Best of Galle

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Galle
Perched on a peninsula on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast, the historic city of Galle nestles within colonial fortifications that date back to the 16th century. Wandering the narrow brick lanes of this UNESCO World Heritage site takes you past 300-year-old Dutch mansions, neo-Gothic churches, whitewashed Buddhist temples, and cathedral-like mosques. The compact layout of the old town means you can pack a lot into a day trip here. If time allows, however, it’s worth spending the night in one of Galle’s historic hotels. Some have pools, gardens, and sea views.

On a walking tour around the old town, you’ll learn about the history of Galle’s settlement by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, and later the British. Old buildings transformed into museums shed light on the colonial period, and unique architecture seems to lurk around every bend. A little over an hour’s drive north of Galle, the Kanneliya Rainforest is part of a UNESCO biosphere reserve of waterfalls, lakes, and dense canopy. On a guided hike, you’ll learn about the region’s diverse flora and fauna, while also having the chance to spot wildlife, including two different primate species and unusual birds like the Sri Lankan jungle fowl and the red-faced Malkoha.
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Sunrise in Galle
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary takes you to the heart of Sri Lanka for ancient history, Buddhist culture, and exciting adventures in nature. From Negombo (near the capital), you'll experience a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tour a tea plantation, meet elephants, and explore towns loaded with Portuguese and Dutch colonial history. End each day with an opportunity to catch an alluring sunset that only South Asia can offer.

Hike to Little Adam's Peak for a fun photo opportunity
Map of Sri Lanka Active Adventure - 9 Days
Sri Lanka Active Adventure - 9 Days

This 9-day journey through Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) explores fascinating highlights in the Cultural Triangle—home of ancient cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Buddhist relics. With a private driver and guide, you'll take hikes in tea country, spot diverse wildlife in the rainforest, and relax (or surf) on picturesque beaches on the south coast for an adventure to remember.

Views across the Sri Lankan highlands from Little Adam's Peak
Map of Sri Lanka Highlights: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Galle - 9 Days
Sri Lanka Highlights: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Galle - 9 Days

From the UNESCO-listed ruins of the Cultural Triangle to the historic Indian Ocean fortress of Galle, this nine-day introduction to Sri Lanka rounds up all the highlights of the island's south and central regions. Explore the ancient civilizations of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, tour the sacred temples of Kandy, take a breathtaking train journey through the tea fields of Ella, and head off-road in search of rare wildlife in Yala National Park.

Traditional carved masks in Galle
Map of Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days
Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days

From intricate lacquerware to carved masks and exquisite weaving, Sri Lanka's traditional arts and crafts hold a special place in its cultural heritage. On this fascinating nine-day itinerary, you'll take a deep dive into the island's historical and contemporary artistry. You'll visit the famed weavers of Divulapitiya, admire the ancient treasures of Dambulla, learn the basics of ceremonial mask-making in Galle, and sit down with some of the island's pre-eminent artists in Colombo and Kandy.

See how tea is picked in the highlands of Sri Lanka
Map of A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days
A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days

This nine-day itinerary takes you on a flavorful journey through Sri Lanka's culture and cuisine—from the beaches of the Indian Ocean to the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Alongside an itinerary of ancient temples, wildlife spotting, and countryside cycling, you'll learn the secrets of a perfect curry in Galle, take afternoon tea among the lush gardens of the Hill Country, and embark on a fascinating and fragrant tour of Kandy's Spice Garden.

Take in the sweeping vistas of the ocean from Rumassala's Japanese Peace Pagoda
Map of Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days

This itinerary mixes the outdoors, culture, and history to create the perfect vacation in Sri Lanka. Witness history in the form of colonial landmarks and marvel at the country's beauty on visits to highland tea plantations and mountain waterfalls. After touring the Sigiriya rock fortress and Japanese Peace Pagoda, end the trip by visiting buildings designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the most famous architects in Asia.

Twilight over Kalpitiya's lagoon
Sri Lanka Glamping Adventure - 13 Days

Sri Lanka's natural beauty takes center stage on this diverse and adventurous 13-day itinerary. Beginning and ending in the capital of Colombo, you'll spend your days exploring ancient temples and fortresses, hiking to secluded waterfalls, relaxing on idyllic beaches, and spotting rare wildlife in two of the country's most spectacular national parks. At night, the sounds and sights of nature will lull you to sleep at a succession of luxurious "glamping" properties.

Sunrise across the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Treasures of Sri Lanka - 20 Days

Discover the magic of central and southern Sri Lanka on this immersive 20-day itinerary. Setting out from Colombo, you'll wind your way through a land rich with culture, history, and natural beauty—visiting countless highlights and hidden gems along the way. Spot elephants and leopards on safari, hike to towering waterfalls, explore ancient ruins and sacred temples, and savor some downtime on idyllic Indian Ocean beaches.

Spend your first night in Galle facing the sunset on the south coast
Map of Immersive Exploration of Sri Lanka - 11 Days
Immersive Exploration of Sri Lanka - 11 Days

Discerning travelers will love this 11-day itinerary in exotic Sri Lanka. The trip kicks off with a private transfer to Galle on the south coast, where you'll take a guided tour of a peace pagoda. Then make a large loop visiting national parks teeming with elephants, ancient UNESCO-listed sites, hiking trails, and swimming beaches on the east coast before returning to Colombo. Partake in a range of optional activities—like private seafood dinners—or explore on your own for a fully customizable experience.

Surfing in Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka's Big Waves & Sandy Shores  - 12 Days
Sri Lanka's Big Waves & Sandy Shores - 12 Days

This grand surfing adventure takes you to the best breaks in Sri Lanka—plus, it throws in a few cultural highlights along the way. After visiting historic forts and pagodas in Galle, you'll take a scenic road trip to Arugam Bay, the most famous surf destination in the country. Spend a few days enjoying its point breaks before heading to Weligama, another surf mecca, where you'll ride reef and sand breaks while making new friends.

The lush green mountains of Ella, Sri Lanka
Map of Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days

This is the quintessential Sri Lankan bike ride! On this two week trip, you will discover local tea plantations, small villages, and historically significant cities — along with some wonderfully diverse riding through a sizeable portion of the island. You'll cycle from the culturally rich north through tea country then down into the southern plains and Horton Plains National Park, finishing in Galle.

Explore Sri Lanka on a 14-day cycling adventure
Map of Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days
Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days

This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

Spot Sri Lankan elephants on safari
Map of Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days

Experience the best of Sri Lanka's nature and wildlife experiences on this two-week family-themed itinerary. Looping through the island's southern and central regions, you'll embark on a series of fun-filled safaris, nature walks, biking excursions, and boat trips, with nights spent in comfort at gracious eco-lodges and safari camps. Search for leopards in Yala National Park, see the monkey-filled ruins of Polonnaruwa, watch elephants swim in Gal Oya National Park, spot rare primates on a nocturnal jungle hike, and discover the colorful marine life of Pasikudah.

Recently hitched? Head to Sri Lanka for the perfect honeymoon adventure
Map of Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days
Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days

Ancient temples, sun-kissed beaches, romantic waterfalls, and rolling green hills are the ingredients to create a honeymoon for the ages. Over 15 days, you and your newlywed partner will embark on active adventures and leisurely outings like picnics at waterfalls, nature hikes in rainforest reserves, visits to tea plantations, tours of Buddhist shrines, and explorations of cave temples. Plus, you'll hike up to Sigiriya, the country's iconic rock fortress.

Traditional fishing stilt aparatus of Koggala Beach, Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka Winter Holiday Adventure - 15 Days
Sri Lanka Winter Holiday Adventure - 15 Days

Eschew the frigid winter for the sun-kissed beaches and verdant mountains of Sri Lanka. Over 15 adventure-filled days, you'll experience the highlights and natural beauty of this mystical gem of the Indian Ocean, from its highland tea plantations to its gilded southern shores. In between, you'll tour ancient cities, enjoy jungle safaris, explore cave temples, swim at romantic waterfalls, go whale watching, and much more.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Sigiriya · Colombo · Negombo · Nuwara Eliya · Ella · Yala National Park · Udawalawe · Tangalle · Wilpattu · Dambulla · Bentota · Anuradhapura · Mirissa · Pasikudah · Habarana