Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic city is a delight to explore on foot, an endlessly exotic old trading port blessed with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient mosques and churches, grand mansions and museums. Wandering its rambling lanes you’ll pass stylish cafes, quirky boutiques and impeccably restored hotels owned by local and foreign artists, writers, photographers and designers.

Built by the Dutch, beginning in 1663, Galle’s core is the Fort, a walled enclave surrounded on three sides by the ocean. A key part of the Fort’s appeal is that it isn’t just a pretty place. Sure, tourism now dominates the local economy, but this unique city remains a working community: there are administrative offices and courts, export companies, schools and colleges.

Most travelers are utterly seduced by Galle’s ambiance, and it’s undoubtedly southern Sri Lanka’s one unmissable sight.