When to go to Sri Lanka: climate, best time and months to avoid

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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There are numerous epithets with which Sri Lanka can be defined: Island of Ceylon, Lacrima dell'India, Serendip ...
It is true that this small island under the tip of India has aroused great charm over the centuries. From Marco Polo to Arab merchants, from the Portuguese to the English. Despite its modest size, Sri Lanka offers numerous and different attractions: beaches, tropical forests, archaeological sites, Buddhist temples, plateaus covered with tea plantations.

However, just a rather complex climate derives from the geomorphological diversity mainly due to the fact that opposite sides of the island are subject to two different monsoons. According to the areas you want to visit, it is therefore necessary to keep the climate issue in mind to make sure you are in the right area at the best time! Here is all the useful information on when to go to Sri Lanka: climate, best time and months to avoid.


  1. Best time
  2. Period to avoid
  3. Climate and seasons
  4. User questions and comments

Best time

The island, just north of the equator, it has a tropical climate, hot and humid all year round with temperatures constantly around 30 ° C. Precipitation follows the trend of the monsoons: the yala monsoon, which runs from April to September and brings abundant rains on the south-west coast (Colombo) and in the inland mountainous areas and the maha monsoon which affects the north-east area in winter.
The maximum rainfall occurs between April and May in the southwest and inland areas, and between October and December throughout the country.

  1. Northwest (Jaffna): from January to March the sun often shines, the rains are abundant only between October and December
  2. Southwest (Colombo): the rains are very present, but they decrease from January to March
  3. Eastern area (Batticaloa, Trincomalee): this coast is sheltered from the monsoons from May to September. The sun is shining and it's hot. Between January and February there can still be heavy rains
  4. Inland areas (Kandy, Dambulla, Nuwara Elia): at low altitudes, the heat is intense all year round, but especially between March and September. From mid-December to March, the climate is cooler followed by rare rains

The ideal period for a trip to Sri Lanka is from mid-January to March. If you want to visit only the east coast, the months from May to September are also good; while if your interests are directed to the southwestern area and the central highlands (which are the most interesting areas and which offer more tourist attractions), the best time is January and February, but even July and August if you accept the possibility of some daily rain.

Period to avoid

From October to mid-December there is a peak of rain which affects the whole country. It would therefore be preferable to avoid this period. In January it still rains a lot on the east coast, from April to September it rains a lot in the south-west and in the interior.
The period of cyclones, which bring heavy rain and wind, runs from April to December, with two peaks in May and November.

The month of May is to be avoided as the risk of tropical cyclones is very high; moreover, the arrival of the monsoon around the 20th of the month can bring so abundant and violent rains throughout the country that it can cause floods.

Climate and seasons

Despite its small size, Sri Lanka has a quite complex climate picture. Based on what you want to go and see and visit, you must therefore have a clear understanding of the situation in order to avoid unpleasant surprises that can ruin your holiday.

The climate is tropical: hot-humid all year round, with average temperatures of about 30 ° C (perceived much more due to the high humidity).
The island is affected by 2 monsoons which fall on two different sides in different periods: the southwest monsoon (yala) which occurs from April to September and the northeastern monsoon (maha) which affects this area from November to March.

The altitude factor must always be taken into consideration.
The central areas, in the heart of the plateaus (especially interesting for nature and landscapes) are at high altitude. Kandy, Ella and Nuwara Elia, have climatic characteristics very similar to those of the south-western side; however, the higher you climb, the cooler the climate and the rains, even in the dry season, can peep out albeit faintly, just as the sky is more often cloudy rather than limpid and clear.

Average Temperatures and Precipitation - North-West Flank (Jaffna)

It is very hot all year round but, compared to the south of the island, where the climate is almost constant all year round (average of 30 ° C), here there is a greater difference between the winter months and the period preceding the monsoons, which runs from March in May. The summer monsoon is very weak and therefore, even between June and August, the temperatures remain high.
The rains are very abundant between October and December. Overall, between 1.000 and 1.300 mm of water fall in a year. The sea is warm all year round.
The sunniest months are those ranging from January to May; in other periods it may happen that the sun is seen only for a few hours, both in summer when it rains little, but in any case there is the influence of the cloudiness linked to the southwest monsoon, and towards the end of the year, during the short truces of the violent monsoon rains and thunderstorms.

Recommended period: warm and sunny from January to May. Weak rains in the summer. Heavy rains in October, November and December.

Average Temperatures and Precipitation - South-West Flank (Colombo)

The south-western side coincides with the wettest part of the country.
The heat is constant all year round, with highs around 30/32 ° C but, in January and February the humidity level drops a little making it a little more bearable.

It rains all year with variable frequency and intensity, for a total of 2.500 mm of rain per year. The 2 monsoon peaks fall in April-May and October-November, when they exceed 240 mm per month
In summer, between the two rainy periods, there is a relative decrease: in July and August, in fact, it drops to about 120 mm per month. The driest months (less than 100mm per month) are January and February.
The sun always shines from January to April, while from May to September, thanks to the monsoon, it does not shine very often.

Recommended period: from January to March the climate is pleasant: hot but slightly less humid than the rest of the year. Average temperature of 30 degrees all year round. It rains between April-May and October-November, with a peak in this second period.

Average temperatures and precipitation - Eastern zone (Batticaloa, Trincomalee)

The eastern area of ​​the island is the one most affected by the north-east monsoon at the end of the year; from October to December it rains so a lot. Sometimes, the monsoon is prolonged, even if in a weaker and less violent way, even in January-February. Clear sky e high sun from May to September.

It is hot all year round (30 ° C on average); in the rainy season the temperatures drop a little but, on the other hand, the humidity rate increases. On average, about 1.600 mm of rain fall per year. Despite this, the landscape is semi-arid.

Recommended period: from May to September sun, warm and good weather; Constant 30 ° C all year round. In the rainy period (from October to December) the temperature drops a little but the humidity rate increases. The rains can continue even until February.

Average Temperatures and Precipitation - Inland areas (Kandy, Dambulla, Nuwara Elia)

In inland areas of the country, climate and rain are affected by the altitude factor.
Constant humid heat that decreases as you rise in altitude. For the rains, the area is affected by the influence of the southwest monsoon: April-May and October-November are the peak periods; July and August, a significant decrease.

As the altitude increases, the climate becomes milder, but also rainier.
For example, Anuradhapura, which is low (300 meters above sea level), it is always hot (average of 30 ° C) and in a year 1.300 mm of rain fall. Going up to an altitude of 450 meters above sea level, a Kandy, the climate is cooler (23,5 ° C in December and January) but the recorded amount of water is 1.850 mm.
A Nuwara Elia, at an altitude of 1.900 meters, the climate is spring all year round (20 ° C), but in a year 1.900 mm of rain fall and, even in the dry season, the sky is often cloudy.

Recommended period: from January to March the climate is pleasant: from intense heat in the plains to spring at high altitudes. It rains between April-May and October-November. In the higher areas, the sky is often cloudy even in the dry period.

What to bring in your suitcase


  • Capital: Colombo
  • Population: 22.500.000
  • Area: 65.610 sq. Km
  • Languages: Sinhala, English, Tamil
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) / Exchange rate: € 1,00 = 202.71 LKR
  • Documents: passport with residual validity of at least six months, return air ticket, entry visa (ETA) free and obtainable before leaving via the internet
  • Time zone: + 4,5h compared to Italy
  • vaccinations: none mandatory

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