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Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress

Updated on 10.06.2018

The citadel of Sigiriya, or Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress, is certainly the most famous monument of Sri Lanka: it is a mythical citadel perched at the top of a rock of 200 meters above sea level. Dating from medieval times, it is an important archaeological site of Sri Lanka which offers at its summit a superb view.

Lion Rock in the citadel of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya's story

There are traces of human presence dating back more than 2,000 years, presumably monks in spiritual retreat. But the most significant story takes place in the 5th century when a king fearing an expedition against him, built in less than 7 years an impregnable fortress at the top of the rock. But despite its strategic position, the citadel of Sigiriya was taken. It then fell into oblivion for several centuries.

Remote view of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (Sigiriya Rock, aka Lion Rock) ©Odyfolio

Visit Sigiriya

The visit lasts between 2 and 3 hours and is best done in the morning or evening because it is very hot in this region. The entrance ticket costs 3900LKR. Take some water because you will not find it on the site.

Enter the enclosure and head for the rock. On both sides of the main alley, gardens and water reservoirs. Before going under the stone arch, on the left take a look at the cave. Then you have to climb to the terrace housing the wall frescos, the wall of the mirror.

Paintings on the wall of Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka

You will then reach the lion's platform. Admire the two feet of the lion, then continue the ascent. At the top, the ruins of the palace and a water reservoir.

You will then reach the lion's platform. Admire the two feet of the lion, then continue the ascent. At the top, the ruins of the palace and a water reservoir....

Old passage to climb to the top of Sigiriya Lion Rock (Sri Lanka), happily replaced by a more secure staircase. ©Odyfolio

Hotels in Sigiriya

Infinity Pool at Aliya Resort & Spa Hotel near Sigiriya Citadel, Sri Lanka

The upscale options near the lion rock are the # hotel:Hotel Sigiriya|3689# (very nice oriented pool overlooking the citadel), the Sigiriya Village, in the middle of the vegetation, and the Royal Retreat.

Two other good hotels are to be noted, with fewer services: the Flower Garden Eco Village located in a park, and a little further the Wewa Addara Hotel, located at the edge of a lake.

The best hotel near Sigiriya is Aliya Resort and Spa. This is a very nice five star hotel with spacious rooms and a sublime infinity pool with views of the famous rock. Although it is not exactly on the site (30 minutes ride on a track), and its dining options are limited, it is undoubtedly an excellent choice.

For budget travelers, who would like quality accommodation, look at the Sigiriya Sun Shine Villa, the Sigiri Rock Side Home Stay or the Lakmini Lodge. For a cheap hotel in Sigiriya, try the Relax Guest Sigiriya and Kashyapa Kingdom View Home.

Sigiriya Map

Sigiriya is located in the center of the island of Sri Lanka, in a poorly urbanized area, in the middle of a thick forest, in a protected natural area, not far from the city of Dambulla.

Location of Sigiriya on the map of Sri Lanka ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Map with location of Sigiriya, near Dambulla, Sri Lanka ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Very detailed map of the Sigiriya tourist site in central Sri Lanka ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Questions & answers

When is the best time to visit Sigiriya?

To visit Sigiriya Lion Rock, it is best to come as early as possible in the morning, as the heat is stifling and there is some physical effort to climb all the stairs. Arriving first, you will also avoid the growing crowd to come sightseeing on the rock.

What is the common name of the Sigiriya tourist site in Sri Lanka?

In English the site of Sigiriya's tourist interest is called Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress.

How long does it take to travel from Kandy to Sigiriya Rock?

Only 90 kilometers separate Sigiriya Rock from Kandy, but it takes 2.5 hours to drive them.

How long does it take to travel from Sigiriya Rock to Polonnaruwa?

It takes 1 hour 15 minutes by car to connect the sixty kilometers between Sigiriya Rock and Polonnaruwa.

How long does it take to travel from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya Rock?

By car the trip between Anuradhapura and Sigiriya Rock should take you about 1h30.

How long does it take to travel from Dambulla to Sigiriya Rock?

The two sites are very close, and if you are motorized count between 15 and 20 minutes.

Is it possible to ride an elephant to Sigiriya?

Yes it is possible to do an elephant trek near the rock Sigiriya, including Habarane. Better to ask your driver to book in advance because the sites are scattered in the forest and very popular with tourists.

Is it possible to go to Sigiriya Rock by train?

The closest train station to Sigiriya is Habarana.

How long does it take to travel from Habarana to Sigiriya Rock?

Despite their apparent proximity, it takes half an hour to connect Habarana rock Sigiriya, because there is no direct route.

How much does the entrance to Sigiriya Rock cost?

Entrance to Sigiriya Lion Rock Tourist Site costs 3900LKR (reduced rate for children).

What are the opening times to visit Sigiriya?

The opening hours of Sigiriya Lion Rock are from 7am to 5.30pm every day. Better to arrive early in the morning before 9am because after there are many people, or to go there in the late afternoon around 16h.

How long to visit Sigiriya Lion Rock?

It takes between 1:30 and 2:00 for the visit, depending on the affluence.

Where to find restaurants in Sigiriya?

The restaurants near Sigiriya Lion Rock are at the exit of the site, knowing that the entrance and exit are not in the same place. At the exit of the tourist site, there are many small stalls selling souvenirs, as well as some restaurants.

What is the best hotel in the Sigiriya area?

The best hotel in Sigiriya is the Ulagalla Walawwa Resort. It is located on the road connecting Anuradhapura to Sigiriya (it is quite far from the rock of the lion).

What is the best hotel in Dambulla (near Sigiriya)?

The best hotel in Dambulla, 15 minutes drive from Lion Rock, is the Jetwing Vil Uyana. It offers refined 5-star services in the heart of nature....

What is the best hotel near Sigiriya Rock for less than #cur:100USD#?

The best hotel near Sigiriya Lion Rock is simply Sigiriya Hotel. Its prices are generally well below 100USD per room, and the edges of the pool offer a superb view of the rock. To book as soon as possible to ensure availability at the best price!

What is the best hotel near Sigiriya Rock for less than #cur:50USD#?

A good deal for less than 50USD, not far from the Sigiriya lion's rock entrance (and so perfect for being the first to enter the site early in the morning): Sigiri Rock Side Home Stay, which offers good value for money.

Good little cheap hotel tips near Sigiriya Rock?

Near the entrance to the site of Sigiriya Rock there are two small establishments around 20USD per night that will suit you: the Sigiri Lion Lodge and the Sigiri Leisure Holiday Home. They are well rated and have few rooms, so we recommend booking quickly.

Pictures of Sigiriya

View of the forest from an intermediate terrace of the Sigiriya Lion Rock tourist site, Sri Lanka ©Odyfolio

View of a lake from the Sigiriya Lion Rock Terrace, Sri Lanka ©Odyfolio

Aerial view of the access road to Sigiriya Citadel, Sri Lanka ©Odyfolio

Water tank at the top of Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka ©Odyfolio