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How To Reach Galle
Located 119 km from Colombo, Galle is the capital city of the Southern province in Sri Lanka. With a renowned heritage site that draws tourists from all over the world, Galle has a 300 year old Dutch Fort to boast of, in addition to many other historic spots to enjoy. Considered once unwelcoming, the Galle Fort now appeals to the tourists with its Mediterranean ambience.
You can look forward to nature walks and witness the widespread flora and fauna of Hiyare and Kanneliya, experience the locals’ daily routine by exploring the two fish markets in the morning, and uncover the art of cultivating and preparing the Virgin white tea at the Handunugoda factory or say hello to the mammoth Blue Whale at the Mirissa Harbor. To get to Galle, you can explore air, train, bus or cab options.
There’s only one international airport in Sri Lanka, which is the Bandaranaike International Airport, also known as Katunayake or Colombo International Airport. It has both incoming and outgoing air traffic from India and other South East Asian countries like Europe, United States, Australia, and the Middle East. There are about 19 flights that operate non-stop every day between India and Colombo in the price range of Rs.8,000-16,000. Here’s a breakdown from 4 major cities in India:
The fastest way to reach Galle from Colombo is to take a flight from Katunayake. The distance between the airport and Galle is 132 km, with the road distance being 155 km.
One of the most picturesque ways to travel between Colombo Fort and Galle is by train. It is also a reasonable and quaint way to get around, along the Colombo-Kandy-Tea Country route. Galle is connected to the rest of Sri Lanka by its Coastal rail line and the Galle Train Station is a major station for trains operating at both the south & west coasts of Sri Lanka.
With a minimum of 6 express trains, along the Colombo-Matara track in a day, the journey ends at Galle. There’s another train from Kandy to Galle which leaves at 5.10 am daily with a return trip that begins at 2.45pm. To check on the train schedules, fares, and routes, you can visit: www.railway.gov.lk, which is the official Sri Lankan website for Railways, and consult http://slr.malindaprasad.com for information on specific routes, train timing, and fares.
However, it is best to review the train timings locally, as these websites differ on the train timings sometimes. Although the route Colombo-Galle is the most obvious choice to take, it isn’t the best. Given the fact, that you cannot really book train travel in advance, the route would most likely be packed. In that case, it is wise is to commence your train journey at the Maradana station, which is a little further than the Colombo Fort station and the place where the train route to Galle begins. The chances of you securing a seat here are much brighter. To get better acquainted with train travel, visit https://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm
You can also travel by Taxi from Colombo to Galle. While it is comfortable, it doesn’t come cheap. You will find a taxi desk at the airport. The journey via the expressway is best recommended and will cost you 95LKR.
Another way to reach Galle from Colombo or Bentota is by bus. There’s a steady stream of buses you can use to travel to Galle, though few are air-conditioned. Given the duration of the bus journey, which is about 3-4 hours, one can enjoy the scenic view of the coast along the way. There’s a bus every 10-20 minutes between 4.30am to 8 pm across all routes. The bus network covers destinations like:
- Colombo via the coastal route in 3¼ hours for LKR 143;
- Matara in 1¼ hours in LKR 65;
- Weligama in 40 min for LKR 28;
- The air-conditioned buses operate between Colombo-Galle every 20 minutes for LKR 400-550, spanning over 1½ hours through the Southern Expressway. It is best to use the terminal in Maharagama, a large town in the Colombo District. Traveling via the expressway can save you a minimum of 2 hours as compared to the Coastal road.
To enjoy the old-world and picturesque wonders of Galle, walking is the best way to see the city. You can also use the 3-wheelers or Tuk Tuks which are the easiest way of getting about within the city and are spacious enough for carrying luggage as well.
However, If you prefer driving or being driven around, then you can book a rental car or use cabs for city-hopping. Although there are multiple ways of traveling to Galle, the best way of reaching Galle from the Bandaranaike International Airport is to travel by train and bus. The travel time is approximately 4 hours 35 minutes, inclusive of an hour’s transfer and costs between LKR 95-205.
The Katunayake Airport Bus Station is about 1.4kms from the airport if you walk it down, and a bus leaves the station every 30 minutes for Colombo for LKR 56. Once you arrive at the Colombo Bastian Mawatha Terminal, you’d need to take a train from the Colombo Fort, which is roughly 826 meters/9 minutes walk from the bus terminal. A train also leaves from the Colombo Fort train station for Galle every 3 hours. The train journey costs between LKR 40-150 for a 2-hour 24 minute journey.