Travel guide Sigiriya: 6 cool things to do in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

One of the most famous images of Sri Lanka: Lion Rock in Sigiriya. This square rock rises from the jungle, a spectacular sight. Sigiriya, the city where the Lion Rock is located, has nowadays become a tourist town. In this travel guide, I will tell you more about Sigiriya and what you can do here.


Travel guide Sigiriya: more than just Lion Rock

Sigiriya is a small town in the northeast of Sri Lanka. It is about a two-hour drive from Kandy or Anuradhapura. The place itself does not represent much. There are some restaurants, souvenir shops and many hotels and guesthouses. The biggest attraction here is really Lion Rock. If you are in the centre, you can already see the rock, it towers high above the houses and trees.Lion's Rock us Sigiriya

How many days do you stay in Sigiriya?

If you have little time, one night is more than enough for Sigiriya. In the afternoon after arrival, you will climb the Pidurangula Rock for a great view of Lion Rock. The next morning, before you travel on, you can climb Lion Rock itself. However, if you have more time, we advise you to set aside an extra day for Sigiriya and the surrounding area.


Will you also be going to Anuradhapura? Read our travel guide about this holy place!


Six awesome activities in Sigiriya

At first sight, there is not much to do in Sigiriya outside of Lion Rock. However, appearances are deceptive. Below you will find six fun activities for when you have a few days to spend in Sigiriya!

1. Climb Lion Rock (also called Sigiriya Rock)

In the middle of a beautiful botanical garden, surrounded by the jungle, the Lion Rock towers two hundred meters above all the greenery! In the fifth century AD, there was a palace on this huge rock. A palace with swimming pool, murals and even a carved lion. Nowadays you can view the remains of this palace on the rock. And of course, enjoy the view. At the bottom of the rock, you will find the royal garden, a beautiful garden.

The 1200 steps to the top are easy to do. However, what is less pleasant is the high price to climb this rock. Because it is one of the most popular activities in Sri Lanka, the entrance fee has been made very high (LKR 4500 or € 22.50 per person). Looking at Lion Rock from the distance is the most beautiful sight and we spoke to many people who found the climb of Lion Rock disappointing, we, therefore, decided to choose climbing Pidurangula Rock instead of Lion Rock (see the second activity).Lion's Rock us Sigiriya

2. Or climb Pidurangala Rock

The nearby Pidurangala Rock exactly overlooks Lion Rock. We climbed it during sunset and had a beautiful view of the famous rock and the surroundings of Sigiriya! The first part is easy to walk, only the last part is a bit of a scramble (so wear sneakers instead of slippers). In addition, the entrance fee to Pidurangala Rock is a lot lower. We paid LKR500 or € 2.50 per person!Lion's Rock us Sigiriya

The best view from Pidurangala Rock on Lion Rock is during sunrise or sunset. The temperature at that time is also pleasant enough to make this hike!

Tip: There is a temple at the foot of Pidurangala Rock. It is sacred territory and therefore you are expected to cover your knees and shoulders and take off your shoes during the first part of the hike. You can borrow a sarong for free at the entrance.Lion's Rock us Sigiriya


The closest beach to Sigiriya? Trincomalee! Read all about this place here!


3. Relax during a wonderful massage

Want to relax after hiking or visiting a temple? Then book a massage at one of the spas around Sigiriya. One of the best spas in the Sigiriya area is Camellia Resort Spa. The prices are slightly higher here, but you will be well pampered very well here!

4. Visit the Cave Temple in Dambulla

About half an hour from Sigiriya you will find the city of Dambulla. Where Sigiriya is no more than one street with some restaurants, Dambulla is a big city. Here you will find the Cave Temple. This temple consists of five caves full of Buddha statues and murals. The first caves date from the first century BC. All of the temples vary from very small to quite large (over 52 meters wide, 23 meters deep and 7 meters high).

The mountain where the cave temples are located looks out over the city. You also have a beautiful view of the surroundings from here. This place is popular, so make sure you are here as early as possible. Access is 1500 RS (€ 7.50).Dambulla cave templesBuddhas inside cave temples Dambulla

5. And admire the Golden Temple in Dambulla

Next to the Cave Temple, there is another temple, the Golden Temple. This consists of a large golden pagoda and a huge golden Buddha statue. Far fewer visitors come here than to the Cave Temple, so it is nice and quiet in the middle of the day. Admission is free here.Golden temple Dambulla

6. Go on safari in the Minneriya National Park or the Kaudulla National Park

Did you know that you can also do safaris and game-drives from Sigiriya? To the north of the city is the Minneriya National Park and the Kaudulla National Park. Both parks are much quieter than for example Yala National Park and have a lot of wildlife. You can spot elephants here (sometimes outside the park gate), buffalos and many different species of birds. In the Kaudulla National Park, you even have the chance to spot deer, leopards and other cats!

A four-hour safari with two people costs around 100 euros.


Are you planning your trip to Sri Lanka? Then read this article about which beaches in Sri Lanka would be the best fit for you!


The best hotels and guesthouses in Sigiriya

With the Lion Rock as the number 1 tourist hotspot in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya has plenty of nice hotels, hostels and guesthouses. Below you will find a selection with our favourite hotels!

Sigiriya Nature Villa Lodge €Sigiriya Nature Villa Lodge

This simple hotel has everything you need when travelling on a small budget: air conditioning, a private bathroom and a good breakfast! You sleep here from € 17 per person.

Book now!

Il Frangipane €€Il Frangipane

This beautiful hotel has spacious rooms and a swimming pool. Wonderfully cool after the hike to Lion Rock! You sleep here from €45 including breakfast (two people).

Boek nu!

Hotel Sigiriya €€€Hotel Sigiriya

This beautiful hotel, with large rooms, overlooks Lion Rock from the pool! You sleep here in luxury from €75 including an excellent breakfast (two people).

Boek nu!


After Sigiriya to Kandy? Read our Kandy travel guide here!


Our favourite restaurants in Sigiriya!

We expected that Sigiriya, a tourist place as it is, would be full of all kinds of nice restaurants. That was a bit disappointing. There are many restaurants, but much of the same. We tried the restaurants below and we can heartily recommend them to you!

Pradeep restaurant – the best curry!
Pradeep definitely serves the best curry in all of Sigiriya. Not spicy, but super tasty and filling. Also, try their roti pancakes with cheese! In addition, the service is very good. You always get a plate of fruit for dessert at checkout. Click here for the location of Pradeep on Google Maps.Curry in Sigiriya

Chooti restaurant – popular and large portions
Chooti restaurant is Sigiriya’s most popular restaurant. There are always people here enjoying the huge portions of (quite spicy) curry that are served. Also try the mango lassi, so tasty! Click here for the location on Google Maps.

Rasta Rant – Drinks and parties
Looking for a nice party? Then go to Rasta Rant. You can’t really eat here, it’s all about drinks and lounging in the large garden. You can cool off with the rubber tire swing above the water! Click here for the location on Google Maps.


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Travel guide Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. The six most awesome activities and sights, where to eat and where to sleep!


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