistake of getting a hotel in Galle and later on I was disappointed by the fact, that I can spend here only one afternoon and then I cannot really go to the beach here. So Those three days that I was spending in Galle was mainly about me going to some beach nearby in the morning by Taxi and coming in the evening. The taxi driver was very happy about it, but I wish I would get accommodation in some other place.
How to get to Galle?
If you decide to live in Uwanatuna, then it is really easy, you can just ask for Tuk-tuk. It will get you there for about 400 LKR. You can even ask them to meet you there in the afternoon and get you back. A lot of Tuk-tuk drivers are quite used to do it. It means more money for them. So it is a good way of getting there.
A lot of people who would want to travel to Galle lived in Hikkaduwa or Mirrisa. Both places have a bus station. So you can actually jump on the bus and do it without the tuk-tuk help. The busses go several times per day. But it is a bit complicated to do it. Anyway, you can do it in an hour and a half. The tuk-tuk driver would get you there from Mirrisa in an hour and it would cost you probably around 1000 LKR.
The busses from Hikkaduwa to Galle are much easier to take because they all are direct. They are also coming several times per day. The bus ticket cost around 60 LRK. So, in this case, it is easier to just use the bus and enjoy the beach otherwise.
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