It was a bit of a struggle for our rental van to navigate the narrow alleyways within Galle Fort to reach our hotel. As I looked out the window, I couldn't wait to check in, dump our luggage, and head straight back out to explore. I fell in love with Sri Lanka a little bit during a recent vacation, but the Galle Fort was probably my favourite part of the trip.
We arrived around lunchtime and checked in at Mrs Khalid’s Guest House, a homely family-run bed and breakfast, located right next to the fort wall along the seafront. As we walked in, we spotted Mrs Khalid reading the Quran, and she seemed to have been anticipating the arrival of the "girls from Pakistan".
Her son, who runs the guest house, welcomed us in and led us up to two rooms that opened out to a balcony overlooking the water.
Khalid’s is also right across the street from Lucky Fort Restaurant, which I have not been to myself, but have heard great reviews. Before we left for Colombo the next morning, we were treated to an amazing breakfast spread, with fresh fruit, smoothies, a mountain of egg hoppers (a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast item) and freshly brewed tea.
Our first stop was Crepe-ology for a spot of lunch, which came highly recommended on TripAdvisor and did not disappoint. Run by Seema and Murray Moceri, originally from London and Seattle respectively, this family-friendly spot has impeccable food and drinks and incredibly quick service. The owners are warm and friendly, and can often be seen checking in and chatting with customers.
Lunch was followed by a scoop of delicious coffee gelato from Pedlar’s Inn Gelateria, another popular spot in Galle Fort and with good reason. Feel free to skip Pedlar’s Inn Cafe though; dinner there was very disappointing.
About two hours away from Colombo by car, the old town of Galle and its fortifications have been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Galle was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century. In the 1700s, the Dutch conquered Galle and built it into a fortified city. Galle was an important port in the region until the British came along the 1790s and established Colombo as their main commercial hub.
Though Galle has now expanded beyond the walls of the old fort, it is a major tourist attraction and an important historical and archaeological site.
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 caused devastating damage to certain parts of Galle, but the centuries-old fort walls remarkably broke the deadly waves, and protected the buildings within from any significant damage.
In 2007, the Galle Heritage Foundation, with assistance from the Government of Netherlands, set about restoring dozens of buildings within the fort walls to preserve the original Dutch influences on the architecture.
Now the interior of the fort is a maze of cobbled alleyways peppered with cafes and restaurants, shops, hotels, and residences. It’s not a particularly large area and you could walk around the entire fort within a couple of hours.