Comprehensive Sigiriya Travel Guide for a Better Experience

Sri Lanka's most impressive rock stronghold, Sigiriya, also known as Sigiriya Lion Rock and considered the 8th World Wonder by locals, is about a 3-hour drive from Colombo in central Sri Lanka. The ancient Sky-Palace rested atop a 200-meter-tall rock built in the 5th century A.D. as part of a vast monument. On the lower levels, lovely gardens and moats encircle this mid-level terrace, boasting the Lion Gate. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a well-known tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

Who wouldn't want to see the 8th Wonder of the World? Given that Sigiriya is Sri Lanka's most popular tourist destination, it should be on the bucket list of any travel enthusiast. And this all-inclusive guide will help you plan everything precisely and make informed decisions when visiting Sigiriya

Why Visit Sigiriya?

The UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sigiriya includes the ruins of a usurper king's palace, ancient rock art, and some of the spectacular vistas in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka's most famous landmark, towers above the surrounding plains as a fortress should. The 5th-century usurper King Kasyapa, on the other hand, didn't only construct a stronghold here. Instead, he constructed a magnificent palace with leisure gardens below.

There are now remains of the palace, but you may still see vestiges of its previous grandeur, such as a pair of enormous stone lions' paws. In the 3rd century B.C., there is evidence that the place had religious importance for the locals. Despite this, visitors flock to see the 5th-century remains, which earned the UNESCO World Heritage Site title.

A visitor's guide to Sigiriya in a nutshell

How long does it take to climb Sigiriya?

You may have a fear of heights. Your quadriceps may also not like having to hike up dozens of flights of stairs. But you'll make it, and you'll have a great time on your hike! The steep climb to the summit of Sigiriya is difficult but not impossible. You should expect it to take anything from 30 minutes to an hour (it usually takes me about 45 minutes with a few sweaty breaks). It's a much simpler descent this time, and it'll just take you around 20 minutes this time..

Entrance fee for Sigiriya

It all starts with a walk to the ticket counter, where you'll have to pay the admission price (US$30 for foreigners or 4620 LKR for locals). Keep your ticket safe since the officials will check it around halfway through the Sigiriya hike.

When is the best time to visit Sigiriya?

Because Sigiriya is in the "dry zone," it's hot and dry there all year round. When visiting Sigiriya, the weather may be intense from April to August, with temperatures rising to 30 degrees Celsius. To avoid this, we recommend starting your climb early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.

Instead of trudging up in the noon and guaranteeing a scorching hot walk up, you will revel in the knowledge that the climb will only grow easier and cooler as you advance (and back down).

Because Sigiriya is in the "dry zone," it's hot and dry there all year round. When visiting Sigiriya, the weather may be intense from April to August, with temperatures rising to 30 degrees Celsius. To avoid this, we recommend starting your climb early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.

Also, there are fewer people around in the afternoon since many tour groups arrive earlier in the day (before moving on to the next destination). Once you reach the summit, you'll be able to see the sunset! Wear sunscreen, carry a (big) bottle of water, and buy your ticket before 3 p.m. to ensure entry and to have ample time to descend.

Sunset view from Sigiriya Rock

You've probably seen a lot of sunsets in your lifetime. Sigiriya's sunset vista, on the other hand, is spectacular. From the region's tallest point, Sigiriya, you can see miles of lush foliage and spectacular sunset as bonuses. The higher elevation also means you'll have a better view of the sun setting for a longer period.

What to wear to hike up Sigiriya

Because Sigiriya is not a religious site, there is no set clothing code. Tank shirts, spaghetti straps, and shorts are all appropriate top-of-the-hip fashion statements. You don't have to cover your shoulders and knees (unless you want to visit the Dambulla Cave Temples before or after.) But it would be best to avoid clothing with exposed midriffs and miniskirts.

How to get to Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is a 3, to 4-hour drive from Colombo by car. You can use public transportation as well, however, the bus will take approximately 6 hours.

The ancient city of Sigiriya and history

According to the results of historical studies conducted on-site, Sigiriya's roots go back to prehistoric periods. On the eastern side of the Sigiriya rock, a monadnock known as Aligala is available (Elephant Rock). Prehistoric human habitation traces have been found in a cave underneath here, dating back to roughly 5,500 years before the present. In addition, archeological evidence points to human habitation in this region dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries B.C

The Sigiriya rock stronghold had a Buddhist monastery built on it in the 3rd century B.C. So far, thirty monk-accommodating cave-shelters with drip-ledges have been found at the foot of the massive rock. Eight of them include Brahmi script inscriptions with information about cave shelter contributions.

During King Kasyapa (A.D. 477–495) rule, all the major buildings of Sigiriya were built, and Sigiriya became his administrative center. Researchers concur that Sigiriya portrays the sensuality of a pleasure-loving ruler who built the city after reading about Kuvira's mythological Alakamanda. The Sassanian dynasty's Indian and Roman coinage and ceramics and its affinity to Persian styles in developing pleasure gardens were discovered at the Sigiriya rock stronghold in Iran (Persia). All the evidence points to trade and cultural ties with other nations throughout this short period.

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

About 1200 steps make up the journey up Sigiriya Rock, which may be broken down into many stages. Sigiriya's tallest peak is roughly 200 meters high. There are stairs up to the summit, and they may become congested, steep, and narrow at the end, so take your time, take breaks when necessary. And remember to catch your breath as you go up and down the mountain. To learn more about the Sigiriya hike, continue reading.

Climb 1 - to Boulder Gardens

Your climb begins at the Fountain Gardens and continues up to the Boulder Gardens, where the first challenge awaits. There are just a few little stairs to negotiate. Several huge rocks have caverns underneath them, which you'll see as you go further up the cliff face. At one time, they were colorfully decorated. Some pieces still bear vestiges of the original artwork. Large open-air pavilions may be seen on many platforms in this region.

Climb 2 - to Terraced Gardens

You proceed towards the Terraced Gardens after entering the Boulder Garden along a succession of picturesque stairways, some of which pass through leaning boulders. So many little caves cover an area. Visitors could pause and take in the scenery from the comfort of these once-opulently designed areas, including benches. There was a lavish pavilion perched on almost every single boulder.

Climb 3 - to the Mirror Wall

You will initially pass through the Terraced Gardens before beginning the difficult hike. Before reaching the Zig-Zag stairway, visitors must climb two large brick stairways that lead through a series of terraces. This magnificent stairway leads to the Mirror Wall. To get a better view of the surrounding area, climb up to the platform at the top of the stairwell.

Climb 4 - to Sigiriya Frescoes

The Sigiriya Frescoes are 20 meters up a small metal spiral stairway that leads from the Mirror Wall walkway. The paintings showed the ladies of King Kasyapa's many wives aka Sigiri Apsara and were painted about 1600 years ago. They look stunning with their beautiful outfits and jewelry, so it's definitely worth the trip to see them.

Climb 5 - to the Lion Staircase

To reach the Lion Staircase, you must first make your way up the Mirror Wall walkway. Despite being spacious, the marble steps are rather narrow. Look over the parapet wall while climbing to see the gardens below, which previously had vibrant trees and flora, as well as exotic wild animals roaming freely.

Climb 6 - to Sky Palace

This is the hardest stage of the climb, but you can manage it well. Look down to observe the grooves etched into the rock surface by the ancient builders to create a foundation for the original stairway.

Climb 7-Around the Summit

You've finally achieved your goal. Congratulations, you have made it to the summit of Sigiriya Rock. Take a look around. Be in awe at the Sky Palace's colossal ruins. Visualize the awe-inspiring splendor of this heavenly locale. Think just how many millions of bricks and fixtures ancient workers dragged up this gigantic rock to build this tower. They'd have had to ascend this rock-like how you did as well. It wasn't a walk in the park.

Sigiriya frescoes, Sigiriya paintings, or Sigiriya art

On the surface of the Mirror Wall in Sigiriya, the Lion Rock Sigiriya Graffiti still exists. Ancient travelers left almost 1800 pieces of writing on the wall, including prose, poetry, and commentary. This graffiti sheds light on the history of Sigiriya and the progression of the Sri Lankan language over the last 800 years. It's intriguing. For the most part, the graffiti pays homage to stunning works of art depicting semi-nude ladies. King Kashyapa lived here from 477 to 495 AD, as confirmed by the graffiti. Based on the writings, it's also possible that these women are members of the King's royal court or wives.

Many of them have a very high reading level and a great passion for art and poetry in the Sinhala, and Sanskrit languages. Early writers have given us fascinating tidbits about the past. There were 12 women among the 685 people identified thus far. More than half of the participants identified themselves by name. Many highlighted their socioeconomic status and some even specified where they were from, including Weligama and Ritigala in Sri Lanka. Visitors from society's elite, such as kings, officials, professionals, and clergy, accounted for the largest share of those who stopped through. Soldiers, archers, and even metalworkers were among the other types of workers. There are almost 1000 different words.

The Sigiriya Kingdom and Royal Gardens

This ancient city of Sigiriya is divided into two halves, the western and the eastern, each covering an area of 90 acres. It was an asymmetrical pleasure garden with intricate water-retaining structures and surface and subsurface hydraulic systems in the western portion, which was the site of the royal park. A rectangular region, with an inner precinct of 700 meters from east to west and 500 meters from north to south, is enclosed by three walls and two moats.

On the other hand, a great central pavilion seems to be the only permanent building in the eastern portion of Sigiriya, which appears to be a ceremonial precinct. Within these walls, Kasyapa and his royal family resided. A succession of boulder gardens and tiered gardens lead to the entrance of the Sigiriya rock as you go inside from the two precincts. A long corridor from the terraced gardens on the west side leads to the Lion Platform along the Mirror Wall.

Sigiriya's Water Gardens stand out among the city's highlights. Even though the water gardens seem to be part of a single garden system on the surface, their construction includes four parts. Water Garden Nos. 1, 2, and 3 and the Miniature Water Garden are the official names for these features.

Other things to do in Sigiriya

Climb Pidurangala Rock
Visit Sigiriya Museum
A cycling tour of Sigiriya
Sigiriya hot air balloon ride
Travel to Dambulla to see the Cave Temple
Hiriwadunna Village tour
Where to stay in Sigiriya

Where to Stay in Sigiriya?

It's safe to say that the region around Sigiriya is home to some of the best hotels in Sri Lanka. And this is because the ancient rock fortress is the country's most popular tourist attraction. The following two hotels stand out among the many others in Sigiriya:

1) Jetwing Vil Uyana

With you in mind, homespun luxuries enhance Jetwing Vil Uyana's simple charms. Their rooms have modern amenities, and a plunge pool and quiet library offer harmonious coexistence with nature. Traditional spa and wellness experiences, on the other hand, provide the utmost in tranquil solitude for those looking for something more private. As a bonus, Jetwing Vil Uyana is an excellent place to see fishing cats, too. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Sigiriya and looking for a great choice of hotels to stay in, here is an excellent option.

2) Kalundawa Waterfront Resort

Guests staying at Grand Kalundawa will enjoy the comforts of home, as well as a stunning view of the glittering stream that flows through the resort. Local exotic birds will likely visit you. And you won't have to put up with the musical requests of birds every morning. The rooms are excellent examples of how nature and modernity are intertwined. There is air conditioning in each room, and there is hot water and a satellite TV available. Tea and coffee-making facilities are available for a small cost.

Visit Sigiriya with us

Take a Sigiriya tour to see the old city come to life by hiking through its moats and past water fountains. Take a walk inside the entryway of what was formerly Kasyapa's palace, which is famous for its lion paws. Everything you'll need for a pleasant trip to Sigiriya is included in our all-inclusive tour packages.