How to get to Galle
There are a number of options available for your travel from Colombo to Galle, and back.
Your preferred choice depends on what you want your travel experience to be – considering the time you want to spend in transit, price you are willing to pay, comfort level you wish to travel in, and … your sense of adventure.
- Car or Taxi: Hiring a private car and driver, or a taxi is the easiest, comfortable and most hassle-free way to travel to Galle.
- Bus: Taking the fully air-conditioned Southern Expressway (Highway) Buses to Galle is a more economical and reasonably comfortable way to travel.
- Train: For the most scenic and adventurous travel option there is the train. Less comfortable, very much longer in duration, but will make for quite the story to tell.
- Tuk-Tuk: For the road-ride you will never forget, at a price that may somewhat impact your wallet, but most certainly impact your lower lumbar region.
- Helicopter/Plane: Getting to Galle by air is the fastest and most expensive option, however, the bird’s-eye view of the southern coastline is unbeatable and the experience incomparable.
You can hire a private car and driver or taxi to take you to Galle from most hotels and even directly from the airport.
If you are going from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake, you can go directly to the taxi desk inside the arrivals promenade (after you clear customs) and arrange for the service quite easily before exiting the airport terminal.
The fastest route to get to Galle by road is to take the toll-levied Southern Expressway (E01).
There are 3 entry points to access the Southern Expressway:
If you are traveling to Galle directly from the airport, you can take the outer circular highway from Kadawata, which is closer to Colombo North. Your travel time will be approximately 1 hr 30 min – 1 hr 50 min in duration.
There is also the option of taking the old ‘Galle road’ down the coast to Galle, though this route will take you a minimum 3 hours of travel time.
Car Hire and Taxi Companies
J K Cabs
Tel: +94 011 2533 533
Radiant AC Cabs Co. (Pvt.) Ltd
Tel: +94 011 2505 070
Tel: +94 011 2556 556
Lak Sri Cabs
Tel: +94 011 2739 639
A R S Cab Service
Tel: +94 011 5054 153
M S Sonic Cabs
Tel: +94 011 2733 722
Nanocab (Pvt.) Ltd
Tel: +94 011 267 6717
Tel: +94 011 2816 816/ +94 011 7589 589
Namdo Tours (Pvt.) Ltd
Tel: +94 011 2688 688
Vasi Quick Cabs & Tours (Pvt.) Ltd
Tel: +94 011 2249 249
2 options are available to you for your journey by bus to and from Galle.
The level of comfort depends on the type of bus you take.
There are frequent local buses (non-air conditioned) and the less frequent semi-luxury fully-air condition express buses.
- Express Bus
- Local Bus
The Express Buses take the Southern (E1) Expressway directly to Galle, are better in terms of time (1 hr 30 min – 1 hr 50 min) than local route buses ( 3 hrs).
You can also expect a more comfortable ride since the Express Busses are larger and fitted with good seats as well as air conditioning.
The express bus to Galle can be boarded at three starting depots in the suburbs of Colombo:
Maharagama to Galle:
Expressway buses to Galle leave ‘Maharagama Bus Depot’ daily, about every 20 minutes from 05:20 am until 09:00 pm. Between 02:00pm – 07:00pm, these buses leave every 15 minutes.
Bus Number: EX 1
Bus Depot Address: Galle Highway Bus Station, Maharagama, Sri Lanka
Ticket Cost: Rs. 390
Alt. Bus Number: You can also take the Maharagama-Matara Express Bus: EX-1-1, and get off in Galle)
Traveller Note: Getting to and from the Maharagama Bus depot to your hotel or lodging may be the most challenging part of your bus journey to Galle. A Tuk-Tuk or Taxi to the bus depot with all your luggage is recommended.
Kaduwela to Galle:
Highway buses to Galle depart Kaduwela daily from 06:00 am until 07:20 pm, about very 20 minutes between 06:00 am – 1:20 pm. Thereafter every 30 minutes until 07:20 pm.
Bus Number: EX 1-23
Bus Depot Address: Kaduwela Bus Station, Hanwella Low Level Rd, Kaduwela, Sri Lanka.
Ticket Cost: Rs. 400
Kadawatha to Galle:
Highway buses to Galle depart Kadawatha daily from 05:30 am until 08:00 pm, about every 50 minutes.
Bus Number: EX 1-21
Bus Depot Address: Kadawatha Bus Stand, Ganemulla Rd, Kadawatha, Sri Lanka.
Ticket Cost: Rs. 420
Alt. Bus Number: You can also take the Kadawatha-Matara Express Bus: EX 1-22, and get off in Galle)
Buses that go along the Galle Road.
- There are plenty of non-air conditioned buses that the run the route on Galle Road along the coast to Galle and beyond.
- It is quite a comfortable ride on these buses and a way to see life along the Southern Coast.
- The journey will take 4 hours at least.
- The ride is also jerky with lots of sudden stops and starts and the buses can be very crowded, hot and sweaty.
- The fare for a local bus from Colombo (Pettah Bus Station) to the Galle Bus Stand is Rs. 150 on regular bus and Rs. 250 on a semi-luxury bus.
The train down the coast from Colombo to Galle is appealing and attractive travel option to consider.
Plenty of trains run back and forth daily, but check the schedule before you plan your journey:
- Website: http://www.eservices.railway.gov.lk/schedule/homeAction.action?lang=en
- Trains arrive/ depart Colombo from Colombo Fort Railway Station: Tel: +94 011 2432 908
- Trains arrive/depart Galle from Galle Railway Station:
- Start your journey at Maradana Station. It is where the train starts so you are more likely to get a seat from here … but it is not guaranteed.
- There is no first class.
- Unreserved one-way fares to Galle Second Class (recommended) cost Rs. 180.
- Unreserved one-way fares to Galle Third Class cost Rs. 100.
- No advance bookings can be made for seats.
- There is no air-conditioning on the train but the fans on the ceiling work and the open windows let in a breeze.
- Boarding the train is highly competitive experience. Everyone tries to get on the train to grab a seat.
- This is a popular route so there is overcrowding and often delays in train arrival times. You may also have to stand for the entire duration of the journey.
- The Rajadhani Express is a luxury carriage attached to the state-run Sri Lanka Railways on the route to Galle.
- A reserved one-way luxury first-class fare to Galle costs Rs. 1,000.
- The luxury carriage service to Galle is attached to the 6:55 am Matara-bound train from Colombo.
- The luxury carriage service back to Colombo is attached to the 3.30 pm Colombo-bound train from Galle.
- This service DOES NOT run on Thursdays.
- Passengers are offered a snack and beverage menu, power points for charging electronic equipment and decent washrooms. They are also able to arrange transport from the station to your hotel on request.
Take a ‘regular’ train ride from Colombo to Galle with travel bloggers Karen and Paul. Check out their website www.GlobalHelpSwap.com for more on their journey to Sri Lanka.
Testing your nerve and posterior in a Tuk-Tuk all the way from Colombo to Galle is not standard practice, but you could take a three-wheeler down the Galle Road along coastline.
It is an experience in itself, albeit costly. Tuk-tuks are not permitted on the E01 expressway so expect to shell out a minimum of Rs. 5,000 for a ride right down to Galle.
It is very convenient to hail one down off the road … but the journey is unlikely to be comfortable as much of it is bumpy.
Travel time: 3.5 hrs – 4 hrs.
Helicopter and Plane
Traveling to Galle by air is the fastest but most expensive way to get there, however, the bird’s-eye view of the southern coastline is unbeatable and the experience incomparable.
Internal flights leave from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake but do not operate direct to Galle but to the domestic airports in Koggala and Dickewella, 15km and 65km away respectively from the Galle city center.
Your hotel should be able to arrange road transport to get you from Koggala Airport to Galle city center within a travel time of 15-20 minutes.
Return flights go directly from Koggala and Dickewella to BIA in Katunayake.
Currently 2 services operate flights on this route: