When is the best time to travel to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a fascinating little island nation in south of India, where picturesque beaches, lush tea plantations and happy locals await you. But what time of year is it worth traveling to Sri Lanka?
The information pack below can help you choose the best time to travel. If you want to know more about other countries in Southern Asia, please follow Countryaah.
Sri Lanka’s climate
Sri Lanka is a year-round travel destination.
Sri Lanka is located in a tropical climate zone. That means you can expect pleasant warm weather and occasional rain on your trip no matter what time of year you travel. In other words, there is no bad time to travel to Sri Lanka.
However, the weather varies from place to place, as the landscapes of Sri Lanka can accommodate both the coasts and the highlands. In addition, the weather is affected by two monsoons that hit the island at different times. Each of them brings with it rains, one to the southern and southwestern parts of Sri Lanka and the other to the northern and eastern parts of the island.
In general, the coasts are always warmer than the central highlands, where nights can be cool.
The monsoons of Sri Lanka
There are two monsoons in Sri Lanka that cause rain at different times in different parts of the country.
A monsoon means a seasonal wind that can bring with it heavy rains to the areas hit by the monsoon winds.
There are two main monsoons in Sri Lanka:
- The Northeast Monsoon, or Maha Monsoon, runs from December to February. Monsoon winds can affect everywhere, but rainfall is most common in the eastern and northern parts of the island.
- The southwest monsoon, or Yala monsoon, runs from May to September. The southwest monsoon is less powerful and hits mainly the southern and western coastal and highland areas.
There are two intervals between monsoon seasons:
- March and April, when rainfall occurs mainly in the southwest and highlands
- October and November, when the weather can be unstable across the country
Because monsoon winds blow in different parts of Sri Lanka at different times, there are always drier places on the island as well. Note that even during the monsoon season, the rains are typically short, deaf, and heavy, and the weather usually clears up fairly soon after the rain.
Sri Lanka weather month by month
January is a great time to vacation in Sri Lanka, as the sun shines in full swing from the beginning of the year and there is relatively little rainfall.
- In the northern and eastern parts of the island, the northeast monsoon blows in January.
- The highlands are warm, but when the evening comes the air feels cooler.
- The southern and western parts are warm and relatively dry at this time.
February is also a good month to travel to Sri Lanka.
- The northeast monsoon begins to water its last, so rainfall in the northern and eastern parts of the country is lower than in previous months.
- In the south, west and central parts of the country there are really many hours of sunshine and very little rainfall.
In March, the weather favors the whole of Sri Lanka.
- Towards spring, the northeast monsoon has subsided, which means that temperatures will begin to rise and rainfall will decrease in the north and east.
- Mercury is also rising on the south and west coasts, but at the end of the month, rains begin to increase as the southwest monsoon begins to gather strength.
April is a warm and sunny month, which is also considered by many to be the best time to travel to Sri Lanka. The northeast monsoon is over at this stage, and the southwest monsoon has not yet started properly.
- In eastern Sri Lanka, it rains less than in previous months, and the sun shines from the blue sky for hours.
- The southwest monsoon begins to wake up in the south and west, increasing humidity. The closer we get to May, the more it will rain in the southern, western and central parts of Sri Lanka.
- April is your last chance if you are planning a whale safari in Mirissa on the south coast of Sri Lanka, as the whale season runs from October to April.
May is the time of the new monsoon. Where the northeast monsoon had the greatest impact on the weather in the first months of the year, the following months live on the terms of the southwest monsoon.
- In May, the weather on the east coast will begin to be at its best. Temperatures are high, the sun is shining and there is very little rainfall. This is a great time for a beach holiday in Trincomalee, for example.
- The impact of the Southwest Monsoon is beginning to be felt in the southern and southwestern parts of Sri Lanka (e.g., Galle, Mir, Hikkaduwa, and the Highlands). This means that even though the sun is still shining, water sometimes comes from the sky in short but strong deafness.
June is in many ways similar to May in terms of weather.
- In the north and east, the weather is clear, sunny and light rainfall, and therefore a beach holiday should be considered in these areas at this time of year.
- In the Sigiriya area, temperatures are quite high and rainfall is almost non-existent.
- On the south and west sides of the island nation, the southwestern monsoon continues to thunder, so rainfall is more common and temperatures lower. Despite the monsoon, you can sometimes go for many days completely without rain.
In July, temperatures are pleasant throughout Sri Lanka. July is one of the best times to visit Minneriya National Park, as elephants migrate between May and September to the park’s large Minneriya Tank Lake in search of drinking water. The phenomenon is called “Elephant Gathering”.
- The north and east coasts are warm and sunny, so Trincomale can well be headed for a beach holiday this month as well.
- Central Sri Lanka, like Sigiriya, is warm in July. Keep in mind, however, that evenings and nights can still be cool in the highlands, such as Kandy, Haputale, Ella og Nuwara Eliya.
- The southwestern monsoon can still be felt in west coast beach resorts such as Negombo. Similarly, the weather will begin to clear in the south and west as July progresses.
Sri Lanka is also a good destination in August.
- On the east and north coasts, the weather is still excellent, and there is plenty of choice in coastal resorts.
- Although the southwest monsoon is still blowing in the eastern and western regions, in August the rains are lower than in the months before or after that.
In September, the weather is very variable. Soon there will be another two-month Interim, when rains, winds and even hurricanes are possible all over the country.
- On the east coast, the weather is most favorable, as September is typically the last excellent month in terms of weather before the start of the northeast monsoon. Rainfall can start as early as the end of the month.
- The southwest monsoon may continue to affect southern, western and central Sri Lanka.
Also in October the weather is capricious and it is also one of the wettest months in Sri Lanka. The Monsoon Intermediate is still underway, and thunderstorms are possible at this time. Correspondingly, October is not part of the high tourist season, so there are fewer holidaymakers than usual.
- On the north and east coasts, the weather is still beautiful, but the northeast monsoon is slowly starting to take the reins from the southwest monsoon and bring rain.
- On the other hand, the end of the southwest monsoon knows lower rainfall. Temperatures are at their highest on the south and west coasts.
The whale season begins in October on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Mirissa offers whale safaris between October and April.
Like October, November coincides with the intermission between the two monsoons. It is also one of the wettest months in Sri Lanka. Towards the end of the month, the hitherto relatively stable weather begins to become more capricious.
- The time for the Northeast Monsoon is in its infancy, and the air in the North and East is unstable.
- It still rains quite a bit in the highlands, and the evenings and nights can be quite cool.
- In the southern and western regions, the number of sunny hours is increasing all the time, even though it rains from time to time.
In December, the Mid-Season is over and the Northeast Monsoon is in full swing.
- The monsoon begins to bring rainfall to the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka.
- Similarly, December is a good time to travel to the west or south coast and highlands, as at this time of year the sun is shining and rain is very low, although showers are always possible.
So when is the best time to travel?
The best time to travel to Sri Lanka depends on what you want to see and experience. When you remember to pack up your regular clothes, Sri Lanka is a great holiday destination all year round.
There are especially many tourists between November and March , when we have winter. Christmas is a popular time, so if you are dreaming of a Christmas holiday in Sri Lanka, book your trip well in advance! If, on the other hand, you want to avoid the high season, you should choose a travel time outside of these months. The weather is still pleasant, but there are far fewer other tourists.
Note: The guide to the climate in Sri Lanka above is indicative and actual weather conditions may vary. Always check the weather forecast before leaving. If you are not sure when you should travel, you can always ask our travel advisers for advice.