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Galle

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About Galle

Set near Sri Lanka’s south-western tip, the town of Galle is most famous for its charming Fort. Built as a fortified trading post by the Portuguese and later expanded by both the Dutch and the British, Galle Fort is a fascinating spot for history and culture aficionados to discover — it also has some superb shops, restaurants and hotels. Accommodation options range from chic boutique spots within the Fort’s enormous walls to tranquil hideaways on the edge of the surrounding town, fit for a whole array of tastes and budgets. Many of the best places to stay in Galle are exceptional heritage properties, offering a fascinating glimpse into the region’s multi-layered past.

Galle Fort itself is the main attraction for travellers. Now a UNESCO Heritage Site, the Fort’s winding cobbled streets brim with independent boutiques, cafés, galleries, restaurants and residences. There is still a vibrant Sri Lankan community living here, and you’ll find throngs of school children spilling out of class at lunchtime, or boys playing cricket in the Court Square and on the edge of the ramparts around sunset. Stroll along the ramparts to admire the British-built lighthouse, the clock tower and the striking mosque. The Dutch Reformed Church and the Portuguese Black Fort are also very special.

Beyond the Fort is the bustling town of Galle — also well worth a wander. Pop to the market for fresh fruit, watch the fishermen haul in the day’s catch at the beach, and lose yourself in little lanes where you can buy all manner of clothing and household goods. For a day of sea and sand, hop aboard the bus or take a three-wheeler to nearby Unawatuna Bay, or Dalawella Beach in Talpe, where you can swim with turtles.

This is a tremendously popular place to visit and hotels tend to be small and intimate — book your trip well in advance to guarantee a room at one of the best places to stay in Galle. Hotels fill up fast when there's a cricket match at the nearby Galle International Stadium.

The Best Places to Stay in Galle

Within Historic Galle Fort

  • The Galle Fort Hotel is a tranquil restored residence in the heart of the Fort. Perfect for couples, this property has old-world charm in spades. The terrace is ideal for an evening drink, and the pool a refreshing antidote to the heat.
  • The Fort Printers has a chic, minimalist feel, with recently renovated rooms and suites housed in what was once a print shop and a boys' school. Expect school subject signs outside guestroom doors, and views over red-tiled rooftops, flowering frangipani trees and the idyllic courtyard pool. The food is excellent, and the barmen can whip up cracking cocktails. Very romantic.
  • Fort Bazaar offers 18 chic guestrooms in what was originally a 17th-century merchant's home. One for interior design lovers, couples, friends or families, the hotel has a buzzing restaurant with pretty tiled floors and a lovely spa. The candlelit courtyard is gorgeous.

For a Tranquil Hideaway

  • The Dutch House offers four guestrooms in a yellow-walled house built for a Dutch naval officer in 1712. Expect leafy gardens, a refreshing pool, and expansive views of Galle from the property's hilltop setting. Well-placed for exploring Galle town's bustling markets, or for walking into the historic Fort (1km away), this antique-filled hideaway is appealingly laid-back. For couples, friends or families.
  • Tamarind Hill promises an elegant escape for couples or groups in an impressive colonial house just inland from Galle. Rooms and suites feature imposing antiques, plus there's a grassy couryard for afternoon tea, a soothing spa and a swimming pool. The restaurant serves Sri Lankan and international cuisine, and the chic bar is a great place to kick off an evening. Quiet and historic.
  • Wirdana Spa & Villas has a selection of guestrooms and multi-room villas, set around a large swimming pool. Unwind at the sublime spa and feast on Asian fusion dishes in the open-sided restaurant. The decor is miminalist and Balinese-inspired, so think earthy tones and lots of plants. One for couples or friends looking to relax — although big villas are fun for families, too.

For a Seaside Stay

  • Jetwing Lighthouse was designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka's most famous architect. Pick this place for the dramatic seaside location — overlooking craggy rocks and charming Galle Fort — as well as the family-friendly facilities. There's a tennis court, two pools, multiple dining options and a great spa. Many of the 85 rooms have dazzling sea views. For families or couples.
  • Aditya Resort is a sumptuous boutique hotel, a few minutes' drive north of Galle. Set on a stretch of palm-lined beach, the property has spacious suites with traditional furnishings, outdoor rain showers and big tubs for long soaks. Enjoy an Ayurvedic massage or splash around in the pool before dinner. A romantic choice.

For Absolute Luxury

  • Amangalla is Galle Fort's most luxurious hotel. The imposing, white-painted building has a fascinating history, and now houses beautiful rooms with period pieces and indulgent bathrooms. As befits the Aman group, the spa is spectacular. You'll also find a huge swimming pool — rare in Galle Fort — and delectable gourmet fare. Afternoon tea and evening cocktails are a real treat.

FOR AN APARTMENT OR VILLA

  • If you'd prefer a self-catering option, we suggest that you visit our online partner Booking.com.

Travel information

  • Galle is just over 2 hours’ drive on the expressway from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport. Most hotels will be able to arrange an airport pickup with a reliable driver.
  • If you are travelling from Colombo, regular trains run directly from Fort Station to Galle. The train is certainly slower than travelling by car, but tickets are cheap and the coastal route offers enchanting sea views. The journey takes around 2.5 hours.
  • For car hire prices, we recommend contacting our online partner Rentalcars. Driving in Sri Lanka, however, is not for the faint-hearted. We'd suggest choosing another form of transport unless you have experience of driving somewhere similar.
  • Time your trip to coincide with the south coast’s peak season (from November to March) for sunshine and the best of the year’s surf. Whilst the sea will be too rough to swim or surf during the off-season, hotels are likely to be quieter and offer off-peak rates. Bear in mind that places will book up quickly during the high season — especially over Christmas and New Year.

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Best Hotels in Galle

  • The Fort Printers Galle Fort 13 rooms from €126

    Great walks  -  A sunrise or sunset walk around Galle Fort (2.5km in total) is a must
    Sights nearby  -  Galle Fort, Lighthouse, National Museum and other sites closeby
    Restaurant  -  Lunch and dinner tailored to guest preference
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    RestaurantSwimming Pool
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Tablet

    Recently renovated, this bijou hotel has had some high profile guests. Behind the traditional façade, it's all double height ceilings and modern chic style. Lunch and dinner are tailored to your preference, but with Galle town on your doorstep you have plenty of options. A design dream! See More

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  • Wirdana Spa & Villas Galle (Boossa) 10 rooms from €135

    Total relaxation  -  A picturesque and tranquil spot complete with glorious spa, superb dining and impeccable service
    Surfing  -  Discover the sandy beaches of Sri Lanka’s south coast — perfect for paddling or surfing
    Sights nearby  -  Venture to gorgeous Galle Fort for a day of shopping and exploring
    Great walks  -  Stroll through the hotel’s 4.5 acre cinnamon plantation
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyParking
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, I Escape

    A Balinese-inspired oasis of tangled vines and soothing earthy tones, located within easy reach of Galle Fort. Spacious interiors are simply styled with four posters and polished cement bathrooms. Expect a superb spa and fabulous food thrown in! See More

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  • Fort Bazaar Galle 18 rooms from €175

    Local exploring  -  A property filled with history set within the walls of the old Galle fort.
    Cooking classes  -  Take a cookery lesson at The Church Street Social.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantViewsNo pets
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith

    A painstakingly restored heritage home set in historic Galle. Chic design throughout reflects the property's Moorish roots with delicate detailing found in carefully placed tiles, mosaic cushions and pendant lamps. A luxury spa and exemplary restaurant make this the ideal retreat. See More

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  • Jetwing Lighthouse Galle (Dadella) 85 rooms from €186

    Families  -  With plenty of activities on sight and babysitting services this property is great for all ages
    Fishing  -  Borrow a rod and tackle and you can go fishing right off the dock
    Tennis  -  Tennis courts for guests to have a knock about
    Sights nearby  -  Nearby Galle Fort is a must visit
    Air conditioningTennisSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessViewsParkingNo pets

    Chic design hotel, blending clean lines with design quirks bedrooms are light and bright with large bathrooms. There are plenty of hotel activities, from tennis to fishing, making it great for the whole family. Interiors make the most of unspoilt sea views. See More

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  • Tamarind Hill Galle 12 rooms from €222

    Honeymoons  -  An indulgent and romantic honeymoon destination with in room massages and open air private dining experiences
    Great walks  -  Wander the many nature trails that span mountains, rainforests, reservoirs and cultural heritage sites
    Cooking classes  -  The hotel offers on site cookery demonstrations- learn to whip up your favourites from the menu
    Kayaking  -  Grab a kayak and head off to explore the Madhu River, a truly remarkable experience
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenParking

    A wonderfully nostalgic 5 star hotel on the outskirts of Galle. The beautifully restored property offers luxurious colonial style suites, lush green gardens, a pool and a fantastic spa. The restaurant serves a mix of traditional and international cuisine and the elegant bar is not to be missed! See More

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  • Galle Fort Hotel Galle (Fort) 12 rooms from €180

    Sights nearby  -  Galle lighthouse, buddhist temples and museums are all located nearby
    Diving  -  The beaches of Unawatuna and Weijia are a short drive away
    Great walks  -  Walk around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort
    Restrictions on children  -  All children above the age of three welcome
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessNo pets
    Recommended by  -  I Escape

    A tranquil hideaway in the heart of Galle Fort, this centuries-old property has heaps of heritage charm, and a great restaurant. Loft suites are by far the best. The sun-dappled pool is the perfect place to unwind! See More

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  • Aditya Resort Galle (Devenigoda, Rathgama,) 16 rooms from €310

    Beach Life  -  Boasting its own stretch of private beach - ideal for watersports enthusiasts
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.
    Boutique
    Air conditioningRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenParkingNo pets
    Recommended by  -  I Escape

    A contemporary boutique hotel located on its own stretch of palm lined beach. Airy rooms feature splashes of pop colours, traditional furnishings and design quirks such as split levels and outdoor rain showers. An international lunch and dinner menu is available as are Ayurvedic spa treatments. See More

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  • Amangalla Galle 30 rooms from €495

    Eco break  -  Recycled water, staff are local plus they organise monthly beach clean ups (and much more)! An enviromentally conscious hotel
    Families  -  Plenty of activities, baby sitting services, plus children under 12 stay free
    Romantic Break  -  Charming suites, indulgent spa - a great couples break
    City Style  -  The number one address in the historic town of Galle
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape

    Galle's top address. Cast your worries aside as you are taken care of by the world renowned Aman group. Located in a handsome, white colonial building you'll find chic interiors and suites crammed with period pieces and beautiful bathrooms. Elegant dining and a sumptuous spa complete the picture. See More

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