For those who love art and architecture, Dambulla in Sri Lanka, is the place to explore. There are very many things to do in Dambulla, except for staying there. You might want to make it a day trip to this historical paradise, from Kandy, which is about 70 km from there. The place is worth a visit though, just for the stunning sculptures and paintings that you will see in this little town.

9 Things To Do In Dambulla

From exploring caves to getting a ‘taste’ of the local culture and heritage, there are a lot of things that you can do once you are in Dambulla. So, let’s get started on the virtual tour of what this place seeped in history is all about.

  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Sigiriya Rock
  • Minneriya National Park
  • Buddhist Museum
  • Pidurangala Rock
  • Popham’s Arboretum
  • Traditional Foods Sales Centre
  • Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre
  • Kalu Diya Pokuna

1. Dambulla Cave Temple : Explore The Caves

Dambulla Cave Temple view

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You would have seen thousands of pictures of Buddha in a cave; we can assure you that most of those pictures have made their way from this iconic cave temple. It is an entire complex of caves and will at least take you a couple of hours to explore it in ease. You definitely would not want to miss this one. The caves are brimming with Buddha statues, more than 150 of them, as well as those of kings and gods. The caves are also lined with colourful paintings and murals, which makes exploring these caves even more fun and interesting!

Timings: 7AM-7PM (ticket counter closes at 5PM)
Entry fee: LKR 1500/adult
Location: Kandy - Jaffna Hwy, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
How to reach: You will have to take the stairs up to the temple. As far as Dambulla is concerned, you will find multiple buses running between Kandy and Dambulla.

Must Read: 13 Best Places To Visit In Dambulla That Showcase Its Spiritual & Natural Charm

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2. Sigiriya Rock: Soak In The magnificence

Sigiriya Rock view

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Dambulla and Sigiriya go hand in hand, metaphorically. This is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site and provides the tourist in you with a lot of photo ops. The place, just 17 km from Dambulla, is one of the valuable historical sites of Sri Lanka. The magnificent rock fortress is located right on top of a volcanic plateau. Many locals also call it the eighth wonder of the world and it fully justifies that. The main entrance is in the shape of huge lion feet. The beauty, which is the rock, is a sight to behold and to enhance the beauty even more, the gigantic structure is surrounded by green landscaped gardens, water bodies and ruins of the fortress. The cave itself houses a mirror wall and also frescoes from the ancient era. The views from the top are quite breath-taking as well.

Timings: 7AM-7PM
Entry fee: LKR 5000/adult
Location: Rock Front, Sigiriya 21120, Sri Lanka
How to reach: Take a train from Colombo and get down at Habarana, 15 km away from Sigiriya. There are no direct trains to Sigiriya.

Suggested Read: Spend Just 5 Days In Sri Lanka To Explore The Tropical Paradise That It Is!

3. Minneriya National Park: Spot Elephant Herds

Minneriya National Park

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One of the things to do near Dambulla is to visit one of the countrys best-kept secret the Minneriya National Park. It is just 50 minutes drive from Dambulla and the visit is worth it. Go on one of the thrilling jeep safaris that this eco park has to offer. You might get lucky enough to find the biggest herd of Asian elephants. One of the main points in this park is the Minneriya Tank, which was built way back in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasena. Usually, during the dry season, which is from June to September, this tank becomes the main attraction as herds of elephants come to bathe and graze. It is quite a spectacle. How spectacular you might ask- Well, let's just say that it is considered to be the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world, and you could see up to even 300 elephants around the time. This place is an animal lovers delight and will truly be a wild experience.

Timings: 6:30 AM-6:30PM
Jeep Safari Cost: LKR 4000/jeep
Park Entry fee: LKR 3600/adult; LKR 1800 for children between 5-12 yrs
Location: Maradankadawala-Habarana-Thirukkondaiadimadu Highway, Rambawilla 50150, Sri Lanka
How to reach: Sigiriya Airport is 24 km away from the national park. Take a private taxi or cab to reach the park.

Suggested Read: 10 Top Villas In Dambulla To Have An Enthralling Sri Lankan Holiday With Absolute Comfort!

4. Buddhist Museum: Attain Peace At The Museum of Wall Paintings

Buddhist Museum

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Just before the famous Dambulla caves can catch your eye, there is a huge golden statue of Buddha, which welcomes you to this wonder. In fact, this statue is considered to be Asia's largest Buddha statue in Dhyan Chakra pose. This is the entrance to the Dambulla Museum. The small wall art museum within that is something you have to see, to know the rich culture of the country. This also houses a terrace, from where the view is great and is absolutely peaceful.

Location: Kandy - Jaffna Hwy, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
How to reach: You will find autos and other modes of public transport that will take you to the temple.

Suggested Read: 10 Places To Visit Near Sinharaja Forest Reserve With Friends On Your Sri Lanka Trip

5. Pidurangala Rock: Hike Up For A Breathtaking Sunrise

Pidurangala Rock

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Tourist, from all over the world, visit Sigiriya Rock for its uniqueness and the historical factor. Pidurangala Rock is right adjacent to the Sigiriya and is worth the climb. It is slightly lower than Sigiriya and so you get a breathtaking view of Sigiriya from Pidurangala and it is also a famous spot to view the sunrise from.

Entry fee: LKR 500/adult
Location: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
How to reach: You will find tuk-tuks from Sigiriya to Pidurangala Vihar. You can also hire bicycles.

Suggested Read: 6 Best Restaurants In Dambulla Where You Must Dine On Your Next Sri Lankan Trip!

6. Pophams Arboretum: Discover The Rawness Of Nature

Pophams Arboretum

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One of the sure things to do in Dambulla, Sri Lanka is to visit the Arboretum. This fascinating place is Sri Lankas only dry zone arboretum. Walk through the Arboretum and admire the various species of Trees, Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Mammals can be found in abundance. This place is a wonderland, what with its wooden bridges, small streams and the greenery. You can hear the sounds of the birds while walking through this magical land. Jungle Magpie Robins, and the Crimson backed Woodpeckers are just some of the birds that you might sight here. The highlight, though, is the Night Walk that they have, where they take you on the trail of the rare slender Loris. Do not definitely give this place a miss.

Entry fee: LKR 1500/adult
Location: Dambulla, Sri Lanka
How to reach: Tuk Tuk in Dambulla will take you to te arboretum.

Suggested Read: 3 Famous Bakeries In Kandy, Sri Lanka, For Some Sweet Delights

7. Traditional Foods Sales Centre: Explore Culinary Flavours

Traditional Foods Sales Centre

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You can literally taste the local culture in this place, run by the government. It is an amazing opportunity for the traveller in you to explore the local traditional food that this historic town has to offer. They serve delicacies that you might not find anywhere else like the pittu (steamed rice flower patty with savoury sauce), narang kewum (fried coconut and honey ball), and belimal flower tea. It is a win-win situation, where you get to taste the culinary excellence of this beautiful town and the ladies who run the stall, earn some bucks, which keeps their homes running.

Location: Pelwehera Rd, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Timings: 7 AM - 7:30 PM

Suggested Read: The Ultimate Guide To Sri Lanka’s Dambulla Cave Temple

8. Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre: Interact With Farmers

Beautiful flowers

Image Credit: MikeGoad for Pixabay
One of the top things to do in Dambulla, Sri Lanka is to pay a visit to this place. Fresh vegetables and fruits which are making its way to the capital, can be seen and the colorful ambiance around this place is just electrifying. The farmers market gives you a sneak peek into the culinary prowess of this country as it is all the local produce that is on display here. It is right in the middle of the town and is considered to be the largest wholesale fruits and vegetable market in the whole of Sri Lanka. Make sure you also grab some of the local produce, it'll be worth it!

Location: Kandy - Jaffna Hwy, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Timings: Open 24 hours
How to reach: Take a tuk-tuk from Sigiriya towards Dambulla

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka In February: A Detailed Guide For Witnessing The Country Spreading Its Charm

9. Kalu Diya Pokuna: Soak In Nature

lake view

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This is one of the best things to do around Dambulla, Sri Lanka and definitely worth it. When translated, it literally means pond with black water, and this is a natural black water pool. This involves hiking as well, but the sight you will be welcomed to, at the other end, makes the hike even more exciting. One of Sri Lanka's other best-kept secrets, the tranquillity, and peace that you will find in this place cannot be expressed, but only felt. Once there, you will also be witness to the magical mother nature, with birds and butterflies for company.

Location: Central province, Sri Lanka
How to reach: Dambulla is the nearest city to the reserve. You can either take a tuk-tuk or hitchhike with any vehicle heading towards the village.

Further Read: 6 Hostels In Dambulla That’ll Offer You Homelike Comfort On Your Next Backpacking Trip

Dambulla is house to many architectural delights and also takes you through a cultural trip of this beautiful ancient town. With so many things to do in Dambulla, the history nerd in you must be excited and curious to explore this part of the world. So go ahead and plan a trip to Sri Lanka

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best places to visit in Dambulla?

The best places to visit in Dambulla are Sigiriya, Dambulla Royal Cave Temple, Minneriya National Park, Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple.

Is it safe to plan a trip to Sri Lanka during Covid?

It is recommended to avoid planning for a trip to Sri Lanka due to Covid as Sri Lankan Government has put some restrictions on tourism.

What to do in Dambulla on a rainy day?

One can visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the economic centre of Dambulla and many more.

How many steps are in the Dambulla cave?

There are 364 steps to Dambulla Cave. You may get tired of climbing stairs but it is worth every breath.

How far is Sigiriya from Dambulla?

The road distance between Dambulla and Sigiriya is just 16 km. You can take a taxi to reach Dambulla that will cost you around INR 1000-1300.

How do I get from Kandy to Dambulla?

There are numerous buses running between Kandy and Dambulla with a frequency of every half an hour. The bus journey takes about half an hour or more if you are travelling on a slower bus that takes multiple stops.

What is Dambulla famous for?

Dambulla is famous for being the largest and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. The place is also famous for Dambulla International Stadium that was built in a record time of 167 days. You will also find plenty of beautiful places to visit in Dambulla.

How old is Dambulla Temple?

The cave is believed to be 2700 years old as estimated from the skeletons of prehistoric Sri Lankans found at the site.

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Category: Sri Lanka, Things To Do

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