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.
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.
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.
Favored by kings and queens, Ayurveda is an integral part of Sri Lankan culture. Spa Ceylon successfully rejuvenated the ancient holistic practice by combining this age-old knowledge with natural, organic products and modern design. No ritual is shorter than 60 minutes and this is where you can truly appreciate Sri Lankans’ very relaxed approach to the concept of time.
At the heart of the Fort, the magnificent Galle Fort Hotel holds centuries of history between its walls. Originally a Dutch mansion, it was taken over by gem merchants during the British reign, then restored and renovated into a luxury boutique hotel in 2003. Awarded the Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Distinction by the UNESCO, the hotel remains a model of preservation for all the other businesses in the city.
Written by Kamila Beyssembaeva
Headline photo of the Galle Lighthouse by POTIER Jean-Louis