The Lion Rock fortress, also known as Sigiriya Rock, is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. Located in the North Central province of Sri Lanka this is a must do activity when you’re in Sigiriya. The ancient rock fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982 and also declared by UNESCO as the eighth wonder of the world! So yes, it is something really special to see with your own eyes. The creators of this amazing architectural monument used unique and creative technical skills, and of course the beautiful vast landscape of the surrounded jungle is just amazing. Read in this blogpost everything you need to know before climbing the Lion Rock, aka Sigiriya Rock.

Book here your guided Sigiriya Rock Fortress Guided Walking Tour

Best Sigiriya tours

If you’re planning to explore the best of what Sigiriya and surroundings have to offer, then these are the best guided tours. All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.

About the Lion Rock

Built in the 5th century and named after the giant Lion that is carved from stone and greets visitors at the entrance, the Sigiriya rock Fortress contains a lot of history. Also known as the ancient city of Sigiriya, the remains of the palace of King Kasyapa can be found on top of this massive 200 meters high rock. Besides that, a Buddhist Monastery, landscaped gardens, frescoes and water gardens can be seen when visiting the Lion rock. It’s a truly impressive landmark of Sri Lanka to visit the Lion Rock. Read more about the Lion Rock Sigiriya in this post.

How to get to Lion Rock

If you are confident enough to drive a scooter you can rent one for around 2000 rupee per day. But there are lots of Tuk Tuk drivers who will be happy to bring you to the entrance of the Lion Rock.


Difference between hiking the Lion Rock and Pidurangala Rock

Compare for yourself what you find more important to do or see. Maybe you even want to do both hikes? Many travelers wake up for the sunrise, climb Pidurangala Rock and then head to Sigiriya Rock to watch the sunset on top of Lion Rock.

Climbing the Pidurangala Rock means you will have an amazing view on the Sigiriya Rock. But you will miss out on the rich history of the UNESCO World Heritage that the Lion Rock has to offer. The pretty interesting historical features such as the lion claws, the mirror wall and the old wall drawings. Pidurangala Rock on the other hand has a much more natural feel, despite also housing a temple on your way to the top. Both rocks are around 200 meters high so the difference in views over the jungle is quite the same.

The difference between the entrance fee of both rocks on the other hand is huge! You pay almost ten times more to climb the Sigiriya Rock instead of the Pidurangala Rock..


Both rocks are about 200 meters high, so the view and perspective on the jungle and surroundings is quite the same.

Lion Rock

Entrance fee: 4500 rupees

Hike: moderate, 1200 steps until you reach the Lion Rock fortress on top of Sigiriya rock.

Time to get to the top: depending on the crowds, your own pace and the times you stop 30 – 45 minutes.

Crowds: very busy, always and every time of the day.

Things to see: Lots of historical features like the lion claws, old wall drawings and the mirror wall and of course the fortress at the top. The view over the jungle and Pidurangala rock is just amazing.

Best time to climb: early in the morning or before sunset.

Pidurangala Rock

Entrance fee: 500 rupees

Hike: moderate. But at the end once you’re close to the top of Pidurangala you have to climb a bit over some rocks.

Time to get to the top: depending on your pace and the times you stop 20 – 45 minutes.

Crowds: Not really, we passed maybe 6 people on our way to the top. At the top of the rock were around sunset time maybe 25 people in total.

Things to see: A Buddhist temple at the entrance, and when you’re almost at the top of the rock a shallow cave temple with a beautiful 12.5 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha statue. When you’re at the top of Pidurangala you can enjoy the incredible view over the jungle and Lion Rock.

Best time to climb: early in the morning or before sunset.


The view from Pidurangala Rock on Lion Rock with sunset

What to prepare

  • Wear proper footwear! Slippers are not the best and safest option to climb the Lion Rock. You can easily hurt yourself.
  • Bring enough water with you. There are no food stalls in the direct area. You will need at least 1 liter of water for your way up and down.
  • Bring your camera of course!

What to expect climbing the Lion Rock

The 200 meters high Lion Rock owes its name because of the giant lion claws that function as an entry gate about halfway up the rock. The hike is moderate, but prepare yourself for the 1200+ steps to the top. The climb is marked with good paths and stairs and the start is at the gardens which gives you the most impressive perspective of the rock.

You will pass lots of historical features like the lion’s paw, old wall drawings and the mirror wall on your way to the top. Once arrived at the top, the 360 degree view over the jungle and Pidurangala rock is just amazing!


Lion Rock seen from above

Best time to hike the Lion Rock

Lion Rock is recommended to climb in the morning around 7 AM to avoid the heat and crowd. The climb to the top of Lion Rock will take about 45 minutes. Exploring the whole site will take you about 2 hours.


Lion Rock seen from Pidurangala Rock

Other spots to see the Lion Rock

Climbing the Lion Rock is of course the best way to experience this amazing and ancient rock fortress. But if you want to see different perspectives of the rock, you can drive around on the scooter and spot places where you can see the rock up close. When we drove around the Lion Rock site we found this field where we had a wonderful view on the rock. There must be other places as well, just cruise around and let yourself be surprise by the beauty of Sigiriya! 


More Sri Lanka travel tips

I hope you enjoyed this post about the Lion Rock hike in Sri Lanka.

For more Sri Lanka travel inspiration, head over to our other Sri Lanka travel guides:

20 best things to do in Sri Lanka – The Ultimate Guide

11 best Sri Lanka beaches – The Ultimate Guide

14 best waterfalls in Sri Lanka – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in Nuwara Eliya – The Ultimate Guide

Sigiriya best things to do

11 best things to do in Trincomalee

Best things to do in Galle – The Complete Guide

15 best things to do in Ella – The Ultimate Guide

Best thing to do in Kandy – The Complete Guide

Sri Lanka Safari – The Ultimate Guide

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  1. Jacobine Timmer says:

    Very impressieve, your blog about Lion Rock. It is increadible people built thousants of years ago on top of this rock a temple. The foto’s taken with the drone are so special; BEAUTIFULL!!!

  2. Marjoleine en Ronald says:

    Amazing ! Really, what a beautiful blog about the Lion Rock Fortress, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. A really very special and impressive rock on the Unesco World Heritage Site. Enjoyed reading.

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