Average TempDay 32°C Night 27°C
The best time of year to visit Sri Lanka depends on where you wish to travel to – for a relatively small island, there are wide variations in climate, depending on the time of year. There are two monsoons that affect the island’s climate – the north-east monsoon which can affect the whole island, and the south-west monsoon which is less intense and impacts the south and west coasts as well as the Hill Country. Despite the rainfall, the temperature around the coast rarely drops below 25 degrees; up in the Hill Country it is a little cooler due to the higher altitude. Generally, the best time to visit the west and south coasts as well as the Cultural Triangle is between December and April, while on the east coast the climate is at its finest from May through to October.
Sri Lanka’s weather in January is generally warm and dry, especially in the central, western and southern regions. If you are looking to explore the Cultural Triangle and then spend some time on the beaches of Negombo, Bentota or Tangalle, this is a great time to travel. The north-east (maha) monsoon will still be affecting the east coast, although the period of the heaviest, most prolonged rains will be coming to an end.
The weather in February remains pleasant, with beautiful sunny days on the west and south coasts and in central Sri Lanka. There is minimal rainfall in these regions and temperatures can rise to over 30 degrees. There are still rains in the east coast; however, these are beginning to become more sporadic and less intense. Independence Day is an annual, country-wide celebration that takes place on 4th February.
March is one of the best times of year to visit Sri Lanka. The north-east monsoon is almost over and the temperatures on the east coast are starting to rise. The beach resorts of the west and south coasts tend to be basking in glorious sunshine and temperatures in the mid-30s, although towards the end of the month there may be some rain. The Hill Country also experiences a rise in temperature during March.
Another good month to visit the island, April continues the trend of a warm and sunny Sri Lanka climate, particularly at the beginning of the month. As it’s the end of the dry season in the west and south, humidity is relatively high, especially in the Cultural Triangle. If you are looking to visit the Hill Country – including the city of Kandy and beautiful Nuwara Eliya, then this is one of the best times to visit. The mornings and evenings are not so chilly, the daytime temperatures hover around the mid-20s and rainfall is below average. The Sinhalese/Tamil New Year also takes place in mid-April.
This is the month where the focus really starts to shift from the resorts of the south and west to the beaches of the east. Here, the sun starts to consistently shine and the temperatures rise to the high-20s. The south-west, or ‘yala’, monsoon reaches the south, west and central regions this month. The rains tend to be short and sharp, and there are often gloriously sunny interludes. Swimming in the sea along the south and west coastlines is usually discouraged during this period as winds that accompany the monsoon can create large waves. The Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, or Festival of Lights, is celebrated in May.
The south-west monsoon continues to affect the southern and western regions of the island, with increased rainfall and lower temperatures in the Hill Country.If you’re seeking an idyllic beach, the east coast is the place to go. The temperatures rise in to the low-30s and days are usually gloriously sunny. This is a good time of year to combine an exploration of the Cultural Triangle with a relaxing stay at one of Passikudah’s or Trincomalee’s luxury resorts. The Poson Poya is celebrated in the Cultural Triangle.
Sri Lanka’s weather in July is similar to June – the monsoon is still affecting resorts such as Negombo, Bentota and Weligama, while the beautiful east coast is warm and sunny. There are lots of religious festivals that take place throughout the summer months including the Hindu festival of Vel, and Esala Perahera, also known as the Festival of the Tooth, which falls in either July or August.
Unlike many of our other Asia destinations, Sri Lanka is an excellent choice during the school summer holidays. The rainfall amounts in the south and west drop significantly in comparison to the previous months (they’re also lower than the following months, too) while the east coast climate remains very pleasant. The previously mentioned Esala Perahera may fall in August and is celebrated with parades and fire-lit dances in the city of Kandy.
The rains of the south-west monsoon increase again this month, especially in the western, southern and Hill Country regions. September also sees the last of the really good weather on the east coast – you may even experience rainfall during the latter half of the month. If you are staying in Trincomalee, we recommend heading out on a whale-watching trip as blue whales pass the east coast on their migration around the island.
Sri Lanka weather in October can be changeable – it is one of the wettest months across the whole island. The south-west monsoon is still affecting the south and west for most of the month, although this does start to fade later in the month. While one monsoon is ending, another is beginning its approach towards the north and east regions.
The number of sunshine hours increases in the south and west, however there still may be some downpours. The best time to visit these regions is later in the month. The Hill Country and Cultural Triangle will be experiencing high levels of rainfall this month, and the arrival of north-east monsoon means rainfall is increasing along the west coast. The Hindu festival of Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Lights, takes place in late October or November.
December in Sri Lanka marks the start of the high season for the beach resorts on the south and west coasts. The weather is also starting to improve in the Hill Country and the Cultural Triangle, although rain can still be expected. This month also sees the beginning of the whale-watching season off the south coast. The north-east monsoon continues to bring intense rainfall to the island’s north and east regions.