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Sacred Mountains and Ancient Fortresses: The 5 Most Popular Hikes In Sri Lanka

June 9, 2022
8 Min Read
Sri LankaHiking
A girl looks into a green valley at Ella Rock, Sri Lanka.

Sacred Mountains and Ancient Fortresses: The 5 Most Popular Hikes In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's rugged landscape makes it the perfect destinations for your next hike. Here's our guide to the 5 most popular hikes in Sri Lanka.

June 9, 2022
8 Min Read
Sri LankaHiking
A girl looks into a green valley at Ella Rock, Sri Lanka.
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Sacred Mountains and Ancient Fortresses: The 5 Most Popular Hikes In Sri Lanka
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Most people might think about white beaches when Sri Lanka comes to mind, this makes it easy to forget about the mountainous landscape of the island. With sacred mountains and beautiful viewpoints, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for your next hike. 

This is a list of the most popular hikes in Sri Lanka you shouldn't miss. 

In fact, these hikes are the most convenient to climb because you can do them within a day. So whether you have 4 weeks or 1 week in Sri Lanka, you can definitely squeeze a hike or two in your itinerary. 

So if you’re looking for the best hikes in Sri Lanka, which are convenient and offer outstanding views. Then you'll love this guide!

We have also included the difficulty levels, entrance fees, and many more tips to help you decide where to go. 

Let's get started!

Table of Contents

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1. Pidurangala Rock

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 30 to 45 minutes 

Best time to hike: Before sunrise 

Entrance fee: 500 LKR per person (2.50 USD)

Location: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Pidurangala Rock is a massive rock formation located in Pidurangala village. This rock is popular for its panoramic views of the town as it overlooks the famous Lion’s Rock. 

First light of the morning hits Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka.

Compared to Lion’s Rock, Pidurangala Rock is cheaper. Yet still offers a breathtaking view of the town and of Sigiriya.

The best time to hike is before sunrise or sunset to avoid the scorching heat. During these times, you'll witness the beautiful change of colors in the scenery. Wait for the light to illuminate the lush lands and the Lion's Rock. This is a picturesque view you shouldn’t miss while in Sri Lanka! 


Our top tip in hiking Pidurangala Rock if you visit for the sunrise or sunset is to head there early. Then pick a spot higher away from the crowds to give you more space to take photos and enjoy the view!

The trail in Pidurangala Rock is also easy to find with a temple right by the entrance. You will need to pay 500 LKR (3 USD) per person, which acts as a donation rather than a fee. 

Also, make sure you cover your shoulders and knees when you pass the temple. Though the ticket office opens at 5 a.m and closes at 6 p.m, these hours are not strictly enforced. 

The trail starts with concrete steps built into the mountains then to tree branches. Towards the end, you will have to climb up a narrow boulder and this can be a bit challenging to some. At busier times, you might also need to wait a few minutes to pass through the small passageways. 

Hiking Pidurangala Rock is easy to moderate depending on your fitness level. On average, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to summit. 

Sunrise seen from Pidurangala Rock

2. Lion’s Rock

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 1 to 1.5 hours

Best time to hike: Before sunset

Entrance fee: 30 USD

Location: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Lion’s rock,  also known as Sigiriya, offers both history and amazing views. It is an ancient rock fortress listed as a UNESCO world heritage in the central province. On any Sri Lankan itinerary, a climb to Sigiriya is one of the things you have to do. 

Entrance of Lion Rock, Sri Lanka.

With an entrance fee of 30 USD per person, you get access to the museum and can climb to the top of the fortress. The best time to climb is just before sunset at around 4 p.m when the weather is not too hot. 

With over 1200 steps heading to the top, the climb is manageable and can take from 1 hour to 1.5 hours. 

In the beginning, you will walk on wider concrete and as you get higher, the steps get narrower. There’s also a part where you have to walk on a spiral staircase in the middle. Depending on how busy it gets, you might have to wait in line. 

There’s a lot of places to hang out and rest while climbing up. These include a very polished wall best known as a ‘mirror wall’ and some cave paintings. 

Head out before sunset and spend some time exploring and taking in the amazing view at the top. You might want to bring some water and snacks with you to enjoy while waiting for sunset. But be careful with the monkeys!

Fortress on top of Lion Rock, Sri Lanka

3. Ella Rock

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Best time to hike: Early morning

Entrance fee: Free

Location: Ella, Sri Lanka

Hiking Ella Rock is one of the popular things to do when visiting the town of Ella. As impressive as the views at the top, the way to the rock from the main town is also notable. 

People enjoy the view from Ella Rock, Sri lanka

The hike is moderate to hard depending on your physical level. And can take up to 3 hours back and forth from the town. We recommend starting your trek early in the morning to avoid the scorching midday sun. 

You can easily hike it on your own. Start from Ella village and walk along the train tracks for a couple of miles until the actual trail. 

Now, walking on the train tracks has a dreamy and charming vibe like being in a movie. But, don’t get too carried away and be wary of any incoming trains. Overall, it’s safe to walk on the tracks and there is a lot of space on the side to get away from any trains. 

The trail is also well maintained and runs through a small village that has a gradual incline. There are friendly village dogs within the area that may follow you along the trail. Once you pass the long grass, the trail opens up into a view and then there is a steep climb up to get to the rock. You will be in the forest so there are lots of shades to protect you from the sun. 

Once you get to the top, there is a vendor selling cold coconuts. But you may want to bring your own drinks and food to enjoy alongside the breathtaking view of Ella below. Get yourself perched on one of the cliff rocks and savor the lushness of the rolling mountains. 

Watch out for leeches during the rainy season! Wear long pants or high socks to avoid them. 

A dog looks into a green valley at Ella Rock, Sri Lanka.

4. Little Adam’s Peak

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 to 50 minutes

Best time to hike: Sunrise or early morning

Entrance fee: Free

Location: Ella, Sri Lanka

Little Adam’s Peak is another easy hike located in Ella. It can take about 30 to 50 minutes to hike and it’s best for sunrise or early in the morning to avoid the heat and get the best views.

A green valley seen from Little Adams Peak, Sri Lanka.

You can hike Little Adam's Peak on your own without a guide as the path is well marked. It starts with an easy walk on gravel roads through a tea plantation. Then followed by a few steps that lead you to a few meters of rocky terrain. 

Though lower than Ella Rock’s, the view at the top still showcases the beauty of Ella’s lush mountains. Bring water and snacks to enjoy while on the top. 

There are dogs around the area that will follow you through the paths as well. Don’t worry, they're very friendly. 

Also, note that it can get quite busy given it’s in a tourist area. That's why it's better to head there as early as you can!

A green valley and mountain seen from Little Adams Peak, Sri Lanka.

5. Adam’s Peak

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 2 to 3 hours

Best time to climb: Before sunrise

Entrance fee: Free

Location: Delhousie, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada, is the 5th tallest and the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka.

It is also one of the most frequented climbs by tourists visiting the country. Mainly to watch the sunrise and to witness the spectacular views from above. While for some, it is the sense of pride of getting to finish the daunting climb that is not for the faint-hearted. Go there for the views and witness hundreds of pilgrims perform their ceremonies. 

Climbing Adam’s Peak is hard and exhausting with over 5,500 steps and it takes 2 to 3 hours to reach the top. If you want to witness the first ray of sunlight at the summit, you will have to start climbing at dawn at around 2:30 a.m.

Depending on the time you visit, you may have to wait in line as hundreds of visitors climb every day. The pilgrimage season runs from December to May. Travellers are also welcome to climb alongside the pilgrims. 

During those 6 months of the pilgrimage season, the steps up the mountainside are illuminated. But, we suggest bringing a torch with you to be sure. 

There are also little stalls and tea shops that are open for snacks and teas. But make sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks to give you strength through the grind. 

Once you reach the top, find a spot to watch the sunrise and bundle up as it gets chilly in the morning. 

Once the sun rises, the pilgrims perform a religious ceremony as they beat their drums. Then they make processions around the temple with flowers and offerings on hand. 

The festive atmosphere alongside the breathtaking views makes climbing Adam's Peak worthwhile!

Two women decent from the stairs at Adams Peak, Sri Lanka.

But wait, there’s more!

Wherever you decide to go, here are our top 9 travellers tips to ensure you get the most out of your Sri Lankan hiking trip! 

Top Tips

  1. Always check the weather before heading out for the hike. 
  2. Bring plenty of water and snacks to enjoy at the top. 
  3. Wear comfortable shoes no matter how easy the hike is. 
  4. Wear sunscreen. Plenty of them! 
  5. Take small cash for entrance fees and cold coconuts! 
  6. Bring a flashlight if you’re planning on hiking for sunrise or sunset.
  7. Wear long socks if it’s raining to prevent leech bites.
  8. Download Maps.me to view the trail offline. 
  9. Bring an extra layer of clothes as it tends to get colder at the top.

And that sums the top 5 most popular hikes you shouldn't miss on your trip to Sri Lanka.

Which of these hikes are you most excited to try?

Let us know in the comments down below. 

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