Tales from the Trail

When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

Considering it's not the largest country, the weather in Sri Lanka can be a little difficult to get your head around.

The good news is that, due to its equatorial position, the temperatures don’t tend to fluctuate too much year round. The deciding factor for temperature then is not when you go but where.

On the coast and the lowlands (which include the sights of the Cultural Triangle) average daytime temperatures hover around the 26–30°C mark. As you climb up into the highlands average temperatures fall. Kandy, at 500m, enjoys mild highs of 18–22°C, whilst in the scenic highest part of the island, Tea Country, average temperatures fall to 14–17°C and night can feel chilly.

What does change throughout the year though is the amount of rainfall you’ll experience. Sri Lanka is affected by two monsoons: the Yala and the Maha

The Yala monsoon brings rainfall to the south west (so affecting the beaches from Negombo to Hambantota and Tea Country especially) from the end of April to September with the wettest months in May and June.
The Maha is less severe but affects the east coast (the Trincomalee coast and Passekudah) from November to March with November and December the wettest.

The upshot of all of this is that you can generally find good weather somewhere on the island whenever you choose to visit.
Here’s a rundown of the what to expect month by month.

JANUARY to MARCH

The weather in Sri Lanka is wonderful at this time of year making it a great time to visit with warm dry sunny days typifying most of the island. The south and west coasts are hot and dry so it’s a great time of year to combine these beaches with a tour of the interior. In January and February the Maha monsoon is still affecting the east coast areas of Trincomalee and Passekudah so it’s not the best time to be enjoying the beaches here. 

 

CITIES

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

°C

R

°C

R

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST)

31

7

31

9

31

14

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

28

13

29

11

31

6

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

21

11

22

9

23

9

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST)

28

13

29

11

31

6

 

°C Average daily maximum temperatures                                                          R Monthly rainfall in cm


APRIL

April can often be the hottest month of the year with the least rainfall. Temperatures and humidity start to rise in the Cultural Triangle but this is one of the best times to be visiting the higher elevations of Kandy and the Tea Country with the evenings not so cool. 

 

CITIES

APRIL

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST)

32

26

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

33

6

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

23

18

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST)

33

6

 

°C Average daily maximum temperatures          R Monthly rainfall in cm 


MAY - JUNE

The Yala monsoon affects the south and west of the country including Tea Country and the beaches. Seas can often also be very choppy here during this time and swimming is often not recommended. Rains can be heavy but are often short with glorious sunshine in between, particularly in May. If you are looking for a stretch of sand to lay you head, now is the time to start looking north east to the Trincomalee Coast and Passekudah.

 

CITIES

MAY

JUN

°C

R

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST)

31

39

30

24

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

35

5

35

3

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

22

16

20

18

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST)

35

5

35

3

 

°C Average daily maximum temperatures                                                   R Monthly rainfall in cm 


JULY - SEPTEMBER

July to September is known as the inter-monsoon season where you can still expect showers but also some glorious weather – all in all a great time to be exploring. In June the tail end of the Yala monsoon still affect the beaches on the south and west coast so the eastern beaches are still your best bet for warm, dry and sunny days. In August the rainfall drops significantly in the south west so the beaches here become a good choice once again with September becoming wetter once again. The Indian Ocean coast on the east is still glorious in both months. 

 

CITIES

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

°C

R

°C

R

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST)

30

18

30

16

30

27

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

34

6

34

8

34

10

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

20

16

20

14

20

16

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST)

34

6

34

8

34

10

°C Average daily maximum temperatures                                                          R Monthly rainfall in cm 


OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

The wettest months of the year throughout the country with the tail end of the Yala monsoon affecting the south west in early October and the maha or north-east monsoon affecting all of the country from late October onwards. 

CITIES

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

°C

R

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST)

30

31

30

18

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

32

22

29

34

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

21

24

20

21

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST)

29

34

28

37

°C Average daily maximum temperatures                                             R Monthly rainfall in cm


DECEMBER

December is generally a great time to travel with hot, dry weather following the end of the monsoon in the beach resorts of the south west coast. The north east is still feeling the effects of the Monsoon though so heading south is your best bet for time on the beach.

 

CITIES

DECEMBER

°C

R

BENTOTA (SOUTH WEST BEACHES)

30

18

CULTURAL TRIANGLE

28

37

NUWARA ELIYA (TEA COUNTRY)

20

21

TRINCOMALEE (NORTH EAST BEACHES)

28

37

°C Average daily maximum temperatures                R Monthly rainfall in cm 


For inspiration on where to go, what to see and what to do in this beautiful country, siti our Sri Lanka Holidays pages

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