When to go to Sri Lanka holiday guide

When to go to Sri Lanka

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Welcome to the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka! This jewel shaped island is packed full of stunning landscapes, rich history, vibrant culture and smiling locals – all waiting to welcome you.

If you’re wondering when to go to Sri Lanka, you’ve stumbled across the right place. Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, you just might need to plan your holiday to dodge the monsoons, depending on what time of year you intend to visit.

Sri Lanka experiences two key monsoon seasons every year; the ‘Yala’ and the ‘Maha’. So, this means the weather is very different dependent on what side of the island you visit and when. But that’s where we come in!

Read on for our guide to the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

When to go to Sri Lanka: Month by month

When to go to Sri Lanka Climate Guide

In short, Sri Lanka’s seasons are as follows:

December to April: The best time to visit the west coast, south coast and hill country

March to September: The best time to visit the east coast and Cultural Triangle

A bit too rainy: October and November

Sri Lanka’s monsoon seasons:

The Yala Monsoon – (May to October/November): This is the main southwest monsoon, and it hits the west and southwest coasts and the tea hills.

The Maha Monsoon – (October/November to February): This monsoon is less severe but brings rains to the east coast. The months of November and December are the wettest!

The best time to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in January

Summary: Warm/dry/sunny, great for outdoor activities, very busy in late January

January lovely in Sri Lanka, with warm and sunny weather on the south and west coasts.

The rains of the maha monsoon will still be hitting the east coast, so these beaches are best avoided if you’re keen to avoid any sogginess.

January is also an ideal month to pair your Sri Lanka holiday with an unforgettable beach escape in the Maldives. That doesn’t sound too shabby to us!

Events: Don’t miss the colourful celebrations of the Tamil Thai Pongal festival in January. This Hindu harvest festival is celebrated by Tamils across India and Sri Lanka and showcases the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Sri Lanka in February

Summary: Beautiful beach weather, great for wildlife tours and outdoor adventures

February is one of the best months to experience the magic of Sri Lanka, and our clients always love it. With dry and sunny weather across most of the island, it’s a brilliant time to head off exploring the ancient ruins in the Cultural Triangle, hiking through the lush highlands, and relaxing on the pristine beaches.

Events: February is the month of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day (4th February), with celebrations taking place across the country.

A note from Rebecca

February has always been such a popular month for my clients travelling to Sri Lanka. It’s a month where I get to design long, complex 2-4 week itineraries that take in so much of the country. I love it!

When to go to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in March

Summary: Fab for blue whale-watching, dry across the country, nice and warm in the hill country

Heading off on a Sri Lanka holiday in March is a great idea.

The south and west coasts are basking in glorious sunshine and temperatures above 30°C and it’s one of the warmest months of the year to visit the Hill Country, too. What’s more, the beginning of the month is the best time of the year to spot blue whales as they feast on krill in the waters off the coast.

The north-east maha monsoon is over, so March is also dry on the east coast. This means, you can visit ANY of the country’s incredible beaches, and should be treated to beautiful weather.

Top tip: If you’re thinking of combining a Sri Lanka adventure, with a bucket-list-ticking trip to the Maldives, March is a great month to choose.

A note from Rebecca

March is one of my favourite months in Sri Lanka. Everywhere should be sunny and dry. Plus, if you want to get away from the crowds, you can head to the beautifully remote beaches of the east whilst they’re still lovely and peaceful!

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in April

Summary: Great month for family adventures, perfect for outdoor adventures, tag on a trip to the Maldives

April is a good month to visit Sri Lanka. The beginning of the month is generally dry and sunny, but as the month goes on, the dry season comes to an end in the south-west. Things can start to get a little humid (especially around the Cultural Triangle) as the yala monsoon rolls in.

April is one of the best months of the year to visit the tea hills though. Kandy and the beautiful towns across the Hill Country all experiencing lovely weather and pleasant temperatures. During the day the temperatures hover around the mid 20s (perfect for hiking!), and don’t drop too much in the evenings either.

Events: The Sinhalese / Tamil New Year takes place in the middle of April.

Top tip from Rebecca

April is a brilliant month to combine your Sri Lanka holiday with some luxurious sun-soaking in the Maldives!

When to go to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in May

Summary: Beautifully quiet, inter-monsoon season, stunning on the east-coast beaches

May is one of the quietest months of the year to visit Sri Lanka and a brilliant time to visit weather-wise, too. Nestled between the two monsoon seasons, you could well be lucky with the weather wherever you choose to go.

The beautifully undeveloped beaches on the east coast will be wonderful in May. Temperatures are often 30ºC plus and you’ll be treated to many hours of glorious sunshine.

By the end of May, the yala monsoon has arrived on the south/southwest coasts as well as the central regions, so a raincoat may be needed. However, the rains come and go, and they’re often broken up with lovely sunny spells in between.

Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in June

Summary: Lovely and quiet, great for wildlife tours, beautiful in the north/east

June is a brilliant month to visit the north and the beaches in the east of Sri Lanka. Head up to explore the culture in Jaffna and then unwind on the beautiful, remote beaches on the east coast.

The animals are usually quite active in June, so it’s a great month of the year to head to one of the national parks for wildlife tours and safari.

Sri Lanka in July

Summary: Good throughout most of the island, northern beaches are wonderful, last chance for great wildlife viewing at Yala

July is a great month of the year to explore the majority of Sri Lanka, with temperatures teetering around 30°C throughout the country. The east coast is enjoying beautiful sunshine, plus, the southern yala monsoons are petering out slightly.


A note from Rebecca

July is perfect for top-notch wildlife viewing at Yala, Wilpattu and Minneriya National Parks. So, it’s definitely worth factoring in a safari or two if you can.


Sri Lanka in August

Summary: Brilliant month for a family holiday, northern beaches are beautiful, fab for bird-watching, leopard spotting and there are even sloth bears in Wilpattu National Park!

August is a great month for families to visit Sri Lanka. By the time August rolls around, the yala monsoons have temporarily subsided, making the southern beaches a great choice for long, sunny beach days. However, if beach days are top of the agenda, we’d recommend the east coast as a safer bet weather-wise in August.

In short, despite the occasional showers, the beautifully warm temperatures make August a great month to explore what Sri Lanka has to offer. 

Events: Whale-watching season is in full swing off the east coast. We hugely recommend heading to Trincomalee for a boat trip to spot these ocean giants if you can.

Top tip from Rebecca

August is one of the best months to head to Minneriya National Park. Being dry season in this region, elephants flock to the Minneriya tank in huge numbers in search of water. The result is the largest gathering of Asian elephants visible anywhere on earth. It really was such an incredible sight.

When to go to Sri Lanka
The Minneriya Elephant Gathering, Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in September

Summary: Things are getting quieter, good deals, sunny eastern beaches

September is a great time to head to the north and the east coasts of Sri Lanka. You can be lucky with lower prices and fewer tourists. Plus, the elephants still tend to be gathering by around the water tank in Minneriya National Park – so, witnessing this wildlife phenomenon could make a great addition to your Sri Lanka holiday plans.

Events/worth noting: Yala National Park usually closes for the month of September. This is to allow for yearly maintenance, and to let the wildlife roam undisturbed by tourists following a long and busy season. (We love this!)

Top tip from Rebecca

September is one of my favourite months to design Sri Lanka holidays for. Don’t miss the adorable sloth bears in Wilpattu National Park. And, head to the Pigeon Island Marine Reserve off the coast of Trincomalee for a spot of snorkelling. Would you look at the colour of that water!


Sri Lanka in October

Summary: Unpredictable and a bit wet. October/November is the classic inter-monsoon season in Sri Lanka, when both the yala and maha monsoons overlap.

October is an unpredictable month for a Sri Lanka holiday. It’s generally one of the wettest months of the year to visit, with the south-west ‘yala’ monsoons taking longer to fade in the south and the north-east ‘maha’ monsoon on its way, rains are likely across the whole island.

However, less-favourable weather usually means less tourists. So the sites will be quiet and there may be some good deals to snap up if you don’t mind a few downpours.

Sri Lanka in November

Summary: Inter-monsoon season, so still quite soggy!

The yala monsoons are taking longer and longer to clear through these days, so November is still a little questionable wherever you plan to visit in Sri Lanka. We recommend aiming for late November if you want more guarantee of better weather.


Sri Lanka in December

Summary: Lovely and quiet at the beginning of the month, great weather, fab for outdoor adventures and family holidays

Mid-December is the start of high season on Sri Lanka’s south and southwest coasts. The weather in the hill country is also starting to dry out a little. Rains are still very possible though, so – as always – make sure you pack prepared… you might just need an umbrella.

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