Galle is one of the cities with the greatest heritage and history of the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, with its fort built originally by the Portuguese and later taken over and expanded by the Dutch, preserves within its walls many examples of colonial architecture, whether in public buildings, religious or habitation.
With the growth of tourism Galle has turned much of the heritage in upscale hotels, boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants that contribute to keeping most of the buildings in excellent condition. However perceives a certain lack of authenticity, as if we face a postcard rather than a city with its own life and personality.
Through the streets groups tourists wandering attracted by sophisticated shops of souvenirs and crafts, Sinhalese visitors gathering here in family enjoying the bay still water near the fort and school children coming in with their spotless white uniforms. We hear the bells of a church when it passes near a Buddhist stupa, breaking the stillness of the place.
Surrounding the compact stone fortress comes the sea of light tones of a translucent blue, which contrasts with the intense green of the tropical vegetation and the white that covers most of the buildings in Galle Fort. The breeze blowing from the sea has a cooling effect but intensifies the humidity that sticks to the skin.
Outside the fort lies a city that lives at a completely different pace, with the usually disorganized traffic, the beeping of buses and tuk-tuks, the accelerated movement of the people that know where they are going. A few meters from Fort is the Dutch market, a picturesque building that brings together sellers of fruit and vegetables, but where prices are clearly inflated for tourists.
Galle although picturesque and well preserved not aroused great enthusiasm but provided a pleasant walk along the ramparts overlooking the sea.
Where to stay in Galle:
Most accommodations are located inside the Fort walls, but all focused on a top budget tourism and groups that come in organized tours, that makes Galle not an inviting place for a “backpacker” budget.
As the city of Galle, the “new town” shows unattractive the best option is to visit Galle Fort a day-trip. For those who are lodge in one of the southwest coast beaches, like Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Narigama or Mirrisa, Gale is located within a reasonable distance to be made by bus, visited and come back in the same day.
Where to eat in Galle:
Inside the fort, the offer points to sophisticated restaurants and cafes, far more expensive that you can find outside the wall, but of course with other comfort and refinement.
So the best alternative to find a rice and curry is in one of the “new-town” restaurants, with several options lying right next to the bus station or in the side streets, and it isn’t necessary to walk more than 500 meters to find a good rice and curry per 200 LKR.
Right next to the bus terminal are several small shops and stalls selling rotis and the usual variety of deep-fried patties that always serve as a meal if you arrive too late and the rice and curry had already finished.
Go to Dutch Market in search of fruit at local prices does not appear feasible, with sellers accustomed to tourists charging twice the price. Also, near the bus terminal, there are a few fruit sellers where the prices are displayed… usually, the price is not per kilogram, but by the number of pieces of fruit that you can get for 100 LKR, i.e.
5 apples for 100 rupees but if they are big apples you can only get 3 apples for that price… this is the fruit of sale system in Sri Lanka!
Transport in Galle:
Galle has a railway station and is one of the most important stops on the Colombo-Matara line. However the frequency of trains and the difficulty of reserve a seat, especially on weekends and holidays, makes the train a less attractive option. But despite these disadvantages, the train offers a more calm and relaxing trips, away from pollution, traffic and the constant noise of horns, which all drivers used intensively, including bus drivers. Often trains make tracks away from urban areas and provide the best views of the natural landscape, but do not cover the entire island.
Right across from the train station is the bus terminal, both for long-distance services (for Colombo and other cities) as local nearby villages. The terminal looks at first too confuse by a large number of people, but is quite well organized with signs indicating the destination of each bus. There is also a information desck in the middle of the terminal on the lower level, which provides accurate information about destinations, prices, and schedules.
Bus Galle – Mirrisa: 1 hour, 50 LKR
Bus Galle – (Narigama) Hikkaduwa: 30 minutes, 35 LRK
How to get from Galle to Colombo:
For those on Hikkaduwa, Narigama, Mirissa and other beaches scattered around the southwest coast and plan to go to Colombo, you have several alternatives:
- Take one of the many buses that make the journey along the national road A2 Galle-Colombo, but these buses are not “express” ie make multiple stops often picking up passengers outside stops “official”.
The journey takes more than four hours, between dangerous overtaking and infernal honks. It is not guaranteed seating position not sure if she ate the trip at the beginning of the route, for example, Matara and Galle.
- There’s also a/c buses (small vehicles with air-conditioning) that also make the journey by the national road A2 as the “normal” buses but do not carry out as many stops; the fact that the windows go always closed eliminates pollution and noise, making the journey less tiring. They departure from Galle Bus Terminal every 30 minutes.
Officially the trip takes three hours, but it is most likely take close to four hours, depending on traffic in the city of Colombo, since the bus has to cross the whole city to get to Colombo-Fort where the terminal and which is at the north end of town.
The bus route starts in Galle Bus Terminal, platform number 2.
Ticket Galle-Colombo-Fort: 275 LKR (3 hours)
- There are a modern and comfortable bus with a/c, Galle to Maharagama, and that is the route the expressway which takes 1.45 hours and departs every 30 minutes from the top left side of Galle Bus Terminal.
Reaching Maharagama, a town 15 km south of Colombo, it is necessary to change to a city bus bound for Colombo-Fort who has to cross the entire city, because the bus station is at the north end of town, which reveals a long 1 hour trip.
Galle ticket to Maharagama: 375 LKR (1.45 hour)
Ticket Maharagama to Colombo-Fort: 50 LKR (1 hour)
- Use the train, but as not all trains stop at all stations, it is best to head to Galle and then start the journey to Colombo. The question of the train is always the same: get a seat since tickets for 1st class (the one with seating) are usually sold out in advance.
Travel between Galle and Colombo-Fort takes about 3 hours.
Ticket Galle to Colombo Fort: 180 LKR (in 2nd class)
Galle population: 99.000
Galle elevation: 1 meter