6 places to visit and live in Galle

Blessed with stunning beaches, stylish shopping and colonial charm, the appeal of this coastal Sri Lankan town is rising

Galle, Sri Lanka. Timo Gotz/Shutterstock

Built by the Portuguese and later fortified by the Dutch, the seaside town of Galle in southwest Sri Lanka is drawing attention for its lovely ocean views, fine colonial architecture, and modern development. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is ideal to explore on foot, with busy streets lined with boutique hotels, old churches and mosques, museums, and restored mansions. Tucked in between are quirky cafes, trendy restaurants dishing out kottu roti (a Sri Lankan street food dish), and stylish shops selling everything from local handicrafts to antiques and jewellery. Close at hand too are some of Sri Lanka’s best dive and surf destinations.

Galle National Museum

Unlock Sri Lanka’s vibrant past in this museum, which is located in the oldest remaining Dutch building in Galle fort. Constructed in 1956, the facility  was renovated by the Department of National Museums and opened to the public on March 31, 1986. Comprising three galleries, the museum is home to a collection of exhibits from the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods. The first gallery features instruments used in cottage industries like Dutch lace crafting bobbins, wood mask carving, and turtle shell jewellery manufacturing. The second gallery contains a collection of Dutch period furniture, costumes, and weapons, while the last gallery displays historical and archaeological evidence of trade relations between China and Sri Lanka.

Tamarind Hill

There are few better places in Galle from which to hold a get together with friends or to unwind after going around the city than the bar within the elegant Tamarind Hill boutique resort. The elegant drinking den offers a well-curated list of wines and spirits, and a short but sharp collection of cocktails. With mellow lounge music combined with a cosy ambience, it is an ideal spot for those in search of a little well-heeled nightlife.

The Heritage Café & Bistro

Located on one of the busiest corners of Galle Fort, this laidback café is home to the oldest oven in Southern Sri Lanka. Recognised by the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority as a tourist friendly eating place, the Heritage Café & Bistro is a must-stop for foodies, with its menu featuring an array of dishes from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Start a meal with Sri Lanka’s freshest seafood and vegetables, before moving on to their artisan breads and pizza, and their hand-crafted cakes and pastries. No visit is complete without a cup of their famous local blend.

Serenia Residences

Set in an iconic location, this exclusive beachfront development is unparalleled in detail and craftmanship. Its 47 residences feature generous living areas with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer panoramic views of the ocean. Adding to the posh amenities are an Italian Camagni open-planned kitchen, smart home technology, and a spacious terrace in which to enjoy the fresh sea breeze. This luxury beachfront real estate with freehold title comes in two- to five-bedroom layouts, at sizes ranging from 1,358 sq. ft. to more than 12,000 sq ft. Prices start at USD320,000.

Crystal Sands

Savour the best of seaside living with hotel-style facilities at this property located on a pristine beach in southern Sri Lanka. Designed by award-winning Australian architect Jeremy Mather, and local architectural firm Arch International, the luxury development has 25 high-end apartments across 10 levels, featuring contemporary interiors, top quality finishes, and ample open space. Apartments come with private plunge pools where residents may relax whilst enjoying an unobstructed view of the Indian Ocean. Other luxury details include restricted floor access cards, in-room tablets, and a 24-hour chauffeur service. Available apartments start at USD239,000.

Olu Spa

A long day walking around Galle merits a trip to Olu Spa for some much-needed pampering. The privately owned spa is tucked within the Old Dutch Hospital in Galle Fort and offers ayurvedic herbal treatments with specialised massage techniques that will leave guests feeling refreshed and invigorated. Other treatments available include facials, full body scrubs, body wraps, and other special massages delivered with natural and organic Sri Lankan products. Private rooms look up to a beautiful vaulted ceiling in the Old Dutch Hospital.

This article originally appeared in Issue No. 154 of PropertyGuru Property Report Magazine