BEST SPOTS TO SEE IN GALLE: Galle Town, Unawatuna beach to see the stilt fishermen, Jungle beach & Galle Fort
LOCAL EATERIES: Sahana, Wijaya & Indian Hut
OTHER GREAT RESTAURANTS: A Minute by Tuk Tuk, Poonie’s Kitchen, Sugar Bistro & Wine Bar and The Tuna & the Crab
COOL BARS: The Runcible Spoon bar, Tap House by R&R & Luna Terrace
GREAT SUNRISE FROM: Rumassala Temple
AWESOME SUNSET FROM: The edge of Galle Fort
HIDDEN GEM: Jungle beach
DISHES TO TRY: Kothu, hoppers, fish curry and shorties
OTHER FAVOURITE CITIES IN SRI LANKA: Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Jaffna, Yala & Colombo
FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS IN COLOMBO: Ministry of Crab, Chutneys, Golden Dragon, Upali’s & Il Ponte
MUST-BUY IN SRI LANKA: Yellow curry powder
FACEBOOK: Owl & the Pussycat Hotel
INSTAGRAM: @otphotel & @anthony_dc9211
Built by the Dutch in 1663, this Unesco World Heritage Site, old trading port and historic city is best explored by foot or tuk-tuk. Admire Dutch-colonial mansions, museums and ancient churches and mosques as you traverse the winding lanes in Galle Fort (18th-century Dutch walled town)full of chic and quaint cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. The beautiful beaches, lighthouse and Dutch Hospital area are not to be missed either. Check out a bit more of Galle here.
Before we get into what to see, do and eat in Galle, here’s a little bit about Chef Anthony D’Costa (pictured on the left) who has helped put this comprehensive guide together. Born and raised in Mumbai, Chef Anthony comes from a family of chefs which includes his father and uncles. Mumbai’s vibrant culinary scene played a role in encouraging him to enrol in culinary school in London. While looking for a job, he landed a one day stint at three-michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea. While he wasn’t offered a permanent job there, Head Chef Clare Smyth offered him a position at The Devonshire in Chiswick (part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings) and after that there was no turning back for Chef Anthony who is now the Head Chef of The Runcible Spoon at the Owl & the Pussycat Hotel.
On a recent trip to Sri Lanka with The Travel Hub and Flydubai, I experienced an incredible meal by Chef Anthony. You know the kind of meal I’m talking about? The one where you can’t get it out of your mind for weeks? While you can just head to The Runcible Spoon for lunch or dinner, a cooler experience, in my opinion is going on a private morning fruit, vegetable, fish and spice market tour with Chef Anthony. He will show you how he sources fresh ingredients for each meal including the one he will be cooking for you later in the afternoon (and teaching you how to make too). Is it worth it, you ask? Foodie or not, the sights, aromas and sounds at these markets are a great way to understand day-to-day life in this charming port city and I can’t think of a better way to experience this than with one of Sri Lanka’s best chefs. The tour costs $40 and the price of the cooking class and lunch depend on the menu. Don’t forget to check out some of Chef Anthony’s favourite things to do in the city in the Fact Box on the left.
While the market tour is one of the top foodie experiences in Galle, here are some of Chef Anthony’s excellent recommendations:
Stay at the Owl & the Pussycat Hotel (OTP Hotel)
This quirky 17-room property is an unmissable experience in Galle. Each room has hand-blocked Indian bedspreads and pop-art collages from Italian artist Cisky, cartoonish flourishes layered over black-and-white photos of Sri Lankan families and elements of fun all around. It also features spa treatments and a pool at the edge of the ocean as well as a really cool restaurant and bar – The Runcible Spoon with jazz in the evenings.
Mirissa is the best place to find humpback, blue whales and dolphins too from November to April.
In Galle you will find several non-profit sea turtle hatcheries, ensuring the preservation and protection of a very delicate ocean species. They take care of the hatching of eggs brought to them by fishermen, for further release in the sea after birth.
If you are a surfer or want to learn, the south coast is where you need to head. The best beaches for surfing are Weligama, Polhenna, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa. They all offer great surfing lessons for around $10 including equipment, and you will meet the friendliest local and international instructors. There are many other water activities to do as well, like snorkelling, sailing and scuba diving.
Old Town of Galle and Fort
Built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, this UNESCO World Heritage town experienced many transformations throughout history. In the 17th century the Dutch converted the town into its main bastion, bringing it to its maximum splendour. The streets and paths near the Lighthouse make for a beautiful stroll along the coast, with mesmerising views of the Laccadive Sea. Today the Fort stands as a true reflection of the city’s style: an impeccable combination of classical European architecture and exotic South Asian beauty.
Moonstone Mines of Meetiyagoda
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest gem sources. You can find here beautiful and unique precious stones. The Moonstone Mines of Meetiyagoda are about a 45-minute drive from Galle.
Deep Sea Fishing
Rent a private boat for a half of full day and go into the wild deep sea on the quest for sharks, tuna, marlin and swordfish.
Visiting the Ambalangoda Mask Museum, the Kanneliya Rain Forest, the Kottawa Reserve, the Sinharaja Rain Forest, the Spice Garden, the Tea Factory in Handdunugoda and Udawala National Park are a few more places to explore if you have time.
Many thanks to Flydubai and The Travel Hub for hosting my trip to Sri Lanka in style and Owl & the Pussycat Hotel for the memorable experience – as always, all opinions are my own.
Image of children playing in the Old Town of Galle Courtesy: Owl & the Pussycat Hotel
Have you been to Galle? What are some of your favourite things to do in the city? Share them with us in the comments below.