The best time to visit Sri Lanka is December till March and July till September
Are you planning a holiday trip to Sri Lanka? You’ll definitely want to enjoy and relax somewhere with good weather and fewer crowds. And possibly experience some of the special festivities through the year. For the best time to visit Sri Lanka, we’ve got you covered not only on climate, but also on different tourist seasons and special festivities throughout the year.
If you are not dependent on the school holidays, we recommend visiting Sri Lanka outside the high season times. By traveling outside high season, you have the advantage of paying lower ticket prices. Shasheen, our local travel expert, is happy to advise you on the best time to visit Sri Lanka for your holiday. He can also tell you the best season to come throughout the year so that you can make the best decision when choosing your holiday period. Below you can read more about the best time to visit Sri Lanka.
The best time to visit Sri Lanka is from December to March and July to September. You can also travel around Sri Lanka throughout the rest of the year.
Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka: Climate
Sri Lanka’s best travel time is between December and March. It is generally sunny and relatively dry all over the country. Temperatures are quite warm in these months, although it is a bit cooler up in the hill country. For example, in Nuwara Eliya it can be quite cold in December and January! Beaches on the south and west coasts are dry, hot and sunny in this time of the year. The months of July and August are good to travel in Sri Lanka as well. In August the magnificent festival of Perahera takes place. In this period the beaches in the east and northeast, like Trincomallee, are most sunny.
Yet with its pleasant temperatures, Sri Lanka can be visited all year round. The weather in Sri Lanka is dictated by two monsoon seasons. The southwestern monsoon, also known as yala, brings rain to the west and southwest coasts and lasts from mid-May till the end of September. This is the more gentle of the 2 monsoons, with mostly just short rain showers. During this monsoon, the northeast and east of Sri Lanka remain quite dry, as these areas are protected from the rain by the mountains. The northeast monsoon, also called maha, lasts from October till February, but is strongest in October and November. In these 2 months it can rain all over the country. From December till February it generally only brings rain in the east and northeast, while the south and southwest are dry and sunny.
Temperatures are fairly constant all year round. Coastal regions and the lowlands have average temperatures of 25–30°C and in the highlands average temperatures are between 15–18°C. April is the hottest month of the year and temperatures can rise till 35°C and above. A very good month for the beach! It’s best to avoid the hottest hours of the day (between 11am–3pm) when sightseeing in April.
Best time to visit Sri Lanka: Crowds
In the months of March to June and September to October it is relatively quiet in Sri Lanka, which means fewer tourists at the popular tourist sites.
Best time to visit Sri Lanka: Special events
April: Sinhalese and Hindu New Year Festival
In Sri Lanka, the New Year celebration usually takes place on April 14 where the celebrations start on the eve of the New Year, which is also a public holiday. Lasting 7 days, the festival celebrates the end of the harvest period and the start of the new year. Local Sri Lankans wear their most beautiful clothes and traditional dishes are served. A great cultural event to witness and take in!
May: Wesak Festival
The Wesak Festival is a three-day festival in which Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, death and return are celebrated. This festival is an official holiday in most Buddhist countries. Several processions and parades take place during this celebration.
July and August: Esala Perahera Festival
Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. It’s also known as the Festival of the Tooth. ‘Perahera’ is a Sinhalese word that means a parade of dancers, musicians, jugglers, fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants. The procession is to pay respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic and is held annually in July or August.
Diwali, also referred to as ‘Deepavali’ or the festival of light, is a one of the biggest festivals on the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated by Hindus throughout the island. During the festival, lamps are lit in honor of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and happiness.
See our travel suggestions for various ways to explore Sri Lanka.
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