Galle is a beautiful coastal city, 130 km south of Colombo. It is definitely high on my list when visiting southern Sri Lanka, as it is the perfect mixture of history, beach, and culture. There are some amazing things to do in Galle, even if you are just there for one day, like we were. I hope this guide helps you experience Galle for the charming seafront city it is. Here is a list of our top things to see when you are in Galle:
1. Take a Walk: In the 17th century Galle was controlled by Dutch merchants who built it up for the purpose of running the East India Company out of it. During that time, Galle was a walled city surrounded by thick ramparts that were so large people could walk along them. The city was heavily guarded, you will still be able to see some of the old canons propped along the wall.
When in Galle make sure to take a walk along these ramparts and throughout the Fort. You will be able to see the lighthouse, an old prison, the clock tower, and will even get to watch school children practicing cricket.
2. Experience the Dutch Architecture: When walking through Galle you will notice how the city feels very european. The extremely impressive Dutch buildings are still used today giving Galle a very charming and unique feel. Make sure to walk along the Dutch Hospital, the Groote Kerk, and the Amangalla hotel.
If you are into museums, the Maritime Archaeology Museum also is quite fascinating and has lovely Dutch Architecture as it used to be a Dutch warehouse.
3. Have lunch at Coconut Sambol: This all you can eat Sri Lankan curry & rice buffet is definitely worth a try. It is extremely delicious and authentic. They have 7 different Sri Lankan curries, rice, and coconut sambol that they make fresh everyday. It is quite a cozy restaurant with only 3 tables available but that is almost better, as it allows you to connect with the cook and the locals who run Coconut Sambol. All the vegetarian curries in this restaurant are vegan by default so no worries my plant based buddies!
Other honourable mentions for lunch using the Happy Cow App:
- Calorie Counter – Vegetarian & Vegan Options
- Pilgrims Hostel & Restaurant – Vegetarian & Vegan Options (Best Vegan Pizza in Galle)
- Lucky Fort – Vegan Sri Lankan Curry Options
- Isle of Gelato – Usually at least 6 vegan flavours & sorbets
4. Go Shopping: Galle has amazing shopping! The city is full of charming boutiques where you can buy souvenirs and goods. Galle is also known for its gems, jewelry, and handmade sarongs.
Stores I recommend:
- Stick No Bills: This store specializes in beautiful Ceylon posters (Rs 3000) and postcards (Rs 350). If you are looking for memorable souvenirs, take a peek in this local shop and pick up a postcard to send home to your family.
- Barefoot: Beautiful boutique selling colourful handmade local clothes, linen, jewelry, crafts, rugs, gifts, children’s toys, and books. If you are looking for the most beautiful handmade children’s toys, you hit the jackpot!
Galle is incredibly close to Unawatuna, the beach town in Galle known for its swimming and surfing! After spending the morning walking around Galle, soaking up the history and having a lunch of endless rice and curry, you may want to kick back and spend the rest of your day in Galle on the beach in Unawatuna.
5. Go surfing: On the beach in Unawatuna you can rent a surfboard for cheap or take lessons with Surf South Sri Lanka if you would like to learn the basics from local surfers.
6. Go Swimming: Kick back and play in the waves, Unawatuna’s kid-friendly beach is the perfect place to spend an afternoon! Along the beach there are plenty of relaxing spots and delicious restaurants to enjoy!
7. Coffee at Kat’s: Kat’s Coffee is a highly recommended cafe in Unawatuna open from 9am-6pm. It has delicious cake, coffee, and fantastic internet! After a long day touring around Galle, get yourself a “pick me up” coffee and sweet treat while checking uploading your gorgeous photographs of Galle online to share with your friends and family.
8. Grab Dinner: Unawatuna has a few tasty restaurants with vegan options for you and your friends to grab dinner at. Here are our favourite places:
- Koha Surf Cafe & Lounge: Serving western food and juices. Many dishes can be prepared vegan.
- Sri Dhara Restaurant: Serving traditional Sri Lankan dishes, many which are traditionally vegan. They also offer a cooking class if you are interested in learning how to make Sri Lankan Curries!
- Love Gelato – a gelato restaurant which prides itself on having over 60% of their flavours being vegan!
I hope you enjoyed my list of how to explore Galle in just one day while plant based. If you have any questions or thoughts please share in the comments below!