Sigiriya: How To Get There.

Sigiriya sits right in the middle of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle made up by Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Technically, Sigiriya refers to the ancient city, but most people use it when speaking of the iconic rock fortress that dominates the historic capital at a height of 660 feet. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of ancient urban planning and irrigation in the world. Sometimes, it’s unofficially referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Distance From Colombo: 165 km

Bus Train Car Plane
Time 4 hours 5-6 hours 3-4 hours 30 minutes
Price Rs. 190+ Rs. 480+ Roughly Rs. 4,000 (petrol) Roughly Rs. 30,000
Notes Not the most comfortable way to get there, but it’ll do. Expensive considering travel time and the fact that there’s only one train. Best way to get there. Most expensive option, but you get stunning views of Sigiriya Rock from the sky.

Private/Rented Vehicle

Take a car; it’s the best way to get there. On the road, you’ve got two routes that take you to Sigiriya. The traditional route takes the A01 (Kandy Road) up to Ambepussa where you turn off to Kurunegala on the A06. If you’re lucky and there’s no traffic, the drive should take about 3 hours tops.

The newer route however, makes use of the E03 (Katunayake Expressway). Drive up to the airport, and then drive straight past it. Follow the road to Minuwangoda and then onwards to Giriulla and finally Kurunegala. If you start early, you can get there in 2 hours. From Kurunegala, continue along the A06 towards Dambulla. The road here is well carpeted, but drive safely.

If you’re not staying at a hotel in Sigiriya itself, most people book rooms in Dambulla (20km away) or Habarana (15km away). If you’re coming from Dambulla, continue 10km along the A06 until you reach Inamaluwa Junction. You’ll find a replica of the Lion’s Paw from the rock along with a signpost that directs you onto the B162. This is a good road and should get you to Sigiriya in about 10 minutes. If you’re coming from Habarana on the other hand, get onto the Polonnaruwa Road (A11) and continue for 3km until you reach a turn-off to the B294.

This is a gravel road but it’ll get you to Sigiriya in 15 minutes. All in all, it should take you 3-4 hours to get to Sigiriya on a normal day. It all really depends on your luck with the traffic.

Bus

The journey here is rather tiresome considering there’s no direct bus straight to Sigiriya. Sometimes, it even takes about an hour longer than driving in your own car. If you’re taking the traditional (and in this case, easier) route from Pettah, hop on either a No. 15 bus to Anuradhapura, No. 48 bus to Kaduruwela (Polonnaruwa) or a No. 49 bus to Trinco and get off in Dambulla (Rs. 190, Normal) or Habarana (Rs. 210, Normal). These buses run throughout the day, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one.

If for some reason you don’t, get a No. 06 bus to Kurunegala (Rs. 125, Normal/Rs. 250, AC) and then switch buses there. There’s also a No. 549 bus which goes directly from Kurunegala to Dambulla (Rs. 83, Normal). If you decide to take the expressway, hop on an E03 bus to Katunayake (Rs. 120) and switch to a No. 5/245 bus to Kurunegala (Rs. 99, Normal) from there.

There are no buses from Habarana to Sigiriya, but from Dambulla there are buses that run regularly between 6:30 AM and 6:00 PM for Rs. 40 (one-way) and take about 45 minutes to get there. If all else fails, just grab a tuk-tuk. It should cost you between Rs. 800-100 to the rock from Dambulla and Rs. 300-Rs. 500 from Habarana.

Train

The closest railway station to Sigiriya is at Habarana, 15km away. There’s only one train that runs back and forth daily, so this makes things a little inconvenient unless you time your trip accordingly. Note that taking the train is also the slowest way to get there. According to Fort Railway Station, a reserved 3rd class ticket costs Rs. 480 while a reserved seat in 2nd class costs Rs. 600. That’s a little pricey considering the travel time and convenience when weighing out your options.

Colombo Fort Habarana Travel Time Frequency
6:10 AM 10:59 AM 4:49  Daily
Habarana Colombo Fort Travel Time Frequency
10:36 AM 3:25 PM 4:49  Daily

Plane

Cinnamon Air operates daily flights from their domestic terminal in Katunayake to the Air Force airstrip in Sigiriya. At USD 223, it’s the most expensive way to get there but the experience you get up in the sky is unlike any other.

Read more about it here.

Departs (CMB) Arrives (Rock) Days Departs (Rock) Arrives (CMB)
10 AM 10:30 AM M, Th, Fr, Sat 11 AM 11:30 AM
2:15 PM 2:45 PM M, Th, Fr, Sat 17:15 PM 17:45 PM
10 AM 10:30 AM Tu, W, Sun 12:20 PM 12:50 PM
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