On the southernmost coast of Sri Lanka is the port of Galle, pronounced Gaul. It’s the island’s fourth-largest city, a pleasant jumble of ancient, the Dutch quarter, and modern cityscapes. Galle is a beautifully preserved colonial townscape enclosed by a fortified bastion that once protected the city from marauding adventurers. The Dutch quarter, or Fort, is charmingly age-worn with its pretty streets. Dutch period villas with their original verandas and red-tiled roofs are interspersed with imposing churches, museums, and other colonial landmarks give the city so much atmosphere for adventurous families. There’s a refreshing lack of traffic, heightening the old-world peaceful pace of life.
Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a landmark of the city, forming the main tourist attraction. The Reformed Dutch Protestant Church dates back to 1755 and boasts extraordinary interiors with many European influences. Coastal Galle is a seafood lover’s paradise with daily fresh catches of calamari and yellowfin tuna served in side-street cafés and elegant restaurants. Enjoy a lazy Sunday wandering the Galle Fort market with some inspiring local live music, pop-up cafés, and food stalls so that you and your family can enjoy a delicious insight into local life.
Palm-lined Unawatuna beach is not far from the city and an ideal haven for budding surfers. Travel to Sri Lanka between February and mid-March and you’ll likely experience some magic and have the opportunity to see blue whales feed on krill. Blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever lived on the planet, providing a natural wonder spectacle for onlookers. As Sir David Attenborough said on his series, Blue Planet, “A blue whale – 30 meters long and weighing over 200 tonnes. It is far bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant. Its heart is the size of a car”. Imagine experiencing blue whales one day and elephants and leopards the next.
Galle was the biblical port of Tarshish, from where King Solomon obtained gold, spices, ivory, apes, and peacocks. The natural harbor occupied a strategic location on the sea routes between Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East, making it an important trading town before the arrival of the Europeans. In 1589, the Portuguese established themselves in Galle and built the small fort, Santa Cruz. The bastions were a later addition.
In 1640, the Dutch captured the city after an intense four-day siege. Almost a quarter of a century later, they enclosed the sea-facing headland and established the street plan that still exists today. Remarkably, the European-inspired subterranean sewer system is still in use. Later, in 1796, the British Empire took hold of the entire island following the defeat of the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars. Galle continued to serve as Ceylon's principal harbor well into the nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century, the city had lapsed into a tranquil decline.
On 18 May 2009, the country's then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa declared the end of the 26-year war. Since then, Galle and the rest of the country have seen an increase in holiday villas. Galle has the largest concentration of villas, tea plantation bungalows, historic houses in the old city, and contemporary Sri Lankan chalets. Many villas occupy breathtaking natural locations, often on unspoiled stretches of beach.
How far is Galle from the airport? Galle is approximately a two-hour drive south of Colombo. If you arrive late, it’s worth staying overnight in the city and driving during the next day.
Which beaches are close to Galle? The closest beaches to Galle are Wijaya, Unawatuna, and Thalpe. They are all family-friendly.
Do you need a visa? Yes. It’s available online here.
When is the best time to visit? The best time to explore Galle is between December and April, as there is very little rain. The temperature holds steady between 23 and 31 degrees Celsius. However, you can travel throughout the year, even during the 'green' months of May to September; there is much to do and see.
Ministry of Villas offers superior service for travelers booking a villa holiday in Galle, other parts of Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. Their knowledgeable teams will help you research, plan, and book your ideal villa. Using their services certainly takes away any ambiguity. They have first-hand experience, exemplary industry knowledge, and above all, a genuine passion for finding you the perfect villa.
23 Palm Villa on the expansive Tanamera Estate is a Dutch colonial-style bungalow with high roofs and 5.5-meter ceilings, arched doorways, columns, and spacious verandas right on 150 meters of golden beach. Two identical master bedrooms are on either side of the sitting room, decorated with beautiful touches from Asia and Europe. The quirky bedrooms house bespoke four-poster beds and ensuite bathrooms and open onto a veranda that overlooks the pretty gardens and the sea. There is also a junior suite that can accommodate a single guest or child. Extra beds and cots can be made up in the master bedrooms. The garden is home to a spacious swimming pool and a double-roofed tea house for relaxing and dining. The house staff of five will take care of everything you need during your stay. 23 Palm Villa is located close to Galle and its many restaurants, cafés, and bars.
23 Palm Villa, A2, Talpe, +94 77 783-5555 , email@example.com, https://www.luxuryvillassrilanka.com/property/23-palm/
The beautifully preserved Thambili Villa dates back over 300 years. It is in the sought-after UNESCO-protected Galle Fort area of the old city. The sympathetically preserved villa has been converted into a contemporary holiday home. It's one of the only sea-view villas in the Fort and has a private swimming pool and an age-old cobbled garden. The interiors have an enticing mix of 16th, 17th, and 18th-century antique furnishing that blends effortlessly with the modern décor. The three bedrooms are furnished romantically with four poster beds and ensuite bathrooms. The sitting room has plantation chairs and a matching sofa, ideal for relaxing and discussing your day's adventures. The covered dining room overlooks the swimming pool and the lush gardens and has a dining table accommodating six guests. The primary bedroom, the Nutmeg Suite, features a private terrace overlooking the sea.
Thambili House, +61 7 3103 3139, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/thambili-house/
The flawlessly restored Rampart Street villa is in the heart of the beautiful Galle Fort, set amidst lush gardens featuring a swimming pool. It was one of the first buildings to be protected by UNESCO. It's one of the most elegant homes. It is furnished with antiques, hand-selected pieces of art, and an interesting collection of curiosities. The villa has four bedrooms, each with a four-poster bed and ensuite bathroom. It celebrates its elegant heritage yet has all the modern amenities expected for a lavish stay. The tropical gardens and sparkling pool with sunloungers perfectly offset neutral tones and classic furnishings. The sitting room is furnished with white sofas, oriental carpets, and heritage art. Alfresco dining is beneath a shaded veranda and overlooks the garden.
Rampart Street, +61 7 3103 3139, email@example.com, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/rampart-street/
Ishq Talpe is a magnificent five-bedroom beachfront villa blending chic boutique style with colonial grandeur, offering sumptuous villa bliss for large families and groups of friends. Renowned architect, Bruce Fell-Smith, designed the impressive white villa that’s right on the beach. Ishq Talpe takes its name from the Persian word for love, and it's easy to understand why. A white color palette and modern furnishings are set against the beautiful blue sea. The state-of-the-art kitchen is fully equipped for even the most lavish parties. The sitting room is on the ground floor and opens to the pool. An expansive dining table is on the opposite side of the pool, comfortably accommodating 14 people; there is plenty of comfortable lounge seating, sunbeds, and a Jacuzzi to relax. You'll lose the kids in the media room with its 60-inch flat-screen television with Apple TV, Netflix, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. Ishq Talpe can sleep up to 15 guests.
Ishq Talpe, +61 7 3103 3139, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/ishq-talpe/
JH Villa is a dream six-bedroom country house in a historic colonial Portuguese estate with a 15-meter pool, lush gardens, and a mere five-minute walk to the beach and its beach house. You'll feel blissful in the lavish gardens with water features, rambling orchids, and palm tree groves. Just 10-minutes from UNESCO Galle Fort, the villa has been impeccably transformed into a luxury holiday home while retaining its historic charm. The owners have carefully chosen a blend of antique furnishings, comfortable white sofas, and beautiful wood carvings in the sitting room that forms the heart of the house. The dining room overlooks the natural lily pond and the gardens. Your kids will enjoy the vast estate while you lounge on the sun beds dotted around the pool. An open-plan pavilion is ideal for your yoga practice and alfresco dining. When you head to the beach, you can enjoy surreal views of the sea and the white sandy beaches and use the JH Villa private beach house, home to a sitting room, kitchen, and bathroom. The bedrooms are each named after precious gemstones.
Right on the beach, a short drive from Galle, the impressive historic five-bedroom villa was designed by Ron Sidell and Bruce Fell-Smith. The designers have respected the area's historical heritage and included modern amenities such as a media room so you can catch up on your silver screen favorites and a well-stocked library. The double-height villa has a neutral color palette and bright white furniture highlighted with monochrome accessories and beautiful oriental carpets. The staff and the in-house chef will ensure you have a magical stay at Satin Doll, creating extraordinary memories and providing world-class cuisine. The magnificent villa offers a blend of bygone charm and the best beach life. Three dining spaces allow you to dine inside or alfresco in the courtyard or beach-side pavilion. The vast gardens have ancient trees, lots of nooks, beautiful lawns, and a swimming pool.
Satin Doll, +61 7 3103 3139, email@example.com, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/satin-doll/
The Eurythmics once sang Sweet Dreams are made of this; the song perfectly describes Sisindu Tea Estate. The impressive six-bedroom villa is amidst eight acres of working tea plantations and offers spectacular views across the sweet-smelling tea, jungle, and ocean. The estate house is designed with inimitable attention to detail with a unique take on rustic chic. The house affords you a luxurious stay in the tropics with perfect sea views. The zen-vibe estate allows you to unwind with your family and friends. The sitting room was constructed around an ancient tree, and the light-filled room is furnished with comfortable sofas and armchairs. The open-sided dining room can accommodate 12 guests, and there are two other dining spaces if you fancy a change of scenery. A private two-bed spa adjoins the garden bedroom. You can spend cozy evenings in the television room to catch up with your favorite movies, kids' programs, or series. Outside you'll find a peaceful yoga shala and a stunning infinity-edge swimming pool.
Sisindu Tea Estate, +61 7 3103 3139, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/sisindu-tea-estate/
If you are traveling with an extended family and friends, Villa Frangipani Tree has it all; the magnificent beachfront estate has nine bedrooms and elegant interiors. Located right on the beach in Talpe, a mere stone's throw from Galle, the exceptional villa possesses oodles of Sri Lankan charm and a real wow factor. The villa and pretty gardens envelop an expansive swimming pool. The Villa's interiors are entirely in harmony with its surroundings, with a neutral color palette and natural dark wood flooring, windows, and furnishings. Its openness allows the sea breeze to blow through the slatted windows creating a sense of calm and timeless appeal. The sitting room is decorated with cool earthy tones with two light-colored sofas in the center. A flat-screen television allows you to keep up with your favorite entertainment; there is a bar at the side of the room to keep the good times going. The shaded wrap-around terrace offers a gorgeous setting for al fresco dining with views over the pool and garden with generous lawns.
Villa Frangipani Tree, +61 7 3103 3139, email@example.com, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villas/villa-frangipani-tree/
The vast traditional Sri Lankan Dutch merchant's house boasts polished wooden floors, arched windows, and impressive proportions in the heart of the UNESCO Galle Fort. Built in 1750, the house, 20 Middle Street, celebrates the historical environment with a formidable collection of antiques and artwork. The comfortably furnished abode affords you a large sitting room decorated with tribal masks with comfy plush sofas, games, and a television room with a full-size billiards table. A vast dining room runs the entire width of the house with high ceilings, a mezzanine floor, and large doors that lead onto the terrace that's home to an alfresco lounging and dining area. Each of the bedrooms is furnished with four poster beds, soft furnishings, and an ensuite bathroom with a rain shower. Two of the bedrooms are on the first floor of the main house, a second building houses two bedrooms, and the fifth occupies the garden annex. The pretty grounds span a quarter of an acre with a swimming pool and a deck area for the ultimate in relaxing.
20 Middle Street, +44 330 100 3180, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.mrandmrssmith.com/villas/20-middle-street
Recently renovated, HH is a series of stand-alone buildings with three ensuite double bedrooms with floor-to-ceiling French windows leading into the beautiful gardens and a large swimming pool. The ground floor houses a spacious sitting room with seriously deep plush sofas, a games room with satellite television, a DVD player, and a fun tabletop foosball. The covered open-air dining pavilion is perfect for sunset cocktails and lavish beach-side entertaining. HH has direct access to the expansive soft sandy beach and is divided internally by a wall that runs the width of the house. On one side are three double bedrooms and the main living area, while the other has the main entrance, kitchen, games room, and fourth bedroom.