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Sigiriya Rock is one of the most popular attractions in Sri Lanka, and it’s really no surprise why. It’s pretty darn epic!
This unique rock formation was created around 2 billion years ago and it’s actually a large block of molten magma that hardened and plugged a volcano.
In the past the area was actually filled with volcanoes, but they’re no longer here. Apart from the final two standing rocks of Sigiriya Rock (Lion Rock) and Pidurangala Rock.
Lots of backpackers opt for Pidurangala Rock and skip Sigiriya Rock because of its price tag, but I’m here to tell you that’s completely wrong!
Why would you travel all the way to Sri Lanka and SKIP one of it’s best attractions?
Keep reading to kind out everything you need to know about visiting Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka.
Since Sri Lanka is so small, getting to Sigiriya Rock is pretty easy.
Sigiriya Rock is located in the town of Sigiriya, which is close to Dambulla (but NOT Dambulla, despite what I’ve read on some blogs online).
Your best bet is to stay in Sigiriya or Dambulla the night before so you can arrive early to the rock, and you’ve got a few options for getting to Sigiriya in general.
1. Take the bus: Buses are cheap and regular across Sri Lanka, however they aren’t exactly high quality and you might find you’re stuck in traffic. But it’s the perfect backpacker option if you’re on a strict budget. You can check bus times and prices on 12Go Asia here for buses to Sigiriya from Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka.
2. Uber or a private driver: Uber is common in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo and you can get an Uber straight to Sigiriya and Lions Rock! Of course the more people in Uber the cheaper it will be. Or you can rent a driver in Sri Lanka for a day (or more) and they can drive you to Lions Rock. Check out this private driver online here.
3. Drive there with your Tuk tuk: Honestly renting a Tuk Tuk was the best thing we ever did in Sri Lanka. It gives you a sense of freedom like no other! We rented a tuk tuk in Colombo for 4 weeks and used this to get around the whole of Sri Lanka. They’re cheap and you can easily get to Sigiriya Rock!
If you’ve got your own Tuk Tuk you can drive from your hotel first thing in the morning to be one of the first ones at the rock!
Or if you don’t, you can usually get your hotel to arrange a taxi to the rock, or take a tour if you prefer the convenience of having your trip organised for you.
The entrance to Sigiriya rock is 5000 Rupees for foreigners and 50 for locals. This basically means it’s $30. Yes, a little pricey..
You need to purchase your tickets before heading up the stairs (this is a common mistake).
The Sigiriya Rock ticket office is on a side street next to the main entrance of the fortress and you can buy tickets from 6.30 am to 6 pm.
When we visited you could only pay cash, not card and after some research it seems to be the same situation in 2020.
There is an ATM there, but the general consensus is, you can’t rely on it.
YES! I know, I know, when you’re on a shoestring budget, $30 seems like a lot, especially when Pidurangala Rock is only 500 Rupees.
But, that rock only gives you a view of Sigiriya Rock, (which is worth seeing as it looks amazing), but it doesn’t allow you to explore Sigiriya Rock, and actually it’s one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited.
The views from it are amazing, but the history on the top of the rock, the remains, everything there is 100% worth visiting.
This is one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions, so you should definitely be visiting. It’s home to an ancient palace and fortress that dates back to the 5th century. The history is fascinating, and it’s stepped in legend.
Do NOT miss out on Sigiriya Rock!
Of course this doesn't mean you shouldn’t check out Pidurangala Rock too, but it’s only a viewpoint, so do both to actually get to see something unique and fascinating in Sri Lanka’s history.
Bradley and I visited Sigiriya Rock in September time and the weather was absolute perfection. We actually timed out 3 weeks in Sri Lanka perfectly with the two monsoons that occur, so if you visit in September, head north first!
But it tends to be a popular attraction year around.
The ticket office opens at 6.30 and they start letting people up at 7 am, so morning! Morning is better for a number of reasons. Firstly, the weather is a lot cooler, and trust me, hiking in heat is not something you want to do.
Secondly, there will be less crowds. When Sigiriya Rock hits its peak in climbing, there can be queues to get to the top. This is because everyone is following the same set of stairs, up and down.
But if you go in the morning, around 7 am to 7.30, you’ll have only a small number of people walking alongside you.
It’s also best to avoid weekends if you can, because everything seems to be busier on the weekend!
If you’re wondering how long it takes to climb Sigiriya Rock, you’ll be pleased to hear, it doesn’t take as long as it looks!
It takes around an hour to get up there, and that includes some photo stops and little breaks, but if you go mid-day when the crowds are visiting, then it is possible it will take longer due to queues.
It’s typically a little quicker to get down, but I would suggest putting aside 3 hours for your visit to Sigiriya Rock!
You’ll be finished well before lunch, and if you want, you can take a quick break then tackle the other rock.
Of course this answer depends on your fitness level, but one of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s pretty accessible for everyone.
The hike itself is well signposted, easy to follow and the only real challenge is at the last part when you have to climb steep metal stairs.
If it’s been raining they can get pretty slippery, so just take your time and watch your footing.
This list should prove to you that it’s absolutely worth a visit.
Surrounding the Sigiriya Rock Fortress are some beautiful gardens, water gardens, boulder gardens filled with beautiful flowers, fountains and other sculptures. It’s definitely worth packing some snacks and wandering among the area after you’ve visited the top of Sigiriya Rock fortress.
Included in your entrance ticket to Lions Rock is the entrance to the Sigiriya Museum. This is a great place to learn more about the history of the rock, the royals and Sri Lanka in general.
This is a sight you can check out on your way to the top of Sigiriya Rock. You’ll see it signposted on your way up. Interestingly, it was once thought to be so polished that the King saw his own reflection in the stone, hence the mirror.
This isn’t the case today, but it is packed with graffiti names of visitors from over 1500 years to the rock and it’s pretty cool. You can’t put your name here anymore in order to preserve its condition.
These are actually SO cool and really unique. Two giant lion paws lead up to the staircase, and it was said they once entered into the mouth of a lion. Pretty cool! But the Lions face collapsed, so it’s just the paws that remain.
There are lots of amazing hotels in Sigiriya that actually offer views of the rock. Our absolutely favourite place is Cassandra Culture Resort, (probably my favourite hotel in all of Sri Lanka). It offers stunning rooms, with views of both rocks, and the staff are delightful (food is amazing too!)
But if you need more inspiration on where to stay in Sigiriya, then check out our complete guide on it.
So there we have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to visiting Sigiriya Rock and hopefully you’ve got all the information you need to visit. Don’t forget there are lots of other awesome things to do in Sigiriya that you can check out here.
Any questions or comments, just drop a comment below.