A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Explore Galle in a Day
Visiting the city of Galle is almost like moving through a condensed summary of Sri Lanka as a whole. The city is closely intertwined with the country’s colonial past, is situated close to the island’s famous beaches, and is a stone’s throw away from the rich wildlife. It is a must-visit for any holiday itinerary, especially if you’re exploring Sri Lanka by yourself, so here’s some ideas of how you can spend your day in Galle.
The biggest draw to Galle, of course, is its famous Galle Fort. Located on the southern tip of the city, this 400-year-old structure was built by the Portuguese in 1588 to defend from outside attacks, before it was taken over by the Dutch in the 17th century and strengthened further. Today, the fort is home to attractions such as the Galle Lighthouse, the National Maritime Museum, the Galle Clock Tower, the Groote Kerk church and much more. Each aspect within the fort has its own unique history and story to tell, and you can easily spend an entire day here. There’s even a thriving shopping complex within the Old Galle Dutch Hospital, overlooking the ocean; ideal for a mid-day lunch break.
A fun way to finish your exploration of Galle would be to head back to the fort for the sunset – sitting on top of Flag Rock, a warm breeze blowing through your hair while you look out over the crashing waves… what could be better?!
Galle International Cricket Stadium
Sports fans that decide to visit Sri Lanka will know that the country is famed for its international cricket team, and the cricket stadium at Galle is considered one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world. Built in the late 19th-century as a race course, the grounds evolved over time into a venue that was eventually declared an official cricket stadium in 1927. It is the seventh international cricket stadium in the country to be able to host Test cricket matches. If you’re lucky, you might be able to watch a game being played here – the grounds are well kept, and watching a match can be a really fun way to spend your day!
The Japanese Peace Pagoda
The rounded, clean design of the Japanese Peace Pagoda is meant to represent harmony between people of all faiths and backgrounds, and the existence of it is the result of one man’s dedication to building symbols of peace all around the world. Located 5 kilometres outside Galle, this building is one of more than 80 Peace Pagodas that were built under the guidance of a Japanese Buddhist monk, Nichidatsu Fujii. Since the mid-20th century, he dedicated his life to the construction of these symbols of peace, so there are now several pagodas in Europe, Asia and the Americas – four of them, including this one, are in Sri Lanka.
This Japanese Peace Pagoda was built with the help of Japanese monks in 2005, and lies on Rumassala Hill in Unawatuna. When visiting, make sure that your legs and shoulders are covered as you might not be allowed entry otherwise. Gold statues surround the large white stupa, and a flight of stairs leads you to stunning views of Galle.
Visit the lake during the early hours of the morning, and you’ll find yourself spotting much more wildlife than if you were to stop by later in the day. Mahamodara Lake is a stunning piece of nature that is surrounded by lush green mangroves, and a safari along its river can be a wonderful experience. You might be lucky enough to have a glimpse of Sri Lanka’s village life on your tour too. The area is a famous spot for bird-lovers, with kingfishers, cormorants, hawks and herons been frequently spotted.
Love bird watching? Read our guide on the most popular bird watching spots in Sri Lanka.
As you plan your backpacking adventures around the island, here’s everything you need to know about travelling to Sri Lanka on a budget.