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Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

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The Basics

If exploring independently, you’ll need to purchase an admission ticket that grants you access to the small museum, the gardens, and the 1,200 steps that lead to the summit. Tours—which typically depart from Kandy, Ella, Colombo, and Negombo—allow you to skip the hassle of public transport and often cover other must-sees sights such as the Dambulla Cave Temples and Polonnaruwa. Other options include Sigiriya-and-wildlife-safari combos, skip-the-line admission tickets, and self-guided tours on mobile apps.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Allow about 2-3 hours to climb, explore, and descend.

  • The rock is not wheelchair- or stroller-accessible.

  • Bring bottled water, a sunhat, and sunscreen: there’s no shade and the climb can be very hot.

  • Wear sturdy shoes to negotiate the sometimes uneven steps.

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How to Get There

Sigiriya Rock lies northeast of Dambulla in Sri Lanka’s heartlands. Buses from Dambulla and trains from Colombo stop at Habarana, which is a 20-minute cab ride away. Easier by far are tours that include return transport and a driver-guide. If you’re driving from Colombo, take the A6 and B162 roads.

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When to Get There

Sigiriya is open daily from early morning to late afternoon, and can get crowded during weekends and public holidays, when crowds climbing the steps can move in slow single file. To avoid the worst crowds and midday heat, arrive at opening time.

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Climbing the Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Most travelers report that the climb up the rock isn’t as strenuous as it appears, although you need to be relatively fit to manage it. On the way, don’t miss the still-vivid 5th-century frescoes of damsels painted on the rock wall and the Mirror Wall, inscribed with graffiti dating as far back as the 7th century. The final stairway to the summit is framed by two gigantic stone paws while at the top sits the 5th-century palace-fortress of King Kassapa I.

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