How to Reach Sigiriya by Public Bus

Tipped to be the island nation’s most iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is no ordinary tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Visiting the famed cultural highlight using public bus services however, does require some knowledge of routes and the most convenient means of reaching the destination without too much confusion along the way. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to reach Sigiriya town and the rock fortress by bus the next time you are in Sri Lanka.

Image Credit — Poswiecie by pixabay

1. Get an Early Start
Those who are heading to Sigiriya by public transport should always try to get an early start on their journey. Although the journey to the cultural capital is by no means long, when compared to travelling to the north of the country (such as Jaffna which takes nine hours to reach from the capital Colombo) it is important to get a head start as travelling by public bus is not as efficient as travelling in one’s own rental vehicle, for example, as bus routes are laid out in such a way to cover more areas along the way to pick up more commuters. If one is based in Colombo, head to the main bus terminal (Pettah Bus station) early in the morning as buses are available throughout the day so you will always be able to catch a bus heading towards Sigiriya.

2. Head to the Pettah Bus Station
Located in Fort, the Pettah bus station is the island nation’s main bus station with countless buses heading to nearly every corner of the country passing through its gates every few minutes. Once you reach the Pettah Bus station take the bus to Anuradhapura, which bears №15. Anuradhapura occupies the heart of the Cultural Triangle and is within close range of Sigiriya. There are no direct buses to Sigiriya Town. The other option is taking the bus bearing №48 to Kuduruwela, which is located in Polonnaruwa while travellers also have the option of taking the №49 bus which ends its journey in Trincomalee, in the north eastern quarters of the country and getting off the bus in Dambulla or Habarana, to reach Sigiriya. Keep in mind that there are regular non-air conditioned buses as well as air-conditioned buses which are dubbed “intercity” buses which are decidedly more comfortable but costlier. Intercity buses also make fewer stops along the way and do not pick up travellers from outside of the Pettah station.

3. Reaching Sigiriya
Depending on the bus you hopped on at the Pettah bus Station in Colombo, the relatively short journey to Sigiriya Town can be travelled using several public transport options. Those who get dropped off in Habarana will find that there are no bus services available to Sigiriya from the area so the only option is to hire a three-wheeler to travel the remainder of the way. Those who hop on the bus at Dambulla, on the other hand, will find that one-way buses to Sigiriya are available from 6.30am to 6 pm. The journey will be around 45 minutes and the cost of the journey is nominal, to say the least. Visitors who prefer to travel by three-wheeler from Dambulla can also do so although the cost will be ten times the cost of the bus fare.

4. Find a Base and Explore the Area
Once in Sigiriya visitors should then secure accommodation in a hotel within close range of the iconic rock fortress. Whether you select the Water Garden Sigiriya or any similar hotel in the area, ensure the venue is within close proximity of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Note that visitors who wish to take part in other things to do in Sigiriya besides exploring its most famous cultural attraction can also use public bus services to travel to different highlights and activity bases in the area.