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Sri Lanka

Dambulla Holidays

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Dambulla? Doddle.

Dambulla is the place to go in Sri Lanka if you want to experiencing awe-struck wonder on a minute-by-minute basis. Expect gilded Buddhas with toes the size of your head, and mighty rock formations rising sheer from the plains. Discover sacred temples and atmospheric ruins. And, when you want some breathing space between the history, myths and fables, head to a nearby national park and go safari. Or take a village tour, meet local craftspeople and see a more contemporary side of Sri Lankan culture.

A holiday to Dambulla puts you in prime position for exploring Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. The town is right in the heart of the country and less than two hours drive from both the ancient capitals of Polonaruwa and Anuradhapura. Dambulla itself is often busy and there’s always plenty lively hustle and bustle. But at the end of a day you may prefer serenity, tropical gardens and refreshing pools, so think about staying at Ullagala by UGA Escapes boutique resort, just north of the town.

And there’s plenty to see and do in the area. The top attraction is undoubtedly the legendary fortress of Sigiriya. Sometimes called ‘Lion Rock’, this incredible view point is within half-an-hour of the town centre, and the incredible Dambulla Cave Temple is closer still. Explore the wonderful fresco-covered cave complex, and then climb the winding staircase to the astonishing summit of Sigiriya. The panoramic views over the surrounding jungle are sure to be one of the highlights of your Dambulla holiday.

But you should also make time for lesser-known local attractions. Take a tour round Popham’s Arboretum in the company of expert botanists. Hike up to the top of Pidurangala Rock, just opposite Sigiriya, for a 360-degree view without the crowds. Visit Ibbankatuwa, a megalithic tomb site just south of Dambulla. And, once you’ve seen the wall art in the Dambulla Cave Temple, head to the Museum of Wall Painting nearby for even more insight into the remarkable 2,000-year-old complex.

Best time to go

Things to do

Days out

Activities

Best time to visit Dambulla

Dambulla is in the centre of Sri Lanka, so it experiences some of the country’s two annual monsoons. On the upside, the rain here is seldom as torrential as it is on the coast, thunderstorms are rare and both wet seasons tend to be short. The driest and sunniest time to go on holiday to Dambulla – and other parts of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle – is between January and March or June and September. These are also the busiest seasons, though, so you can expect some crowds at major attractions. Temperatures hover between 28°C and 32°C. So if you’re planning to be out and about, plan your day to fit activities in to the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat.

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The two wet seasons in Dambulla are April to May, and then again between October and January. Cultural sites are less crowded at this time as year, but it’s still business as usual in town. So, if you do book your Dambulla holiday at this quieter time of year, you can expect shops, restaurants and resorts to still be open. 

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Show Less

Things to do in Dambulla

Everyone who comes on holiday to Dambulla wants to see the Royal Rock Temple Complex. Thought to date back over 2,000 years, it’s often simply called Dambulla Cave Temple and always tops the to-do list in Sri Lanka’s cultural heartland. The original cave was created by King Valagamba in the first century BC. But the entire complex contains five caves and around 150 statues of Buddha, as well as spectacularly intricate wall and ceiling paintings. The Temple of the King of the Gods is particularly stunning and where you’ll find the 15-metre-long reclining Buddha.

Show More
Show Less

Sigiriya is another Sri Lanka icon and one more excellent reason to holiday in Dambulla. A World Heritage Site, this giant rock fortress looks imposing at ground level. But climb the steep staircase to the top and you can explore the ruins of Sri Lanka’s shortest-lived ancient capital and discover one of the country’s most incredible views at the same time.

Show More
Show Less

Days out in Dambulla

Drive just over an hour east of Dambulla, and you’ll arrive at another point on Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, third-century Polonaruwa. Spread out over four kilometres, this ancient capital lies in ruins, but it’s likely to be one of the loveliest ruined cities you’ve ever seen. Earmark at least a day to explore and visit the gorgeous lake. Just remember to bring socks – Polonaruwa’s a sacred site, so no shoes allowed and the baking ground will definitely test your toes.

Show More
Show Less

The cultural triangle apex is Anuradhapura, to the north of Dambulla. Less well preserved than Polonaruwa, it’s still a stunning sacred city and worth fitting in if you’ve time. Alternatively, spend a day in Kandy. Less than two hours south of Dambulla, this is Sri Lanka’s cultural capital. Kandy is home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, and it’s a good starting point for tea plantation tours or hill country hikes.

Show More
Show Less

Activities in Dambulla

Don’t imagine a culture-rich holiday in Dambulla is low on activity. You have to climb hundreds of steps to reach the summit of Sigiriya alone. And, once you’re on top of the rock, you can look forward to some more strolling around. But, if you really want to stretch your legs, take a hike up Pidurangala Rock. This little-known treasure is almost directly opposite Sigiriya, has fewer visitors, and rewards your legwork with stunning views of its famous neighbour and the surrounding countryside. 

Show More
Show Less

For more ground-level activity, watch the scientists at work on Menikdena Archaeological Reserve just south of Dambulla, then climb up Menikdena peak for a completely different perspective on the dig. Or, when you want low-exertion but maximum reward, book a hot air balloon tour between November and April to fly over Sigiriya and Dambulla as the sun comes up.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Dambulla

Dambulla is in the centre of Sri Lanka, so it experiences some of the country’s two annual monsoons. On the upside, the rain here is seldom as torrential as it is on the coast, thunderstorms are rare and both wet seasons tend to be short. The driest and sunniest time to go on holiday to Dambulla – and other parts of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle – is between January and March or June and September. These are also the busiest seasons, though, so you can expect some crowds at major attractions. Temperatures hover between 28°C and 32°C. So if you’re planning to be out and about, plan your day to fit activities in to the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat.

Show More
Show Less

The two wet seasons in Dambulla are April to May, and then again between October and January. Cultural sites are less crowded at this time as year, but it’s still business as usual in town. So, if you do book your Dambulla holiday at this quieter time of year, you can expect shops, restaurants and resorts to still be open. 

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Dambulla

Everyone who comes on holiday to Dambulla wants to see the Royal Rock Temple Complex. Thought to date back over 2,000 years, it’s often simply called Dambulla Cave Temple and always tops the to-do list in Sri Lanka’s cultural heartland. The original cave was created by King Valagamba in the first century BC. But the entire complex contains five caves and around 150 statues of Buddha, as well as spectacularly intricate wall and ceiling paintings. The Temple of the King of the Gods is particularly stunning and where you’ll find the 15-metre-long reclining Buddha.

Show More
Show Less

Sigiriya is another Sri Lanka icon and one more excellent reason to holiday in Dambulla. A World Heritage Site, this giant rock fortress looks imposing at ground level. But climb the steep staircase to the top and you can explore the ruins of Sri Lanka’s shortest-lived ancient capital and discover one of the country’s most incredible views at the same time.

Show More
Show Less

Days out

Days out in Dambulla

Drive just over an hour east of Dambulla, and you’ll arrive at another point on Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, third-century Polonaruwa. Spread out over four kilometres, this ancient capital lies in ruins, but it’s likely to be one of the loveliest ruined cities you’ve ever seen. Earmark at least a day to explore and visit the gorgeous lake. Just remember to bring socks – Polonaruwa’s a sacred site, so no shoes allowed and the baking ground will definitely test your toes.

Show More
Show Less

The cultural triangle apex is Anuradhapura, to the north of Dambulla. Less well preserved than Polonaruwa, it’s still a stunning sacred city and worth fitting in if you’ve time. Alternatively, spend a day in Kandy. Less than two hours south of Dambulla, this is Sri Lanka’s cultural capital. Kandy is home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, and it’s a good starting point for tea plantation tours or hill country hikes.

Show More
Show Less

Activities

Activities in Dambulla

Don’t imagine a culture-rich holiday in Dambulla is low on activity. You have to climb hundreds of steps to reach the summit of Sigiriya alone. And, once you’re on top of the rock, you can look forward to some more strolling around. But, if you really want to stretch your legs, take a hike up Pidurangala Rock. This little-known treasure is almost directly opposite Sigiriya, has fewer visitors, and rewards your legwork with stunning views of its famous neighbour and the surrounding countryside. 

Show More
Show Less

For more ground-level activity, watch the scientists at work on Menikdena Archaeological Reserve just south of Dambulla, then climb up Menikdena peak for a completely different perspective on the dig. Or, when you want low-exertion but maximum reward, book a hot air balloon tour between November and April to fly over Sigiriya and Dambulla as the sun comes up.

Show More
Show Less

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Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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