When traveling to a new country we always love using trains to travel. Especially when they are open door like the ones in Sri Lanka. You can travel to almost all of Sri Lanka by train. Make sure you don’t miss heading to Ella you get to see the beautiful countryside and enjoy the fresh wind in your hair. That is if you know when the best time to take the train is. The trip from Colombo to Galle is one of the busiest routes for the train. If you travel at the wrong time it could be very packed and very hot. Make sure you read on to find out all you need to know about the Colombo to Galle Train.
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Colombo Train stations
When choosing your time and train you need to first find out what station is best for you. Colombo Fort was closest to the airport and the one we went with. It only took 30 minutes from the airport by taxi and they dropped us off at the front door. If you would like to avoid crowded places I suggest going to Maradana Station. It may be easier to get a seat and a lot less packed then Colombo Fort.
Colombo Fort Railway Station Rush Hour
First off like all major cities you should avoid traveling during rush hour. This is the busiest time at the station. Rush hour, in general, is from 7-9:30 in the morning, again from 12:30-2 pm during the day and later from 4:30-7 pm. This is when Colombo Fort Railway Station is going to be the busiest and the trains will be the least comfortable. When we first arrived we didn’t even think about this and we were so slam packed in the train it made the ride not so enjoyable. It was an experience that’s for sure!
Colombo to Galle Train Tickets
Sri Lanka offers three types of tickets first class second class and third class. When we arrived we knew we didn’t want to ride first class because we wanted to hang out the train as we saw in the pictures. Don’t we all? Well, we opted for the 2nd class tickets. They were 180 Sri Lankan Rupees ($1.01 USD) not bad for a 2-hour ride. Prices for all classes Below.
First Class: 990 Rupees ( USD )
Second Class: 180 Rupees ( USD )
Third Class: 100 Rupees ( USD )
All tickets can be purchased at the station or book in advance online.
Even though we bought second class tickets we ended up in third class. This was mainly due to there being so many people and so little signs to explain where exactly to go. Once the train stopped, we only had a couple of minutes before the train left again and didn’t really have time to ask around for help. They do have the class painted on the train but the trains were older and a little rusted so you couldn’t really see clearly what class it was.
When we rode first Class later in the trip they checked our tickets when we boarded but it seems no one checks tickets for second and third class. The locals were hopping on and off the train the whole time and just not walking through the station. When you do exit the station they will check your ticket then but they never check the class unless you board first class.
What are the differences between first, second and third class?
I am so glad you asked.
First-class is the best, coming in at 990 Rupees you get yourself a nice air-conditioned car with cushioned seats. When you purchase the ticket you will be assigned a seat number. They run out quick so make sure you get them ahead of time. Some trains only have one 1st class car. This makes these tickets very valuable, especially in the summer.
The second class is the most popular. Coming in at 180 Rupees you get yourself a cushioned seat, a nice breeze from the window and they have fans on the ceiling all throughout the car. The fans and windows make it bearable with no air conditioning on the hot summer days.
Third class, this is where things become a little less comfortable. There is no cushion, No aircon, and no assigned seat. The locals pack as many people in the third class as they possibly can. I promise if you like personal space you MUST get a first or second class ticket.
Tips for riding the train in Sri Lanka
None of these classes have a lot of room for luggage. They do offer some but not a whole lot, especially if you are traveling with a lot of stuff during rush hour. They have an overhead rack and sometimes a little shelf in the back of the car. If you are outside the busy hours you should have no problem. If the tickets are sold out online don’t worry, you can always book them a day in advance or an hour in advance in person.
Train Schedule Colombo to Galle
The train schedule is online but that still worried us. We had no idea when the last time the site was updated or if the times were still correct.
**I do suggest you arriving at the station at least 30 minutes prior to make sure you get your ticket and are settled in waiting for the train.**
Colombo Fort Railway Station
With you planning on taking the long journey from Colombo to Galle I suggest you stock up on water and snacks. At the Colombo Fort Station, they have tons of options. If you get there early enough they have a local style restaurant that offers you our favorite Chicken Kottu Roti or you can grab something a little quicker like the triangle egg rolls. Don’t worry if you don’t have time for that you can always stop one of the locals walking through from car to car with some fresh snacks that should hold you over for the trip.
Getting from Colombo to Galle
If you board the train and avoid rush hour the trip from Colombo to Galle is really nice. The train takes you 36 stops until you arrive at Galle. With it taking 2 hours, try and find somewhere comfortable to relax and take in the views. We tend to always sit in the doorway of the car as they are moving. This to us is the most comfortable and you get the best view. Make sure you hold on tight because the old cart is pretty shaky. If you can get over your fears and take the seat on the edge you will really enjoy the fresh crisp air saltwater smell the whole way down the coast.
Sri Lanka Railway Map
Below is an Embedded Map for you to see the whole journey.
Even though we left on time we somehow ended up being over an hour behind schedule. To be honest the view was so beautiful and the air so refreshing we didn’t really notice that we were so far behind on time. This is why checking the time is a must. You can really lose track of time and potentially miss a stop. If you are sitting in the doorway the stations seem to alternate what side of the car they are on so make sure you are watching the map. My suggestion is to download google maps offline for Sri Lanka. That way you can always stay up to date where you are and you can just relax worry-free.
Train travel in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has so much for every type of traveler. From the mountain views in Ella , to the beautiful beaches in the south to the amazing city of Colombo. You can access over half of the island all by train. This is the easiest and cheapest mode of transportation. It really allows you to see the vast countryside in a short amount of time. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Sri Lanka series here for more travel locations and tips for your trip:)
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