The Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

The Climate in Sri Lanka and the Influence of the Monsoons

The climate in Sri Lanka is tropical is heavily influenced by monsoons from the Indian Oceans and the Bay of Bengal. This greatly affects the best times to visit Sri Lanka. The climate of Sri Lanka is dominated by high temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius along with high humidity and mild breezes. Much of the weather conditions depending on the wind direction on the big island state. Its rainy and stormy on the west and southwest coast through the southwest monsoon season (Yala), the warm sun shines in the east and northeast. This occurs from mid-May to late September when the rainy season is in the west and southwest of the island. The moisture from the Indian Ocean is brought by southwest winds on the island, causing heavy rain showers. It’s also cloudy in the second season in Sri Lanka.

From October to November, you must expect periodic gusts of wind and sometimes even cyclones. Between December and March, the northeast monsoon (Maha), which brings moisture from the Bay of Bengal, causes the wet season in the north and northeast of the island. In the west and southwest of Sri Lanka, its warm during this time and theres very little rain. From March to mid-May there is the least amount of rainfall on the entire island. The best times to visit Sri Lanka is therefore during the transitional periods between the monsoons. Depending on what you’re looking for one season can be better than the other. Therefore, I’ll explain to you where and when a trip to Sri Lanka makes the most sense and what kind of weather you can expect. The climate data in this article will give you the average temperature measurements for each month.

Climate Data for Sri Lanka

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature in °C 30 30 32 32 31 30 29 29 29 29 29 29
Min. Temperature in °C 18 18 20 21 22 21 21 21 20 20 20 20
Hours of Sunshine Per Day 8 9 8 7 6 5 6 6 6 7 6 8
Water Temperature in °C 27 27 28 29 29 29 28 28 27 27 27 27
Rainy Days per Month 5 5 8 14 15 15 12 12 13 17 16 12


The Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

To determine the best travel time for Sri Lanka, you have to divide the island into the northeast and the southwest. As I explained above, the two monsoons Yala (southwest monsoon) and Maha (northeast monsoon) have a big influence on the climate. If it is rainy on the west coast during the southwest monsoon, there is a dry climate on the east coast. Therefore, the island nation really is suitable for travel all year round. When you’re trying to determine the best time to travel to Sri Lanka depends on where you go and what you want to do. In the following sections, I will give you some valuable tips.

The Best Months to Visit Sri Lanka at a Glance:

  • South, Southwest and West:
    • November: 29°C, 6h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 16 Rainy Days
    • December: 29°C, 8h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp.., 12 Rainy Days
    • January: 30°C, 8h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 5 Rainy Days
    • February: 30°C, 9h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 5 Rainy Days
    • March: 32°C, 8h of Sunshine, 28°C Water temp., 8 Rainy Days
  • North, Northeastern and East:
    • March: 32°C, 8h of Sunshine, 28°C Water temp., 8 Rainy Days
    • April: 32°C, 7h of Sunshine, 29°C Water temp., 14 Rainy Days
    • May: 31°C, 6h of Sunshine, 29°C Water temp., 15 Rainy Days
    • June: 30°C, 5h of Sunshine, 29°C Water temp., 15 Rainy Days
    • July: 29°C, 6h of Sunshine, 28°C Water temp.,12 Rainy Days
    • August: 29°C, 6h of Sunshine, 28°C Water temp., 12 Rainy Days
    • September: 29°C, 6h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 13 Rainy Days
    • October: 29°C, 7h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp.,17 Rainy Days
    • November: 29°C, 6h of Sunshine, 27°C Water temp., 16 Rainy Days


Best Time to Visit the Southwest Coast, South and West of Sri Lanka

So you want to have a nice holiday on the southwest coast, in the south or in the west of Sri Lanka, for example in the capital of Colombo? Then the best time to visit for you is the months of November to March. For those who like the hot temperatures beyond 30 degrees Celsius, April is also a good time for a holiday. The high season on the southwest coast is from January to March when the climate is driest. Travelling to Sri Lanka is more expensive during these months because the temperatures are higher. During the southwest Monsoon between mid-May to the end of September, I would advise you to take a holiday on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka. During this time, heavy landslides and floods are common, most recently in May 2017, when the monsoon ripped through Sri Lanka. The better option during these months would be to go to the east as well as the north of the island state.

Best Time to Visit for the North, East and Northeast of Sri Lanka

The best time to visit the North, East or Northeastern parts of Sri Lanka is from March to November. Some of the best places to visit are the captial of the northern province Jaffna or Trincomalee the captial of the Eastern province. The northeast has warm tropical weather all year round with high humidity. During the northeast monsoon in the months of December to March, the rainy season is in full swing. However, the showers are not as heavy and stormy as during the rainy season on the southwest coast. Therefore this season is perfect for a Sri Lanka holiday. All the bargain hunters should head over during this time because during the rainy season the prices of hotels and flights are lovely and cheap.

Tropical vacation holiday background

Best Time to Visit for Various Activites in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is just as popular with beach holidaymakers as it is with snorkelers, surfers and nature lovers. That’s why I’ll show you when and where you can have the perfect holiday in Sri Lanka.

The Best Time for a Beach Holiday

SIf you are looking for the best travel time for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka, you can visit the enchanting beaches on the east coast in the months of April to October. From November to March, the beaches on the south and west coast invite pure sunshine.

Best Time to Visit for Diving and Snorkelling

Diving and snorkelling in the Indian Ocean have a special charm. The underwater world is so enchanting with its bright and beautiful colours. You can best observe the different animal and plant species on the south and the west coast in the months of November to April. On the east coast, you have the best visibility for diving and snorkelling between April and September.

Best Time to See the Sea Animals

Having travelled so far, you should try and take in as much of the country as you can. As unique experience is watching dolphins, whales or turtles in the Indian Ocean. The latter is most likely to be seen during the months of September to March. Dolphins and whales can be best seen on the east coast between May and October. On the south coast of Sri Lanka, they show up in the months of January to April.

Best Time to Visit for Surfing

Sri Lanka is definitely a stronghold for surfers. in the south, west and the southwest coast you can kite or windsurf between November and April. On the east coast, the best weather conditions for a surf holiday are between April and October.

Best Time for Nature Lovers and Hikers

If you want to climb the mountains of Sri Lanka and visit the highlands, pay attention to the rainy season. In the highlands, the weather during the monsoon rains is much stormier and rainier than in the lowlands and on the coast. Therefore I recommend the months of January to March for the highlands. If you want to visit the Yala Safari Park in the south of Sri Lanka during the best time you need to fly between November and April. The same season is suitable for Horton Plains National Park. If you want to climb Adam’s Peak, the months of December, January, February, March, April and May are the best.

Weather in Sri Lanka – Tropical Heat and Rainy

In Sri Lanka its warm no matter what the weather. During the day you have average temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius and then at night it gets to about 20 degrees Celsius. Its generally warmer in the northeast than in the southwest. For this reason its warmer in the lowlands than on the highlands. During the dry season, especially in March and April, there are high temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius. The average values in the high season from March to June is around 30 to 32 degrees Celsius. The coldest months in Sri Lanka are from November to January. In the coastal lowlands, you can expect temperatures between 26 and 31 degrees Celsius, the temperatures at night rarely go lower than 25 degrees. During this season the humidity is very high. The best place to be with this high humidity is the coastline which brings fresh sea air. In the highlands of Sri Lanka, it can be a bit cooler at night. Therefore if you want to go hiking you should grab some warm clothes to bring with you. Probably the most important thing to have with you is a rain jacket. People who want to do a tour of Sri Lanka should definitely have this item of clothing. Despite the climate, the rainy season can sometimes be pretty bearable so it makes sense to stay prepared.

My Conclusion on the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a big place. In additon the island nation is located in the Indian Ocean which means its heavily influenced by monsoons. For the reasons mentioned, a best time to visit can’t be the same for the entire area of the island. It really depends on what you want to see on this enchanting island and where you would like to go because some months are better than others. As you have seen I have given you the best travel times for different climate zones. If you’re travelling to the south, west and southwest coast then you should go between November and March. In the north, east and northeast you have more choice. There is good holiday weather here all year round. Even in the rainy season from December to March, the showers are short-lived so you can continue relaxing on the beach afterwards. However, the best time to visit the northeast is between March and November. If you want to visit particular things like Adam’s Peak then you should travel to the island between December and May. So armed with this information you’ll be able to plan the best possible holiday to Sri Lanka! :)