Although many tourists tend not to stay for a long time in Galle, mostly for a day or two, it is worth spending more time here. From Galle you can make various wonderful one day excursions in the immediate vicinity or a bit further. You can relax on the beautiful beaches of nearby Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa. Moreover there is the hidden magnificent gem: the Galle Fort. Although many tourists tend not to stay for a long time in Galle, mostly for a day or two, it is worth spending more time here. From Galle you can make various wonderful one day excursions in the immediate vicinity or a bit further. You can relax on the beautiful beaches of nearby Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa. Moreover there is the hidden magnificent gem: the Galle Fort.
The commercial centre is situated north of the historic Galle Fort. This is the centre of the town, where shops, restaurants and banks are situated. This, and the entire area along the sea, were hit and severely destroyed by the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. In Galle alone 4000 people died at that catastrophe. Now everything has been rebuilt. Also the fruit and vegetable market and the fish market have been rebuilt and are worth visiting. On the seaside, close to the Navy camp, every morning people gather to buy fish directly from the fishermen. It is interesting and very local to watch this fish trading spot on the beach site. Galle has a nice and spacious bus stand. When you arrive in Galle by public transportation it is here at the bus stand or at the railway station next to it. Galle is now connected too by the Southern Expressway with Colombo and Matara, 45 km east of Galle. Apart from a small stretch around Colombo, the highway will have direct access to Colombo Airport, which is a considerable time saver. The city centre of Galle is not particularly interesting. There are no beautiful buildings and historic sites in Galle town. The suburbs of Galle are much nicer. The rural area surrounding Galle is very green and quite beautiful with a tropical vegetation and rice fields. Scattered neighbourhoods are situated at junctions and crossings, once important trading points. On these spots you will notice a vivid atmosphere.
How to reach Galle?
The easiest and fastest way to reach Galle is either by fast train or by Highway bus, depending on your starting point in Colombo and your destination within Colombo when traveling from Galle. The train ride takes you three hours and fifteen minutes from Fort Station to Galle. Except on Wednesdays, there is also a luxury a/c wagon of the Rajadhani Express available in the morning train from Colombo, which leaves at 8.35 am and the 3.30 pm train from Galle to Colombo. The trains from Colombo Fort are mostly very full, which usually makes it difficult to find a seat; in that case it is better to embark the train in Colombo Maradana, where the train starts. Furthermore there are slow trains throughout the day, but the traveling time is considerably longer. At 7.25 in the morning you can take a fast train from Galle (this train doesn’t start at Maradana). The fast train from Galle to Colombo also stops in Hikkaduwa, Ambalangoda, Kalutara, Panadura, Moratuwa, Mount Lavinia and Dehiwala. A ticket second class will cost you LKR. 180 for a one way and LKR. 950 for a ticket in the luxury Rajadhani wagon. (Please check the prices and timetable before your journey on the website of Sri Lanka Railways).
The most comfortable journey between Colombo and Galle is by Highway bus. You are brought from Maharagama, a suburb of Colombo, in one hour and thirty minutes to Galle bus stand; however, it is not the most convenient connection if you are traveling from Pettah, Fort, Kolpitiya or Slave Island. In that case it better to take the fast train or an a/c mini bus. Another option is to take a three wheeler to Maharagama and from there the Highway bus. There is a frequent service from early morning till 09.00 pm; you’ll pay LKR. 450 for a one way ticket. There is space to put your luggage, but you have to notify the conductor.
Bus and a/c minibus
Depending on the time you are travelling it takes three and a half to four hours to cover the distance from Colombo Pettah bus stand to Galle bus stand. The rush-hour’s delay the journey and makes it tiring to travel. It takes more than one hour to get out the traffic jammed city of Colombo. The fastest you can travel after 09.30 pm. The bus and a/c minibus each have its own platform at the stand. A one way ticket from Colombo to Galle cost LKR. 230 by bus and LKR. 320 by a/c minibus. The buses and a/c minibuses follow the coastal road, not the Southern Express Highway.
You can hire a van or car and have you brought with a driver to your destination in Galle or Unawattuna, but that will cost you considerably more than public transportation. Most companies ask LKR. 10,000 from you for the journey between Colombo and Galle.
Airport transfer to Galle/Unawattuna
The most convenient way to travel from Colombo Airport to Galle/Unawatuna is to take a connecting domestic flight to Koggala. There are several air taxis which operate flights between Colombo and Koggala. It takes roughly 30 minutes to transfer you to your accommodation in Galle and only 20 minutes from Koggala to Unawatuna. The flights are operated by sea planes.
There are several hotels which include the transfer from the airport to your accommodation, either free or against a special price. If not included, you decide to organize a taxi from the airport taxi counter to your destination, which will cost around LKR 12,000. You can also take the Airport bus to Colombo and from there proceed by three wheeler to the Highway bus, which will bring you to Galle bus stand. From there it is easy to reach your hotel.