How to Spend 1 Day in Sigiriya
The Sri Lankan town of Sigiriya centers on Sigiriya Rock—a tall outcrop graced with wall paintings and summit ruins. One day is enough time to scale the rock, visit the Dambulla Cave Temples, and enjoy national parks and wildlife-rich forests. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Sigiriya.
Morning: The highlights
Your priorities for the day should be Sigiriya Rock and the Dambulla Cave Temples, two of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. As public transit is limited, both are best reached on guided private tours with round-trip transport. Many itineraries start with a hike to Sigiriya’s rocktop ruins before hitting Dambulla’s Buddha-filled caverns. Day trips leave from Sigiriya, Colombo, Kandy, and Negombo, and often include lunch and admission tickets. If you prefer something more leisurely, opt for a morning Sigiriya bike tour.
Afternoon: Further explorations
If you chose a Sigiriya and Dambulla day trip, continue it this afternoon. After admiring Sigiriya’s rock paintings and ruined 5th-century citadel, check out Dambulla’s enchanting caves packed with Buddha murals and statues. If you did a morning tour only, spend the afternoon on safari at a nearby wildlife reserve. A late-afternoon game drive in Kaudulla or Minneriya national park gives you the chance to see herds of wild elephants gathering at water holes.
Night: Lake cruise or loris-spotting
Time to slow the pace and savor Sigiriya’s rain forests and lakes. Set out on a sunset cruise, soaking in panoramic views of the outcrop. Wildlife enthusiasts, meanwhile, shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see one of the world’s rarest mammals—the gray slender loris—in its natural habitat during a nighttime jungle walk.