24-Hours in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka: India Unbound’s City Guide

Located less than a 3-hour drive on a good highway from Colombo, this quaint heritage city is a must-visit during a tour of Sri Lanka. It’s a great place to spend a few days, roaming the cobbled, car-free streets, lingering in the small boutiques and enjoy the cafes and restaurants.

Originally built by the Portuguese in 1588, Galle Fort was eventually fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Now it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, with some fantastic boutique and luxury accommodation and for cricket fans – a wonderful stadium that’s host to many international tests and day matches.

Here are our recommendations for what to see and do if you have 24-hours in Galle Fort during your holiday in Sri Lanka.



9 a.m. – Start your stay at Galle Fort with a gentle guided walking tour. It’s not just the sights that make this walk so enjoyable – our resident local guide is pleasant company for several hours and rich in knowledge. Spend the morning exploring the unique history of the impressive 36-hectare hexagonal stone Galle Fort and discover the colonial buildings that are still used today. See the sights from the old Dutch Church to the spice warehouses, to the lighthouse and on to the sea wall and ramparts. Make sure you take the time to venture out through the Fort gate to the sprawling and friendly town of Galle. It’s well worth exploring the hustle and bustle of Main Street and the colourful fruit market.

Galle cafe

12 p.m. Lunch! Good places to eat are plentiful in Galle Fort. We love stopping at Pedlar’s Inn café. If you fancy a break from Sri Lankan meals this is a great place to have a sandwich, pasta or salad. They also make one of the best iced coffees I’ve ever had and do a very good double espresso. There’s also a nice boutique out the back and it’s an easy place to sit and relax and watch the world go by.

Galle Shopping
Galle Shops

2 p.m. Time for a little shopping. This year I noticed even more boutiques have opened in Galle Fort. There are plenty of souvenir shops, but there’s also some lovely boutiques selling home wares, jewellery, textiles, clothing, postcards, vintage posters and more! I added new earrings, hand printed linen table napkins, plus some great gifts for all the kids to my suitcase during a recent afternoon of shopping!

Galle | India Unbound

3:30 p.m. Hopefully you’ve left room for high tea! Make sure you make the time to head to Amangalla Resort for a little afternoon treat during a stay in Galle Fort. This is one of our all time favourite places to take high tea. (And we’ve tried a few!) Take a seat on the verandah of this gorgeous boutique hotel and order the hot scones with luscious jam and thick cream, and indulge a bit more by splurging on a glass of prosecco to go with it.

galle villagalle sunset

5 p.m. Sunset Show! The best way to truly enjoy a stay at Galle Fort is at one of the luxury or boutique properties inside the rampart walls. This makes it easy to explore. We prefer to use two small luxury villas with only 4 rooms each – they are ideal for families or a group of friends travelling together – and looking for a whole property to take over. These villas are intimate, beautifully decorated with in-house chef, plenty of staff and warm service. A home away from home, well with added luxury and great service! And there’s the rooftop terrace. As the day draws to a close witness a stunning sunset from the terrace of your private villa with sunset drinks. Watch as the sun puts on a spectacular show – splashing hues of pink, orange and red across the sky as you sip your cold drink. Contact us directly to find out more about these amazing villas.

You too can experience the historical Galle Fort on suggested itinerary Classic Sri Lanka. Whether it is 24-hours or 48-hours, Galle Fort will leave a lasting impression on you.