Jutting like a small peninsula into the Indian Ocean from Sri Lanka's southwestern tip, Galle is one of the finest fortified examples of the colonial-era city of its kind in all of Southeast Asia. Featured on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Galle has been a port since ancient times but expanded rapidly under the Portuguese. Later, in the 18th century, the Dutch added curtain walls and bastions linked by splendid ramparts and solid gateways. These can still be enjoyed today and form a charismatic backdrop for easy ambles around the old town, which preserves an almost village-like atmosphere, rather at odds with its modern avatar on its landward side.

Galle's grid-planned streets are lined with traditional houses and mansions, their arched verandas and shuttered windows offering much-needed shade against the hot tropical sun. Among them lies a charming jumble of cafes, shops and guesthouses. In recent years, several of Galle's old buildings have also been converted for use as boutique hotels, complete with antique furniture and fixtures, providing boutique accommodation and experiences for visitors.

Galle Literary Festival: Starting 25 January 2024, Galle hosts the 3-day, world-renowned Galle Literary Festival for the first since 2019. A high-profile cast of international and Sri Lankan authors, writers, readers and thinkers will gather to discuss the latest book releases and debate philosophical questions as wide-ranging as cultural identity to food and the future of our digital footprint. Since its launch in 2007 by Geoffrey Dobbs, the Galle Literary Festival has become one of South Asia's most anticipated arts and culture events. A favourite among visitors and attendees alike, the festival hosts various talks, workshops and culinary events in an intimate, historic setting.

Gourmet Galle Festival: 11 January 2024 sees the launch of the new Gourmet Galle, an irresistible celebration of Sri Lankan cuisine with Sri Lankan chefs like Cynthia Shanmugalingam, O Tama Carey, Peter Kuruwita, Karan Gokaniwill taking centre each weekend in the historic city of Galle, to showcase their exceptional culinary talent and proudly fly the Sri Lankan Culinary flag. They will be joined by a bevvy of international chefs from across the globe, including the Indian restaurateur and global trotting chef Hari Nayak; chef Mark Hix with his expertise in seafood; David Thompson, renowned for his knowledge of Thai cuisine and Michelin star chef James Lowe to cook up a storm.

Each weekend, the local and international chefs will create an unforgettable dining experience, curating an inspired menu using only locally sourced ingredients and spices, marking the richness of Sri Lankan produce. Each Sunday, the visiting chefs will also host a masterclass in a pop-up kitchen within the walls of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Ticket holders can learn from the masters. 

Art Trail: Every two years the Galle Art Trail refreshes itself and transforms Galle Fort into a vibrant new walkable gallery, with heritage properties hosting a curated exhibition of contemporary work. Visitors are encouraged to follow a complimentary map through the walled city to view national and international exhibits.

Galle Film Festival: Showcasing the best of South Asian and Western films in almost every genera Galle hosts the Film Festival every October through to November.

 

TransIndus Tips when visiting Galle:

  • For lunch, try Poonie's Kitchen on Pedlar Street, which serves organic salads, spicy squash fritters and to-die-for pumpkin, prawn and coconut soup in a stylishly decorated courtyard shaded by flowering plumeria trees.
  • The Terrace at the über-chic Amangalla boutique hotel is a great place to linger over a long drink or latté, soaking up the old colonial-era architecture.
  • While in Galle, make sure you create time for a cocktail at the elegant 'Ropewalk, ' Sri Lanka's first speciality, Arrack Bar, and Galle's latest addition to its vibrant Bar Scene, serving cocktails based on the local coconut based local alcohol.

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