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The best time to go to Sri Lanka

By Martha Hales

Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise of palm shaded beaches, lush hill country, intriguing culture both ancient and modern, and the lure of impressive wildlife such as elephants, leopards and exotic birds. All this comes neatly packaged on an island small enough to get around easily. So far so tempting... but when is the best time to go to Sri Lanka? We’ve gathered local knowledge of the different weather patterns to help you decide. 

Coastline of Sri Lanka

The climate picture in Sri Lanka is fairly complex, but one thing that doesn’t vary too much is the average temperature which hovers reliably in the high twenties all year round, though the peak daytime temperatures can often be higher than this. It’s a tropical country with high humidity and even in the dry season there will be frequent short showers which keep everything green and lush. What makes the climate of Sri Lanka complicated are the monsoons as they affect different regions at different times, but the flip side of this is that the sun is always shining somewhere on the island.

Elephants grazing in Sri Lanka

Many of the most popular attractions in Sri Lanka are clustered in the south and west, a region which encompasses Galle, Colombo, the hill country and the beach resorts of the west and south coasts. If these destinations are your priority, aim for December to March, when this area enjoys its driest months. From April to September the Yala monsoon makes itself felt here, most strongly in May and June, though from July onwards it does ease a little. 

Tea plantations of Ella Sri Lanka

Conversely, when the Yala monsoon is unleashing its storms in the southwest, the north and east are enjoying their drier months. However, these regions also have a Maha monsoon season which affects the east coast particularly from November to March. 

Leopard in tree in Yala, Sri Lanka

If you are intending to undertake a comprehensive tour taking in all areas of the island, look at April, September or October - this allows you to avoid monsoon rains although you should expect some stormy weather at times. Between the stormy intervals the weather is good enough for sightseeing and beach time.

Boat on a Sri Lankan beach

The low season months of May to August are a good time to visit Sri Lanka if you prefer to travel without the crowds, when the weather is pleasant in the cultural triangle and the north and east. If you are hoping to catch sight of the many marine mammals that frequent the waters off the south coast, aim for December to April when the seas are calmest and the numbers of whales and dolphins are at their highest. 

Whales in Sri Lanka

Make it happen

The best time to go to Sri Lanka will depend in part on where you plan to go and what you would like to do. Our trusted local experts are based in Sri Lanka and know the quirks of the weather inside out, so when you contact them they can advise you expertly. There is nothing like local knowledge when it comes to climate, especially when the picture is as complex as Sri Lanka’s. To find out what your bespoke itinerary could look like, get in touch directly with our local experts. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.