Tips For Visiting Sigiriya – The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

Situated in what is known as Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Sigiriya (in my opinion) is the most impressive World Heritage Site you’ll find in this part of the country that is literally stuffed full of sacred stupas and ancient temples.

Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is dual-listed by UNESCO for both its natural and historical attributes, just like its distant relative Uluru. Also like its Aussie cousin, Sigiriya juts out of a green landscape in a dazzling orange hue.

But this is where its similarities with Uluru end. For Sigiriya used to have a palace perched on top of it and visitors are welcome to climb the ancient steps and imagine what it might have been like to live here in the reign of King Kassapa in 477 – 495 AD.

Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

Not a bad looking place to build a summer palace

Sacred Sites & Safaris: Exploring The North Central Province Of Sri Lanka

If, like me, you’re much more comfortable walking on flat ground, the thought of climbing Sigiriya may make you feel rather dizzy. Fret not, though, because I did it, and promise you can too.

Gearing up to face the rock!

Me gearing up to face the rock!

As there is lots to admire, learn and photograph along the way, I felt the climb was both manageable and rewarding.

Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

Here’s a few things I thought you might like to know though:

  1. Stick your head in the museum before you start. It offers a great insight into the history of the site, including a large-scale model of what the palace would have looked like all those years ago. Plus this will your last chance to use the loo until you get back down again!
  2. Hold onto your ticket. You will need to purchase a pass to climb Sigiriya which costs $30. You’ll need to show it before you enter the water gardens so keep it handy.
    Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

    Awesome place for a field trip!

  3. Wear sturdy shoes. This might sound obvious but you will need decent walking shoes to do the climb. You’ll see locals (including schoolchildren) wearing anything from pumps to flip-flops but I felt much more comfortable on some of the slippery stone sections with some proper grip underfoot.
  4. Break it into sections. There’s no need to rush to the top  – just enjoy the climb. And take much-needed breaks whenever you feel like it along the way. I recommend a little drink stop before you attempt the last section through the Lion’s paws.Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka
  5. No photos at the mirror wall. You can take photos at any point along the climb apart from in the cave with the frescoes and the famous ‘mirror wall’. This is a shame but I get we have to protect these things for posterity.
  6. Take an umbrella for shelter at the top. There’s no protection from the sun at the summit so remember to wear sun protection (even on a cloudy day – Jayne!) and take a small umbrella for extra protection on clear days.Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka
  7. Drink lots of water. Obvs. There’s nowhere to buy any once you start the climb so take enough to keep you going until you get back to the car park.
  8. Watch out for the ‘helpers’. Some gentlemen may try to help you with the steep steps at the start of the climb and then latch themselves onto you as a guide for the rest of the way. If you’ve been to the museum though you don’t need a guide to climb with you. The pathway is clearly marked. Just a polite no thanks and a shake of your shoulders (if they happen to grab you there) will be enough to let them know you’re good to go solo.
    Tips For Climbing Sigiriya - The Lion Rock In Central Sri Lanka

    The last leg of the climb feels high in the sky

  9. Follow signs for ‘foreigners exit’. Finally, there is a quicker way out than going back past the museum. Follow the signs for the ‘foreigners exit’ and you’ll be led out via a few souvenirs stands and some stalls with cold drinks.
  10. Avoid the heat around midday. Because this is a moderately difficult climb with no protection from the elements it’s just common sense to go early or later on in the day. It’s best to spend the hottest part of the day by the pool if you ask me!
    'Blogger at work' in Sri Lanka

    Made it!

    Incredible views of the gardens

    Incredible views of the gardens

This was definitely one of the highlights from my visit to the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. I travelled to the Sri Lanka as part of TBCAsia and stayed as a guest of Cinnamon Hotels. Check out this post for details on where to stay in the region.


  1. Reply

    Stephanie Craig

    July 18, 2016

    This is #1 on my list of things to do once I’m in better shape…your photos are gorgeous!

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      July 20, 2016

      Ah thank you. I’m not in good shape but was pleased to have given it a go 😀

  2. Reply


    July 24, 2016

    Wowzer! Your pics are incredible – that view!! I’d love to go to Sri Lanka one day, it looks like such a beautiful country.

    C x | Lux Life

  3. Reply


    July 25, 2016

    Looks lovely, great pics!

  4. Reply


    September 4, 2017

    Awesome post! How did you recommend getting to Sigiriya?!

    Thanks a bunch!


    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      September 5, 2017

      Hi Andrea, I was on an organised tour which I think is the best way to reach this area – that or with a private driver as public transport is limited. Best, Jayne

  5. Reply


    September 18, 2017

    Hey Jayne,

    Looks awesome and sounds like you had lots of fun. I’m researching for my trip and was wondering if the steps are steep and narrowish, I’ve a phobia for heights but if it’s stable and have supports around I think I might be able to do it. Your advice?

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      September 19, 2017

      Hi David, there is a section that is quite rickety – ie the steps are metal and you can see straight through them – and some sections can be busy so it’s a squeeze to let people pass. I saw all ages and abilities giving it a go but if you’re afraid of heights it might make you feel a bit wobbly!

  6. Reply


    October 5, 2017

    Hey Jayne, thanks for the tip! You know what? I’ve decided to give it a go! Life’s too short to give in to acrophobia

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      October 5, 2017

      Oh awesome! Best of luck. Hope you have fun.



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