Things to do in Galle – Where to shop, what to see and where to eat
Galle Fort is a great day trip from the nearby beach town of Unawatuna. Unless you have a bit of money to spare I wouldn’t recommend staying here as the boutique hotels and general living costs are higher here than in the rest of Sri Lanka. Galle Fort was built by the Dutch in the 18th century as a headquarters and stayed culturally removed from the normal towns of Sri Lanka. The beautiful old buildings benefit from UNESCO world heritage status and have been occupied by some of the trendiest shops, cafes and restaurants in the country. The town has a very European feel and homely vibe with plenty of things to fit into a day.
Pedlar Street is the main high street in Galle with everything from the first Calorie counter restaurant to an Italian Gelato vendor. You can even spot a Tuk Tuk in disguise as an Elephant!
Embark is a fantastic initiative to try to help the street dogs of Sri Lanka. It sells pooch related clothing and accessories for you and your four legged friend. All of the profits go towards rescue, re-homing and vaccination against diseases such as rabies. I can’t rave about this place enough! Checkout their Instagram.
Stick No Bills is a great print shop that sells distinctive posters and souvenirs of Sri Lanka.
The Old Dutch Hospital is a great place to grab a bite to eat or do some upmarket shopping on the waterfront. Stop in at A Minute By Tuk Tuk to grab a burger with views over the Indian Ocean.
The Historical Mansion Museum is possibly one of the quirkiest places I have been (excluding one surprising temple in Colombo). With everything from uncut gems and currency from all over the world to antique weapons there really is something for everyone. The museum is totally free and well worth a look. Checkout the Lighthouse, Clock Tower and De Groote Kerk (Church St) for quintessential examples of Dutch architecture.
Avoid National Maritime Archaeology Museum (Queens St). I don’t often tell people not to do something as everyone has different tastes, we came here just to escape the heat but my advice would be not to unless you are extremely into maritime history!
Galle is a culinary melting pot of European and Sri Lankan cuisine. Allthough prices here tend to reflect the European owners backgrounds a great meal can still be found at a very reasonable price. Head down to Spoons (not the steak and beer chain!) on Pedlar Street for tasty local and Thai dishes. The restaurant is basic with just a few tables out front and the bathroom is actually inside the owners house! But it is probably the cheapest and most delicious place to eat in Galle. The Pasta Factory is a great little slice of Italy with all of the pasta you could ever dream of! The Original Rocket Burger is a fantastic little chain restaurant with a small basic menu of the tastiest burgers in town.
A great way to finish the day is to catch the sunset on the west wall of the Fort. Join tourists and locals alike by watching the sun go down over the Indian ocean. Galle Fort is a little reminder of home in the beautifully diverse country of Sri Lanka. Grab a coffee, buy a T-shirt with a dog on it and take in all of the delicious treats that are on offer here.