Thursday is a LAY DAY at Solas Surf. Everyone has the day off from their surf and yoga lessons to do as they wish. What better way to spend your day off than exploring the history and beauty of the Galle Fort.
We know how busy things can get whilst travelling and with a busy week of surfing, yoga and activities planned during our surf packages, we decided to do the hard work for you and put together a guide on how to spend your day within the Galle Fort – the Solas way!
The Galle Fort is a half hour drive from Solas Surf and Ahangama, so you can choose to do a whole day or even half-day. The pace is up to you and Fort is a contained area packed with so much to see and do, whether appreciating its historic buildings and quaint streets, cooling off with a gelato or chilling at one it’s numerous cafes. Of course you can’t miss out on the shopping!
With surfing at Kabalana Beach becoming increasingly popular, we know a lot travellers visiting Ahangama are here to surf at some of the top surf spots along the south coast like ‘The Rock’, but when you’re all surfed out or just feel like you need something different, a trip to Galle Fort is an amazing change up to experience some culture among the bustling yet charming streets within the Fort.
Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site, primarily due to the influence and occupation by the Portuguese, Dutch and British making it an ideal place to explore all the culture, architecture and history of all the nationalities that controlled Sri Lanka in centuries past. Due to its unique geographical location on the extreme southwest corner of the island, this hexagonal stone fort has been a hub in all trade, culture as well as war.
Its original 17th century town grid and architecture remains almost perfectly preserved, steeped in old world colonial charm and run riot with artisanal crafts and boutiques. There is certainly a feeling of nostalgia when wandering through the streets.
Here is our guide to discovering the magic and mystery within.
Recommended Time: 4 to 6 hours
We recommend you start from Solas Surf Villa around 9:30 am after enjoying our daily scrumptious breakfast. You can hop in a tuk tuk and make your way up to the historical town of Galle, just 20 kilometres away from Ahangama Town.
The Galle Fort area is best explored by foot so be prepared to walk around. Don’t worry – it will be worth every step!
Whether you’re a lover of history and archaeology or want to appreciate its architecture, look no further. With so much to offer and a long list of things to see and do such as historic churches, mosques, government structures, commercial buildings, boutique hotels and little shops – it is best to give yourself a few hours to do some exploring around the Fort.
Word of Warning – Galle can get extremely hot during the day so it is best to do the walking around in the morning or late afternoon and avoid the midday heat.
This beautiful white lighthouse framed by palm trees and overlooking the ocean, is one of the most popular features of the Galle Fort. Picture perfect as a backdrop for the gram, this lighthouse stands on the walls of the Fort and dates back to 1848 (the current structure was rebuilt in 1939). It’s purpose was to guide ships safely back into the Galle harbour and it is still in use today.
Walk The Ramparts Of Galle Fort
One of the best ways to explore the outer walls of the Fort and appreciate all it’s beauty is by doing the famous ‘Fort Walk’. This 2km walk starts at the historic Clock tower and will give you a good sense of colonial Galle.
During the walk, you will have beautiful views of the ruins, the Fort buildings as well as the turquoise waters below. There are various beaches along the Fort walls where families can cool off and splash around in whilst enjoying the afternoon sun.
Being one of the most important areas in Sri Lanka’s history, here are some notable monuments that we suggest visiting during your trip.
After walking around within the walls of the Fort and checking out all of the famous monuments and buildings, your feet might be a little tired, you’re probably a little peckish and most likely feel like you need a break. But don’t fear, the Fort has plenty to offer when it comes to chilling out and enjoying some delicious food. Lunch in Galle is always a great idea and one of the best ways to escape the midday heat.
Poonies Kitchen has to be our top lunch recommendation. This hidden gem is definitely one of the most trendy instagram worthy cafes in the area. They cater for various diets and have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. The interior is filled with loads of books, arty pieces, quirky posters and decorations. You will find yourself wandering about and feeling at home. Their colourful Thali Bowl is an absolute must try and if you like to end off on a sweet note, their cheesecake has raving reviews. Poonies can be a little tricky to find but just look for the Mimimango shop and walk straight through it. Be sure to check out the shop at the entrance which sells amazing organic products such as essential oils, dried fruit, teas, spices and eco-friendly soap bars.
Pedlar’s Inn Cafe & Restaurant
Another great lunch spot is the popular Pedlar’s Cafe situated on the historic Pedlar Street. You cannot miss this place and the famous Morris Minor standing right outside. The cafe occupies the whole ground floor of the former British Post Office in the heart of Galle Fort. With its original features mixed with contemporary design, it delivers a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere with a warm ambience throughout the cafe.
They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have an extensive menu ranging from sandwiches, curries and seafood. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy great coffee and juices if you just feel like chilling and taking a break from walking. There are various seating arrangements inside or on their rear patio but our favourite spot is on the street terrace. You can sip on your coffee shake while watching the world go by. It’s the perfect place to re-energize before heading back out to continue your adventures.
ADDITIONAL LUNCH RECOMMENDATIONS
Rocket Burger | A must if you need a burger fix or a break from curries. The burgers are made to order with fresh ingredients and there are vegetarian-friendly options to choose from. | 64, Church Street, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
When the midday heat gets to you and you feel like a walking ball of sweat, there is only one thing left to do. You absolutely cannot leave Galle without having some Gelato! That would be an absolute crime.
Isle of Gelato
Isle of Gelato has to be one of our favourites. This artisanal gelato is inspired by Italy but perfected in Sri Lanka and they only use fresh, natural ingredients. The lovely staff let you taste the flavours before making your pick so that you are sure to make the right choice. Some of our favourite flavours include the Sea Salt Caramel, Orange and Cardamom and of course the Lime Sorbet. This is a great spot for vegans because they have non-dairy sorbets too.
Pedlar’s Inn Gelataria
Pedlar’s Inn Gelataria is also a firm favourite of ours as it is the first traditional gelato in our sunny shores. Freshness and authenticity is guaranteed as the man behind the Gelato (Mike) and the traditional ice-cream machine are both from Italy!
With an abundance of boutique shops, souvenir shops, clothing shops and jewellery shops, Galle Fort is one of the best places to do your shopping in Sri Lanka. Some of the most notable items that can be found within the Fort are souvenirs, hand woven sarongs and Sri Lankan gems and jewellery.
Barefoot is one of the most popular boutique shops in the Galle Fort and the sister of the flagship store in Colombo. An absolute must on Pedlar’s Street, there is something for everyone here. Once famous for their handloom, but now carrying a wide variety of locally sourced and made products, you are guaranteed quality, long after you return home. We have to admit that we can’t leave here without getting a few items ourselves. Bright sarongs are a firm favourite and perfect to use after a dip in the sea.
Pedlar’s Inn Jewellery
Sri Lanka is known for some of the best gemstones in the world and Pedlar’s Inn Jewellery store is a good place to see some beautifully designed contemporary jewellery items. They have precious and semi precious gemstones mainly set in silver, and also use rough cut stones to make unique pieces. We don’t want to jinx it but you’re guaranteed to indulge while you’re here and leave a few grams heavier – if you know what we mean!
Eco Maximus | Handmade Elephant Dung Paper Products
Elephants as carnivores consume a diet of fruit, veg palm leaves bark etc, producing hundreds of kilograms of dung a day. Eco Maximus utilises this waste and other office waste paper to make handmade paper and products. A fully homegrown Sri Lankan company with humble beginnings, they are now internationally recognised with numerous awards including the BBC world challenge (a global competition for small businesses that have shown enterprise and innovation) and the Greening America “Green Leadership Award” for its efforts to build a more socially just and ecologically sustainable economy. We love there paper and you will too if you can get past the poo!
ADDITIONAL SHOPS TO VISIT
Spa Ceylon | Luxurious Ayervedic Skincare & Spa Products | No. 54A, Lighthouse Street & No. 47 Lighthouse Street, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
ABC78 Souvenir Shop | The perfect place to find gifts for friends and family offering a variety of locally made souvenirs | 47 Pedlar Street, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Stick No Bills Ceylon Flagship Gallery | Number one destination for poster art pertaining to the island paradises of Ceylon/Sri Lanka | 35 Church St, Galle, Sri Lanka
Embark | Embark specializes in dog-themed clothes, shoes, home decor, and accessories. Part of the store’s profit goes to rescue Sri Lanka’s stray dogs. | 33 Lighthouse St, Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
If you aren’t entirely surfed out and want to try a new surf spot whilst visiting Galle, we would recommend heading down to Dewata Beach. This fairly consistent beach break with a sandy bottom is great for beginners and known for being very safe. There are both lefts and rights and the good surfing conditions mean it’s almost always a good time to surf here!
There are also many surf shops along the beach where you can easily rent a surfboard if you don’t have one with you. They also serve fresh coconuts and fruit juices so be sure to grab one after your surf!
There is no better day than ending the day with a sunset and a cocktail (or three). Be sure to head down to Wijaya beach on your way back where you can enjoy their signature passion fruit martini while watching the sun go down from their beachside terrace. You can have a dip in the ocean just a few metres from the restaurant and if you’re lucky, you may even see some baby turtles! You can also visit the insta-famous rope swing and get a photo on the popular palm tree rock.
Wijaya Beach | A2, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
As you can see, Galle Fort is a must-visit location for all visitors in Sri Lanka. It’s a great cultural day trip that is easily accessible from our villa, a short ride from Ahangama. For any other tips about exploring Galle Fort, visiting Ahangama or surfing at Kabalana Beach and surrounds, just ask our friendly staff! We are always happy to help provide tips to make your trip one to remember. Leave a comment below about your favourite things to do in Galle Fort. We always love hearing from you!
Anosha (Owner) & Bee (Social Host & Marketing Manager)