Want to know how to get from Colombo to Galle? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the three ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Galle
Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. The walled city is a great mix of archaeology and architecture. And a visit here will take you back to the 17th century.
Even after over 400 years, Portuguese and Dutch influences are widely seen on its old fort, colonial buildings, imposing mansions, churches and mosques. Some of the best things to do in Galle include wandering around the Dutch Fort, taking a dip at Unawatuna, and (window) shopping for unique boutique finds.
3 ways to get from Colombo to Galle
There are three ways to travel the distance of 145 km (90 miles) from Colombo to Galle: by bus (5 hours), taxi (2.5 hours) and train (2.5 hours). The journey takes between 2h30m - 5h and the quickest way is by taxi. The lowest priced tickets start from 220 Rs ($0.60) for the train.
To make the most of your train journey across Sri Lanka’s west coast, we recommend taking a 2nd class train for this 2.5-hour journey. This way, you will enjoy the comfort of a cushioned seat while enjoying the refreshing breeze from the open windows. A 2nd class unreserved seat costs 220 Rs ($0.60).
The first train from Colombo to Galle departs at 06:55 and the last train leaves at 19:30. Their full schedule is available on the Sri Lanka Railways website.
The route from Colombo to Galle is among the busiest in Sri Lanka, especially during rush hours, when people are going to and from work. However, if you travel outside the peak times – 07:00-09:30; 12:30-14:00; 16:30-19:00 – then you should be okay.
If you don’t want to take the risk with a jam-packed train, you can also book a 1st class air-conditioned seat. Note that 1st class seats sell out fast, but you can still try buying them at the train station as soon as you arrive in Sri Lanka.
Another option is to book your 1st class ticket online for 3,260 Rs ($10.00). Keep in mind that online booking for Sri Lanka train tickets is only allowed at least 30 days before your trip.
Normally, we recommend picking air-conditioned buses when travelling via a local bus in Sri Lanka. They are faster than ordinary buses and are a bit more comfortable. But for this route, we will make an exception.
Local buses #2-1 from Colombo to Galle pass along the west coast, so you will have a clear view of the sea. If you want the salty breeze that comes with it, take an ordinary bus for 170 Rs ($0.50). Otherwise, you can take an air-conditioned bus for 335 Rs ($1.00). Buses depart every 20 minutes.
Keep in mind that local buses in Sri Lanka can be a bit crowded and not the best option if you are carrying bulky luggage.
An alternate option is to take a tourist bus. Le Ceylan offers 8 trips daily from 12:00 to 20:00, with a 2.5-hour travel time. Just click the link below to book a ticket.
All of these buses depart from Bastian Mawatha Bus Station and arrive at Galle Central Bus Station.
There is also an option to skip the seaside route altogether and take the expressway instead. With the expressway, buses can reach Galle in just 1.5 hours.
Take bus #EX001 from Makumbura Bus Stand. These buses depart every 20 minutes starting at 05:00 daily. A ticket costs 420 Rs ($1.20).
However, Makumbura is located about 30 minutes south of Colombo city centre. The only way to reach it is by taxi or Uber. With Uber, fares start at 900 Rs ($2.70).
If you add the fares for Uber and the express bus, the total is 1,480 Rs ($4.50), a bit more expensive than the tourist bus coming from Colombo city centre. The approximate total travel time is also 2.5 hours if you include the transfer time.
If you don’t have an aversion to the sea, we recommend taking the direct tourist bus instead.
Colombo to Galle by Taxi
Duration: 2.5 hours
Starts from: 9,000 Rs ($27.50)
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: 9,000 Rs ($27.50)
The taxi from Colombo to Galle costs around 9,000 Rs ($27.50) if you book with Uber. But fares can be slightly cheaper or more expensive depending on availability. For the cheapest rates, you can also check the taxi apps PickMe and TaxiGo. Keep in mind that although these apps are widely available in Colombo, you might have difficulty booking a taxi for longer journeys.
PRO TIP: Use the code “hpam1ue” or this link to order your first ride with Uber for free!
Just in case none of those is available, there is also an option to book via BookAway, with fares starting at 11,900 Rs ($36.50).
Frequently Asked Questions about Colombo to Galle
What is the distance from Colombo to Galle?
The distance from Colombo to Galle is 145 km (90 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Colombo to Galle?
The fastest way to get from Colombo to Galle is by taxi and takes 2.5 hours.
What is the cheapest way to get from Colombo to Galle?
The cheapest way to get from Colombo to Galle is by train with ticket costs starting from 220 Rs ($0.60).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Colombo to Galle. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.