Things to do
No. 39’s villa manager has a wealth of information about nearby places of interest and will help arrange transport and make any bookings required. In the meantime, here is a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of the house:
- Explore! Galle Fort is on your doorstep and a wander along her atmospheric lanes and grass-topped ramparts is very rewarding. On your hit list should be the Amangalla Hotel, the Maritime Museum and old spice warehouses, the Law Court Square, the slender white lighthouse and Flag Rock to see kamikaze sea-jumpers in action. The western-facing ramparts are the place to be at sunset. For more insights, take a guided tour.
- Look for the Colin-Thome gravestones in the famous Dutch Reformed Church – the owners of No. 39 are part of an original Dutch Burgher family from Galle and their great uncle and aunt are buried in the graveyard of the church (hint: look to the right of the entrance).
- Aside from sightseeing, Galle Fort is gaining increasing notoriety as a place to shop and dine. Popular shops include Mimimango for exotic clothing, Stick No Bills for nostalgic vintage posters, Barefoot for vibrant handlooms and Sithulvili for painted timber boxes. Barista is a popular coffee stop and Living Room a boutique-cum-bar, which feels like an Aladdin’s Cave. Pedlar’s Inn Café is a reliable, sociable spot, as is Fortaleza and Amangalla, both with bars. Don’t forget to stop off at the Pedlar’s Inn Gelataria for Galle’s best ice creams!
- Pamper yourself in one of Galle Fort’s relaxing spas; favourites include the serene Galle Fort Spa for contemporary treatments, and Amangalla’s The Baths, for hydrotherapy and traditional yet luxurious Ayurvedic treatments. There are one or two fish spas in the fort too!
- If you’re lucky enough to be in town for an international cricket fixture, make for the test stadium, or for a more unique view, sit on the front ramparts and watch from on high.
- To explore Galle’s hinterland in more depth, take off on two wheels on a guided bicycle adventure with Idle Tours; trips take you along the quietest back lanes and paddy bunds, and through villages, farmland and forests, ending up at the beach for sunset.
- If you’re after some beach time, head to Wijeya Beach (8km), a popular expat hangout with a lovely beach and tranquil lagoon that’s great for swimming (and for families). Alternatively, make for Talpe Beach Club (11km), which serves up delicious food and drinks beside the sea, and has a swimming pool if you don’t feel like braving the ocean.
- Galle is also home to lowland tea estates – at the Handunugoda Tea Factory (21.5km) you can tour the estate (which also makes expensive white tea) and enjoy a tea tasting session.
- Koggala Lake (16km) is a meandering waterway fringed by cinnamon plantations, village communities and thick jungle where you can take a boat ride or visit a spice garden.
- If you’re in town between November and April, it’s whale and dolphin watching season; boats depart either from Galle Harbour or the pretty harbour in Mirissa itself (34km). Out of season, take the youngest family members to the turtle hatchery at Habaraduwa (13.5km).