5 places to recharge in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

Insight Guides' local expert and trip planner Imran guides you through the best places to eat, drink, shop and relax on your trip to Sri Lanka's Galle Fort
Fort Printers courtyard. Photo: Trip provider
Fort Printers courtyard. Photo: Trip provider

The 16th-century Dutch fort and world-famous UNESCO heritage site of Galle Forte is a must-see on your trip to Sri Lanka. Here's how to navigate the narrow streets and centuries-old fortress to find the town's best place to refuel

1. The Living Room

The unassuming front of The Living Room hides one of the fort’s best-kept and most-stylish secrets. This lounge bar is quirky and colourful, delightfully cluttered with eclectic trinkets and vibrant wall hangings which brings a mixture of Moroccan and Mediterranean to Galle Fort’s narrow streets. Recline on intricately-embroidered cushions and shelter from the sun in the cool, dark interior, or head to the open-air section to enjoy drinks under the stars. 

2. Fortaleza

Stepping down into the sunken courtyard you'll find the heart and soul of Fortaleza. The hotel is home to a beautiful blend of classic Dutch architecture with a soft touch of Sri Lankan styling. Head chef Arun produces a wide range of dishes using fresh, local ingredients, which can be matched with any one of the elaborate cocktails or wines available from the greatly-varied wine list. Allegedly, they also serve the best tuna steak in Sri Lanka. In the open courtyard, umbrella-shaded tables are surrounded by large pots of fresh basil and other herbs. Banana trees with outsized fruit, palms and a spectacular bougainvillaea line the entrance from Church Cross Street.

In the day, the restaurant is a quiet, cool oasis for a relaxed breakfast, lunch or simply an ice-cold drink or snack away from the heat and bustle of the streets. In the evening, it is transformed into a magical place, with spot-lit tropical foliage, fairy-lights, and the spectacular backdrop of the coral wall. If a short stop isn't enough, you can stay at the Fortaleza on Insight Guides' Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast holiday. What are you waiting for? 

Fortaleza. Photo: Trip providerFortaleza. Photo: Trip provider

3. Sithuvili Gallery

Intricate traditional masks, astonishing sculptures and a selection of dynamic craft pieces – Sithuvili Gallery is utterly absorbing. With just two rooms, the gallery seems to be constantly bursting out of itself, overflowing with eye-catching artwork at every turn – despite its size, it is easy to lose track of time here. 

4. The Fort Printers

The Fort Printers a stunning 18th-century mansion, designed around an open-air central courtyard with an elegantly trailing frangipani tree. The elegant hotel offers five unique suites and an additional two villas. The hotel's restaurant offers an exciting mix of traditional and modern tastes, with locally-sourced seafood being a highlight. Sit out at night and enjoy their delicious cuisine by candlelight – the prawn curry is arguably the best in the country. 

A stay at The Fort Printers can be added to any of Insight Guides' Sri Lanka trip itineraries: talk to our local experts to get your holiday to Galle organised today. 

5. Poonie’s Kitchen

Pedlar Street is the place to be for authentic Sri Lankan cooking. Trouble is, there are almost too many options to choose from. Poonie's Kitchen, a large, open-air courtyard decorated with a small pond, scented flowers and plenty of brightly-coloured cushions, offers an intimate atmosphere with good grub. You'll find several long benches and a scattered collection of tables and chairs, surrounded by bookcases stuffed with interesting odds and ends. On a hot afternoon, opt for a thirst-quenching Poonie's Special, with fresh turmeric, chia, cucumber and cinnamon. Make sure you leave room for dessert: their passionfruit-butter cake is deliciously-moist but with the perfect ratio of wonderfully-creamy and wickedly-sour. 

Pedlar Street, Galle Fort. Photo: rufus.kahler/FlickrPedlar Street, Galle Fort. Photo: rufus.kahler/Flickr

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