As a general rule the best time to visit Sri Lanka is between December and April. During these months you can expect lower rainfall and temperatures in the high twenties in the coastal lowlands and high teens in the hill country. The one exception would be on the east coast which is at its best from May through to October.
For such a small island Sri Lanka’s climate is surprisingly diverse. With a wide range of topography and affected by two different monsoons there’s much to consider.
Of the two monsoons the north-east is the most intense and can, despite the name, affect the whole island between October and November. The south-west monsoon is truer to its name and largely affects just the south west coastline between May and July. It’s also rather gentler than the north east monsoon. Despite the rainfall, the temperature around the coast rarely drops below 25 degrees; up in the Hill Country it is a little cooler due to the higher altitude.
Sri Lanka in December, January & February
Sri Lanka’s weather in January and February is pleasantly dry and warm, especially in the centre, west and south of the island. This is a wonderful time to be exploring the Cultural Triangle and the weather on the southern beaches will likely be glorious with long sunny days. The east coast will still be feeling the effects of the monsoon so is best avoided during these months.
Sri Lanka in March
March is one of the most popular and pleasant times of the year to visit Sri Lanka. The north-east monsoon is generally spent so even the east coast is warm and dry whilst the rest of the island is just perfect. Temperatures in the hill country rise and the southwestern beaches enjoy daily highs in the mid-thirties.
Sri Lanka in April
The south-west monsoon begins in April, bringing heavy rain and choppy seas to the beaches on the south coast. This is though still a great time to be visiting the Cultural Triangle and Hill Country as evenings and early morning are less cool than other times of the year.
Sri Lanka in May & June
The Southwest monsoon really begins to exert its influence in May bringing rain and choppy seas to the southern beaches and consistent rainfall and high humidity to western and central regions too. Although temperatures are still pleasant in the mid-twenties these are not recommended months for touring. The beaches of the east coast are warm and dry.
Sri Lanka in July, August & September
The southwest monsoon still affects much of the south, central and west of Sri Lanka so travelling here in these months is not recommended. The east coast beaches are warm and dry and the north of the island is also pleasant for exploring.
Sri Lanka in October
Sandwiched between two monsoons, the weather in Sri Lanka during October can be very difficult to predict. Days can be warm and sunny but showers are also very common and this is one of the wettest months of the year. October is best avoided for travel.
Sri Lanka in November
The south west monsoon recedes during November so this is a better to visit the Cultural Triangle, Hill country and south coast especially as the month goes on.