A guide to weather in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday destination, with its popular west coast providing optimum weather conditions at the same time as the UK’s cold winter, with temperatures averaging around 30°C throughout December and January. On the other side of the coin, the east coast gets the best of the weather during summer, and you can expect a full 12 hours of sunshine alongside calm seas around this time.

Generally speaking, the best time to take a holiday to Sri Lanka is December to March, but there are certain factors to consider, such as monsoons affecting either the southwest or northeast. The southwest monsoon season is through May and June, with the northeast monsoon usually coming in October and November, but this one is unpredictable in that some years it hasn’t arrived at all.

Wherever you stay, as Sri Lanka is located close to the equator, temperatures remain fairly constant year round, although it’s colder in mountainous areas. Average daytime temperatures in the coastal regions are between 26 to 30°C, rising higher in the peak of the day.

The popular southwest

Many of Sri Lanka’s resorts are located along its southwest coast so you might like to know when it’s best to visit places like Negombo, Ahungalla and the capital Colombo. Holidaying here between December and March avoids the monsoon season, mainly affecting the southwest from May to September. During this peak holiday season temperatures rarely drop below 30°C in the south-western region.

The southwest Yala monsoon is the gentlest of Sri Lanka’s monsoons, with short sharp showers that tend to pass quickly. For a quieter holiday experience if you don’t mind the chance of some rain, head to the southwest during the shoulder season of July to November. August can be a good time to visit as it’s an exception to the rule, with much lower rainfall than its neighbouring months.

Sri Lanka is a humid country, with humidity levels generally higher in the southwest and mountainous areas. The capital city, Colombo can experience year-round daytime humidity in excess of 70%, rising to approximately 90% during the monsoon season. Luckily, all our accommodation options come with state-of-the-art air conditioning, but make sure you drink plenty of water while you’re out and about in humid weather.

North-eastern Sri Lanka

Weather in the less developed north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka is influenced by the Maha monsoon, which occurs between October and January. The driest weather is from April to September, making it the best time to visit places like Kandy. The Maha monsoon can be unpredictable, sometimes windy and blustery and sometimes hardly noticeable at all. While the rain can get in the way of beach plans, it’s also a welcome break from humidity if you do travel during peak monsoon times.

Both the southern and northern regions of Sri Lanka remain a toasty 27°C into the nighttime throughout the year, so there’s no need to worry about layering up here.

The Cultural Triangle

The cultural centre of Sri Lanka includes five UNESCO sites that you’ll no doubt be longing to visit on your trip. Fortunately this area, dubbed ‘The Cultural Triangle’, is situated in the dry zone. While there can be high rainfall in November and December, conditions are fairly arid all year. In June and July strong winds may occur, but these have the benefit of keeping the south-western monsoon at bay.

Nighttime temperatures in the Cultural Triangle remain about 30°C year-round, with daytime temperatures hovvering around 35°C, so as with other areas of Sri Lanka it’s recommended that you drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated in the heat.