The stunning ancient city of Sigiriya lies on the summit of a giant granite rock in Central Province of Sri Lanka. This remarkable attraction ranks high on the list of things to do in Sri Lanka – it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world.

There are endless reasons why Sigiriya is extraordinary. It is visually stunning, even from a distance. As you walk towards it, the scale of this impressive natural 180m tall rock with steep sides, begins to dawn upon you. When you realise that an actual palace was built on top of the summit in the 5th century, you will be stunned with the ingenuity and creativity of mankind to build this engineering and construction marvel. The history of the rock is fascinating too, involving prince brothers, kings, patricide, defence and vengeance.

Sigiriya has roughly 1200 steps and takes 1.5 – 2.5 hours to climb. The leisurely walk up to the rock takes you through terraced gardens and a series of moats and boulders. There is a stone stairwell from the base to the top of the mountain, with two areas of interest on the way up. One is the mirror wall and remarkable rock paintings (frescoes), and the other is a mid-level terrace which consists of the Lion Gate, where you can take a breather. Lion Gate is a giant pair of lion paws, which are ruins of the entrance to the royal palace. The final ascent leads to the flat summit of the rock, which has the remains of the upper fortified palace. The view from the top is phenomenal – you can see the symmetrical gardens below and also unimpeded views of the surrounding area.

We recommend staying at Aliya Resort and Vil Uyana on your Sigiriya holiday. Sigiriya is an excellent base to visit other UNESCO Heritage Sites such as Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, as well as Mihintale, Ritigala and Minneriya.