15 Amazing Things To Do In Sigiriya (Sri Lanka)

Bradley Williams
Written By:
Bradley Williams
Last Updated:
March 16, 2021
When visiting Sri Lanka, Sigiriya should definitely be on your list of places to visit. So here's a run down of the 15 best things to do in Sigiriya.
things to do in sigiriya

Sigiriya is easily one of the most famous places to visit in Sri Lanka.


2 words … Sigiriya Rock.

It is a landmark that has been photographed and shared by hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world.

As well as this, there’s plenty more to see and do, which is why Sigiriya is such an important stop on any tour of this spectacular country.

So, to help you plan your stay and get the most out of your visit, here a list of our 15 top things to do in Sigiriya this year.

But first ...

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How To Get To Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Getting around Sri Lanka is actually surprisingly easy, and there’s plenty of options available to you. 

For Sigiriya, here’s a look at the 3 best options:.

1. Bus - Buses run regularly all across Sri Lanka from all major towns and cities. They are probably the cheapest option available to you, especially if you are travelling solo. We always try to use 12GoAsia for booking bus journeys in Asia. You can check bus times and prices on 12Go Asia here.

2. Taxi (or Uber) - There are plenty of taxis all around Sri Lanka, and even Uber in Colombo. I would recommend using Uber more, as you know exactly what price you will be paying and can ensure you get a good quality vehicle. They are also usually much cheaper than taxis.

3. Tuk tuk - We rented a tuk tuk in Colombo for 4 weeks and used this to get around the whole of Sri Lanka. They are pretty cheap and fuel costs about $3-5 a day. They have the added benefit that you can visit places that are a little off-the-beaten-track and you never have to rely on anyone else.

If you’re flying into Sri Lanka and only plan on visiting Sigiriya for the whole of your trip, then it’s best just to grab some transport straight from the airport, rather than heading into a busy city like Colombo.

Personally, I would probably opt for an Uber which, at the time of writing, is coming in at around 5,000 to 7,000 LKR. 

Between 2 or more people, that is very affordable and the ride should take no more than 4 hours.

stop at rock

Getting Around Sigiriya

You've got a couple of options when it comes to getting around Sigiriya.

  • Tuktuk: We had our own tuk-tuk to get around the best tourist attractions in Sigiriya, but even if you are not driving your own, you can make use of tuk-tuk taxis which are readily available and cheap.
  • Tours & private driver: If you aren't comfortable driving your own vehicle or organising your transport, then you can make sure of a private driver which area easily arrange via your accommodation, or opt for tours when available.
tuk tuk in sigiyira
We loved our Tuk Tuk!

Where To Stay In Sigiriya

There are tonnes of hotels, hostels and resorts available in and around Sigiriya. 

Prices range from as little as $8 a night for a double room, up to a few hundred dollars for a luxury resort.

We stayed at Cassandra Culture Resort and had the most wonderful time, so can highly recommend it.

Here’s some good recommendations based on different budgets.

The 15 Best Things To Do In Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Okay, now it’s time for the part you came for, an ultimate guide on the best things to do in Sigiriya! 

1. Climb Sigiriya Rock (Aka Lion Rock)

sunrise over sigiyria rock
Morning view of Sigiriya Rock from our balcony at Cassandra Culture Resort

This is by far the best thing to do in Sigiriya.

And we were incredibly excited to climb, seeing as we’d spent a whole day staring at it from our hotel balcony.

And we really weren’t let down by the experience!

If you’re short on time, you can take a tour from Colombo to visit the amazing Sigiriya Rock. It's an experience that shouldn't be missed as it really is the best thing to do in Sigiriya.

As the most popular thing to do in Sigiriya, I thought I’d include answers to some of the most common questions you might have:

What Is The Best Time To Visit Sigiriya Rock?

The morning time is best, as it is much cooler than it will become at midday.

The ideal time would be to arrive about half an hour after they have officially started letting people in. That way, you avoid walking up behind large crowds.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Sigiriya Rock?

Probably around an hour. However, if you head up during peak times, you might take a bit longer. Especially if you want to see sights along the way and stop for photos.

What Are The Sigiriya Rock Opening Hours?

Throughout most of the year, Sigiriya Rock is open from 7am till 5:30pm.

How Much Does It Cost To Climb Sigiriya Rock?

As with most things in Sri Lanka, this comes down to whether you’re a local or a foreigner. For locals it’s 50 Rupees and for all foreigners its 30 USD (5000 Rupees).

Is Sigiriya Rock Hard To Climb?

As long as you head up early, before it gets too hot, then most people should be able to climb it. The only tricky part is the last ascent when you go up metal stairs. These can be a little treacherous when wet, so some might find this a bit daunting.

What Should You Wear When Climbing Sigiriya Rock?

Good shoes are a must. Flip flops aren't a smart idea, as you risk slipping at some point. Other than that, shorts and t-shirt should be fine. There aren’t any religious clothing requirements for Sigiriya Rock (p.s. be sure to check out our full Sri Lanka packing list).

How Do You Get To Sigiriya Rock?

We went by Tuk Tuk, and it's pretty easy to find. In fact, I’ve included a screenshot below of where the car park is. Google maps or Maps.me should get you there no trouble. Other than that, there are lots of tours that run to Sigiriya Rock. Your hotel/hostel should be able to help you out with arranging transport.

How Was Sigiriya Rock Formed?

This is actually the most surprising thing about Sigiriya Rock. It turns out, it was made around 2 billion years ago! It is actually a large block of molten magma that hardened and plugged a volcano. The area was once full of volcanoes but these have long gone. Now it is just Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala Rock left.

For more information on when to visit and how to get the most out of your trip, check out our full guide on visiting Sigiriya Rock.

2. Enter Pidurangala Rock

pidurangala rock
That's Pidurangala on the left

Pidurangala Rock is hard to miss, as it’s situated right next to Sigiriya Rock! However, it is in itself a very impressive site to behold.

It is almost as high and also offers breathtaking views out across the surrounding forestland.

Many people choose to climb Sigiriya Rock early in the morning and then walk up Pidurangala Rock to catch the sunset.

You’re welcome to do each one after the other, but it will be tiring and you’d be walking in the midday sun.

This is a popular place to visit for sunrise, and it’s less expensive than Lion Rock (although I do think you should visit both). 

Price: 500 LKR/person
Book: Pay when you visit
Opening Times: 5 am to 5 pm

3. Discover More At The Sigiriya Museum

The Sigiriya Archaeological Museum is situated in the same compound as the Sigiriya Rock ticket office.

Once you’ve paid your $30 entrance fee, this then covers you to visit the museum as well.

And you might as well, as it offers more in depth history about the Sigiriya Citadel, as well as information about the Lion Rock Fortress and ruins they have unearthed nearby.

Many recommend visiting the museum before you begin your climb. 

That way you will better appreciate everything you see on the way up and will have an understanding of the rock’s historical importance.

4. See The Elephants At Minneriya National Park

elephants in sri lanka
Always lots of elephants to discover in Sri Lanka!

If seeing elephants is on your list of things to do in Sigiriya, then you have to go on a day tour of Minneriya National Park.

It’s famous for attracting massive herds of elephants all throughout the dry season.

It is also well known for its wide array of other wildlife, in particular, birds.

As of writing, the cost of entering the park is $15 per person, and then you'll need to rent out a jeep safari for the day.

The more of you that go, the cheaper it is. And your hotel or hostel should be able to help you in finding a good local provider.

Book: Check GetYourGuide

5. See Even More At Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park elephants

Not far from Minneriya National Park, you’ll find Kaudulla National Park.

It is similar in that it is also one of the country’s most important locations for birds and is becoming increasingly popular with tourists choosing to visit Sigiriya.

It also draws in large herds of elephants during the dry season.

And with no guarantee when and where you will see these herds passing through, it’s always a good choice to hedge your bets and head out for 2 safaris, instead of just 1!

Read moreOur full guide to planning a safari in Sri Lanka

6. Go On Your Own Cycling Tour Of Sigiriya

With so much to see and do in the area, many visitors instead opt to hire out bicycles and explore all of the Sigiriya attractions themselves.

Much of the beauty of Sigiriya can be found in the surrounding countryside, so you don't need to be at an actual site in order to have a great time.

It’s worth speaking to your chosen hostel or hotel as there’s a chance they will have some bicycles you can take out for free.

7. Go On A Hot Air Balloon Ride!

The Sri Lankan ballooning season runs through from November to April, and is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Sigiriya!

A few companies operate throughout the area, each offering sunrise hot air balloon rides.

If you catch it on a clear, sunny day, then the views of the sun rising out over the surrounding jungle canopies is truly incredible!

More Info: Official Website

8. See What Polonnaruwa Has To Offer


Only about an hour's drive from Sigiriya, you have the town of Polonnaruwa.

The two spots are very intertwined and guests choosing to stay in either Polonnaruwa or Sigiriya will choose to take day trips to see the other sites on offer.

Some of the most popular things to see in Polonnaruwa include Parakrama Samudra, Gal Vihara and the Thivanka Image House.

If you leave early you can spend the day exploring Polonnaruwa then head back to Sigiriya to catch the sunset. 

9. Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

The small town of Dambulla is a nice place to visit, though you are limited in what to do there.

We stayed for one night, but it is possible to simply stop off for a few hours.

It only takes about an hour to get from Dambulla to Sigiriya.

And what do you do whilst there? See the Dambulla Cave Temple of course!

It is a very unique spot that houses more than a hundred Buddha statues, all perfectly carved and preserved inside of individual cave temples.

There are 5 caves in total, each containing unique designs.

It’s worth hiring a guide to show you around.

They charge around 1,000 LKR and can teach you more about the spot’s incredible historical significance.

10. Take A Day Tour To Anuradhapura

minhtale sri lanka

If you are staying in Sigiriya all throughout your time in Sri Lanka, then there are 3 key places that you should be sure to make day trips to.

The first is Anuradhapura, which is a wonderful city that is perhaps one of the most historically significant parts of the country. In particular, Mihintale.

It is an ancient capital of Sri Lanka and includes some of the best preserved temples and monuments from ancient Sri Lanka.

If you head up there with your own transport then it costs just $25 to gain access to all of the many sites available in the Old City.

11. Relax In The Sun At Trincomalee


Trincomalee is our favourite seaside location in Sri Lanka. There isn’t a lot of surf, if that’s what you’re interested in.

However, there are still so many wonderful places to visit in Trincomalee.

What they do have is one massive long stretch of clean, sandy beach and a vast array of bars and resorts you can stay in for the day.

The weather in Trincomalee is typically far hotter than in Sigiriya and there are a few things to do there.

But we recommend heading up, getting yourself a sun lounger outside Fernando’s and spending the day sipping cocktails and swimming in the warm sea.

12. Don’t Forget Kandy!

kandy sri lanka

The third and final city I recommend visiting outside of Sigiriya, is Kandy.

Almost all backpackers stop off there on their journey backpacking through Sri Lanka

But for those staying exclusively in Sigiriya, it is a spot you simply cannot afford to miss.

The area is higher in the mountains than Sigiriya and is most famed for its numerous ancient Buddhist monuments.

It is also a haven for tea plantations and is home to some of Sri Lanka’s most diverse and natural rainforests. 

Don’t forget to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens whilst you’re there.

13. Meet the Legendary Local Craftsman

Want something to remember Sigiriya by? What better way than visiting an authentic local workshop that has become so popular recently?

Fondly known by some as the “Sigiriya Handyman”, he fashions a wide range of products from metal. Silver, brass, copper... You name it!

You can find anything from simple bookmarks to fancy jewelry boxes. And when we say this is a workshop, it truly is one.

There are tools scattered around the room, with just a single shelf displaying his unique crafts. He will show visitors how he designs and works those metals.

It’s totally fine to stop by without buying a souvenir, but we have to say it may be hard not to do so! His metal products are very charming and relatively affordable.

How can you find this famous handyman, you ask? His shop is nestled where Hotel Rd and Sigiriya Rd meets, in a small market in the corner.

If you’re having a hard time locating it, we’re positive locals will be happy to show you!

14. Try the Roti from Pradeep Restaurant

Roti is one of Sri Lanka’s culinary treasures. It just so happens that Sigiriya is home to Pradeep Restaurant, which makes some of the nation’s most scrumptious Roti.

If you haven’t tried Roti, did you ever really visit Sri Lanka!?

Out of hundreds of places and confirming testimonies from customers, we can guarantee that this will be one of the best Roti you’ll taste.

At Pradeep Restaurant, this local flatbread is thin and brimming with a range of filling. Nothing beats the classic vegetable and cheese Roti.

With that said, the chocolate and coconut variety is also an excellent choice to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Opening Times: 7.30am – 10pm

15. Day Trip to Rose Quartz Mountain (Jathika Namal Uyana)

Yes, it’s a little out of the way and will take 45 minutes to drive from Sigiriya to Jathika Namal Uyana. From there, you can see the Rose Quartz Mountain, the biggest one in Southeast Asia.

This mountain is made up of pure Rose Quartz and climbing it has got to be the most magical thing you can do here.

While the mountain itself isn’t really pink, there is a dusty rose shade to it. You can even see the quartz sparkling under your feet.

It takes US$5 and about an hour to climb up the mountain. Don’t forget to wear some trainers and a bottle of water!

Price: US$ 5
Opening times: 7am - 5pm

How Long Should You Spend In Sigiriya?

We only stayed for one night in Sigiriya, but spent another night just up the road in Dambulla.

If you really want to relax and enjoy your time here, then I'd recommend staying for 4 or 5 nights, and in that time fitting in day trips to all of the stops listed above.

views from sigiyira rock

Where to after Sigiriya?

All in all, I truly do believe visiting Sigiriya is one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka.

And, from reading above, you can see that there really are so many wonderful places to visit in Sigiriya for all kinds of travellers.

If you’ve been to Sigiriya before and have anywhere else to recommend, then please do let me know below!

From Sigiriya, it's worth heading south, up into the hill country of Nuwara Eliya and Ella.

Here, the landscape changes dramatically and you get to enjoy glorious tea plantations for miles in all directions.

For help planning your full route, you can check our our amazing 3 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary.

Now over to you ...

Which one of these things to do are you most excited for?

Or do you have any more recommendations?

Leave a comment below ...

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