Only two hours south of Colombo and minutes away from some of the most spectacular beaches in the country, Galle is a rare gem in Sri Lanka with architecture that dates back over three centuries. Its sunny streets, filled with colourful trishaws and Portuguese and Dutch architecture, emanate an old European charm. The city and its generous residents will quickly put you at ease to help you enjoy every moment of your stay.

EAT

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PHOTO: DAN LUNDBERG

The Heritage Café used to be the Galle Fort’s bakery. You can still see signs of its previous life in the courtyard — the brick bread oven and the antique well were preserved and are now surrounded by inviting tables and chairs. Occupying the former British post office, Pedlar’s Inn offers a convivial atmosphere, cozy interiors and refreshing watermelon juice. Just across the street, Pedlar’s Inn Gelateria is one of the only places in Sri Lanka with authentic gelato.The Galle Fort Hotel dining room is one of the best restaurants in town. If you had to try only one, choose the traditional Sri Lankan breakfast: string hoppers (steamed rice flour noodles), pol sambol (spicy coconut), dhal (lentils) and chicken curry.

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PHOTO: HISHAM ASSAAD

There are mangos, papayas, king coconuts and many varieties of bananas in abundance around Sri Lanka. For the best fruit vendors, step outside the Old Dutch Fort into the New Town. Local delicacies you shouldn’t miss include kottu (pumpkin curry with parathas — a local flatbread) and fish curry. If a local invites you over for dinner, bear in mind that Sri Lankans traditionally eat using only their right hand, without any cutlery. They will be more than delighted to show you how.

EXPLORE

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PHOTO: MBIEBUSCH

A walk along the Dutch Fort walls offers a breathtaking view of the ocean and Rumassala Hill, located in Unawatuna. To avoid the midday heat, locals prefer an evening stroll to watch the unrivaled Sri Lankan sunset. A popular spot for wedding pictures, cricket practice and a dip in the Laccadive Sea.

Every January, the town hosts the Galle Literary Festival, an event attracting intellectuals from around the world. Galle becomes busier than usual and fills up with talks, conferences and film projections.

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PHOTO: RUSSELL MCGOVERN

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