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Things to do in Galle With Kids – Sri Lanka

Review by Anna Wilson who visited Galle with her husband and two toddler daughters.

Galle takes about two hours to reach from Colombo airport, on a mix of weaving through the outskirts of Colombo roads and then a very smart motorway. The drive was a relaxing start to the holiday, slowly immersing the senses into a tropical landscape. Once settled into our villa (more on that below) we explored Galle with our children and the surrounding area for two weeks.

Things to do in Galle With Kids – Sri Lanka

Things to do in Galle and the surrounding area with kids

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1. Head to the Beach

Beach life near us was amazing. At Wijaya Beach the sand is beautiful and clean and the water shallow enough making an amazing safe swimming zone for kids. One of the most perfect attractions for families visiting the area.

The waves crash on the reef which is 20 metres out, which keeps surfers out of this particular area. We saw lots of people snorkelling around the reef too, so there must be lots to see.

The beach bar on the beach is great for both cocktails and pizza and the views are to die for.

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2. Hire a bike and sightsee.

Bike rides and hires are easily organised for family activities – there are several companies to rent from. They have child seats which fix onto the back of the bikes and a variety of length riding tours to go on.

We absolutely loved getting up early and cycling through the paddy fields, amongst nature, past water buffalo and kingfishers, spotting monitor lizards the size of large crocodiles and stopping to drink fresh coconut along the way. Such an adventure for us all.

3. Explore Galle and the Forts

Galle itself is a lovely little town. We made a few different outings here. Firstly to walk around the Forts wall, a World Heritage Site, while the sun was setting.

Another visit was for a shopping trip. Although shopping is not so appealing to kids, there are plenty of beautifully made local toys and icecream places. Pedlar Street is home to Barefoot which sells toys and handicrafts amongst other items. The street has plenty of options for other locally made products too.

We also took a trip to the famous Amangalla, (an Aman Resort hotel) where we could kick back in sheer luxury – well for half an hour anyway before the kids decided they couldn’t be on best behaviour anymore.

Do make sure you make an effort with what you wear if you want to come here, I did read in reviews that people might be turned away if they turn up in beachwear.

4. See Rescued Turtles

This was one of our favourite activities in Galle. Head to the Sea Turtle Farm Galle in Mahamodara. The aim here is to rescue and rehabilitate turtles to be released back to the ocean. For a donation of 2000rps you can see the turtles and learn about their backgrounds. Some can be held. A restaurant is located next door if you want to grab a bite to eat.

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5. Tantalise Taste Buds

The food was so good at our Villa we didn’t really want to eat out to often for dinner, but one night we ventured out to the KingFisher Restaurant on Unawatuna Bay.

Our host had recommended this restaurant and it didn’t fail. With a great cocktail bar almost Cafe del Mar style and restaurant with tables on the beach overlooking the bay it was hard to go wrong.

Sri Lanka was full of such friendly people and the pace of life felt so relaxed that we are already planning our next trip back. Sri Lanka with toddlers is perfectly manageable as it is child-friendly, just don’t expect changing tables, highchairs and kids meals everywhere and you will love it too.

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6. Elephants

Let’s address the ‘elephant’ in the room. Elephants are quite hard to come by in the Galle area, unless of course you are travelling around Sri Lanka and can go on a Uda Walawe National Park safari – a 2 hour drive from Galle. Elephants can also be spotted at Bundala National Park (another 2 hours from Galle) along with other Sri Lankan wildlife such as monkeys.

It’s hard to find an ethical place, with elephants often subjected to cruelty or kept in poor conditions and chains. It is not recommended to ride elephants. Since 2021, the wildlife charity, Born Free Foundation no longer supports any orphanages in Sri Lanka.

7. Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct

Shopping might not be one of the most fun activities for kids, but there are still things for them to see. Expect handicrafts, cafes, restaurants, textiles, jewellers and more in this old Dutch hospital site. Popular local brands like Spa Ceylon and Barefoot are also located here for tired parents. Kids will like the colourful toys and Il Gelato ice cream!

8. Watch a cricket match at the Galle Cricket Ground

Beautiful grounds overlooking the ocean and an enthusiastic crowd, make this an idyllic place to watch cricket.


Things we would skip next time:

National Maritime Archaeology Museum:

It’s a small attraction and can be completed in about 30 minutes and the museum ship wreck exhibits might not hold kids’ interests for long.


Planning a Trip To Sri Lanka With Kids

At the end of March, we headed on a family holiday to Sri Lanka. We wanted some guaranteed winter sun, with outdoor swimming everyday and villa accommodation.

We decided to fly with Sri Lankan Airlines as they flew direct from Heathrow to Colombo, with an eleven-hour flight, I did not fancy a long stop over with my one and three year olds.

I had been a bit dubious about flying with Sri Lankan Airlines after the reviews I found online but I needn’t have worried.

Right from check-in we were well looked after, having our seats changed so that we could make the most of the bassinet seats for the night time flight. The planes felt quite new and being in the bassinet area spacious too. Both girls were given special colouring packs on boarding and were well looked after.

The flight went without a hitch, on arrival we found the process very easy. I had organised our visas online before we travelled which was really easy, if you have forgotten to do it you can buy one on arrival at Colombo.

We had been advised to go to the furthest desk for immigration as it is normally the shortest queue and sure enough it was.

On passing through there is a very good duty free. So if you fancy a gin & tonic in the evening or a glass of wine this is a good place to stock up!

The airport at Colombo is quite small and calm, so there are no great distances which makes it very easy to navigate with two toddlers running off in different directions.

Once your bags are collected and you out into the main Arrivals area there are plenty of money changers and an ATM to get cash from. We had a minibus organised to collect us from the airport through our accommodation and within no time from being greeted were loaded up and on our way to Galle. All very easy.

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Where we stayed in Galle With Kids

We reached our Villa in late afternoon and were met by the team that ran it and provided with a much needed afternoon cup of Ceylon tea.

Our Villa called the ‘Old Clove House’ was amazing which we booked through Air BnB. It is located in an old clove plantation and has been renovated, restored and modernised. 

The house is located in a large leafy garden tucked off a quiet road just minutes by tuk tuk to Wijaya Beach and fifteen minutes to Galle Fort. With a pool and a chef included for preparing delicous breakfast and dinner, it’s a hit for families. Read more about Anna’s review of the Old Clove House here;

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We stayed in Sri Lanka for a week and managed to fill our days with a variety of relaxing little day trips from our villa. If we wanted to move away from the gorgeous pool and do a bit of exploring we hopped in a tuk tuk which the kids loved and whizzed to various places which I will shared with you above. It is such a beautiful country, with such friendly people and well worth a visit or two!

Pin for later?

Family Trip: Sri Lanka (Galle Fort) A family travel guide to Sri Lanka with kids.

Anna is an interior designer based in Surrey. For more information on her work, do visit www.annawilsoninteriors.com

For more posts on family trip destinations, do visit the family travel inspiration section on Kuala Lumpur.

Amber Hill

Wednesday 20th of February 2019

Thanks so much for this information. We leave in 6 weeks with our 6 and 4 year old. I am finalising details now. I am confused about Galle though - I have heard mixed reviews. We are staying in Mirissa so will probably go for an afternoon visit. Some people seem to love it and other are knar blah....many thanks :)

Otisandus

Wednesday 18th of October 2017

This is wonderful. We have talked about visiting for so long we really want to go next year with the little ones. Did you book as a package ? Pinning for later thankyou !

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