Dambulla, Central Sri Lanka
  • Sri Lanka
  • Dambulla


Located right in the heart of the islands lush, green interior, Dambulla sits at the centre of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. The area, thought to be inhabited from as early as the 7th to 3rd century BC, is now home to some of Sri Lanka's finest hotels, most fascinating wildlife and much of its most spectacular scenery.

When to go

Sri Lanka has a typically tropical climate and the temperature and humidity (approximately 70%) remain high all year round. But, on the coast, a light coastal breeze makes this heat comfortable.

Inland, the heat is significantly reduced due to the higher altitude. Rainfall is highest in May and in October/November. The south-western coast has higher rainfall than the rest of the country, although many people find this a refreshing break. This generally occurs in the afternoon and is accompanied by thunder. The highest rainfall occurs in May (371mm) and the lowest is Feb (69mm). There is an average of 6-8 hours of sunshine per day, all year round.

Top Attractions

One of the area's most famous attractions and a World Heritage Site is the Dambulla Rock Temple (also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla). Sitting on top of a hill, an impressive and intricate series of caves conceal statues and paintings related to Lord Buddha and his life, which date back to the 1st century BC.

No visit to the island is complete without a trip to Sri Lanka's most famous palace, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. One of Sri Lanka’s seven world heritage sites and one of its most popular tourist destinations. The ancient palace dates back to the 5th century AD and is, essentially, a ruin. The ruin looks like a huge column of rock that is encircled by lakes and dense jungle. It stands at 200 meters high and forms the region’s skyline. Magnificent.

You could also visit the ancient man-made lakes at Kandalama, the extraordinary ancient city of Polonnaruwa, once the island's medieval capital, or any one of the area many wildlife sanctuaries.


There are some stunning beaches in Dambulla. Waikkal beach is a great beach but expect strong currents in the water. Tangalle beach is another taste of paradise! The waves on Tangalle can be a bit rough, though.

Hikkaduwa beach is a long beach, close to Hikkaduwa town.


There is lots of opportunity to dine on tasty food in Dambulla. Visitors can enjoy local cuisine from Rithu restaurant and Sakura. You can also enjoy a tasty lunch at Road To Rock Shop' In Cafe which is exactly what it says on the tin...A shop in a cafe!


While the nightlife scene isn’t that big, there are a few places you must visit on your Dambulla holiday if you enjoy an evening out.

Qbaa bar is the perfect place for a relaxing evening, while Kachchana bar is the top-choice for a high-end, luxury bistro.

The international Sherry Land pub is also a great choice for first-class drinks and a varied choice of cuisine.


Cultural highlights in this region are abundant. Locals are highly influenced by religious beliefs and, as a result, there is plenty to see in regard to Dambulla culture.

As well as Ramadan and Christmas, other celebrated festivals are: Esala Perahera, a Buddhist festival that takes place in the capital of Sri Lanka (Kandy), Patti Pongal, a harvest festival, and Sinhala and Tamil New Year Festival (celebrated annually on April 13th).

Adventure and Sports

There is plenty to do in Dambulla for the sporty types, especially cyclists. Cycle the back roads of Sri Lanka, or explore the highlands of Sri Lanka.

Not far from Dambulla, you may choose to cycle on Sri Lanka’s spice trails from Negombo to Colombo. It’s a fascinating 12-day cycle excursion.

If you prefer the sea, there are plenty of watersports along the beaches to enjoy, too.

Getting around

There are many budget taxi options in Sri Lanka, as well as cheap bus services, so you won’t empty your wallet by travelling around. There are also a handful of domestic and international airports to choose to fly into.

Dambulla is closest to Sigiriya airport, which is approximately 18 minutes away. Katugastota (KDZ) airport is another option, at just over an hour away.

You can also fly in to Diyawanna Oya (DWO) or Batticaloa (BTC) airports, although a combination of taxi and train travel would be required to reach Dambulla from these domestic airports.

Colombo airport is another possibility, about 6 hours away by bus. Find great value buses from Dambulla to Colombo, as well as to Sigiriya, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

Popular hotels in Dambulla

Dambulla, Central Sri LankaHeritance Kandalama
Mon, 17th Oct
7 nights
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