Best time to visit Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka

Best time of year to visit Sri Lanka

Although the island is considered to be a year-round destination, the best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on the region you are heading to. As it's a tropical country, you can expect rain any time of the year, but there is a monsoon pattern to choose the right place and time. December through April is a prime tourist season when southern and western territories (including Colombo) enjoy the best weather. December and January in Sri Lanka are pleasant but also the busiest, especially for Christmas and New Year, so book early. Winter and spring in southwestern part is a good time for exploring Adam's Peak, and for those on the coast—snorkelling and whale watching. Southwest monsoon hits this area in May–September, but showers are usually sharp and short. Northeast monsoon prevails on the east coast in October–February, and the best season there runs from May through September. Late summer is the time to witness elephant gathering at the Minneriya Lake. If you happen to be in Central Sri Lanka in summer, join the Kandy Esala Perahera festival, one of the oldest of Buddhist festivals in the country.

22 THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA (AUGUST 03 - AUGUST 12)

Elephant Gathering

Elephant Gathering

August–September • nature

Around 300 elephants gather at the banks of Minneriya Lake

Cocoa

Cocoa

early November–January | mid-March–mid-October • food

Have you ever wondered what chocolate is made of? Now is the time to see a cocoa bean!

Kandy Esala Perahera

Kandy Esala Perahera

July 25–August 04, 2020 • event

Celebrated to pay respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha in Kandy

Leopard Safari

Leopard Safari

March–October  • activity

To watch leopards in the wild is definitely an experience of a lifetime

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

November–April | July–September  • activity

Sri Lanka is fortunately situated in a vantage point to observe whales

Surfing

Surfing

April–October  • activity

Arugam bay is the most famous surfing spot

Uva Tea Harvest

Uva Tea Harvest

August–October  • activity

Uva is probably the most famous tea producing region

Diving the North East Coast

Diving the North East Coast

May–October  • activity

Warm waters of Indian ocean promise incredible diving

Beach Season on East Coast

Beach Season on East Coast

June–September  • activity

The beautiful beaches of east coast are perfect for relaxation

Cricket

Cricket

June–early August • activity

Sri Lanka has one of the strongest national teams for cricket. It's one of the most popular sports on the island

Mangosteen

Mangosteen

May–September • food

Often called the Queen of fruits, mangosteen is a total delight

Durian

Durian

May–August  • food

Introduced during the British colonial times, durian grows only in the southern part of the country

Sinharaja Rainforest

Sinharaja Rainforest

January–April | August–September • nature

With its unique biodiversity, this nature preserve is one of the last virgin rainforests on Earth

Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park

Elephant Safari in Udawalawe National Park

May–September • nature

One of the three most popular national parks of Sri Lanka is famous for its elephants

Deep Sea Fishing on the East Coast

Deep Sea Fishing on the East Coast

May–September • activity

Fishing on the East Coast depends on monsoons

Trekking in the Knuckles Range

Trekking in the Knuckles Range

December–August • activity

Untouched UNESCO World Heritage site is indeed a trekker's paradise

Rambutan

Rambutan

late May–mid-August • food

During this period, ​you can try one of the sweetest fruits, sold everywhere

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

January–March | May–September • activity

A mystical fortress built over the Lion Rock

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

all year round • activity

Prehistoric cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflects the centuries of human culture

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

January–February | June–September • activity

Part of Sri Lanka's famous Cultural triangle and UNESCO World Heritage list

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura

January–February | June–September • activity

An ancient capital and UNESCO World Heritage site

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

November–April (west) | April–September (east) • activity

Surf all year round in Sri Lanka boasting nice winds and waves on both coasts

19 THINGS TO DO OUT OF SELECTED DATE RANGE

Tea Harvest

Tea Harvest

January–March • activity

Sri Lanka is well known for its suberb tea, which is the main agricultural crop in many provinces

Vesak Festival

Vesak Festival

May 07–08, 2020 • event

Both religious and cultural, the festival adorns the country

Stilt Fishing

Stilt Fishing

June–mid-July | late October–mid-December • activity

Once this kind of fishing was a necessity, now it is fading away

Horton Plains

Horton Plains

January–March • activity

Have you ever wondered where does the world end? See the World's End at the Horton Plains

Adam's Peak Pilgrimage

Adam's Peak Pilgrimage

December–April • activity

The destination for followers of different religions, Adam's Peak or Sri Pada is surrounded by legends

Dolphins Watching

Dolphins Watching

November–April  • nature

Sri Lanka can boast having the best spots for watching dolphins!

Diving in the West and South West

Diving in the West and South West

October–May • activity

You can visit some awesome diving spots close to Colombo

Beach Season on South and West Coast

Beach Season on South and West Coast

January–March  • activity

Due to monsoons, beach seasons vary depending on the area you are in

Turtle Watching

Turtle Watching

January–April • activity

There are at least seven species of sea turtles that hang out on the shores of Sri Lanka to nest

Sinhala & Tamil New Year (Avurudu & Puthandu)

Sinhala & Tamil New Year (Avurudu & Puthandu)

April 12–13, 2020 • event

A traditional holiday of Aluth Avurudda & Puthandu is equally important for Sinhalese and Tamil people of Sri Lanka

Deepavali (Diwali)

Deepavali (Diwali)

November 14, 2020 • event

Tamil people of Sri Lanka celebrate the most significant Hindu holiday

Independence Day

Independence Day

February 04 • event

A celebration of the day that Sri Lanka was no longer a colony

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

October–July • nature

Migratory birds as well as those who can call Sri Lanka home, will impress any bird watching enthusiast

Poson Poya

Poson Poya

June 06, 2020 • event

The celebration of the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Colombo Aadi Vel Festival

Colombo Aadi Vel Festival

late July • event

A colourful religious ceremony honouring the Hindu God of War with offerings and piercings

National Bird Watching Month

National Bird Watching Month

December • nature

Explore the wonderful feathered species of Sri Lanka during a special birding event

Avurudu Table

Avurudu Table

April 13–April 14 • food

The New Year table in Sri Lanka consists of many traditional sweet dishes

Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear

June–July  • nature

These cute bears are best seen during the palu fruit season!

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

April–May • nature

Visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens to get a glimpse of Sri Lanka's natural beauty

Last updated:
jan
5.7
feb
5.4
mar
5.3
apr
5
may
5
jun
5.4
jul
5.8
aug
5.9
sep
5.8
oct
5.5
nov
5.4
dec
5.7

Sri Lanka weather in January

5.7/10 score
Acceptable
26° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
11h 46m
daylight duration
January is a comfortable month for visiting the southwest, inland areas, and Colombo. The temperature is around 28°C (82°F), and the relatively low humidity makes it easier to tolerate. Mornings are sunny yet not hot and are ideal for sightseeing and hiking. Along the western coast, the sea is warm and calm. If you prefer to combine beach holidays with some culture-based activities, January is the right time to do it. Meanwhile, the northeast is in the state of the monsoon season. By January, compared to November and December, the number of precipitation decreases. However, cyclones, forming in the Bay of Bengal, bring the risk of tropical storms. The area is cloudy, windy, and the rains might last for days.

Sri Lanka weather in February

5.4/10 score
Acceptable
27° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
11h 54m
daylight duration
The northeastern part of the island still deals with rains. They are less intensive and frequent as the rainy season approaches its end. But afternoon downpours and night-long storms occur until the end of the month, when monsoons leave and let the inter-monsoon season start. It’s better to carry a light raincoat and a scarf to protect yourself from rain and wind. For Colombo, February is the driest period. The same is fair for the entire southwest region and inland territories. They enjoy pleasantly warm mornings, somewhat hot days, with the temperature rising to 30°C (86°F). In general, this region is much wetter than the northeast. If you planned to visit it, you’d better do it in February when the weather is favorable.

Sri Lanka weather in March

5.3/10 score
Acceptable
28° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
12h 04m
daylight duration
The weather is excellent throughout the country. In the northeast, the rainy season is over. The number of sunshine hours reaches 9-10 per day, while the precipitation is half as much as it was a month before. In March, the west coast is not the only one suitable for a beach holiday: the sea is calm in the north and east too. All over Sri Lanka, the heat increases, and day temperature rises to 32-33°C (90-92°F) on some days. The nights and mornings are also warm. March is ideal for a tour throughout the island: you can go for swimming, visit Colombo, hit the northernmost point of Sri Lanka, and climb Adam’s peak. Depending on the region, the conditions vary slightly but remain comfortable. For early-morning hiking, you might want to bring a light shirt.

Sri Lanka weather in April

5/10 score
Acceptable
28° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
12h 16m
daylight duration
April offers favorable conditions for exploring the island. It gets hotter in all the regions, but the heat is still tolerable, with the temperature up to 33°C (92°F). The northeast is drier, thus, more comfortable for both sightseeing and beach vacations. The sky is clear, and the sea is serene, providing idyllic conditions for swimming and sunbathing. In the southwest, the weather starts to deteriorate gradually. The heat combined with the high humidity makes this part of Sri Lanka less comfortable for tourist activities, but still bearable. To enjoy sightseeing, you’d better choose morning hours as the temperature is mild, and the risk of a sudden rain is low. Late April marks the beginning of the rainy season in west and southwest of Sri Lanka. Occasional downpours might occur in any spot along the western coast. Still, the only place where rains are inevitable is Colombo.

Sri Lanka weather in May

5/10 score
Acceptable
28° average
average temperatures
15 mm
precipitation
12h 26m
daylight duration
In May, monsoons from the Indian Ocean hit the southwest of the island. The amount of precipitation increases abruptly. In Colombo, it reaches 400 mm (16 in) per month, and the number of rainy days approaches 27 out of 31 in May. The second region most affected by the monsoon is Galle, with 290 mm (11 in) of precipitation. If you find yourself in these areas of Sri Lanka, you won’t make it without a raincoat. Even though heavy downpours interchange with sunshine, the weather in the southwest is hard to tolerate as it’s humid, cloudy, and hot. Also, in May, there is a risk of tropical cyclones. In the rest of the territories, the heat also increases. The inland areas face day temperatures of over 34°C (93°F), and the nights are not much cooler. These days, it’s more comfortable in the northeast as the breeze moderates the heat.

Sri Lanka weather in June

5.4/10 score
Acceptable
28° average
average temperatures
14 mm
precipitation
12h 31m
daylight duration
The southwest keeps going through the rainy season. Prolonged, torrential rains occur all over the west of Sri Lanka. Even though the abundance of precipitation decreases compared to May, it rains daily, and you’d be lucky enough to see one-two dry days in Colombo. In June, humidity reaches over 95%, and the temperature of 29°C (84°F) feels much hotter. Also, the sea gets rough and dangerous for swimming. Hence, there is not much to do for a tourist in this region. On the contrary, the conditions in the northeast are more than welcoming. In June, these areas are the driest in Sri Lanka. Even though the thermometer may show higher temperatures than in the south, the heat is less perceptible. With its 13 hours of sunshine and the calm sea of 30°C (86°F), this destination is ideal for vacation.

Sri Lanka weather in July

5.8/10 score
Acceptable
28° average
average temperatures
12 mm
precipitation
12h 28m
daylight duration
The heat decreases all over the island for several degrees, but it usually doesn’t drop below 27°C (81°F). In the northwest, it gets too hot in the midday, and even the sea breeze is not enough for making the weather pleasant. During the evenings and mornings, the conditions are much more favorable for any activity that comes to your mind. You may go to the beach as the sky is cloudless and the sea is as warm as the air. You may also go hiking or sightseeing as the heat is not that tiring. Meanwhile, Colombo and the southwest face heavy showers daily. In comparison to the previous two months, they are lighter yet regular. The entire region is cloudy, foggy, and muddy, and the sea is warm yet stormy. In July, you don’t have many options in this part of Sri Lanka: you can just wait for the rainy season to end.

Sri Lanka weather in August

5.9/10 score
Acceptable
27° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
12h 20m
daylight duration
At the beginning of August, the weather conditions resemble those of July. In the southwest, torrential rains hit the coast almost every day. Occasionally, they are even more frequent and intense than previously. The temperature is stable, and the thermometer shows around 29°C (84°F). In the north and east, it may reach up to 34°C (93°F), and the nights are identically warm as the days. By the second half of August, the impact of monsoons on the southwest territories decreases, and Sri Lanka enters the second inter-monsoon period. The rains still occur, but they become less frequent and heavy. It gets sunnier, and the weather conditions improve in general. Though the sea along the west coast is not calm enough for swimming, and you’d better choose the east for the beach holidays.

Sri Lanka weather in September

5.8/10 score
Acceptable
27° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
12h 09m
daylight duration
After a short break in late August, when the rain calmed down a bit, the weather deteriorates again. It’s especially perceptible in Colombo that deals with both monsoon seasons. Although the second rainy season hasn’t officially started yet, the amount of precipitation increases, the sky gets cloudy, the mornings are misty and humid. In the rest of the southwest territory, the conditions are more favorable: the temperature is around 29°C (84°F), the humidity lowers gradually, and the rains occur less frequently. The north and east remain sunny and relatively dry. However, the rainy episodes might catch you in the afternoon. For such occasions, it is good to have an umbrella in your bag. Despite the slight worsening of the weather, the region is still suitable for sightseeing, swimming, and hiking.

Sri Lanka weather in October

5.5/10 score
Acceptable
27° average
average temperatures
15 mm
precipitation
11h 58m
daylight duration
The beginning of the month is somewhat like September, with it might rain throughout the island. By mid-October, the second rainy season hits Sri Lanka. This time the northeast coast is the one to suffer from prolonged, torrential downpours. The first place to experience the impact of the monsoons from the Bay of Bengal is Jaffna, the northernmost region of the island. By the end of October, the entire country is stormy. Usually, it rains in the afternoon or during the night. It leaves you a chance to explore Sri Lanka during short sunny periods during the day, but you never know when a shower will hit the island. Together with the frequent rains and heavy, grey clouds, the northeast monsoon brings a slight decrease in temperatures. However, they don’t drop below 26°C (79°F).

Sri Lanka weather in November

5.4/10 score
Acceptable
26° average
average temperatures
17 mm
precipitation
11h 48m
daylight duration
Along with May, November shares the title of the wettest month of the year. In contrast to the previous rainy season, the northeast monsoon brings rains to the major part of Sri Lanka. To some extent, the mountains protect the southwest areas from the monsoon; thus, this region in more favorable for visiting. The storms here are less frequent and heavy than in the northeast, yet they occur regularly. Luckily, it rains mainly at night or early in the morning, while during the day, the sky clears up and brings the sunshine. In the northeast, rains are more prolonged and more intensive, and days face the risk of a sudden downpour. Most of the precipitation falls on the northeast slopes of the highlands. Kandy is the district most influenced by the monsoon: it receives over 1000 mm (39 in) in a month. November is also the peak of the rainy season in Colombo. Similarly to May, the city gets up to 400 mm (16 in) of precipitation.

Sri Lanka weather in December

5.7/10 score
Acceptable
26° average
average temperatures
13 mm
precipitation
11h 43m
daylight duration
Compared to extremely humid November, the weather gets slightly better. It keeps on raining heavily in the northeast and in the highlands. As a rule, the majority of the torrential rainy sessions occur at night. The day rains come in short showers, and quickly after the weather improves. Aside from downpours, there’s one more drawback of the monsoons—strong winds. In December, they might bring tropical storms from the Bay of Bengal. Even though they usually pass by Sri Lanka, you shouldn’t neglect the risks. While the conditions are far from favorable in the northeast, you can go to the southwest and explore this area. The temperature here drops to the average of comfortable 25°C (77°F), the sun shines for about 7 hours daily, and the sea calms down enough for safe swimming.