Nicobar's Guide to Sri Lanka

Very little changes in the Southern town of Galle and that is a good thing. In this lovely walled colonial city that feels as European as it does Sri Lankan, the Dutch and English churches are always the same, as are the cobblestone streets lined with cafés and clothing and jewellery shops, but we could happily spend a couple of days just wandering those same streets, stopping in at Barefoot Café for a coffee, or at the Isle of Gelato for (what else) a scoop of gelato.

There’s also Stolen Paradise, where we found surfboards and swimwear, and Amangalla Hotel which is super for lunch or for tea and cake, depending on your appetite. Formerly occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Galle is best explored on foot and is today the hub of a lot of Sri Lanka’s expatriate community, all of whom seem to setting up cool little eateries and boutique properties in the region. Plus journey time from Colombo to Galle is a mere hour and a half, which means that it is also a popular weekend destination for locals.

As the sun dips, walk to the Galle Fort Ramparts Walk where everybody comes out to watch the sun drop into the sea. There are families walking the walls, young boys leapfrogging over the fence at the far end and diving into the Indian Ocean, and tourists taking pictures. And once the sun is gone, there is no shortage of places to stop at. Try a gin and tonic alongside the super-fresh seafood at The Fort Printers, or the lychee house cocktail at Galle Fort Hotel as day turns into night.

Stay at: The Owl and the Pussycat in Talpe

This cool, design-minded boutique hotel is a 15-minute drive from Galle, sits right on the shoreline, and stars private terraces, massages, and rooms whose design is inspired by the Edward Lear poem for which the hotel is named. They also serve very, very good food in an open-air restaurant, rounding off a very chic, bohemian retreat that is perfectly placed for daytime exploration in Galle.

We travelled to Sri Lanka with IBEX Expeditions; this itinerary was created especially for Nicobar and booked entirely through IBEX.

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