Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Tree Top panorama (Malcolm Browne)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-ND 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources'
On this page, you will find information about the climate and the best time to visit Sri Lanka. We created climate tables and charts for the locations of Central Highlands, Colombo und Northeast Coast. These contain details about temperatures, precipitation and more.

Furthermore, we analyzed all climate data and provide a recommendation about which months are best to visit Sri Lanka for your holiday.

Climate Overview

Thermometer Symbol 9 °C to 35 °C
Waves Symbol 27 °C to 29 °C
Rainy Cloud Symbol 1.0215.04 in (2 – 25 Days of Rain)
Average Annual Temperature is between 15.9 °C (Central Highlands) and 28.5 °C (Northeast Coast)
Show temperatures in degree

Geographical location

Sri Lanka (former name: Ceylon) is an island and since 1948 an independent republic in the Indian Ocean. The Asian state was first conquered in the coastal areas by Portugal (1518) and shortly afterwards fell to the Netherlands.

With the change to the 19th century the English influence became ever greater, from 1803 Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was a British crown colony. Many thousands of years ago Sri Lanka was still part of the Indian land mass, today the island is separated from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu by the Gulf of Mannar and the narrow Palk Strait. The “soul of Sri Lanka” is the central highland with a distinctive mountain plateau on which the tea cultivation areas are also located. Highest elevation on Sri Lanka is Mount Pedro (Pidurutalagala) with 2,524 meters.

The other areas of the country are the coasts with palm-fringed beaches and the tropical lowlands. Sri Lanka has about 22 million inhabitants and strictly speaking two capitals: Sri Jayewardenepura is the seat of government and therefore the legal capital, but the actual capital is Colombo on the west coast. The most popular destinations in Sri Lanka include Kandy, Jaffna, Galle, Hikkaduwa and Tissa with the neighbouring Yala National Park. Starting point of almost all Sri Lanka trips is the airport Colombo (Bandaranaike International Airport) in Katunayaka, about 22 miles north of Colombo.

Climate in Sri Lanka

Tropischer Traumstrand auf Sri Lanka (Anton Gvozdikov / stock.adobe.com)  lizenziertes Stockfoto 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources' Basically Sri Lanka is dominated by two different winds (monsoon), the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. These monsoons also have very different influences in the different island regions, so that there are suitable destinations in Sri Lanka at all seasons. In the south and on the west coast of the country, most rain falls between May and October, although the months of July and August remain comparatively friendly. Even in the monsoon season the sun still shines regularly, usually once or twice a day there are short and very strong showers.

Swimming is not possible in the west and south of Sri Lanka at this time of the year (not least due to thunderstorms), while the best conditions prevail on the east coast. In the period of the Northeast Monsoon the tables turn: From November to the end of January the east of Sri Lanka is now afflicted by sometimes heavy rainy periods, while in the popular bathing resorts on the south and west coast dry and sunny weather is now usual. The northernmost part of the island is very dry and only rains in November and December.

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka: Overview

JanuaryJan
Best time to travel
in the seaside resorts in south and westPerf. climate in south and west
FebruaryFeb
Best time to travel
in the seaside resorts in south and westPerf. climate in south and west
MarchMar
Best time to travel
in the seaside resorts in south and westPerf. climate in south and west
AprilApr
Good time to traveltime
wet in south and west, pleasant in east and northsuitable in the east
MayMay
Good time to traveltime
wet in south and west, pleasant in east and northsuitable in the east
JuneJun
Good time to traveltime
wet in south and west, pleasant in east and northsuitable in the east
JulyJul
Good time to traveltime
wet in south and west, pleasant in east and northsuitable in the east
AugustAug
Good time to traveltime
wet in south and west, pleasant in east and northsuitable in the east
SeptemberSep
Very hot (average up to 31 °C)
Up to 9.29 in of rainof rain
OctoberOct
Very hot (average up to 28 °C)
Up to 14.53 in of rainof rain
NovemberNov
Up to 13.15 in of rainof rain
DecemberDec
Good time to traveltime
in west and southfor west and south

When to travel to Sri Lanka?


Starting from the rainy season on Sri Lanka and the different monsoon impairments we give you the following travel recommendation: For the central highlands and a bathing holiday at the southwest coast in the middle of December to the end of March are considered as absolutely best travel time on Sri Lanka. The best time for a beach holiday in the northeast is between the beginning of March and the end of August. Daytime temperatures on the coast rarely drop below 30 °C, in combination with the rather high humidity, Europeans find the hot phases in particular quite unpleasant.

We therefore strongly recommend a Sri Lanka round trip to our readers, in order not only to experience as much of the scenic and cultural diversity as possible, but also to enjoy the significantly cooler climate in the central highlands as a welcome change. Cyclones (so-called cyclones in Sri Lanka) are rare but quite violent natural phenomena. They occur mainly between September and December and in May, the north coast and north-east coast is more frequently affected than the south of the island and the western coast.

In the last 15 years, seven cyclones have been recorded in Sri Lanka. This is by no means a reason to avoid Sri Lanka, because there are hurricanes everywhere in the tropics and even the USA is much more frequently hit by hurricanes. However, you should be interested in comparing your desired travel time exactly with our information and climate tables. Many a bargain offer lies in an unfavorable travel time and we would like to prevent with these assistance that your Sri Lanka vacation does not only fall symbolically in the water.

Best Time to Visit the Regions

Find the best time to visit the regions (Sri Lanka) in the following overview.

LocationBest Time to Travel
Central HighlandsJanuary, February, March, April, and December
ColomboJanuary, February, March, and December
Northeast CoastApril, May, June, July, and August

Climate Charts Sri Lanka

In the following, you will find climate charts for the regions.

Furthermore, there are some charts you can use for quick comparison of climate between the regions.

Show Climate Chart for    

Central Highlands

Climate Chart Central Highlands
Show temperatures in degree

Colombo

Climate Chart Colombo
Show temperatures in degree

Northeast Coast

Climate Chart Northeast Coast
Show temperatures in degree

Day Temperatures

Show temperatures in degree

Night Temperatures

Show temperatures in degree

Average Temperatures

Show temperatures in degree

Precipitation

Hours of Sunshine per Day

Source of Data: German Weather Service (Offenbach) and Wikipedia

Climate Tables Sri Lanka

In the following, you will find some climate tables for Sri Lanka, containing information about Temperatures, Precipitation, Water Temperatures, and Hours of Sunshine.
Show climate table for    

Temperatures, Precipitation, Sunshine in Central Highlands (Sri Lanka)

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Day Temperature20°21°23°23°21°19°19°19°19°20°20°19°
Night Temperature10°11°13°13°13°13°12°12°12°11°
Precipitation (inch)4.212.952.85.947.016.936.856.266.938.988.467.64
Rainy days14811161825232220222217
Hours of Sunshine566533223445
Show temperatures in degree
Temperatures
The annual average temperature in Central Highlands is 15.9 °C.

For comparison: London 11 °C, NYC 12 °C, LA 17.9 °C

Warmest month: April (17.1 °C)
Coldest month: January (14.7 °C)

Precipitation
Overall annual precipitation: 74.96 inch on 218 rainy days

For comparison: London 24.06 in, NYC 41.57 in, LA 12.01 in

Rainy season (months with more than 6.9 in of precipitation): May, June, September, October, November, and December
Overall precipitation in the rainy season: 45.94 in

You cannot expect snow in any month in Central Highlands.

Sunshine
As our climate table shows, March is the sunniest month with an average of 6.4 hours of sunshine per day. Over the year, there are 4.1 hours of sunshine per day on average. For comparison: London has 4.1, NYC has 7 and LA has 8.9 hours of sunshine per day on average.

Temperatures, Precipitation, Sunshine in Colombo (Sri Lanka)

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Day Temperature31°31°32°32°31°30°30°30°30°30°30°30°
Night Temperature22°23°24°25°26°26°25°25°25°24°23°23°
Water Temperature27°27°28°28°29°29°28°27°27°28°27°27°
Precipitation (inch)2.442.725.129.9615.047.324.924.499.2914.5312.26.61
Hours of Sunshine899877776777
Show temperatures in degree
Temperatures
The annual average temperature in Colombo is 27.4 °C.

Warmest month: May (28.3 °C)
Coldest month: January (26.6 °C)

The maximum water temperature in Colombo is 29 °C. You can take a bath at these temperatures.

Months with water temperature of at least 21 °C (adequate for beach vacation):
all months

Precipitation
Overall annual precipitation: 94.65 inch

Rainy season (months with more than 6.9 in of precipitation): April, May, June, September, October, and November
Overall precipitation in the rainy season: 68.35 in

You cannot expect snow in any month in Colombo.

Sunshine
As our climate table shows, March is the sunniest month with an average of 8.9 hours of sunshine per day. Over the year, there are 7.2 hours of sunshine per day on average.

Temperatures, Precipitation, Sunshine in Northeast Coast (Sri Lanka)

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Day Temperature28°29°31°33°35°35°34°34°34°32°29°28°
Night Temperature24°25°25°26°26°26°26°26°25°25°24°24°
Precipitation (inch)5.23.942.131.972.051.022.763.54.098.5413.1513.43
Rainy days744542457121616
Hours of Sunshine81010998887765
Show temperatures in degree
Temperatures
The annual average temperature in Northeast Coast is 28.5 °C.

Warmest month: June (30.6 °C)
Coldest month: January (26.1 °C)

Precipitation
Overall annual precipitation: 61.77 inch on 86 rainy days

Rainy season (months with more than 6.9 in of precipitation): October, November, and December
Overall precipitation in the rainy season: 35.12 in

You cannot expect snow in any month in Northeast Coast.

Sunshine
As our climate table shows, March is the sunniest month with an average of 9.7 hours of sunshine per day. Over the year, there are 7.8 hours of sunshine per day on average.

Popular Activities

More attractions

Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo | Yala National Park All-Inclusive 2-Day Safari | From Colombo: Udawalawa National Park Wildlife Safari | Wilpattu National Park Safari Tour from Colombo | Colombo Walking Tour With Ayurvedic Head Massage | Hikkaduwa Village Tour and Authentic Experience | Madu Ganga River Safari |

Current Weather and Forecast

Current Weather in Central Highlands (Station Nuwara Eliya)
broken clouds     broken clouds, 19.9 °C
Clouds: 64 %       Wind: 0 mph NNW
Air Pressure: 954.78 hPa       Humidity: 89 %
Last updated: 21st Jan 2019, 03:18 am
The next days …
21st Jan 201922nd Jan 201923rd Jan 201924th Jan 201925th Jan 201926th Jan 2019
light rain16 °C to 25 °Cmoderate rain19 °C to 24 °Clight rain19 °C to 26 °Csky is clear13 °C to 27 °Clight rain18 °C to 27 °Cmoderate rain19 °C to 27 °C
16 °C to 25 °C19 °C to 24 °C19 °C to 26 °C13 °C to 27 °C18 °C to 27 °C19 °C to 27 °C
Clouds: 64 %Clouds: 80 %Clouds: 24 %Clouds: 0 %Clouds: 0 %Clouds: 20 %
No Precipitation0.13 in of rainNo PrecipitationNo Precipitation0.08 in of rain0.17 in of rain
Weather information provided by OpenWeatherMap. (CC BY-SA)
Show temperatures in degree

Sri Lanka: Experiences of our Visitors

There are 12 reviews for Sri Lanka holiday already. Average rating is 4.7 of 5 stars.
  1. Avatar Preview
    Chiara, 23 years old was there in December

    The weather was perfect for a sunny destination in Asia. Whether on hiking tours, temple visits or on the beach. Since the high temperatures were pleasant to endure and are not disturbing during holiday activities.
    Gladly again this time of year

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  2. Avatar Preview
    jürgen, 66 years old was there in December

    optimal, not too hot, great to swim in the ocean, simply ingenious

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  3. Avatar Preview
    Matthias, 61 years old was there in February

    Best time to travel is February and March, not too was however beautiful

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  4. Avatar Preview
    Anna , 58 years old was there in January

    We were in Sri Lanka in January 2018 and from Colombo to the north and then into the highlands via Kandy, then south. The weather was excellent, we didn’t have a single rainy day, in the highlands it was a bit cool at night, but not unpleasant. The daytime travel temperature couldn’t have been better. The connecting bathing week in Bentota was hot, but always with a pleasant wind.

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  5. Avatar Preview
    Nina, 47 years old was there in August

    In the west and south the coast was windy and the sea rough (monsoon), but only once rainy, in the east sunny with veil clouds and the sea calm and ideal for swimming and snorkelling. In the interior (rainforest) it was changeable, on some days sunny, on others there were longer rain phases. In the high mountains it was cloudy during the day, cool in the evening.

    Weather Rating: 4 stars – Good

  6. Avatar Preview
    Pinky, 52 years old was there in October

    We had some heavy rains although the rainy season was actually over. But at 30 degrees it wasn’t so bad.

    Weather Rating: 4 stars – Good

  7. Avatar Preview
    Katharina, 49 years old was there in April

    we had hardly any rain and it wasn’t too hot. Perfect!

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  8. Avatar Preview
    Andrea, 44 years old was there in May

    On the east coast very hot and nice weather. West coast from Negombo in the direction of Wilpattu hardly any more rain.
    Kandy cloudy. Nuwara Eliya cloudy and occasional rain

    Weather Rating: 4 stars – Good

  9. Avatar Preview
    Anja, 48 years old was there in August

    The weather was mixed… warm but cloudy and occasionally windy. A little too fresh for me to take a bath. The water’s dirty.

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  10. Avatar Preview
    Martin, 33 years old was there in December

    Good conditions on the west and south coasts and inland, not too hot.

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  11. Avatar Preview
    Ralf, 55 years old was there in March

    Except for two days about 2-3 hours from 14.00 o’clock in the highlands I only had sunshine at its best. Thus the German winter could be spent wonderfully.

    Weather Rating: 5 stars – Excellent

  12. Avatar Preview
    Sophie, 26 years old was there in July

    Weather on the southwest coast (Hikkaduwa): Very stormy throughout, sea turbulent and high waves, no swimming / diving possible. During the day mostly sunny weather, from the afternoon occasionally short showers. At night strong thunderstorms and much rain.

    Weather Rating: 4 stars – Good

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St.Clair waterfall Sri Lanka (Malcolm Browne)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-ND 
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Sri Lanka from the air

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