Sigiriya Lion Rock – Visit Sri Lanka’s Most Famous Site

Sigiriya Lion Rock – Visit Sri Lanka’s Most Famous Site

Lion Rock in Sigiriya is a giant rock rising 200m high above the surrounding jungle. Its history and uniqueness has earned it a place on UNESCO World Heritage list. Looking up at the rock its really hard to believe it was created by nature and not placed there on purpose. The ancient citadel that has been constructed on top of the rock now its composed of walls, stairs and water ponds. Today The Lion Rock is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka.

Visiting the Lion Rock

The location is very well prepared for mass of tourists arriving everyday. The stairs constructed on the side of the rock make the way up much easier. However, beware that there are over 1200 steps and to reach the top you must climb them all! ?

Walking from the entrance gate towards the rock you will pass through the Royal Gardens. A beautiful landscape divided into 3 parts: water, boulder and terrace gardens. 

TIP : Watch out for monkeys trying to steal your snacks. There are also giant lizards walking freely around the gardens. 

The Mirror Wall

Half-way through climbing the stairs, you will pass by The Mirror Wall. This wall was originally coated with lime, egg white and honey, which gives it a brilliant shine (some sections look polished even today). The wall is covered with frescos from 7th-13th century.

The Lion Platform

Make sure to step back when reaching The Lion Platform. Take a good glance at the gigantic lion paws (the only remains of an entire brick lion) guarding the final steps leading to the Summit. 

Note : Be careful of the bees that built giant nests on the rock. Best not to bring anything that might attract them like sweet drinks or candies. 

The Summit

The Summit was once covered with buildings. Today only the foundations remain. Nevertheless, the site measuring 2 hectares impresses till this day. Enjoy the 360 degrees view on the jungle below and a panorama over the whole area. On a clear day, you can see kilometres afar. 

Spot the Pidurangala Rock, another giant natural rock directly facing the Lion Rock.

Read : Hike Pidurangala Rock at Sunset   

The Legend of Sigiriya

This majestic site holds rather terrifying story. It is believed that the King Kasyapa imprisoned his father, King Dhatusena in a wall, in order to inherit the throne. He then moved the capital to the Sigiriya Rock and fearing retribution from his half-brother Mogallana, built an impregnable palace-fortress on the summit of the rock. 

Practical information

Getting there

If you plan to visit Sigiriya Lion Rock most likely you will choose to stay in the area for at least 1 night. Depending on your hotel‘s location you can either walk, rent a scooter or arrive by tuk-tuk. 

As we like to be independent during our travels we usually rent a scooter as soon as we arrive at a location. We got one from our hotel and it costed 10 EUR a day. 

TIP : After your morning visit at the Lion Rock, head to incredible Dambulla Caves, one of the best sites during your 3 weeks Sri Lanka travel route.

 Read : Visit the Cultural Triangle – Sri Lanka’s Most Important Sites  

Entrance fee

The entrance ticket to Sigiriya Lion Rock is 4500 LKR (22 EUR). It was the most expensive site we visited in Sri Lanka.

Opening hours

The ancient site is open every day from 7AM to 5:30PM (last entrance at 5PM).

Best time to visit

We recommend coming early to avoid the crowd and the heat. We arrived at around 11AM and the place was packed. There was even a queue on the stairs!

How long will it take to visit

Reserve min 2-3 hours to climb the Lion Rock.

What to bring

Wear comfortable shoes (climbing all those steps in flip flops will not be comfortable) and bring a reusable water bottle with you.

 Read : Simple hacks to being eco friendly while traveling  

Where to eat

There are many small, cute places to eat around Sigiriya. If you want to take a break from your hotel restaurant try local specialities at Pradeep Restaurant or Croissant Hut.

Where to stay

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We recommend: Hotel SigiriyaSigiriya Village
Those 2 hotels are close to the site and have stunning view on the Lion Rock.

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