What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?
Answering this question is not as simple as it may seem. It depends on your interests, budget and your preferences for what you believe the ideal climate is.
Usually, December to March consider as the peak season in Sri Lanka. However, rest assured, this beautiful island has something to offer during any season. Sri Lanka has a tropical climate and two different monsoon seasons.
You’ll experience nice and bright days for the most part in Sri Lanka. However, there will rarely be a situation where it will stand in the way of a brilliant holiday. This is a guide to where and when you might like to visit in Sri Lanka based on your interests.
Climate and key highlights by month
January – March
This is the ideal time to be in the central hills or the coastal areas. The island experiences little rain during this period. The beautiful sandy beaches are Ideal for you to swim and bask on. Temperatures in the Hill Country, especially around Nuwara Eliya will be cooler due to the higher altitude.
The Galle literary festival takes place annually in late January or early February. If you head to the southern coast, you will be able to witness some amazing marine life – many types of whales, dolphins and even flying fish.
This usually the hottest month of the year, and brings the start of the South Western monsoon. The southern cost will be a bit rough. However, the other parts, especially the hill country will be inviting during April.
The 14th April is “Sinhalese and Tamil New Year” and is the most celebrated festive season. You can witness and take part in traditional events organized all over the country.
May – June
The “Southwest-Yala” monsoon wind starts blowing into the west and south coast where there are short and sharp showers. You will find the climate in the western part of the hill country and the north and east is much pleasant during this season.
May is the month of the Vesak Poya, which celebrates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. People unite to decorate, light the streets and houses in celebration, which will be a joy to watch.
The “Yala” monsoon will peak and the rainfall increases. However, the eastern stretch of beautiful beaches and the cultural triangle of the country will experience better weather.
July is the best period to get the accelerating wildlife experience by visiting the national parks of the country. You will get the first-hand experience of sightings of Elephants, leopards, bears amongst much more that Sri Lanka will offer.
August – September
As the rain continues to ease, the southwestern coast and sandy beaches become much more accessible. You will find the climate in the other parts of the country also inviting during this period.
The main and most significant event during this season is the “Kandy Esala Perahera”. A traditional precession held annually to pay homage to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. The Kandyan dancers and elephants, which are adorned with eye-catching garments, are a truly unique site in the festival.
October – November
The “Northeast-Maha” monsoon starts hitting north and east coast of Sri Lanka during this season and the countries north and east see showers.
The southern coastal region remains attractive during this season and the marine life there will be at its peak.
Whilst the eastern coast and north starts to experience more rain, the south and west coast will be warm and dry.
Christmas and New Year are very popular times to travel, so it’s important to plan well in advance.
Key seasonal attractions of Sri Lanka
The surfing seasons
Sri Lanka produces the best of fun waves while the offshore winds are consistent during the monsoons. The best surfing seasons are – The southwest of the country (Hikkaduwa) which is from November to March and then on the east coast (Arugambay) from May to September.
Elephant watching season
There are many places to see elephants around the country declared as sanctuaries for these majestic animals. The highlight, however, is the “great elephant gathering” in Minneriya between August to October. This is the biggest gathering of Asian elephants in the world and is an unbelievable sight.
Bird watching season
The tropical climate and exotic landscape of Sri Lanka make it a haven for bird lovers. Sri Lanka is home to more than 400 bird species with around 23 endemics and 200 migratory birds arriving from India, Siberia, Scandinavia and Western Europe. The best time for bird watching is towards December.
Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavorful food are a few things amongst many others that Sri Lanka will offer you. The trend is that If you visit this paradise once, you will always come back again.