About an hour north from Weligama or about two hours south of Colombo is the Galle Dutch Fort. This site is a fun excursion for a day trip if you’re looking for something to do and don’t want to exert too much effort. It’s actually remarkably easy to access so it’s the perfect day trip for most.
The Galle Dutch Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is free to visit. The structure is amazingly well preserved and is really beautiful to walk around. Depending on where you are in Sri Lanka, it’s certainly worth a day trip to visit since it’s so easy to access via the train and since it’s free to go.
The fort is located right across the street from the Galle train station. It might be a little confusing with all the tuk tuks all clamoring for your business as you exit the station. What adds to the confusion is that you can’t see the fort because of all the traffic so you might wrongfully believe that it’s a long or difficult walk to get there. That’s just not true.
As you exit the station, you’ll just need to cross the busy street. I found the safest place to cross was at the major bus terminal right next to the train station since there’s a pedestrian light there. You’ll also see most people crossing the street there. Once on the other side, you’ll see what looks like a parking lot or a loading area for the busses. That’s actually a circular street that leads you straight into the fort entrance. You’ll be walking alongside a cricket field on one side and the fort on the other. All told, it’s about a 10 minute walk if you’re walking slowly.
So the fort city is actually free to enter. You might run into tuk tuk drivers who will try to tell you you’re going to the wrong “entrance” or that it’s closed. Don’t believe them. It doesn’t cost anything to enter and you can just enter through the main archway. As you walk in, there are police officers directing traffic and if you have questions, they’ll be able to help you out but it’s pretty self explanatory.
The Dutch Fort
Remember that this is an old Dutch fort so although it was large back in the day, it isn’t that large to walk around. You can pretty much start at the clocktower and walk along the fort wall until you return right back to where you started. As a point of reference, you can think of the clocktower the starting point and the lighthouse as the halfway point as you move around.
Depending on the heat and your energy level, it might take a couple hours to walk around but you can take as much or as little time as you want. In the interior of the fort, you’ll find all sorts of restaurants and museums to enter. If you want to cool off, you can even take a dip in the water.
Feel free to walk around and explore the full grounds of the fort. It’s actually fun to try and find little passageways that open up to different parts of the fort. You won’t find secret passageways or anything but it seemed like most tourists were just walking along the wall and not taking the time to walk through other parts of the fort wall.
You’ll probably be met by a number of people who will “volunteer” to take your picture then expect a fee for their services. I guess if it’s that important, you can go with it but I tend to find that sort of thing really annoying so I just ignored them.