Best time to visit Sri Lanka

temperature & rainfall

Locations: Trincomalee | Colombo | Kandy
Just to confuse those of you working out the best time to visit Sri Lanka, there are two monsoons. Heading to the southwest beaches? Stay clear of SW monsoon May to July with sunbathing at its best December to April. Although with climate change 'n all, May is often lovely. The northeast, however, which is just opening up to tourism, has a monsoon October to January so perfect during European summer. And the rest of the year? Showers happen. It’s the tropics.

When to visit Sri Lanka

Month by month guide

May is just gorgeous in Sri Lanka, in between both monsoons and also very quiet.

If you are heading to Yala National Park, February until June or July are great, as the water tables are low, and animals come out to exposed lakes to drink.

You can play with the monsoons in Sri Lanka. The stunning beaches of the northeast have their monsoon October to January meaning that the European summer months of July, August and September are perfect here. While the southwest is still prone to rainfall.

Even though the Cultural Triangle is in a drier region, it does still get hit by the monsoon in November and December.

If you want to see blue whales, the beginning of March is the best time. But for other species, head there October until April.

December through to early January is a very busy time in Sri Lanka. So, although you can find quiet spots off the beaten track, you do need to book well in advance.

Best time to visit Sri Lanka recommends

John Beswetherick, Managing Director of our supplier Tikalanka (UK) Limited:
"Although November until April is the key season, I still feel that May is absolutely superb, all around the country, as it is outside both monsoon seasons. And it is the quietest time of the year too, so you can have a really good vacation then, and yet it is still considered low season.”
Liddy Pleasants is Managing Director at our supplier Stubborn Mule Travel:
"The east coast beaches are starting to open up again since the head of the civil war. The best time to visit these beaches is actually during the European summer, unlike Sri Lanka’s southwest beaches, which are best visited in winter. Which is great for families who want to come here during the school summer vacations. And at the moment, because they are undeveloped, the east coast still has those idyllic tropical beaches. "

Festivals & events in Sri Lanka

Our cultural pick from the Sri Lanka calendar

Did you know about...?

Rice is considered the giver of life in Sri Lanka and harvesting the paddy fields happens twice a year and is a wonderful community happening. The villagers all come together to work as a team, celebrating the harvest with rituals and ceremonies to bless the paddy. Some of the first crop is donated to the temple traditionally, and harvesting happens end August or beginning September and then again in February.
Photo credits: [Festivals & events - Rice harvesting: NH53] [Liddy Pleasants - beaches: Hafiz Issadeen]
Written by Catherine Mack
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