Sri Lanka is genuinely a year round destination
Sri Lanka is well known for having huge diversity which allows visitors to plan amazing holidays year round. At any time of the year your itinerary can include swimming in the stunning beaches, wildlife safaris, UNESCO world heritage sites, tea plantation visits and interactive cultural experiences. We are often asked when to visit Sri Lanka so we have put together some tips for travellers.
Peak visitor months
Which coastal regions you spend time in will however depend on what time of year you visit. Prices for accommodation can vary based on the peak season dates. The lists below give you an idea of when the busiest periods for tourism on this lush island country are.
Sri Lanka Peak season
December, January, February and March
Sri Lanka Shoulder season
April, September, October and November
Sri Lanka Low season
May, June, July and August
Weather overview in Sri Lanka
With the unpredictable weather patterns in the world today it is hard to plan a holiday around the weather. It is important to remember that when it rains in Asian countries it is generally short & sharp, the skies remain blue & the weather is always warm.
The two monsoon seasons in the country are the biggest influencers on the weather. When planning your trip we look into these weather patterns.
The driest time in the popular beach regions in the South-West is from December until March. From May until September the monsoon brings some rain and rough seas to these coastal regions.
The Northern areas around Jaffna and Eastern coastal areas experience winds & rain influenced by the monsoon between October & January.
Planning your holiday in Sri Lanka by beach destination
Sri Lanka is an island, therefore completely surrounded by water. The beaches are calm and perfect for swimming, snorkelling and surfing on one side of the island for one half of the year & better on the other side for the other half of the year.
The southern beaches from Tangalle & up the coast to Mirissa, Hikkaduwa & Unawatuna are best visited in November through until the end of February when the seas are calm and the tides are low.
The beaches on the East Coast, Trincomalee, Nilaveli & Passikudah are best visited in May through until the end of August. At this time of year the beaches on this side of the island are calm. The huge blue whales and playful dolphins frequent the waters off the coast at this time of year.
The surf breaks in Arugam Bay at this time of year are recognised as some of the best in the world. If you are looking for some relaxing snorkelling time then this is the time to head to the reefs and clear waters around Pigeon Island.
Kalpitiya on the Western coastline relies on the winds across the lagoon. The season begins in May and ends towards the end of October. The winds are perfect on the lagoon for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Any time of year is great for visiting the tea growing regions in the central hill country. Likewise the cultural triangle can be visited anytime. Outside of the high season you have less crowds in popular sites like the UNESCO heritage site of Sigiriya.
Temperatures throughout Sri Lanka
Year round we see fairly consistent temperatures. As far as temperatures then every month is a great time to visit.
The temperatures in the coastal areas generally sit between 25 to 31 degrees. The sea remains a lovely swimmable temperature year round on all beaches.
The cultural triangle including many UNESCO world heritage sites is known for it’s dry, arid landscape. The areas in this dry zone are Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Polonnaruwa. The temperatures are warm throughout the whole year, the mornings are milder with the afternoons becoming comparatively hotter. The warm winds can blow from June to July but they are not strong enough to worry about.
Areas in the tea country such as Nuwara Eliya, Hatton & Ella remain relatively cooler throughout the year as they are higher in the mountains. The average temperature year round is between18 to 25 degrees. They are lusher regions with waterfalls & great natural spots for swimming. The evenings may get a little cold and you will require an extra layer of clothing.
A small umbrella is great to pack, it will give you some shade in the arid areas such as Polonnaruwa and it will protect you from the sudden downpours. If you are caught out in the rain however, you will find the warm temperatures will dry you off fairly quickly. The rains are part of the fun of travelling in Asia. We find it too hot to put on rain jackets in all areas except in the the hill country.