Climbing The Majestic Lion’s Rock

Lion's Rock is one of the most important historical monuments and most visited locations in Sri Lanka. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1982. Locals even consider it as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The fortress complex includes ruins of the palace, gardens, ponds, canals, etc. The palace is built at the rock plateau 370 meters above sea level and offers breathtaking views on its surroundings.
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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Croatian-Slovenian full-time travel duo, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists for over 4 years. We write in-depth travel guides about destinations we have personally visited, providing practical travel tips and recommendations.

How to get to Lion’s Rock?

Lion’s Rock is located between two towns, Dambulla and Habarana. You can get to Habarana with the train from Colombo. The best option is to base yourself in either of them and ride a scooter there. It is easy to find the way to the main entrance of Lion’s Rock as you have signs leading to it everywhere. If you don’t feel comfortable with driving, you can always take a tuk-tuk to drive you there.

Train tickets from Colombo to HabaranaTrain tickets from Colombo to Habarana
Lions Rock, Sri Lanka

Best time to hike Lion’s Rock?

Sigiriya (another name for Lion’s Rock) opens up from 6:30 am. If you want to avoid the heat, I suggest coming early in the morning at the opening time. The crowds start very early, so if you want to get a place for yourself (at least for a bit), make sure to be there before the opening time. Tickets for tourists are sold at the Office museum, which is a bit far from the entrance, so all of that will take a bit of time.

View from Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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How long does it take to hike Lion’s Rock?

Climbing Sigiriya is not that hard, but there are many MANY stairs, 1200+ to be precise. That means it will be a bit hard at some parts. It took us around 35 minutes to reach the top with a moderate pace and almost no stopping at all. So if you go slowly and rest once in a while it will probably take you an hour to climb.

TIP 1: Be careful in the parts with wasps signs as you have to be quiet if they fly around, so you don’t get attacked. If you follow the instructions, nothing will happen. It’s not that scary, so don’t worry.

TIP 2: The rocks along the way are covered with monkey poop, so avoid touching them. Use the climbing handles along the stairs if you need them.

What to bring with you when hiking?

  • Suncream!
    There is not much shade along the way, and after 7 am the sun will already be very high.
  • Water!
    A lot of stairs combined with the heat will make you very thirsty. Make sure to stay hydrated all the time. Plastic bottles are not allowed (they check it at the entrance), so be sure to take a reusable one.

    PRO TIP:  There is free drinkable water that you can fill halfway up to the top. The only problem is that it will be hot.
  • Comfortable shoes!
    It will be much easier to climb the narrow stairs.

What is the price?

The entrance ticket to the Lion’s Rock is around $40. It’s not cheap and it’s one of the most expensive entrance tickets I have paid so far. However, it was worth it!

Is Lion’s Rock worth the hike?

Like I already mentioned, yes, it is!

As we were amongst the first people in and we rushed a bit to reach the top, we had the whole place for ourselves for like 20 minutes. We used that opportunity to take photos and videos and enjoy the priceless view. Wherever you look you can see the jungle. Amazing! If you’re visiting Sri Lanka, this is a must.

Top of Lions rock in Sigiriya

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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Full-time travelers, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists.

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We're Arijana and Matej, a couple and travel blogging duo from Croatia and Slovenia who thrive while slow-traveling. And we have been doing it for over 4 years.

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