visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day

Visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day

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Visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day

On a one-day tour to Sri Lanka, is it feasible to visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa? Certainly, but it is crucial to commence the tour from Dambulla or Sigiriya in order to investigate Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, and Dambulla in a single day. Due to the fact that the tour is expected to commence in Sigiriya or a neighboring location, approximately 150 kilometers of travel are required.

It is feasible to visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day; however, the itinerary should commence in Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Habarana.

This article will focus on a specific inquiry that many travelers have when they are preparing for a vacation to Sri Lanka. The inquiry is whether it is feasible to visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day. Based on my personal experience, it is feasible to visit the triumvirate in a single-day journey; in fact, I have achieved this on numerous occasions. I will demonstrate the process in a nutshell 

What is the duration of the Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa tours?

We will discuss the duration of this one-day tour initially. Tourists may be able to visit the significant monuments at each of these three locations within 6-7 hours by driving between them in a private vehicle .

The Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa excursions typically last between 6-7 hours, depending on whether the journey commences in Habarana or Sigiriya. The time required for the one-day tour of Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa, however, varied significantly based on the amount of time spent in each city and the mode of transportation. According to my personal experience, it is necessary to allocate approximately three hours for the journey between these three cities.

It is necessary to investigate the monuments

Additionally, it will require approximately 4 additional hours to investigate the monuments in Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa, resulting in a total tour duration of approximately six to seven hours. If you are a seasoned trekker or frequently walk at home, you may be able to reduce the duration of the journey by an hour and save approximately an hour. Please be advised that I have not computed the time necessary for a lunch break or any other brief respite.

Visiting Dambulla, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa from Colombo

It is necessary to allocate about 14 hours for the trip when commencing a journey to Dambulla, Sigiriya, or Polonnaruwa from Colombo or any other beach resort on the west or south coast. The one-way trip may require a minimum of four hours due to the lengthy journey from Colombo. For those who reside in Colombo or a beach resort on the west coast, it is advisable to organize a two-day cultural triangle excursion that includes visits to Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, and Sigiriya

3-day tour of Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa

I believe that it would be preferable for you to reserve a three-day cultural triangle tour of Sri Lanka. This three-day tour encompasses Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy, which are all significant archaeological sites (UNESCO world heritage sites) in the cultural triangle. In addition to the historical monuments, this three-day excursion encompasses safaris, city visits, a botanical garden, cultural performances, and more.

The itinerary for the three-day tour

  • Before departing for the hotel in Sigiriya, your guide will meet and greet you. He will also make pauses at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the Dambulla Temple.
  • Ascend the Sigiriya rock fortress in the morning and explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. a subsequent safari in Minneriya National Park in the afternoon
  • Depart for the hotel in Colombo via Kandy; en route, visit the Royal Botanical Garden, Matale Spice Garden, and Tooth Relic Temple as well.

What are the significant destinations to visit during a tour of Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Polonaruwa?

On this route, there are twelve significant historical monuments; however, the Dambulla Golden Temple, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, and Polonnaruwa Ancient City are the primary tourism attractions that you will visit due to the restricted time frame. Attending cooking classes or village excursions, participating in safari tours, or visiting other historical monuments is challenging due to time constraints. There is a high likelihood of visiting additional significant historical monuments, including the Pidurangala temple, which you are able to prolong your trip to for a two-day tour. Additionally, by participating in a wildlife excursion at a wildlife reserve situated within the cultural triangle,. The following is a comprehensive inventory of significant tourist attractions that should be visited during this journey:

  • Rock fortification of Sigiriya
  • Dambulla Golden Temple
  • Museum of Polonnaruwa
  • The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
  • Temple of Pidurangala
  • National Park of Minneriya

The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka

Many iconic tourist attractions, including Sigiriya and Dambulla, are included in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, which some individuals refer to as the golden triangle of Sri Lanka. One can observe hundreds of historical monuments that are in a state of disrepair and date back to the 3rd century BC by visiting the cultural triangle. However, the island is not solely comprised of cultural and historical monuments; there are numerous other significant locations that warrant exploration.

The allocation of a few days for sightseeing in each region of the island is a prevalent practice among travelers. Thus, the travelers intend to spend three nights in the cultural triangle to visit historical monuments and subsequently continue to the upcountry of Sri Lanka to appreciate the magnificent scenery. Subsequently, the travelers relocate to the southern region to participate in Sri Lankan jungle excursions and visit wildlife reserves. Finally, they conclude their journeys by exploring the sandy beaches of the west and south coasts.

Most travelers visit as many sites as possible while in the cultural triangle before proceeding to their next base as a result of this prevalent practice. The most popular and exceptional destinations are selected by the travelers.

What are the reasons for visiting Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Polonnaruwa?

Foreigners frequently engage in the practice of visiting historical monuments in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Polonnaruwa are significant historical monuments and UNESCO world heritage locations. Consequently, the majority of Sri Lankan road journeys encompass all three locations.

Every week, I receive numerous emails containing inquiries such as “Is it possible to visit Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya in a single day?”” Is it possible for you to organize a tour that includes visits to Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla?” “What is the duration of the trip to Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya?””. That is why I decided to create this blog post in order to provide a comprehensive account of the day excursion to Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla.

Even though there are hundreds of ancient structures that are in a state of disrepair, Sigiriya, Dambulla Cave temple, and Polonnaruwa are the key destinations in the cultural triangle

What is the optimal time to embark on the Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa excursions?

If you are uncertain about the optimal time of year to undertake the Dambulla Sigiriya Polonnaruwa excursion, I would suggest that it can be undertaken at any point in the year. Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa are all year-round holiday destinations as a result of the arid weather.

The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka encompasses Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa, all of which are situated in the arid zone of the country. Travelers can enjoy pleasant, sunny weather for the majority of the year in the arid zone of Sri Lanka, as rainfall is scarce and the majority of the year is dry. Nevertheless, travelers must remain vigilant regarding the weather conditions in the region, particularly during the months of October and November, as the rainy season can be particularly damp.

What is the itinerary for the Dambulla Sigiriya Polonnaruwa one-day tour?

7:00 am: Commence the hike at the Sigiriya rock fortress.

09.45am: Completion of the Sigiriya rock hike

10.0 am: Drive to Polonnaruwa

11.00am: Arrival in Polonnaruwa and commencement of the Polonnaruwa city excursion.

1:00 pm: Depart from the historical city of Poloonaruwa

1.20 pm: Lunch is taken

3:30 pm: Visit the Dambulla Golden Cave Temple

4.30 pm: A one-day conclusion of journey to Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla concludes

Visiting the Cultural Triangle

A minimum of two days is required to visit the cultural triangle. However, if you prefer to explore the triangle at a leisurely pace, a minimum of three days is required. A cultural triangle tour, such as a four-day tour of Sri Lanka, is an intriguing experience that enables you to observe the relics of a culture that was well-developed in the past.

The magnificent Dagobas, centuries-old paintings, enormous granite statues, and interlocking wood and stone sculptures are evidence of this civilization. Thus, you will come across numerous cities, parks, palaces, and temples in the historical cities as well


A one-day excursion of Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya

I assume that you have private transportation to travel from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa and subsequently to Dambulla. This is crucial for the purpose of saving time when traveling between the two locations. It may be a daunting challenge to visit Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya in a single day. if you rely on public transportation. Typically, public transportation is sluggish and operates behind schedule.

The commencement point of the journey to Dambulla is Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa.

In order to visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day, it is necessary to commence your voyage from a nearby location. This is due to the fact that the journey, given that it commences in Sigiriya or a neighboring location, is approximately 150 km in length and requires approximately three hours. Furthermore, an additional five hours will be required for tourism, resulting in a total tour duration of approximately eight hours. Naturally, you must also allocate time for a few breaks, such as for lunch, to use the restroom, or to consume a beverage. Consequently, you will have limited time to engage in other activities.

The tour must commence at an early hour (approximately 4:00 a.m.) if it is planned from a distant location such as Colombo or Kandy, and it concludes late at night. Consequently, we suggest that you enroll in a two-day tour if you are interested in visiting Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in a single day from Colombo, Kandy, or the west coast. In addition to visiting Dambulla and Sigiriya Polonnaruwa in a single day, a two-day tour allows you to incorporate a variety of additional activities, including a safari, a visit to the Pinnawala elephant sanctuary, a visit to a spice garden, and participation in the Sigiriya village tour as well.

The initial activity of the Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa one-day journey is to visit Sigiriya.

I recommend that you commence the one-day tour at the earliest possible time, which is approximately 7 a.m. Additionally, I recommend that you begin your journey by visiting the Sigiriya rock fortress. You may be pondering why I suggest visiting Sigiriya in the early morning. Initially, shielding oneself from the scorching sun rays and intense heat is feasible during the Sigiriya trek, an outdoor activity. Not only is it inconvenient, but hiking during the day can result in fatigue and perspiration. Indeed, a visit to Sigiriya necessitates a few hours of ascent up 1200 narrow steps, precipitous in nature.

The early morning visit to Sigiriya Rock also allows you to circumvent the crowd of tourists that begins to accumulate at the entrance at approximately 8 a.m. as well. and subsequently persist until the early afternoon.

The climb may require an additional few hours if you are impeded by tourist traffic, as there is only one constricted stairway to ascend the rock. The climb at Sigiriya is unusual in that it lasts for approximately 2 hours, including both upward and downward journeys. However, on days that are particularly busy, this endurance may be extended to 3–4 hours.

It is crucial to manage your time during this journey, as you are required to travel approximately 250 km and visit three significant tourist attractions in a single day. Attempt to limit the duration of the Sigiriya hike to two hours, as this will facilitate the remainder of the journey. The majority of travelers in Sigiriya typically require approximately two hours.

By climbing in the early morning, you have the opportunity to explore the archaeological site at a reduced crowd level. This allows you to progress at your own pace without any pressure, and, most significantly, there is no time wasted in the queue. 

Travel from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa by car

The distance covered is 55 km, and the journey from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa takes approximately one hour. The journey from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa and vice versa is highly sought after by travelers due to the fact that the majority of the journey takes place within the Minneriya National Park. Wild elephants are frequently observed by travelers along this route. Maintain your antennae aloft; you may capture a glimpse of a few wild elephants. While driving on the road, there are only a handful of locations where one can observe untamed animals.

From Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa

Nevertheless, in the event that you choose to travel by public transportation (bus), the journey from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa may require up to three hours due to the limited number of transit points. The initial transit point is Inamaluwa, while the second is Habarana. There is no direct bus service from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa. Consequently, you must travel to the Inamaluwa junction from Sigiriya and board a Habarana-bound bus from there. You will be able to board a direct bus to Polonnaruwa from Habarana.

As you travel from Sigiriya Rock to Polonnaruwa, request that your driver or guide take Moragaswewa-Illukwewa Rd., which is more commonly referred to as the Sigiriya shortcut. The journey will be extended by approximately 40 minutes if you choose to travel via the main road (Habarana).

Visiting Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa, the second-most ancient capital of Sri Lanka, is a city that dates back to the 10th century AD. Polonnaruwa conceals an abundance of historical monuments, the majority of which are still in pristine condition. There are numerous historical structures, including palaces, parks, temples, and audience halls, that have been in existence for centuries. In contrast to Sigiriya, there are no stairs to ascend in Polonnaruwa; however, the monuments are dispersed throughout the large ancient city. Consequently, it is necessary to either walk or drive from one location to another.

City tour of Polonnaruwa

The primary focus of the Polonnaruwa city excursion is the exploration of ancient monuments, historical temples, stupas, and museums. The duration of the Polonnaruwa city tour may differ based on the mode of transportation and your interest in archaeology. It may take approximately four hours to investigate Polonnaruwa if you choose to walk during the city tour. Thus, You may be able to complete the city excursion in approximately two hours if you opt for a car or van to travel in Polonnaruwa.

Polonnaruwa is situated in the north-central province of Sri Lanka and is in the same climate zone as Sigiriya. Consequently, the weather in Polonnaruwa is comparable to that of Sigiriya. The meteorological conditions in Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are identical, characterized by high temperatures, high humidity, and insufficient rainfall.

What to see during a city excursion of Polonnaruwa

Hundreds of ancient monuments are accessible by taking a leisurely meander along the dusty road in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa is replete with ancient structures, including temples, stupas, palaces, Dagobas, Buddha statues, Ayurveda temples, and numerous others. The city boasts a number of ancient monuments that date back hundreds of years, with the majority of them dating back to the 10th century AD.

What is intriguing about Polonnaruwa is that it is not only an archaeological site with monuments, but it also has a well-constructed natural vegetative cover. Throughout the ancient city, the travelers are confronted with massive trees and vegetation during the 10th century AD, the ancient authorities meticulously designed the ancient city, which included walls, moats, parks, roads, and lakes.

Museum of Polonnaruwa and Parakrama Samudra

The Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum serves as the starting point for an exploration of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The archaeological museum, which is situated near the bank of Parakrama Samudra, is accessible by walking a hundred yards along the main road.

The ancient engineers took a permanent water resource into serious consideration when they designed the city. Consequently, they constructed Parakrama Samudra in the vicinity of the city to ensure that the ancient city was supplied with water. Parakrama Samudra, one of the largest man-made lakes in Sri Lanka, continues to be essential for the local population in terms of water supply.

Cycling is the most effective method of discovering the city, as it enables you to investigate the ancient monuments while riding through the picturesque greenery. We suggest that you contact a local tour operator, such as Seerendipity, to rent a bike for your city excursion.

Upon arriving in Polonnaruwa, some travelers choose to walk, which is also a viable option and can be somewhat more cost-effective. Throughout my travels in Sri Lanka as I have observed that numerous backpackers adhere to the use of public buses as a mode of transportation in order to save a few dollars.

When booking package tours with local tour operators, the majority of travelers do not mind about visiting Polonnaruwa. Entrance tickets, tour guides, and modes of conveyance are all coordinated by the tour operator within the city

The ancient city also offers the option of traveling by private car, van, or bus, and the roads are well-equipped to facilitate these modes of transportation. There is no doubt that this type of vehicle is highly convenient, quick, and pleasant for cycling or walking through the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which is why a significant number of travelers prefer it.

The historical city of Polonnaruwa boasts a significantly higher level of greenery than Sigiriya, despite the fact that all activities are conducted outdoors (with the exception of the Polonnaruwa museum). This is the primary distinction between the two cities. Consequently, Polonnaruwa offers protection from the sun and shelter from shady trees. Polonnaruwa disperses individuals and distributes artifacts over a vast expanse, thereby obstructing the perception of a substantial fraction of throng.

Golden Temple Visitation on a One-Day Tour of Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa

I suggest that you visit the Dambulla Golden Cave Temple at the conclusion of the one-day tour, which includes stops at Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Polonnaruwa. The Dambulla cave temple’s ascent is less taxing than that of Sigiriya. You can visit Polonnaruwa at any time by taking a leisurely trek that lasts no more than 10 minutes (maximum). Dambulla steps are simpler to ascend than the rock-cut stairs of Sigiriya, which are narrower.

The hike at Dambulla was substantially more strenuous and lasted longer than it does today, when the travelers began their hike near the A-9 main road a few years ago. Subsequently, the temple’s management was assumed by another temple in the vicinity, which facilitated the trek by constructing a new entrance. The optimal time to hike in Dambulla is during the afternoon or early morning due to the high temperatures. Typically, Dambulla experiences significantly lower tourist traffic than Sigiriya; however, there are instances in which a few hundred travelers descend upon the cave. The early hours of the day are when the majority of travelers visit Dambulla. The Dambulla cave temple visit is approximately one hour in duration, and it includes both upward and downward journeys to all five caves as well.

Sigiriya to Dambulla

Travelers can effortlessly traverse the distance between Sigiriya and Dambulla by using public transportation. Nevertheless, trail transportation is not available on this route. The travel time from Sigiriya to Dambulla is 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the mode of transportation. The distance between the two cities is 17 km. You can save time by driving from Sigiriya to Dambulla in just 20 minutes if you have a private vehicle. If you choose to take the public bus today, Thus, the journey will require a minimum of 40 minutes.

A concise overview of the day-long journey to Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa

you must get adjected yourself In order to accommodate any additional time required during your travels, Thus, you must amend your schedule. For instance, Either you are lodging in Habarana or Dambulla, you must accumulate 30 minutes to your travel time to reach the hotel in Sigiriya. Consequently, you must depart the hotel at least 6:30 a.m.

07.00 am: Sigiriya Rock is the starting point .

08:00 am: Ascend to the summit and investigate the ruins.

08:30 am: The descent commences.

09.15 am: Arrive at the park and retrieve the vehicle.

09.15 am: 30 minutes of pleasure and leisure (there are cafeterias in the vicinity of the Sigiriya Rock, and as a fitting reward to refresh yourself for exhaustion),

09.45 am: Commence the journey to Polonnaruwa.

10.45 am: Arrive at the archaeological museum, purchase a ticket and admire some of the valuable artifacts in the museum

11.30 am: Visit the historical city of Polonnaruwa

01:30 pm: Conclude the sightseeing excursion of Polonnaruwa and depart the site.

2:00 pm: Lunch is taken

03.00 pm: Drive to the Dambulla Cave Temple

04.00 pm: Visit the Dambulla cave temple at 4:00 p.m.

05:00 pm: Depart the temple.

The conclusion of the one-day excursion to Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa with a happy note

Places of lesser significance in Sigiriya and Dambulla

There are numerous activities and attractions in Sigiriya and Dambulla, except for the main route. such as Minneriya National Park Safari, Habarana Village Tour, and Pidurangala Temple are among them. Nevertheless, the itinerary is so dense that there will be little time for additional activities during this one-day excursion. We suggest that you organize a two-day excursion that includes an overnight stay at a hotel in Sigiriya or Polonnaruwa. This will enable you to explore a variety of intriguing locations in two days, such as Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa in one day.

Visiting Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya in a single day, except Dambulla cave temple

It is feasible to visit Sigiriya and Polonnaruwamin in a single day; however, Dambulla, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa day journeys result in a little bit of savings compared to neglecting Dambulla cave temple in Dambulla. Thus, the Dambulla Golden Temple does not require a significant amount of time to visit. Additionally, Dambulla is only a 20-minute drive from Sigiriya. Unlike the trek at Sigiriya, the Dambulla hike is relatively straightforward, with the ascent of the stairs taking only 10 minutes.

Why select Seerendipity Tours for your trip to Sigiriya, Dambulla and Sigiriya?

Seerendipity Tour is a travel company that is wholly locally owned and has its headquarters in Colombo. Seerendipity Tours’ most significant asset is its exceptionally knowledgeable local personnel, who are capable of organizing your ideal Sri Lankan vacation.

The most competitive price is guranteed for your Sri Lankan excursion

By booking a tour with Seerendipity Tours, you are directly contacting the local company, ensuring that there are no intermediaries and that you receive the most competitive price. Please do not hesitate to contact us and inform us of your travel plans and preferred experiences.

Arrange your ideal Sri Lankan excursion with the assistance of a professional.

Our staff develops a customized itinerary for you, which you may modify until you identify the optimal Sri Lanka trip package. You may also consult our current tour packages for inspiration ( All of our pre-made tour packages are adaptable and can be customized to satisfy your specific requirements. Please contact us at or by phone. 0094-77-440977, WhatsApp: 0094-77-4440977

Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on read more

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