1. Dambulla Cave Temple
Towering above the plains of Dambulla is this awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dambulla Cave Temple Complex. This ancient Buddhist pilgrimage is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The five major caves are dotted with 150 plus stunning Buddha statues (and a few depicting Sri Lankan kings, gods and goddesses) as well as huge cave paintings & murals making this is one of the must-visit Dambula tourist places. The intricate cave paintings, serene statues of Buddha and the sacred vibes makes these caves a beautiful spiritual sanctuary.
2. Pidurangala Rock
In addition to Dambulla tourist attractions, this rock outcrop in Sigiriya which is an easy half an hour drive away, is a wonderful trip for those looking for a taste of adventure. A 30-minute hike along steep steps and boulders rewards you with sweeping views of the surrounding area and the best view of Sigiriya Lion Rock. The hike through dense forest is thrilling, and the mesmerising views at the top make it worth all the effort. You need to go through an ancient Buddhist temple before beginning the ascent. A sunrise hike is recommended for the breathtaking views and tranquil setting.
3. Minneriya National Park
One of the most important historical places in Sri Lanka and a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sigiriya Lion Rock is a magnificent fortress and temple complex atop a high volcanic plateau. Locally also called the eighth wonder of the world, this stunning site features high on the list of places to visit in Dambulla and Sigiriya. The main entrance is shaped like a huge stone lion, whose feet survive till date. The palace complex, which also served as a monastery for many years, is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens and unique water & boulder gardens. Sigiriyas western wall is adorned with beautiful frescoes.
4. Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs
This little known yet important pre-historic site is a worthy contender for historical places in Dambulla that you must include in your itinerary. Dating back to the Iron Age, visiting this site would give you as well as your curious school-going kids a glimpse into the life and times of people inhabiting Sri Lanka eons ago. The well-maintained site in a picturesque setting also has a small museum with the findings from burial grounds (clay pots, urns, copper & gold jewellery, gemstones) have been displayed. This ancient burial site belongs to the megalithic prehistoric and proto-historic period of Sri Lanka.
5. Sigiriya Museum
If you are the type of person who likes to delve in the history of a place then Sigiriya Museum is meant for you. The museum is located at the base of the Rock Fortress and was constructed in 2009. It boasts of its collection of artifacts that can be dated back to the prehistoric period. Funding by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency helped in establishing the Sigiriya Museum. A trip to this museum in Sigiriya Matale will enhance your knowledge about the Kingdom of Sigiriya. It consists of more than five galleries that include photographs, videos, and models that depict the site’s history. Make your trip worthwhile by including Sigiriya Museum as it is one of the top places to visit in Sigiriya Matale.
6. Lion's paws, Sigiriya Overview
Perhaps the most iconic structure of the Sigiriya fortress, Lion’s Paws is situated just before the summit of Sigiriya Rock. As the name suggests, the structure is composed of two gigantic paws, flanking a staircase that leads to the royal palace.
The attraction was initially an exquisitely chiselled and enormous structure of the head, chest and paws of a crouching lion with open jaws, guarding the entrance to the 5th-century royal residence of King Kashyapa I. But all that remains today are the paws, a reminder of the significance and opulence of King Kashyapa’s reign.
Sigiriya Rock or the Lion Rock is an ancient fort located in the Matale District in central Sri Lanka. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is in the Matale District of Central Sri Lanka and lies between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane at the height of 370 metres. It consists of a citadel and has ruins of palaces, the Lion Gate, gardens, moats, the Mirror Wall, and many beautiful frescoes (paintings made in wet plaster on walls). The place got its name from the Lion claws, carved at the entrance of the Lion Gate. You can reach the Sigiriya Fortress either by bus or by train, from the main towns of Dambulla or Habarane.
8. Royal Gardens
The stunning royal gardens surround the imposing rock fortress of Sigiriya. The gardens comprise of lush greenery scattered with beautiful pools, fountains, giant boulders and picturesque terraces. The royal gardens of Sigiriya are one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. A sophisticated hydraulics system only adds to the ingenuity of the engineers of that era.
9. Sigiriya Museum
Sigiriya Museum is at the base of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and was established in 2009. The museum boasts an impressive collection of exhibits that belong to various periods in history - ranging from the prehistoric period to the reign of King Kashyapa when the Sigiriya Rock Fortress was constructed.
10. Pidurangala Rock
The Pidurangala Rock is a few kilometres away from the famous UNESCO site, the Sigiriya Rock. It is known for the view of Sigiriya Rock from the top of the rock, the white temple situated at the base of the cliff, and the enormous reclining Buddha statue located under an ancient boulder.
11. Minneriya National Park
The Minneriya National Park is in the Northern province of Sri Lanka, four hours away from Colombo, and 30 minutes away from Sigiriya. The national park is famous for its herds of elephants migrating for food, water and shelter, and forming a 'gathering' that can be witnessed by the visitors. The dry season is the best time to visit this place, as the majestic elephants migrate to the Minneriya Tank for water. Apart from elephants, the national park is also home to several mammals, birds, reptiles, and different kinds of plant species. Minneriya National Park comes under the dry zone, meaning, it receives less rainfall compared to the other areas in the countr
Polonnaruwa, a marvel of a place, is in Northern Sri Lanka. The city once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa under the Chola Empire in the 10th century. This makes it the second most historic kingdom in Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura.
13. Kaudulla National Park
It has been in existence for many years now, but it was given the recognition of a national park only in April 2002. The Park spreads over 6656 hectares, and it is connected to the Somawathie Chaitiya Park and the Minneriya Wildlife Park. A reserve turned national park, Kaudulla sees herds of elephant’s families usually around 350 of them.
14. Spice Garden Inamaluwa
Located in the Central Province of the country, the Spice Garden in Inamaluwa houses a wide range of spices such as cardamom, black pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom. Visitors can gain insights on how these spices are grown on such a large scale.
15. Elephant rides
Apart from hiking to the summit of Sigiriya Rock or merely marvelling at this imposing structure from below, an unconventional way to sightsee at Sigiriya is by the elephant rides.
Anuradhapura is a historical paradise as it houses several heritage monasteries, palaces and monuments. It is known for its vast dagobas or brick stupas, ancient ponds and pools and magnificent temples. The city was established as the first capital of Sri Lanka in 377 BC. It was also at this time that Anuradhapura rose to prominence as a seat of political and economic importance.
Ritigala, situated between Polonnaruwa and the old town of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, is a hilly forest and Buddhist worship. The monastery is named after the 40m tall Ritigala trees in the mid slopes of the hill; this Buddhist monastery has inscriptions that date back to 1st century BC.
18. Hiriwadunna Village tour
From Sigiriya, you have the opportunity to visit the small village of Hiriwadunna to see how people live. The day trip goes for about 5-hours and includes a boat ride to the village (where you’ll have the chance to see many birds and maybe even crocodiles) and then a walk around the village.
Expect to see people fishing, going about their daily lives, more wildlife, and then eat a home-cooked lunch made by the people in the village!
19. Trincomalee for a day at the Beach
If you’re only in Sri Lanka for a short time and not making your way to stay on the east coast for a while, you should at least make time for a day trip! From Sigiriya, you can get to Trincomalee in about 1.5 hours by car.
Trincomalee Beach is beautiful and a gorgeous place to relax in the sand and calm ocean water. Nearby Marble Beach is also pretty special and worth checking out.
In my honest opinion, I would spend a couple of nights in Trincomalee if you have time rather than visiting on a day trip from Sigiriya, but if that’s all you have time for at least spending a couple of hours at the beach will be better than nothing!
20. Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is one of the best places to see elephants in Sri Lanka. The Park is 8890 hectares so it is can only be explored in a jeep. On a safari in Minneriya National Park, it is possible to see elephants all gathering together in groups as large as 350!
Can you imagine?! Hundreds of elephants all in one spot – incredible! The best time of year to see the large elephant gathering in Minneriya is from July to September (outside these months read about Kaudulla and Wasagamuwa safaris below.) But, all year round you will still be able to see elephants!
Minneriya is a great option for a jeep safari in Sri Lanka because it is much less busy than Yala or Udawalawe National Park. Since Sri Lanka has become such a popular tourist destination these national parks can be very busy with hundreds of jeeps all driving around the same small areas. But Minneriya is less popular making it the perfect choice!
It is located in the Matale district in the centre near the town called Dambulla. According to history, this site was chosen by the king Kasyapa to serve as his new capital. There is a huge gateway shaped like a lion and the place derives its name from this gateway. This place served as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
The fortress complex, constructed in the 5th century, includes attractions such as the royal gardens, one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, and the Mirror Wall, which is adorned with ancient graffiti. The highlight of the fortress is the colourful frescoes painted on the western face of the rock; it is believed that there were initially 500 such frescoes, but merely around 22 of them remain today. The gigantic Lion’s Paws greet visitors before the summit. At the peak are the ruins of the royal palace of King Kashyapa I, and 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding landscape. Sigiriya Museum at the foot of the rock has a plethora of artefacts related to Sigiriya on display for visitors seeking information regarding the site’s history.
Another interesting archaeological site located nearby is Pidurangala, which houses the remains of a cave temple complex. Hiking to the summit of Pidurangala Rock offers stunning views of the Sigiriya Rock.
Right in the midst of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle lies Sigiriya, also known as Sinhagiri. Recognized for its ancient rock fortress, located in Matale Northern District near Dambulla. Labeled a world heritage site by UNESCO, Sigiriya is referred to as one of the 8 wonders of the world by its inhabitants, thanks to its archeological significance and incoming tourist traffic. One of the leading examples of ancient urban planning that’s been maintained well.
With traditional artifacts to boast of in the North, plush green moorlands in the Center and some amazing beaches along its Southern and Western coastlines, Sri Lanka is quite rich in exploring its natural beauty and historic monuments. To travel anywhere from Colombo, it will easily take you about 3-4 hours, with Colombo to Sigiriya being the most preferred journey. Here's a guide on how to reach Sigiriya.
There are no direct flights from India to Sigiriya. You can take a flight from India to Colombo International Airport with nearly 19 flights operating from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai & New Delhi. Once you land at the Colombo International Airport, to reach Sigiriya you can take a flight, catch a bus, or book a rental car or a cab.
The distance between Colombo and Sigiriya is 150 km. It is roughly an hour and 33 mins travel to Sigiriya, inclusive of transfers. If you’d like to fly, it’ll cost you anything between LKR 16,000-40,000 for a flight. Cinnamon Air, a reputable domestic airline in Sri Lanka has an air taxi operating daily from Colombo airport’s domestic terminal to Sigiriya. Although it is the fastest way to reach Sigiriya (30 mins), flying is a bit too steep in terms of budget!
Further, the air taxi is small in comparison to other flights and can only accommodate about 8 people at a time. The flight schedule is as listed below –
The best way to reach Sigiriya from Colombo is by train and will cost you between LKR 800-1,200. It is an hour and 33 minutes from Colombo. However, there are no direct trains to Sigiriya. The best option is to board the train from Colombo Fort to Habrana, which is 15 km away. If you reserve a 3rd class ticket, the fare would be LKR 480, while a confirmed seat in the 2nd class is LKR 600. The train leaves at 6.10 am every day from Colombo Fort to Habrana and takes about 4 hours 50 minutes.
From Habrana, Sigiriya is approx. 17 km and costs LKR 750-900 by Taxi.
If you love driving, you can always rent a private car and take either of the two routes recommended to reach Sigiriya. The usual route is the A01 route from Kandy Road to Ambepuss, via Kurunegala on A06. Depending on the traffic you can hope to reach Sigiriya in 3 hours max. The second option is to drive on the Katunayake Expressway.
Traveling to Sigiriya can be quite tiring, considering the direct options to reach there are limited to none. If you’d like to travel by bus, it may take longer than driving in a cab or a rental car. From Colombo, the number 15 bus to Anuradhapura or number 48 to Kaduruwela are the best options; alternatively, you’d board number 49 to Trinco and get down either at Dambulla or Habrana. From Habrana, you’d take a 3-wheeler to Sigiriya, which will cost you LKR 300, although the journey may nearly exhaust you from the long travel!
The best way to getting around in Sigiriya is by bikes or scooters which cost anywhere between LKR 300-1500 on hire. You can also hire a tuk-tuk, considering their cost-effectiveness and the fact that you can explore a lot of places that may be off the track.
An austere sanctuary, a rock art gallery and an invincible citadel, Sigiriya is most popular for its mysterious rocky outcrop, built in the 5th century AD in lieu of an anticipated conquest and is located upon a 656 ft high rock. With beautiful paintings of women adorning the rock, a graffiti wall that’s almost 1000 years old, a lion’s paws and breathtaking views, Sigiriya is an archeological wonder.
The weather in Sigiriya is quite average with temperatures hardly varying. Given the humidity levels, the temperature is quite warm all year round, with considerable rainfall through half the year. The best time to visit Sigiriya is in July, then August and next January, during which time you’ll find all flights and hotel fares at their peak unless you book in advance. March is dull in Sigiriya, and hence quite easy on the pocket too.
Spring in Sigiriya is low on business, which makes it an opportune time for good travel deals. March to May makes the weather quite warm on account of humidity and temperature fluctuation, with the highest temperature varying between 34.9°C and 32.2°C. Rains during this period is a usual occurrence with around 4-10 days of rainfall in each month.
This is the best period for tourism in Sigiriya when summer is typically overcast, short & hot! With the humidity levels soaring, the highest temperature is 34.9°C in early April and the night temperature seldom goes below 23.7°C. Rainfall’s down to a bare minimum with only 3 days at the least in each month.
The fall season sees the temperature varying between 33.3°C and 29.7°C, making it pleasant weather to be in. There’s a considerable amount of rain or snowfall ranging between 4 days to a fortnight in a month, making it a slow season for tourism.
Winters are warm, wet and short as well, usually for a period of 2½ months, from 10 November-26 January. The average temperature stays at 29°C and the coldest day ends up being 28 January mostly. It rains or snows for almost 5-12 times in a month, making it the second-best time to visit Sigiriya.
With its temperate weather conditions, Sigiriya’s appropriate for tourism throughout the year. The warm weather gets challenging when you climb to the rock, as there’s a fair bit of walking involved. However, since the wind current is so strong, the harshness of the sun wouldn’t really bother as much. The best time to climb would be early mornings and evenings before 5 pm. After this time, you can expect roaming elephants and wasps. Weekends are usually crowded and so are public holidays.
Given its popularity, most eateries in Sigiriya are based on the thematic aura of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The food in Sigiriya is quite economical and also authentic in regards to the local cultural taste. Of some of the best places in Sigiriya to enjoy local cuisine, Rithu restaurant, Inamaluwa Sigiriya leads, on the way to the Lion Rock. For LKR 750 per person, you can have a variety of delicacies, enjoy the earthy and pleasant vibes of the restaurant.
Another popular diner is the Wijesiri Family Restaurant, Sigiriya road, with famous local tea. The food is delectable and prices reasonable. The Banana Lassi at the Ahinsa Restaurant, Inamaluwa-Sigiriya Road is quite promising, while the menu is rich with good food and more than enough quantity! Some other eating places include the Royal Sigiriya and Chooti restaurants.
The Sigiriya Craft Village is a shopper’s delight with a lovely assortment of local artefacts with some really beautiful selection of wood carvings, batik, jewellery, and brass items. The prices of these items vary between being reasonable to expensive and you need to be a smart bargainer. Then there’s Lanka Souvenirs and Vish Wood Carvings where you can find a wide array of wood art, leather items, paintings, gemstones, minerals, and local spices. You can also visit Lanka Silks, which specialises in Silk Sarees, Batik Sarom, and Natural Silk.
Sigiri Rock Side Home Stay
Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, Sigiri Rock Side Home Stay offers pet-friendly accommodation in Sigiriya. Free private parking is available on site. Some rooms feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day.
Aliya Resort and Spa
Aliya Resort and Spa is set amidst lush tropical foliage. Situated just opposite Sigiriya Rock, the resort boasts an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and 4 dining options. Free Wi-Fi access is available in this property.
Sigiriya is located within the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Featuring the best view of the Lion’s Rock, it offers an outdoor pool, restaurant and free parking. Air-conditioned guestrooms offer views of the garden.
The Nature Park Villa
Situated in Sigiriya, 1.7 km from Sigiriya Rock, The Nature Park Villa features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden.
Sigiriya is a town located in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province, a beautiful destination for travellers who have an avid interest in archeological ruins. A fortress, Sigiriya is encompassed with palaces and gardens that were built by King Kasyap in 5th century AD, post an unsuccessful attempt to kill & seize his father and to prevent any future attacks. Sigiriya’s economy is totally tourism dependent. From serene boat rides to a stay in some beautiful destination hotels, from hiking, nature trails, hot air balloon rides to elephant safaris, here are some amazing things that you can enjoy at Sigiriya.
A Pleasant Hotel Stay
While this really may not be an activity you can engage in, but it is a significant addition to your trip to Sigiriya. With Sri Lankan tourism being constantly worked on in terms of its service offerings, most luxury hotels have premium facilities and ambiance at low tariffs. For a 5-star or 4-star stay, you can expect a room rent of $100-$150 a night, in comparison to an exorbitant $500 somewhere else. Some mentionable properties in Sigiriya that would make your stay memorable include the Water Garden and Jetwing Lake Hotels, with beautiful views of Sigiriya Rock and villa-like rooms with either their private pools or a long swimming pool, with every room having a pool view, not to forget restaurants with buffet cuisines.
If you would like to explore eateries aside from the delightful restaurants and food options available in your hotel then it is best to hit the streets to gorge on some spicy curries, especially the veg and non-veg Kottu. Sri Lankan cuisine comes close to the Indian South Indian fare but has its own indigenous touch to everything.
Sigiriya’s also popular for 3 of the largest national parks in Sri Lanka, and the elephant safaris that happen there. Witness one of the largest gatherings of Elephants and be a part of a day in their lives as they chow down the lush green grass, play around with their friends and dunk and drink in the lake. There are a variety of other species as well at the park to view and enjoy!
Take a boat ride in the lake with beautiful views of Sigiriya and the picturesque countryside. With some large lily pads in the lake and the gorgeous setting sun, you can look forward to a peaceful ride apt for quiet reflection.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the best activities of your trip to Sigiriya, but an expensive one albeit, would be the Hot Air Balloon ride that you can sign up for with Sri Lanka Balloon, a government-approved enterprise which specializes in sunrise rides in Sigiriya. You will be bundled up in one of these balloons and taken over the lush landscape of this town, all windy hair and broad grins in tow.
Open Jeep Tour & Cycling Trips
What’s a better way of getting around a place than with a local, who will take you through the original villages of Sri Lanka, make you familiar with their lifestyle, their agricultural landscape, natural habitat and ancient ruins, all in the midst of thick forests, in addition to visiting the local markets that sell village groceries. You will also be honoured by their village hospitality. You can also explore the village on a bicycle if you enjoy riding and experience the rural life with a guide who will introduce you to the origins and history of the area, help you interact with villagers and treat you to some coconut juice to quench your thirst.
Nature Trail in Habrana
A bush walk inside the lush forests of Habrana where you can expect to meet some elephants, enjoy watching the birds or witness the wildlife with an experienced villager is another highlight of things to do in Sigiriya. Mark the end of the trail with a sundowner by a beautiful lake or on a rock cliff.
The top sightseeing places in Sigiriya are Sigiriya Rock, Pidurangala Rock , Elephant rides, Sigiriya Museum , Dambulla Cave Temple , Royal Gardens.
Sigiriya is famous for it's palace ruins on top of a massive 200 meter high rock surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs and other structures.
Sigiriya is located 175 kilometers to the North-East of Colombo.