Galle Day Trip from Colombo
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Galle Day Trip from Colombo
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Galle Day Trip from Colombo

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Stop At: Galle Fort, Church Street, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

In 1589, during one of their periodic squabbles with the kingdom of Kandy, the Portuguese built a small fort, which they named Santa Cruz. Later they extended it with a series of bastions and walls, but the Dutch, who took Galle in 1640, destroyed most traces of the Portuguese presence. After the construction of the Fort in the 17th century, Galle was the main port for Sri Lanka for more than 200 years and was an important stop for boats and ships travelling between Europe and Asia. However, by the time Galle passed into British hands in 1796, commercial interest was turning to Colombo. The construction of breakwaters in Colombo’s harbour in the late 19th century sealed Galle’s status as a secondary harbour, though it still handles some shipping and yachts.

Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Dutch Reformed Church, Church Street, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

Originally built in 1640, the present building dates from 1752. Its floor is paved with gravestones from Dutch cemeteries, while other impressive features include the organ and an imposing pulpit made from calamander wood and topped by a grand hexagonal canopy. You may encounter the friendly caretaker who will likely point out the (slightly bizarre) carved wooden memorial dedicated to a former Commander of Galle, Abraham Samlant – the tiny cotton shirt is said to be the one he was baptised in

Duration: 25 minutes

Stop At: Maritime Archeological Museum (Galle), Queen Street Duch fort, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

This spacious maritime museum occupies a colossal old spice warehouse built by the Dutch and dating back to the late 17th century. The structure was originally part of the main gateway to the Fort and it still forms part of its ramparts. An introductory video presentation sets the scene and there are interactive displays that illuminate the city’s maritime past, including the many shipwrecks in Galle’s surrounding waters. It covers two levels that snake through the city walls.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Galle National Museum, Church St, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

Nestled in the old walls, this small museum is worth a quick look for its skeleton of a Bryde’s whale and a very useful model that explains how tsunamis occur. There are also some dusty displays demonstrating old fishing techniques and examples of local boats.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, Hospital St Old Hospital Bldg, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

Now fully restored and home to myriad upmarket boutiques and restaurants, this vast, colonnaded colonial landmark dates from the 18th century. Its size was necessary as both the voyage to Ceylon and life in the tropics proved very unhealthy to the Dutch, who died in droves from various diseases and the tropical heat. There are fabulous bay views from its upper balcony

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Historical Mansion Museum, 31-39 Leyn Baan Street Dutch Fort Galle, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

More of an antique store than a museum, this Fort townhouse (which dates back to the Dutch days) contains the private collection of a longtime local family. Many exhibits have price tags; look for oodles of colonial artefacts, including collections of antique typewriters, VOC china and jewellery. Also look out for craftspeople busy polishing gems and weaving lace; a guide will show you around.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Dutch Market, Main street, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

Look for the Dutch Market with its displays of fruits and vegetables under a 300-year-old columned roof. It’s located on busy Main St, close to other food and spice merchants.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Galle International Stadium, Colombo Road, Galle 80000 Sri Lanka

Once a racecourse for wagering British colonials, Galle’s cricket ground was established over 100 years ago. Since 1998 it has been used for international matches; in 2010 it was the site of the legendary last appearance of Sri Lanka’s great bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan. There’s a great perspective of the ground from the Sun Bastion to the south.

Duration: 20 minutes

Stop At: Hikkaduwa Beach, Hikkaduwa 80240 Sri Lanka

Hikkaduwa’s marine park stretches along the northern end of the beach and is an easy way to get a glimpse of some of Sri Lanka’s undersea life. Snorkelling gear can be rented from places around the park.

Hikkaduwa Lake, with its monitor lizards and numerous birds, makes for a pleasant excursion away from the beach. Boat tours can sometimes be organised on the lake; ask around. The lakeside hotel Kalla Bongo (p104) offers kayak hire if you are having lunch there. To get there head along Baddegama Rd for 2km, then turn north

Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya, Galle Road, Hikkaduwa 80240 Sri Lanka

About 2km north of Hikkaduwa is the Seenigama Vihara, perched on its own island. It’s one of only two temples in the country where victims of theft can seek retribution. People who have been robbed visit the temple and buy a specially prepared oil made with chilli and pepper. With the oil they light a lamp in their homes and recite a mantra. Sooner or later the thief will be identified when they’re struck down with misfortune. Boats shuttle visitors out to the island in calm weather.

Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project, 13A Galle Road, Kosgoda 80570 Sri Lanka

On the beach side of Galle Rd, just north of Kosgoda, this volunteer-run operation has been here for 18 years. It’s a very simple affair

Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Brief Garden - Bevis Bawa, Kalawila Village, Beruwala 12070 Sri Lanka

You’ll find the Brief Garden 10 kilometres inland from Bentota. A barely controlled riot of a garden out ofThe Jungle Book,the grounds are a lovely place to get lost. The house, which used to be the home of Bevis Bawa, brother of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, has an eclectic range of artwork on display – from homoerotic sculpture to a wonderful mural of Sri Lankan life in the style of Marc Chagall. Past visitors include Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier who stayed here in 1953 during the filming ofElephant Walk.

Duration: 1 hour

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  • Driver/guide
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Guaranteed to skip the lines
Not included
  • Entry/Admission - Galle Fort
  • Entry/Admission - Maritime Archeological Museum (Galle)
  • Entry/Admission - Galle National Museum
  • Entry/Admission - Galle International Stadium
  • Entry/Admission - Hikkaduwa Beach
  • Entry/Admission - Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya
  • Entry/Admission - Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project
  • Entry/Admission - Brief Garden - Bevis Bawa
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Infant seats available
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
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