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Sri Lanka

When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on which part of the country you are planning to visit.

As the country is close to the equator, it experiences a warm and humid climate with plenty of rainfall. The weather in the plains and the coastal region is hot and humid, with an average temperature of 80°F. The humidity is between 70% during the day, and 90% at night, but the refreshing sea breezes reduces the heat. The central highlands are cool and pleasant with an average temperature of 68°F. January is the coldest month and May is often the warmest month.

  Most Ideal Low Season

OVERVIEW

January is peak tourist season and one of the best months to travel to Sri Lanka, especially the southwestern coast of the country. The region sees plenty of sunny days with temperatures in the 80s. Temperatures in the Hill Country, including Nuwara Eliya, are lower due to high altitude. The east coast, however, experiences a fair bit of rain.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Bibliophiles, head to the Galle Literary Festival
  • Be part of the Duruthu Perahera celebration, held on a full moon day in Colombo.
  • Spot whales, dolphins, turtles and more at Mirissa

OVERVIEW

With the monsoons retreating in the northeast by the second half of the month and other regions experiencing dry weather and moderate temperatures, it is one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka. The average temperature in the Cultural Triangle is around 80°F while temperatures around Tea Country are in the high 60s making it an ideal time to trek the surrounding mountains.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Catch sight of leopards and more at Yala National Park
  • Be part of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest festivals – the Navam Perahera
  • Marvel at the rock fortress of Sigiriya

OVERVIEW

With mostly dry weather throughout the country, March is the most popular time to visit Sri Lanka. Temperatures are around the mid-80s in the southern and western coasts and also in the Cultural Triangle.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Visit the nation’s vibrant capital, Colombo
  • Kitesurf on the beaches of Kalpitiya

OVERVIEW

It starts to warm up across the country. The beaches are bathed in sunshine with temperatures in the mid 90’s! Even temperatures in Tea Country reach the mid-70s.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Unwind in the midst of nature at Wilpattu National Park
  • Sip on some of the finest teas in Nuwara Eliya.

OVERVIEW

It is the hottest time of the year in Sri Lanka. The Yala monsoon sets in, drenching the south and west coasts of Sri Lanka and Tea Country. The scene in the northern and eastern parts of the country, however, is quite different. With sunny days and dry weather, the beaches of the east coast are the perfect seaside vacation destination.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Laze under a warm sun in Arugam Bay
  • Head to the beautiful Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

OVERVIEW

The winds from the southwest monsoons continue to bring rains to the southern and western coasts of Sri Lanka and it is not advisable to swim in the sea due to higher sea levels. The beaches of the east and north coast continue to shine through.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Find your peace at the Poson Poya festival in Anuradhapura
  • Explore the Culture Triangle of Sri Lanka

OVERVIEW

The summer monsoon eases off slightly in the southern and western parts of Sri Lanka, especially during the second half of the month. With temperatures in the mid-80s, the north and east coast of the country are perfect for sightseeing.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Watch a procession of elephants and dancers at the Kandy Perahera festival
  • Take long walks on the beaches of Trincomalee

OVERVIEW

The northern and eastern parts of the country continue to shine with dry and sunny days. Towns in the Cultural Triangle also experience warm weather with average temperatures in the upper 80s. It is the inter monsoon period and though there are chances of rain in the southern and western parts of the country, you will also get to experience plenty of sunshine.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Savor local fruits such as rambutans and mangosteens
  • Discover the historical gems of Sri Lanka in the country’s Cultural Triangle

OVERVIEW

September weather can get quite unpredictable. While temperatures are warm throughout the country, you can expect short yet heavy downpours during this month. Red flags are out on the beaches of Sri Lanka’s south and west coast indicating that it is a not advisable to enter the waters. Towards the end of the month, even the eastern parts of Sri Lanka starts to experience an increase in rainfall.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Windsurf on the beaches of Passekudah
  • Enjoy lush, green views of the countryside as you take a train ride across Sri Lanka

OVERVIEW

October is one of the wettest months of the year as the southwest monsoons start to leave and the northeast monsoons set in. Temperatures are warm but there is a high likelihood of rain throughout the country. It’s dry further north in the Cultural Triangle but only for a little while – Showers become a regular feature by the end of the month.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Spend some time in the company of the country’s giants, the Sri Lankan elephants, at Uda Walawe National Park
  • Make a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Dambulla

OVERVIEW

The month starts off wet but by the latter part, the southern and western beaches will see plenty of sunshine. However, the northeast monsoon has set in firmly with frequent rain spells and the chance of storms in the northern and eastern beaches of the country. There is significant rain in Hill Country and the Cultural Triangle too.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Explore historic Galle
  • Rejuvenate at an Ayurvedic Spa Center

OVERVIEW

Head to the southern and western coast of the country as it experiences dry, pleasant and beach-perfect weather. Rainfall continues in Hill Country and the Cultural Triangle though it is lesser than the previous month. December is a popular time to travel to Sri Lanka so plan your trip well in advance.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Welcome the New Year in the beach resort town of Negombo
  • Snorkel the multi-hued coral reefs of Kalpitiya
  • Hike up Adam’s Peak
Excellent / 4.9 out of 5
elephants in pinnawela sri lanka, Asia

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka by Season

West and south coast, hills (Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Yalla)
– High season: November – April
– Low season: May – June

Beaches of the North Coast (Negombo and Trincomalee)
– Main season: May – September

Beaches of the south coast (Negombo, Tangalle, Galle and beaches in the south-west)
– High season: October – April

East Coast, North and Central Region (Anuradhapura, Trincomalee)
– Main season: May – September
– Low season: February – April

As an individual travel provider, we would be pleased to advise you on your private Sri Lanka trip. Contact us for an obligation-free and complimentary quote.

What to Pack for Sri Lanka

We recommend light cotton clothing, which is ideal for year-round travel. An umbrella is recommended in all seasons. It is more useful than a raincoat and acts as protection not only against the rain but also against the tropical sun. It is also advisable to bring sun hat, sunglasses and sun protection for your face and body since the tropical sun can be really fierce at times. Common summer wear includes shorts and cotton shirts or t-shirts. If hiking or trekking, it is advisable to carry suitable attire.

The most convenient footwear to bring are sandals, flip-flops and comfortable walking shoes that can be taken off easily as you would be required to take them off before you enter the religious places.

Carry some winter clothing if visiting the south-central region or central Highlands during the cool season (Dec-Mar). Despite the recent influence of western culture, Sri Lankans are generally conservative hence why modesty in dress is advised. Western clothing is acceptable and is worn by many, but when visiting shrines and religious places visitors are advised to not wear shorts, short skirts, vests, tank tops, etc. One should also avoid t-shirts with images of Buddha, which is considered disrespectful in the country.

With lush tea plantations, beautiful beaches and a rich culture, Sri Lanka is the hidden gem of the Indian subcontinent. Take the train ride from Kandy to Ella for an unforgettable journey through this beautiful country!

Anita Sahi Senior Travel Consultant

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