Galle (pronounced Gawl) faces out to sea on the southwestern tip of the island, an historically significant fort town with strong Dutch colonial influences.
Physically separated from the typical Sri Lankan bustle by stone walls, the town also feels culturally separate to everywhere else we’ve visited; high end boutiques and restaurants, restored neoclassical buildings and narrow, characterful lanes.
By coincidence, we visited during the town’s burgeoning literary festival, which got off to a bang with a massive cultural extravaganza featuring hundreds of dancers, drummers, fire eaters and gymnasts performing interpretations of Sri Lanka’s rich history.
It felt like a resurgent country showing off its newfound confidence following decades of conflict. It was the perfect time to visit; the sunset over the lighthouse wasn’t bad either.
Galle was a complete gear shift from its beach resort neighbours along the coast, but it’s an essential stop off on any trip to the south coast. Scale the Fort town’s 2.7km walls if you’re feeling energetic!