We had very little information about what kind of things to do in Sigiriya when we arrived. Our expectations were high and our knowledge low. Actually, we could discover that it would not be a big miss to arrive there with no clue of what the place is about. Sigiriya is an icon, not less but also not more. And what is making that place iconic is visible from everywhere. We speak about Sigiriya Rock. Don’t misunderstand us, please! Just because of the rock is very worth it to get to Sigiriya but don’t expect anything else in town but the shape of the rock in the distance and the spectacular views from the top if you are ok to climb up at very hot temperatures.
We arrived there with our tuk-tuk and immediately we could understand we reached a touristy place. There are no important roads to get to Sigiriya so we needed to share narrow paths with tourist SUVs and even buses. You know you are close when you spot the rock from one of the viewpoints. You will see street sellers, small shops and many signs of resorts around.
The town is ok. It is very similar to any other town in the country but with a higher concentration of services, bars and restaurants. The best plan probably is to choose a good resort, enjoy the pool and the food and get ready to visit the very famous rock.
What is Sigiriya Rock?
The Lion Rock is the main tourist attraction in Sigiriya. It is an archaeological complex located on top of a rock. The Rock of the Lion has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
At the top of the rock there is a small archaeological settlement. The fortification, located on top of the rock, was built at the end of the 5th century, beginning of the 6th century. It was built by King Kashyapa who saw in the rock a strategic place to control the city from possible attacks.
To visit the rock in Sigiriya
At the bottom, there is a forgettable temple which has free entrance. You will be able to visit it even though you don’t want to climb to the rock. There are some fresh coconut sellers around who are nice and they offer a perfect simple service for some pocket money.
If you want to enjoy the panoramic views of the area, we recommend you climb to the top of the Rock of the Lion. There you will find archaeological remains that were once a fortress. At the top of the Lion Rock you can also see some picturesque frescoes from the same period as the construction of the fortress. The ticket is 30 dollars. At the gate you will find some guys who will try to convince you about some extra offers and services you won’t really need (if they actually exist!)
The path to the top can be a bit unpleasant because there are 1200 steps to the top. If you like aerial views, the path is worth it as the views are impressive. We recommend you take water with you and sunblock. Choose the best time to visit Lion Rock, meaning early morning, when it’s less crowded and not so hot.
Is it worth it to pay for Sigiriya Rock?
Some of the visitors actually wonder if it is worth it to pay that fortune to climb Sigiriya Rock. Honestly we think it is very overpriced but even though that is still a difficult question to answer. It would depend on how much you like the aerial views. We can say in addition that we will see many other nice views for free in the country. Moreover, just here below we will offer you an alternative plan.
For culture and history lovers, we recommend a visit to the Sigiriya Museum. There you will find a sample of photographs, reproductions and frescoes of the city.
The museum emphasizes the cultural interest of Sigiriya. The relationship of the city with other countries thanks to its trade routes is explained. We recommend you visit it before your ascent to Lion’s Rock as this way you will have more information about it before you go. Pictures are not allowed inside. The museum can be visited in an hour and the ticket is 5 dollars.
Pidurangala Rock: the alternative plan
It cost 5 dollars to climb and it offers the best views of the rock. The main problem with Sigiriya Rock is that, even being one of the main things to do in Sigiriya, once you are up there you lose the views of the rock. Otherwise, Pidurangala Rock offers the best views of Sigiriya Rock of the town.
Some extra plans from Sigiriya
- Minneriya National Park: This is one of the best places to see elephants in Sri Lanka. The park is 8890 hectares to be explored in a jeep. On a Safari it is possible to see elephants all gathering together in groups as large as 350.
- Dambulla Caves: These series of temples are some of the most important in all Sri Lanka. They have found human skeletons in the temples that were 2700 years old. Currently, the visitor can appreciate in a half an hour ride from Sigiriya the importance of Buddhism in the area. If you want to know what to do in Dambulla check our full review.
- Polonnaruwa: The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is one of the best examples in the country about what an organized political power is able to do. Even though in very remote times. If you want to know what to do in Polonnaruwa check our full review.
Where to stay in Sigiriya
Sigiriya is a tourist destination with plenty of options for your vacations. Check on our map which are the most suitable for you!