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Sri Lanka’s southern coast is an inviting string of sun-soaked beaches, peaceful fishing communities and colonial-era forts that jut into the Indian Ocean. Beach bums and urban escapists flock here during the European winter to take advantage of the value-for-money resorts, white sand beaches and good surf. The major destination on the south coast is Galle, a beautifully preserved Dutch-built fort that dates to the mid-17th century. Thick fortress walls encircle a quaint collection of churches, tile-roofed homes and government buildings. Boutique hotels and restored mansions in the fort offer memorable accommodations as you explore the ...

Sri Lanka’s southern coast is an inviting string of sun-soaked beaches, peaceful fishing communities and colonial-era forts that jut into the Indian Ocean. Beach bums and urban escapists flock here during the European winter to take advantage of the value-for-money resorts, white sand beaches and good surf. The major destination on the south coast is Galle, a beautifully preserved Dutch-built fort that dates to the mid-17th century. Thick fortress walls encircle a quaint collection of churches, tile-roofed homes and government buildings. Boutique hotels and restored mansions in the fort offer memorable accommodations as you explore the narrow lanes and museums. Just beyond Galle, travelers call in at Unawatuna for its idyllic coastal setting, laid-back backpacker vibe and delightful seafood shacks. Dedicated surfers push on to Midigama to catch waves and chill out in family-run guesthouses. Along the coastal route, travelers may spot "stilt fisherman" who perch themselves on wood poles as they cast lines into the sea. Travelers needing a break from the beach invariably visit the highly-touted Yala National Park, home to elephants, leopards and other wildlife. The south coast is not without its cultural sites: the best in the area is Kataragama, a large complex of shrines holy for Buddhists as well as Muslims and Hindus. The Kataragama Festival, held for two weeks in July and August, is a major draw for both Sri Lankans and foreign travelers.

Michael Kohn
About the Expert

Michael Kohn is the author of Lonely Planet guides to Israel & the Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tibet, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

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Michael Kohn for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka; approximately 70 miles from Colombo
  • Language: Sinhala, Tamil
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December to March for good weather; July and August to catch the Kataragama Festival; November to April for surfing