Galle has seen an extraordinary rate of development in the last twenty years or so from being a very sleepy fishing town to a hub of Sri Lankan tourism and all who visit the area will be thankful for this, because it really is a superb part of the world.
Galle itself can be split in two: the working town and the 17th century Dutch Fort. It is the Fort that holds the greatest attractions. It is for starters a very tangible taste of Sri Lanka’s turbulent history. Originally built by the Portuguese then modified by the Dutch before being taken over by the British.
Galle Fort has become something of a millionaire’s playground and it is easy to see why. Cobbled and quaint streets, with very few cars and a host of things to do: museums, art galleries, photography exhibitions, ancient law courts and a host of places of worship of all dominations and all within the context of a mini working town (predominantly Muslim) – this is the place to be by gems, particularly the famous Ceylon Sapphire.
It is hard to find a hotel or restaurant that is not inviting, the Galle Fort Hotel being one example of many top end but affordable destinations. A walk around the ramparts at sunset is also pretty memorable. The ramparts are also a lovely place to watch the cricket from, Galle International stadium sits at the eastern entrance and regularly hosts Test cricket, but not limited overs cricket.
Tickets are very cheap for a day’s entry to the cricket and even for those who do not enjoy the game, it’s a very Sri Lankan experience and a cauldron of noise and excitement.
For those lucky enough to be in the area at the end of the January, there is the Galle Literature Festival, a world class event that hosts writers and speakers from the highest echelons of the literary world and is an especially fun time to be in Galle, with any number of sumptuous soirees at inviting hotels such as the Sun House.
The town itself is a pretty languid place, where the pace of life is invitingly slow. Galle is the headquarters of the Sri Lankan navy and also a major port and this adds further colour to the town. The Sunday market is worth a visit, but to be honuest the Fort and the neighbouring coastal villages such as Unawatuna and Thalpe will keep you occupied.