In Short

If ancient ruins of bygone empires and stunning views are your thing, then a day trip to Sigiriya should be on your hit list. The sprawling remains of an ancient city sit on top of a monolithic rock rising from the earth. Crumbling fortifications make way for panoramic views of the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside all around.

If you’re making your way to Sigiriya from Kandy it can be a long day. The steep stone staircases and sheer cliffs on the path to the ancient city require a decent level of fitness, especially in the heat. The views, secret ancient frescoes and intricate carvings are all worth it though.

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Best For: Ancient history, panoramic views, mysterious ruins
Opening Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Entry Fee: US$30
Ease of Access: Medium

How To Get There

The easiest way to reach Sigiriya is on an organised day trip. Loads of tour operators in Kandy offer private or group trips, with hotel pick-ups taking away the hassle of negotiating chaotic Sri Lankan public transport. Touring parties depart Kandy around 8 a.m. and return around 6 p.m. and often include lunch and a stop at Dambulla Cave Temples as well. Tours start from US$35.

It’s a two and a half hour taxi ride from Kandy to Sigiriya, and if there is a small group of you this is a good transport option. Depending on time of year and your ability to haggle, a return taxi journey costs around US$60.

The slowest and most complicated way to reach Sigiriya is by public bus, but you’ll save a load of cash. From the main bus station in Kandy it’s a two and a half hour bus journey to Dambulla, where you change to another 30-minute bus to the entrance of Sigiriya. If you leave Kandy at 7 a.m. you might get to the entrance as early as 11 a.m. The whole journey by bus costs just US$3.

What’s So Awesome About It

Even from the plains, the looming rock face of Sigiriya is breathtaking. Climbing to the summit is even more impressive as you find the ruins of an ancient fortified city overlooking the stunning countryside.

The site is UNESCO protected and exploring reveals preserved frescoes and crumbling statues. The ruins of water gardens, palaces and baths give a glimpse of what life was like in King Kashypa’s time in the 5th century.

What’s The Catch

  • If you’re making your way by bus it’s a long day, leaving Kandy at 7 a.m. and returning after 7 p.m.
  • The entrance fee to the park is high if you’re on a tight budget.
  • There are loads of steep staircases and cliff paths to be climbed to see everything Sigiriya has to offer, so a decent level of fitness is required.

Pro Tips

  • There’s nowhere to buy water in the park itself, so make sure you bring some with you or pick some up from the sellers outside the entrance.
  • Pair a day trip to Sigiriya with a visit to the stunning Dambulla Cave Temples if you are arranging your own transport.
  • Wear sturdy shoes designed for hiking as there’s a lot of uneven rock paths and steep slopes and steps to climb to reach the top.

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