Best time to visit Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country to visit all year round. However the country does experience two different monsoon seasons each year. One which hits the west coast and south west side of the Island from May to September, and another which hits the east coast and the northern regions between the months of October and February. This means that there can often be some confusion about where to go and also when is the best time to visit Sri Lanka.
Unlike most destinations around the world, Sri Lanka can truly be visited at any time of the year. When one coast is being hit by the rains of the monsoon, the other is bathed in beautiful sunshine. Here is a breakdown of the seasons that will show you everything that you need to know and how to plan your visit.
January to April
January to April is considered as the best time to visit Sri Lanka. The entire Island is basking in beautiful sunshine and the temperature rarely drops below 30°C. This time of year the entire Island is both warm and a nice place to visit, and also the best time of year to visit the white sandy beaches of the south. Note however, that it may get a little cold at night time in the hill country of central Sri Lanka.
May to June
This is the time of year when the southwest monsoon makes landfall in the country. However as the name states, this monsoon only hits the southwest coast of the country. For those people who do not really know what a monsoon is. A monsoon is just the rainy season, which means that at a certain point of the day, mostly in the evening time, a thunderstorm hits the area. In the monsoon season it does not rain all day everyday. The rain normally lasts for an hour or so, and then the sun comes back out and dries everything off. You can still travel during the monsoon season, in fact, this time of year you get to see some incredible lightning shows. If the rain is not for you however, head to the northern regions or the east coast and you will avoid the downpours.
July to September
July to September is known as the intermonsoon period, as it is the time between the two monsoons. At this time of the year, everywhere on the island is warm and mostly rain free. The average temperature across most of the country is 29°C and the beaches are all hot and dry. This is another great time to visit the Island.
October to December
If Sri Lanka had a bad season, this would be it. This is the time of year when the northern monsoon hits the Island. This is the stronger of the two and can affect not only the north as the name suggests, but other areas of the Island also. Every year is different, so you never truly know what to expect. Some years for instance, the monsoon does not arrive at all and the Island stays bathed in hot tropical sunshine.
However, come December the rains abate and the gorgeous weather returns to cover all of Sri Lanka in a majestic glow. This is the most beautiful time to visit Sri Lanka as the country is all green and fresh from the rains.
When is the best time to visit?
As a summery, the best time to visit Sri Lanka is between the months of January to April and then later in the year from mid July to September. These two seasons are the best times of year to visit. The best time to visit the southern beaches is at the beginning of the year from January to April. This is the time when Sri Lanka is driest and sunniest.
The monsoon seasons first hit in May and last until July, the is the lesser of the two and does not really cause many problems. This monsoon hits the south coast. The stronger monsoon season strikes in October and runs through to January. If you stay in the south at this time of the year, you will have very little contact and have a good trip.
Animal Migrations: September to April
If you are looking to take a safari while you are visiting the country, you should take into account the migration of the animals. From September to April the birds flock to Bundala National Park and make this an incredible time to visit.
Also at this time of year, the whales are migrating past the southern coast of the country. Jump onto one of the many whale watching tours and you might just spot one of the biggest animals on the planet, the majestic blue whale.
Another great place to visit is Kalpitiya. If you head north from the capital Colombo and make your way to Kalpitiya, you will get the chance to see wild dolphins. At this time of the year they migrate to the bay there and are a major tourist attraction.
The Gathering Of The Elephants
July to September is a special time in southern Sri Lanka. This is one of the greatest natural wonders that you will ever see and should definitely not be missed. During these months, most of the elephants of the south come together for a huge gathering. This takes place every single year, and leaves all that visit filled with wonder. Here is an article where you can both see for yourself and read more about this special gathering. The gathering of the elephants (By Travel Shus)
For more details on taking the best Elephant Safari, have a read of our Udawalawe Guide. Udawalawe: The land of elephants
We hope by now that you have a better idea of the best time to visit Sri Lanka and can start to plan your trip. If you would like some more information on this incredible country then have a read of our Ultimate Guide. Backpacking Sri Lanka: The ultimate Guide. Or visit our Sri Lanka destinations page where you will find all of our articles on this incredible island.
We Hope that you have an incredible time visiting this magical Island. Don’t forget to send us an email and let us know how your adventure goes.