When is the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka?

When planning a trip to Sri Lanka, it’s crucial to consider its two monsoon seasons before travelling: the Yala, which takes place in the southwest between April and November, and the Maha, which occurs in the northeast between November and March.

For those looking to explore the south coasts, the best time to visit is typically between December and March when the weather is usually dry and sunny. On the other hand, if you’re planning to visit the east coast, visiting between the months between April and September would be recommended.

Fortunately, Sri Lanka is a destination that enjoys year-round sunshine and warm temperatures, with an average high of 31 degrees Celsius, so you’re sure to get the very best of the weather.

Visiting Sri Lanka in January

January is a great time of the year to visit Sri Lanka– especially if you’re looking to escape the biting cold UK weather. This month falls within the dry season in most parts of the country, so you can expect minimal rainfall and plenty of sunshine; making it a great time to head to the beaches and national parks or enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and sightseeing. The northern and eastern regions are slightly wetter, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Visiting Sri Lanka in February

February is another great month to visit Sri Lanka as the weather is typically warm and dry across the majority of the country. Average temperatures range between 27 to 31 degrees Celsius, making it a great time of the year to fully explore the island. On the west and south coasts, the sea tends to be calm and clear, making it perfect for swimming, diving, and other water sports.

One notable event that takes place in February is the Navam Perahera, a Buddhist festival that is held in Colombo and features colourful parades and cultural performances.

Visiting Sri Lanka in March

March remains within Sri Lanka’s dry season, so you can expect warm, settled weather. In the south, maximum temperatures can rise to 30 degrees Celsius, so be sure to pack lightweight clothing and plenty of sunscreen. This is the best time of the year to catch a glimpse of the blue whales feeding on krill, while wildlife tour season kicks into action.

Visiting Sri Lanka in April

The dry season ends in the southwest of the country and the monsoon season gets into full swing. This means that you can expect a mix of sunny and rainy days throughout the month, with occasional thunderstorms in the evenings. With this in mind, it’s best to head to the north of the country to escape the wet weather.

Despite this, April is still a great time to visit as it’s the peak season for wildlife sightings in some of the country’s national parks, such as Yala and Udawalawe. You may also have the chance to witness the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year celebrations, which take place midway through the month and involve various cultural traditions and festivities.

Visiting Sri Lanka in May

May falls within Sri Lanka’s inter-monsoon period, which means that the weather can be a bit unpredictable. You may experience occasional rain showers, but generally, the weather is warm and sunny. The south of the country gets very hot and humid in May, so if you’re not a fan of the heat, head to the hill country to enjoy cooler temperatures.

This month is also the beginning of the off-season in Sri Lanka, which means that prices for accommodations and activities may be lower than during the peak tourist season. However, some tourist attractions may have reduced hours or be closed altogether, so it’s a good idea to check before travelling.

Visiting Sri Lanka in June

June is still very much affected by the southern and western monsoon seasons, so the weather is largely unpredictable. Therefore, if you’re looking for a warm and sunny beach honeymoon, the eastern regions would be the best place to go.

While visiting, be sure to catch the annual Poson Festival which celebrates Buddhism in Sri Lanka, in which you’ll have the chance to experience local culture and traditions.

Visiting Sri Lanka in July

Much the same as June, July falls within the monsoon season so you can expect unsettled conditions for the majority of the month. Again, head to the east coast for warm, sunny, and dry weather.

The most famous festival in July is the Esala Perahera which is held in Kandy and involves a grand procession of elephants, dancers, and drummers. Other festivals include the Nallur Festival in Jaffna and the Vel Festival in Colombo.

Visiting Sri Lanka in August

August remains within the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, particularly in the southwest and central regions. However, the rainfall tends to decrease compared to July and you may also experience more sunny days. The weather on the east coast tends to be dry and sunny during this time, which makes it a great time of the year to head to the beach or go on outdoor adventures.

Visiting Sri Lanka in September

September marks the beginning of the shoulder season in Sri Lanka. The weather tends to be unpredictable, with some areas experiencing heavy rainfall, while others have bright sunshine. Additionally, this is the last month of the year of settled weather on the east coast.

Visiting Sri Lanka in October

With the monsoon season over, October is usually a settled month weather-wise. Temperatures are also at a much more comfortable and cooler level, making it a great time to explore. One of the biggest festivals in October is the Deepavali festival, which is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated by the Hindu community across the island.

Visiting Sri Lanka in November

You can expect regular downpours when travelling in November as the northeast monsoon season starts, so be sure to pack accordingly. The southern and western regions tend to be drier and you can also enjoy more hours of unbroken sunshine.

Visiting Sri Lanka in December

December marks the beginning of the high season in Sri Lanka, so you can expect large numbers of visitors in the main tourist areas. With this in mind, it would be highly recommended to book your trip in advance. Locals celebrate the festive season and New Year so would make the perfect time to visit if you’re keen to have a relaxed getaway over Christmas.