Galle Face Green- An Urban Park In Sri Lanka’s Colombo With a Historical Past

Wondering where this outlandish sounding place is located? Let us tell you a little about Galle Face Green before we go on to tell you more about the Sri Lankan beach. Located in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Galle Face Green is an urban park spread over a humongous 5 hectares of land. Galle Face Green in Sri Lanka is now considered to be one of the largest pieces of land that is accessible to crowds inclusive of tourists and regular local visitors. On one end of this stretch of land lies the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel while on the other side, you’ll see the magnificent Galle Face Hotel. The Galle Face beach is a beautiful strip of land covered in greenery, surrounded by tall towers and buildings. The beach is frequented by the locals residing in Colombo, especially on weekends as it makes for the best spot for children to play around and for families to spend some quality time in the midst of some great food and a little bit of sweet chaos.

The History of Galle Face Green

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Galle Face Green’s history goes back to the eighteenth century when the then Governor of British Ceylon, Sir Henry Ward had planned out the structure of Galle Face Green. The original plan had pictured Galle Face to be even larger than what it is today. There are many versions to the story of how the green promenade came about. Some stories talk about how the promenade was built by the Governor for the ‘fair ladies’ to get some fresh air while a few others say that it was initially planned by the Dutch, to place a straight line of cannons across the promenade and use it as a defence against any Portuguese invasions. The latter reason also explains how the name ‘Galle Face’ has its origins in the Dutch fortifications that were planned to be laid out on the promenade. After years of laborious hard-work, the promenade was finally ready in 1859.

Galle Face Green- Did you know?

A very interesting fact about Galle Face Green is that it was the first place where the Governor of British Ceylon, Sir Henry Ward was introduced to the golf sport and that is how Galle Face became the place where the Colombo Golf Club was inaugurated for the first time. This club was later moved to Borella as the promenade began to attract larger crowds and more public began visiting the spot to enjoy other sports such as cricket, polo, tennis, football and rugby.

Things to do at Galle Face Green

Being the central point of the city, Galle Face Green also has a lot of fun things that you can catch up on, through the day. A day at the Galle Face beach is meant to rejuvenate you in a very different way amidst the bitter-batter of the families loitering around, the street vendors panning out delicious food and last but not the least, the sounds of beach waves crashing against the shore.

1) Watch the sunset at Galle Face Green

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Sri Lanka is broadly a tropical country and gets a fair share of the sun’s light and of course, the heat. Make sure you take a walk at the Galle Face Green beach around 5pm to soak in the beautiful view of the setting sun. The blue waters, orange sky, and the yellow setting sun make for the best view after a long day in the Sri Lankan heat. As the day comes to a close, you’ll see the beach bustling with locals and tourists strolling around the beach, playing cricket or just unwinding at the end of the day. If you’re feeling a little hungry, grab some flavourful deep-fried shrimp cakes or deep-fried lentil cakes with prawns, locally called isso vadei and munch on these while you watch the sunset.

Where: 56 Colombo- Galle Main Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

2) Eat your heart out at the Galle Face Green Night Market

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Galle Face Green has come to be known as one of the best places to sample Sri Lanka’s most in-demand street food. As the sun begins to go down, street vendors pull out their pans and best eats that satiate every palate type. The street food at Galle Face Green is to die for, especially the food at Nana’s. Nana’s is one of the most sought-after street food joints at Galle Face Green and has the locals frequently visiting these open-air restaurant outlets to grab some yummy dishes. The best dish at Nana’s is the Kottu. Kottu is made from leftover foods like Sri Lankan curry, chapati (Indian flatbread), vegetables, fish and meat, all chopped and made into a dish full of flavour and spice. At Nana’s, a variety of Kottu variations are available, right from cuttlefish Kottu to mutton Kottu. If you thought that was the end of your meal, brace yourself for the Sri Lankan local Elephant Ginger Beer. You can’t be in Colombo and not have the EGB, as the locals fondly call the brand of soda. Another street food at Galle Face Green that you must try is Hoppers. Hoppers is the most versatile Sri Lankan dish you’ll eat. Hoppers are basically pancakes in the shape of bowls that are eaten with eggs for morning breakfast or with some delectable Sri Lankan curry for dinner. You can add masalas and chutneys according to your taste and enjoy this local street food at the Galle Face Green beach side. After downing all these spicy treats, head to one of the stalls selling Saravita and Coconut. As we already know, coconut is very widely consumed in Colombo and make for the base of most Sri Lankan curries. The Saravita dessert is also prepared using freshly shredded coconut that is delicately wrapped in betel leaves and then sweetened by adding some artificial sweeteners. If youre not used to the hustle and bustle of a busy street, eating at the street food stalls in Galle Face might be a little overwhelming for you but is an experience (and food) you cannot miss!

Where: Nanas, Galle Face Dr, Colombo 00300, Sri Lanka.

3) Visit the Galle Face Hotel

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The Galle Face Hotel in Colombo is one of the oldest properties east of Suez, will please the old-world Victorian in you. Built by the British in the year 1864, this hotel has been visited by various famous personalities including Indira Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin, Richard Nixon and the likes. The Victorian suites at the property only add to the overall charm of the hotel while the seafront that faces the Galle Face beach will bring breezes of fresh air while yourewatching the beach from Verandah, an in-house restaurant, at the hotel. A whopping 156 luxurious rooms are housed in this huge hotel and are furnished with elegant pieces of furniture, antique show-pieces and wooden-carved doors. The Hotel is a superb combination of luxury clubbed with world-class service. The location of the hotel is definitely another plus. The property also boasts of the only saltwater swimming pool in all of Colombo but can be used only by guests staying at the hotel, unfortunately. The Galle Face Hotel also has a routed history that you can explore with the help of a professional Historian at the Hotel, who will take you through the hotels architectural highlights, digging out and narrating tales from the legendary past years. If youre visiting Colombo, stay at the Galle Face Hotel and experience the best of Galle Face Green. However, if youre a little low on budget, you could drop in at the hotel to grab a bite at their restaurant called ‘1864 Restaurant’ which obviously makes a reference to the year when the hotel was built. This restaurant also serves some lip-smacking contemporary cuisines made with the freshest of ingredients while ‘The Verandah’, another restaurant at the Hotel cooks up International as well as local cuisines. We would highly recommend visiting the Seaspray restaurant at the Galle Face Hotel if you are a seafood lover especially because of the scenic ocean views that this restaurant affords.

Where: 2 Galle Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

4) Visit the iconic Galle Fort

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One of the most beautiful spots in Galle, the Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Dutch began building various fortifications in Colombo and the Galle Fort happened to be one of the many fortifications built in 1588. A very intriguing fact about the Galle Fort is that the structure lived through the horrid tsunami disaster that hit Sri Lanka in 2004 and still stands strong.

Where: Galle 80000, Sri Lanka.

How to reach Galle Face Green?

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Galle Face Green in Colombo can be accessed by various modes of transport from all parts of the city as it lies in the central part of the city. If you’re looking to travel from Colombo airport, a taxi drive to Galle Face Green will take you about 30 minutes and would cost about INR 750 to INR 950 for a one-way drive. If you’re looking for a more budget friendly option, opt for a direct bus from Katunayake Airport Bus Station which will reach you to the Colombo Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal which is close to Galle Face Green, in an hour and a half (approximately) and costs about INR 56.

Galle Face Green beach visiting hours

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The Galle Face Green beach is open throughout the year and has no charges for entry. The best timings for visit the beach are from 9am to 6pm, but we would recommend you to visit the Galle beach at about 4pm so you reach just in time to watch the sunset and can build up an appetite for all the mouth-watering food at the night market.

Attractions Near Galle Face Green

Once you have explore Galle Face Green, you can also include these attractions nearby for sightseeing around if you think you have time on your hand.

1) Gangaramaya Temple

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The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. When you enter the temple, you will feel mental peace and tranquillity like you have never felt before. Started by the scholar monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera, the temple has now been turned into an institute that manages learning centres that teach vocational skills to students from all around the world, free of cost. If you are someone who loves antique pieces and have a thing for the Buddhist traditions, the Gangaramaya temple is the place for you.

Best time to visit: 5am to 6pm Entry charges: Free entry
Where: 61 Sri Jinarathana Rd, Colombo 00200, Sri Lanka.

2) The Old City Hall of Ceylon

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The Old City Hall of Ceylon in Colombo is a municipal building and everything your vintage dreams are made of. The building looks like an old-time British building with arched roofs and glass windows, is now home to some trucks that were originally gifted to the councillors from Japan, and some municipal equipments. The Old City Hall is also a meeting spot for officials of the Municipal Council of Colombo. The grand mahogany staircase inside the building lead you to a room fll of wax statues of the old councillors however, these statues are covered in dust but make for good stuff to explore if you fancy historical facts and objects. You might have to tip the local minister to let you into the room.

Best time to visit: 8am to 5pm (Shut on Sundays)Entry charges: Free entry (INR 100 tip)
Where: Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka.

3) Dehiwala Zoo

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The Dehiwala Zoo was built in 1936 to protect the wild animals and birds in the region and participates in animal exchange programs in an attempt to promote breeding and preservation of wildlife. You will find some of the most exotic animals and birds at this zoo. Make sure you catch the performances by the sea lions, elephants and chimpanzees at the zoo.

Timings: The zoo is open on all days from 8:30am to 6pm.Entry charges: Charges for foreigners are INR 212 (per adult) and INR 106 (per child) while locals are charged INR 43 (per adult) and INR 13 (per child) to gain entry into the zoo.
Where: 120 Quarry Rd, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka.

Galle Face Green in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, has had a remarkable history that spans back to almost a century. Keep in mind to visit this iconic attraction on your next trip to Sri Lanka.

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