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Things To Do Around Galle Fort

Jun 11, 2019
Galle Fort


1. Yala National Park
2. Trek through Kottawa Rainforest
3. Whale Watching in Mirissa
4. Water Sports in Bentota
5. Peace Pagoda
6. Visit the Mask Museum
7. Visit the Moonstone Mines
8. Stilt Fishing in Weligama
9. Snorkelling in Hikkaduwa
10. Cooking Classes in Galle Fort
11. Tea Factory Tour


After indulging in a delicious Italian meal at AQUA Forte; our restaurant in Galle Fort, stroll along the cobblestoned streets and discover the treasures along the way, like the Groote Kerk, the towering lighthouse or the bricked clock tower. Once you’re done exploring the charming old town, here are some things to do around Galle Fort.

1. Yala National Park

Embark on a thrilling safari through Sri Lanka’s most famed national park teeming with a variety of wildlife species from exotic leopards to gentle elephants. Yala National Park is located approximately 173km from Galle Fort and our restaurant, making it a great day trip if you’re staying in the old colonial town. An early start, at the break of dawn, is believed to be the best time to spot the park’s most elusive creatures. Keep your eyes open and remember not to make any loud sounds when you’re inside the park so as not to disturb the wildlife.

How to get to Yala from Galle Fort

The best and most convenient way to get to Yala is travelling by car along the Southern Expressway. The whole journey takes about two and a half hours, so after an eventful day of tracking animals, you can return back to Galle Fort for a nourishing meal.

Best time to visit Yala

The dry season from February to June, is generally considered to be the best time for visiting Yala and this is when animal sightings are most frequent. Due to the low water levels, animals are drawn out of the thick jungles and into the open water holes, so always keep your camera ready!

Other attractions near Yala

During the era of Sri Lankan monarchy, this area was the cultural and economic centre of the country and was the locale of the Ruhuna Kingdom, due to this there’s a scattering of historical sites in Yala, like Sithulpauwa, and Kataragama.

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    2. Trek through Kottawa Rainforest

    The Kottawa Rainforest is one of Galle’s best-kept secrets. Located approximately 17km from the town, the reserve is a quiet, serene haven home to approximately 170 tree species; of which around 100 are endemic. Enjoy a stroll under a canopy of towering trees and admire the beautiful and exotic fauna that thrives here, from vibrant butterflies and slithery snakes to giant squirrels and excited monkeys. The reserve belongs to the Kottawa Kombala Conservation Forest encompassing an area of 1,800 hectares. Open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, head over here to spend your day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    How to get to Kottawa Rainforest from Galle Fort

    To reach this verdant hidden gem, you must drive approximately 40-minutes inland from Galle Fort. The most convenient mode of transport is a private car, but for a more local experience, hop into a tuk-tul instead.

    Best time to visit Kottawa Rainforest

    If you want to experience all the wonders of the Kottawa Rainforest, visit between the months of January to April, to avoid the monsoon seasons.

    Other attractions near Kottawa Rainforest

    Another popular activity in this region is visiting a cinnamon peeling centre. Cinnamon is one of the most important spices in Sri Lankan cuisine and over the years this rust-coloured bark has gained world recognition.

    3. Whale Watching in Mirissa

    Located 42km from the ramparts of the Galle Fort, set sail to the depths of the Indian Ocean on an exciting expedition as you search for the gentle giants of the sea. The tropical waters around the island attract a variety of whale and dolphin species like Spinner and Bottlenose Dolphins, Bryde Whale, Sperm Whale, Pilot Whale and the largest animal in the world; the Blue Whale. Boats depart the harbour at 6:00 am and arrive back to the docks around 11:00 am. Apply sunscreen and wear light, comfortable clothing before you set sail.

    How to get to Mirissa from Galle Fort

    Only an hour away from Galle Fort, the best way to get to the idyllic seaside town of Mirissa is by car. You can either choose to drive on the highway, but we recommend you take the scenic route on Galle road which is a narrow road that winds along the beautiful coastline.

    Best time for whale watching in Mirissa

    Like all south coast towns, the season to visit Mirissa is between November and March. During this period, the weather is at its best and the turquoise waters at its calmest, attracting the migratory whales.

    Other attractions in Mirissa

    Along with whale watching, you can also go surfing and snorkelling in Mirissa, as well as visit it’s neighbouring town Weligama.

    4. Water Sports in Bentota

    If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities near Galle, around 70km away lies the quiet fishing town of Bentota. From jet ski rides to banana boat rides, slow river cruises through lush mangroves and so much more, Bentota is best known for its abundance of water sports.

    How to get to Bentota from Galle Fort

    An hour’s drive north of Galle Fort will take you to the small town of Bentota which is a hub for water sports. If you prefer a more scenic route, take a train ride along the coast from Galle to Bentota.

    Best time to visit Bentota

    Visit the thrilling town in the late morning or early afternoon to enjoy a full day of water sports.

    Other attractions in Bentota

    Along with one the country’s most pristine beaches, Bentota also has a whole host of other interesting activities you can partake in, from visiting Lunuganga Estate, the country home of Geoffrey Bawa; going on a mangrove safari, and visiting the iconic Kande Vihara.

    5. Peace Pagoda

    The Japanese Peace Pagoda is set on the summit of Rumassala Hill, approximately 6km away from Galle Fort. A short ride away, trek through shaded paths until you reach the pristine temple overlooking the beautiful coast and the alluring waters of the Indian Ocean. The pagoda was built to promote peace on the island.

    Best time to visit the Peace Pagoda

    As its name suggests, this Buddhist temple is one of the most peaceful spots on the south coast. Visit this holy site during the late afternoon or early evening to enjoy the late afternoon sunlight and warm sea breeze washing over the temple. Try and avoid Poya days and weekends.

    How to get to Peace Pagoda from Galle Fort

    Hop in a tuk-tuk and head south towards Unawatuna, this will only take about 15 minutes.

    Other attractions near Peace Pagoda

    Make it a point to visit Jungle Beach in Rumassala. This secluded beach is found in a small cove and shrouded in lush greenery and away from most of the crowds.

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      6. Visit the Mask Museum


      The Ariyapala Mask Museum in Ambalangoda is approximately 33km away from Galle. A visit to this museum is a great way to experience Sri Lanka’s long tradition of craftsmanship. The masks on display are heavily rooted in the country’s culture; some masks are made for satirical plays while the others are for exorcisms.

      Best time to visit the Mask Museum

      The museum is open every day from 8 am – 5 pm.

      How to get to the Mask Museum from Galle Fort

      The mask museum is about an hour’s drive away from Galle Fort along the old Galle road which hugs the coastline.

      Other attractions near the Mask Museum

      The most popular attraction near the mask museum in Ambalangoda is the Moonstone Mines in Meetiyagoda. Additionally, you can also partake on a boat safari along Madampe Lake to explore a mangrove forest, or visit one of the many turtle hatcheries along the coast.

      7. Visit the Moonstone Mines


      Sri Lanka is home to a wide variety of precious and semi-precious gems like moonstones. Roughly 30km away from Galle Fort, you’ll find the small unassuming town of Meetiyagoda which is famed for its moonstones. The mine is found at the centre of a fragrant cinnamon estate. Visit the moonstone mine and take back a souvenir or two with you.

      Best time to visit Moonstone Mines

      There’s no particular time to visit the mines. Whenever you visit, you’ll have a personalised tour where a guide will explain everything you need to know about mining. Visit in the morning hours to avoid the harsh sun rays, as it can get quite hot.

      How to get to Moonstone Mines from Galle Fort

      The quickest and most convenient way to travel is by car or motorbike. If you’re feeling adventurous, take the train from Galle Railway Station to Ambalangoda and then hop in a tuk-tuk to reach the mines.

      Other attractions near Meetiyagoda

      Visit the Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya, a popular Buddhist temple near Meetiyagoda, set on an offshore islet.

      8. Stilt Fishing in Weligama

      While Weligama has rose to fame as being the best place to learn surfing, the coastal town is known to be the best place to watch stilt fishing. This traditional method of fishing requires skill and patience, to perch on a cross shaped stilt, while waiting for the perfect catch. Located approximately 35 km from Galle Fort, visit Weligama to learn more about this interesting experience.

      Best time to visit Weligama

      The best time to visit Weligama to watch stilt fishermen is from November to March, as the seas aren’t too rough on the south coast. Catch them fishing in the early hours of the morning or late evening.

      How to get to Weligama from Galle Fort

      Like most south coast towns, the ideal way to reach Weligama from the Galle Fort is via the old Galle road. You can opt to travel by car, tuk-tuk, bus or the train.

      Other attractions near Weligama

      The main attraction in Weligama is certainly its waves, but apart from surfing the town actually has a few interesting historical sites. Visit the Agrabodhi Viharaya, an ancient Buddhist temple that has roots which date back to when Buddhism was first introduced to the country.

      9. Snorkelling in Hikkaduwa

      Approximately 20km north of Galle Fort lies the idyllic seaside town of Hikkaduwa. Fondly referred to as Hikka, the amber golden beach, hemmed by green palm trees hugs the turquoise waters. Snorkel along the protected reef and discover a variety of coral reefs and marine life that thrives beneath the surface. Drive down from the fort in the morning or afternoon and enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean during your snorkelling excursion in Hikkaduwa.

      Best time to visit Hikkaduwa for Snorkelling

      The best time to go snorkelling in Hikkaduwa is between November and March. Explore the waters in the early hours of the morning.

      How to get to Hikkaduwa from Galle Fort

      Hikkaduwa is approximately a 30-minute tuk tuk or car ride away from Galle Fort. Drive along the southern coast road to reach the town.

      Other attractions near Hikkaduwa

      Embark on a boat ride along Ratgama Lake when you’re near Hikkaduwa or visit the Tsunami Honganji Temple; a gift from Japan after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that ravaged the country’s south coast, to honour the lives lost.

      10. Cooking Classes in Galle Fort

      If you enjoy local cuisine and its exotic flavours and spices, partake in a cooking class within the fort. As part of your tour or daytime excursions, enrol in this fun experience where you learn the art of mixing traditional ingredients to fresh produce.

      Best time to visit Galle Fort

      It’s always a good time to visit Galle Fort! However, avoid walking around the fort around midday, as it can get quite hot.

      How to get to Galle Fort

      If you’re staying within the fort, the best way to get around is by walking. Alternatively, if you’re travelling from Colombo or another city, you can reach the fort by road or rail too.

      Other attractions in Galle Fort

      Galle Fort is a treasure trove when it comes to historical monuments. This structure is a living time capsule since most of the buildings were built about 500 years ago. Visit the National Maritime Museum, Galle Lighthouse and Groote Kerk during your visit.

      11. Tea Factory Tour

      Tea is almost synonymous with Sri Lanka. This emerald plant is heavily associated with the island and its history. However, tea is almost exclusively grown in the central highlands which means it can be quite challenging to visit these gorgeous estates. However, located in proximity to the Galle Fort, visit the Handunugoda Tea Factory which is about 24km away from the fort. Embark on a tour of the tea factory to learn about tea from the low country.

      Best time to visit the Handunugoda Tea Factory

      The estate is open every day from 8 am to 4:30 pm and there are tours which take place during the day. It’s best to avoid visiting during the monsoon season, especially if you plan on walking through the tea estates.

      How to get to the Handunugoda Tea Factory from Galle Fort

      Travelling to the Galle Fort by car is certainly the easiest and quickest way to travel. It’s approximately a 35-minute drive to the tea factory.

      Other attractions near the Handunugoda Tea Factory

      The iconic Koggala Lake is located in proximity to the tea factory. Enjoy a cruise along the emerald waters during your visit here.

      After your tea factory tour, you can explore the town of Ahangama and its surroundings. Ahangama itself is an excellent surfing location, so be sure to drop by its beach. Another exciting thing to do in the area is to visit Koggala Lake, which is encircled by mangrove forests and cinnamon estates.


      After a day of exploring and admiring the natural beauty of Sri Lanka and its charming attractions, head back to AQUA Forte for a delicious meal and treat yourself to some of our mouth-watering desserts. It’ll be the ideal end to a perfect day! Make sure to reserve your table – call us on +94 76 119 0532.

      Do you want to know more about authentic Italian cuisine, best wine pairings and secret offers at AQUA Forte? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to-date!

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