Best of Sigiriya

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Sigiriya
Towering above the surrounding plains, the ancient fortress of Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka’s most important historical monuments. Dating back to the 5th century CE, the ruins of this former palace lie atop a seemingly sheer granite monolith, and the views from the summit stretch across a swath of forests, lakes, and tiny villages that seem little changed over time. 

It’s a short but strenuous climb to the top (up about 1,200 steps - though not all in one go). Along the way, you’ll see vestiges of the past, including the enormous lion’s paws for which the site is named (Sīnhāgiri means “lion’s rock” in Sinhalese). You’ll also see colorful frescoes of apsaras (celestial nymphs) painted one the walls of a rock shelter, and a mirror wall with graffiti dating as far back as the 6th century CE. After exploring the site, you can take in the views of Sigiriya from Pidurangula, another rocky outcropping about one mile (1.6 km) north of Sigiriya. You can also enjoy the scenery on a hot air balloon ride or look for wildlife on a boat ride across nearby Pahala Thalkote Lake.
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Sunset over the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 5 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 5 Days

This exciting five-day itinerary introduces you to some of Sri Lanka's most beloved cultural monuments and natural wonders. Starting at the sacred cave temples of Dambulla, you'll climb the great rock fortress of Sigiriya, observe elephant herds in Minneriya National Park, and relax on the golden beaches of Bentota. The journey ends up in the beautifully preserved fortified port city of Galle, home to a 17th-century Dutch port.

Elephants gather in the waters of Minneriya National Park
Map of Sri Lanka Family Getaway: Sigiriya, Pasikudah & Kandy - 7 Days
Sri Lanka Family Getaway: Sigiriya, Pasikudah & Kandy - 7 Days

Perfect for active families and nature lovers, this week-long summer itinerary focuses on the natural wonders of Sri Lanka's stunning Central Province. Spot elephants on safari in Minneriya National Park, burn off some extra energy on the climb to Sigiriya Rock, and meet the playful monkey colonies of ancient Polonnaruwa. After some snorkeling and beach time in coastal Pasikudah, you'll head to the Hill Country around Kandy to tour tea estates and picnic on riverbanks, while nights are spent toasting marshmallows and watching family movies under the stars.

Watching the waves roll in on Unawatuna Beach
Map of Sri Lanka for Families: Cultural Triangle & South Coast - 7 Days
Sri Lanka for Families: Cultural Triangle & South Coast - 7 Days

With a mix of cultural highlights, hands-on activities, and plenty of beach time, this 7-day Sri Lankan itinerary is perfect for families. Go for a gentle cycle through the countryside of the Cultural Triangle, spot elephants on safari in Minneriya National Park, and learn the beats of traditional drumming in Kandy. After picking tea leaves in the lush mountains of the Hill Country, it's time to transfer to the coast to enjoy the warm, turquoise seas around Unawatuna.

Take the kids to see famed Sigiriya
Map of Family Fun in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, Kandy & Wadduwa - 7 Days
Family Fun in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, Kandy & Wadduwa - 7 Days

This family-friendly itinerary combines culture, wildlife, and beaches for a week-long Sri Lankan adventure to remember. Start in the country's Central Province, where you'll take a Jeep safari through Minneriya National Park, climb the ancient fortress of Sigiriya, and meet the famous monkey colonies of Polonnaruwa. Get a glimpse of authentic Sri Lankan life as you cycle through the countryside and attend a colorful cultural show, then transfer to the west coast for two blissfully empty days on the golden beaches of Wadduwa.

End your trip on the beaches of Unawatuna
Map of Classic Sri Lanka: Temples, Mountains & Beaches - 8 Days
Classic Sri Lanka: Temples, Mountains & Beaches - 8 Days

This eight-day getaway takes you on a circular journey through the highlights of central and southern Sri Lanka. Setting out from the west coast beach town of Negombo, you'll travel deep into the country's cultural heart—exploring the ancient fortress of Sigiriya, the cave temples of Dambulla, and the palaces and relics of Kandy along the way. After a refreshing trip through the lush mountains and tea estates of Ella, head back to the coast to wind down in the beach paradise of Unawatuna.

Enjoy the experience of seeing elephants in the wild on a sunset Jeep safari
Map of Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary will take you on an exciting journey around Sri Lanka's most revered cultural sites and natural wonders. Start by ticking off two phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the rock fortress Sigiriya and Kandy's Temple of the Tooth Relic. Head out on an evening Jeep safari in the Kaudulla National Park to spot majestic elephants, then head into the Hill Country to discover the process of Ceylon tea making from tea bush to teapot in Nuwara Eliya.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Map of Best of Sri Lanka - 6 Days
Best of Sri Lanka - 6 Days

From sacred Buddhist temples to rugged mountains, this six-day tour will take you through the best that Sri Lanka has to offer. Split your time between historic cities, ancient stone fortresses, and the Sri Lankan Highlands as you soak up the history, culture, and landscapes of this unique country.

Hike to Little Adam's Peak for a fun photo opportunity
Map of Sri Lanka Active Adventure - 9 Days
Sri Lanka Active Adventure - 9 Days

This 9-day journey through Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) explores fascinating highlights in the Cultural Triangle—home of ancient cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Buddhist relics. With a private driver and guide, you'll take hikes in tea country, spot diverse wildlife in the rainforest, and relax (or surf) on picturesque beaches on the south coast for an adventure to remember.

Views across the Sri Lankan highlands from Little Adam's Peak
Map of Sri Lanka Highlights: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Galle - 9 Days
Sri Lanka Highlights: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Galle - 9 Days

From the UNESCO-listed ruins of the Cultural Triangle to the historic Indian Ocean fortress of Galle, this nine-day introduction to Sri Lanka rounds up all the highlights of the island's south and central regions. Explore the ancient civilizations of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, tour the sacred temples of Kandy, take a breathtaking train journey through the tea fields of Ella, and head off-road in search of rare wildlife in Yala National Park.

Traditional carved masks in Galle
Map of Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days
Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days

From intricate lacquerware to carved masks and exquisite weaving, Sri Lanka's traditional arts and crafts hold a special place in its cultural heritage. On this fascinating nine-day itinerary, you'll take a deep dive into the island's historical and contemporary artistry. You'll visit the famed weavers of Divulapitiya, admire the ancient treasures of Dambulla, learn the basics of ceremonial mask-making in Galle, and sit down with some of the island's pre-eminent artists in Colombo and Kandy.

See how tea is picked in the highlands of Sri Lanka
Map of A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days
A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days

This nine-day itinerary takes you on a flavorful journey through Sri Lanka's culture and cuisine—from the beaches of the Indian Ocean to the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Alongside an itinerary of ancient temples, wildlife spotting, and countryside cycling, you'll learn the secrets of a perfect curry in Galle, take afternoon tea among the lush gardens of the Hill Country, and embark on a fascinating and fragrant tour of Kandy's Spice Garden.

Sunset over a beach in Tangalle
Map of Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

This two-week itinerary around Sri Lanka offers an ideal mix of activity and relaxation. You'll begin in Negombo and work your way around the island, stopping to visit ancient temple complexes, Buddhist shrines, and palaces carved into mountainsides. Along the journey, you'll spend two nights observing wildlife in Wilpattu National Park, enjoy the calm coastline in Pasikudah, explore charming colonial villages, and relax on breathtaking beaches with snorkeling and diving opportunities easily accessible offshore.

The golden statue of Shiva at Trincomalee's oceanfront Koneswaram Temple
Map of Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days
Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days

This relaxed, 11-day family vacation combines Sri Lanka's classic highlights with some lesser-visited gems. Bouncing between the Hill Country, the Cultural Triangle, and the quiet northeastern beaches of Trincomalee, you'll embark on a series of hands-on experiences and excursions for all ages. Learn to play the Sri Lankan drums, take a forest walk with the island's last indigenous tribe, cycle through country villages, and snorkel amid tropical fish and reef sharks.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Map of Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days
Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days

Ancient history, fascinating culture, outstanding natural areas, and beautiful beaches—this six-day itinerary takes in the best of Sri Lanka's dry season. After arrival in Colombo, you'll be quickly immersed in the lushness of Minneriya National Park. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and marvel at its unlikely and enduring construction. Learn about the country's colonial past at Trincomalee, then wind down your trip with relaxing beach days or an exciting whale watching trip.

Swim in two waterfalls in the countryside towards the end of the trip
Map of Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour  - 11 Days
Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour - 11 Days

This extraordinary 11-day tour covers a wide selection of Sri Lanka's best highlights. Starting in Colombo, you'll head north to visit a range of UNESCO-listed ancient cities with palaces, temples, and historic treasures, including the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Continue the journey through the picturesque Hill Country mingling cultural activities with hiking, biking, and swimming in waterfalls. Finish the adventure with a well-deserved beach day on the south coast overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Footprints on the sweeping beaches of Tangalle
Map of Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days

Twelve days of ancient temples, mountain tea estates, and tropical beaches await on this luxurious Sri Lankan escape. Sit back as your private driver whisks you through the island's natural wonders and historical monuments in style, from the Cultural Triangle to the Hill Country and on to the wildlife haven of Yala National Park. End your trip with a Champagne toast and some blissful free time on the palm-fringed beaches of Tangalle.

Take in the sweeping vistas of the ocean from Rumassala's Japanese Peace Pagoda
Map of Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days

This itinerary mixes the outdoors, culture, and history to create the perfect vacation in Sri Lanka. Witness history in the form of colonial landmarks and marvel at the country's beauty on visits to highland tea plantations and mountain waterfalls. After touring the Sigiriya rock fortress and Japanese Peace Pagoda, end the trip by visiting buildings designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the most famous architects in Asia.

The lush green mountains of Ella, Sri Lanka
Map of Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days

This is the quintessential Sri Lankan bike ride! On this two week trip, you will discover local tea plantations, small villages, and historically significant cities — along with some wonderfully diverse riding through a sizeable portion of the island. You'll cycle from the culturally rich north through tea country then down into the southern plains and Horton Plains National Park, finishing in Galle.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days

See the best that Sri Lanka has to offer on this week-long itinerary around the country's cultural monuments and natural wonders. You'll visit historic temples in Kandy and Sigiriya, see the colorful fish market of Negombo, and learn about tea production in Hill Country. The trip features not one but two Jeep safaris in national parks, providing ample opportunities to see elephants, monkeys, and rare birds in their natural habitats.

Ella Rock in Hill Country
Trekking in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

One of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka is on your own two feet, exploring quiet trails and beautiful landscapes on a guided trekking tour. This weeklong adventure takes you to Horton Plains National Park, Ella Rock, the famed Hill Country, and several other destinations for hiking, canoeing, and appreciating native wildlife. You'll also visit ancient temples and learn about the harvesting and production of tea, adding a cultural element to this outdoorsy itinerary.

Enjoy a safari adventure in Wilpattu National Park
Map of Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days

With a colorful cultural history and rugged landscapes ideal for outdoor adventures, Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for a family vacation. This two-week tour around the island features a dolphin-watching tour, multiple safari adventures, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and visits to ancient fortresses. Thanks to the mix of hands-on activities and cultural education, it's an excellent option for travelers of all ages.

Playing in the tea fields around Nuwara Eliya
Map of Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days
Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days

Equal parts fast-paced adventure and laid-back beach holiday, this two-week itinerary hops around central Sri Lanka with family-friendly tours of cultural landmarks, national park safaris, and a scenic train journey into the mountains. Then it's time to slow down with a week on the south coast beaches of Tangalle, where a private oceanfront villa serves as your base for fun day trips, family watersports, and plenty of beach time.

Twilight over Kalpitiya's lagoon
Sri Lanka Glamping Adventure - 13 Days

Sri Lanka's natural beauty takes center stage on this diverse and adventurous 13-day itinerary. Beginning and ending in the capital of Colombo, you'll spend your days exploring ancient temples and fortresses, hiking to secluded waterfalls, relaxing on idyllic beaches, and spotting rare wildlife in two of the country's most spectacular national parks. At night, the sounds and sights of nature will lull you to sleep at a succession of luxurious "glamping" properties.

Sri Lanka's Sigiriya rock fortress
Map of Nature & Serenity in Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Nature & Serenity in Sri Lanka - 13 Days

Crisscross Sri Lanka on this 13-day adventure, hitting historic landmarks, highland wonders, and golden beaches. First up is a tour of a historic tea plantation followed by a hike in a national park and then a trip to the cultural hub of Kandy. Relax on east coast beaches for a few days, then tour some ancient cities before ending the trip with wildlife safaris in search of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard.

See Asian elephants at Wilpattu Wildlife Safari in Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka's Ancient Cities & Wildlife Encounters - 13 Days
Sri Lanka's Ancient Cities & Wildlife Encounters - 13 Days

Get ready for an unforgettable journey to Sri Lanka that combines visits to ancient landmarks with safari adventures throughout the country. Immediately on arrival, you'll search for leopards at Wilpattu National Park before touring the ancient city of Anuradhapura and the mythic Sigiriya rock fortress. The rest of the itinerary is packed with nature hikes, visits to tea plantations, and even more wildlife encounters.

Take a trip on one of the world's most beautiful train journeys
Map of Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

Journey through the heart of Sri Lanka on this 14-day loop around the island. Start your trip in the capital city of Colombo, then move on to Adam's Peak for an unforgettable early morning hike with sunrise views from the summit of the sacred mountain. Continue to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production, then take an epic train ride to Kandy. Travel back in time to the historical sites of Sigiriya, Dambulla, Mihintale, and Anuradhapura, stop to see elephants in Minneriya National Park, and end up on the beautiful sandy beaches of Kalpitiya, where the trip finishes.

Spot Sri Lankan elephants on safari
Map of Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days

Experience the best of Sri Lanka's nature and wildlife experiences on this two-week family-themed itinerary. Looping through the island's southern and central regions, you'll embark on a series of fun-filled safaris, nature walks, biking excursions, and boat trips, with nights spent in comfort at gracious eco-lodges and safari camps. Search for leopards in Yala National Park, see the monkey-filled ruins of Polonnaruwa, watch elephants swim in Gal Oya National Park, spot rare primates on a nocturnal jungle hike, and discover the colorful marine life of Pasikudah.

Sunrise in Galle
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary takes you to the heart of Sri Lanka for ancient history, Buddhist culture, and exciting adventures in nature. From Negombo (near the capital), you'll experience a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tour a tea plantation, meet elephants, and explore towns loaded with Portuguese and Dutch colonial history. End each day with an opportunity to catch an alluring sunset that only South Asia can offer.

Recently hitched? Head to Sri Lanka for the perfect honeymoon adventure
Map of Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days
Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days

Ancient temples, sun-kissed beaches, romantic waterfalls, and rolling green hills are the ingredients to create a honeymoon for the ages. Over 15 days, you and your newlywed partner will embark on active adventures and leisurely outings like picnics at waterfalls, nature hikes in rainforest reserves, visits to tea plantations, tours of Buddhist shrines, and explorations of cave temples. Plus, you'll hike up to Sigiriya, the country's iconic rock fortress.

Kandy's Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Map of Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days
Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days

This eight-day adventure will take you to Sri Lanka's must-see highlights. Learn about Negombo's colonial past, climb Sigiriya's rock fortress, wander through Dambulla's cave temples, and explore the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Then take a scenic train ride and transfer to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production and enjoy spectacular views. Look for elephants, monkeys, and other wildlife at Udawalawe National Park, then relax in Tangalle and keep an eye out for sea turtles.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

Ancient rock temples, wild elephants and whales, sloping hills planted with tea: this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka takes you to the country's incredibly diverse highlights. Go on a Jeep safari, taste tea where it's harvested, and scan the ocean's surface for whales. With a mix of cultural sites and outdoor adventures, plus time to relax on the idyllic beaches of Mirissa, this sweeping itinerary has something for everyone.

Visit a tea plantation in Sri Lanka
Best of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary around Sri Lanka features outdoor activities and cultural attractions for all ages, including a dolphin-watching boat tour, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and multiple Jeep safaris around national parks. Marvel at massive Buddha statues, spot elephants and leopards in the wild, and go snorkeling in the clear waters of Pigeon Island National Park — you'll have plenty to do and see on this lively trip!

Elephants grazing at Yala National Park
Map of Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days
Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days

This 12-day honeymoon is perfect for couples who love exotic wildlife and natural scenery. Starting from the capital, you'll circle the island-nation exploring a boggling array of national parks, rainforests, ancient villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Buddhist relics. After each day of sightseeing with your private guide, you'll have quality time (alone) at your accommodations—a fun mix of resorts, beach hotels, and safari camps—for the ultimate romantic adventure.

Explore Sri Lanka on a 14-day cycling adventure
Map of Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days
Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days

This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

A tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days

National parks, ancient fortresses, gorgeous beaches, and one of the oldest cities in the world: this varied itinerary takes you far and wide to Sri Lanka's most fascinating sights. You'll explore a quiet island and spot dolphins on boat tours, hike to viewpoints for sweeping views over tea plantations, look for leopards during a Jeep safari, and learn about Buddhist principles during guided tours. Whether you're interested in cultural history, colorful wildlife, or the process behind the production of Ceylon tea, this two-week highlights tour has plenty to offer.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Colombo · Negombo · Nuwara Eliya · Ella · Yala National Park · Udawalawe · Galle · Tangalle · Wilpattu · Dambulla · Anuradhapura · Bentota · Mirissa · Pasikudah · Habarana