Best time to travel to Sri Lanka

BY Lucie, Yonder escapologist

Best time to travel to Sri Lanka

So you’re considering a luxury holiday in Sri Lanka? Well, whether you’re visiting for its welcoming people, its rich, exotic cuisine or its stunning beaches and incredible wildlife opportunities, you’ll find that Sri Lanka is well and truly booming. There’s a reason Lonely Planet named it as its top country for travel in 2019…

Overview

So when is the best time to travel to Sri Lanka? Well, unfortunately, the answer is not a straightforward one, as its climate is a little complicated.

When you visit Sri Lanka depends on a number of factors, such as where you want to go, the type of holiday you’re after and whether you’re able to fly outside of the school holidays.

It’s fair to say that Sri Lanka, unlike some of its rival destinations, can genuinely be considered for a holiday at just about any time of the year. Temperatures on average are a balmy 25-30C year-round on the coast and about 10C cooler in the more mountainous inland regions.

In terms of weather, your main consideration will be steering clear of the rain as much as possible, especially if you’re planning on making the most out of Sri Lanka’s pristine, sandy beaches. This means avoiding its two wet and windy monsoon seasons.

And when this is will depend on where you plan to go. Generally, the two months that it would be wise to avoid Sri Lanka completely are October and the first half of November as this time sees an inter-monsoonal period with wet weather and storms affecting the whole island.

And It’s worth noting that when it rains in Sri Lanka, it really does rain, often seeing multiple inches fall in a matter of minutes, and, as with any equatorial climate, rains can be variable year-by-year and so what you’re about to read should be seen as a general guide…

North east

The Maha monsoon season affects the north and the eastern coastal regions and the ancient cities of the island’s cultural triangle, between October and January, with the dry season running from May to September.

Prices are generally lower across the country during this dry period (although flights will cost more during the school holidays) and with Sri Lankan schools in their second term in May, June and July, this is a great time to visit for a quiet holiday – and if you fancy snorkelling, you’ll be able to discover hidden shipwrecks at the colourful port city of Trincomalee.

If you’re planning a safari at Gal Oya National Park, near the east coast, visit in April or September for the best combination of weather and chance of animal sightings, including elephants,  occasionally leopards and hundreds of species of birds.

Further inland, the Cultural Triangle and ancient Buddhist temples at UNESCO sites such as Anuradhapura and Sigiriya are reasonably dry throughout January to September, although in June and July they may see the hot, strong winds that protect them from the south western monsoon.

South west and Tea Country

The south western part of the country sees the Yala monsoon season between May and August, with the driest weather from December to March. In general, the start of the year, in January and February, is seen as the best time to visit, with better weather and lower visitor numbers (and air fares) – it’s the perfect time to escape the British winter and relax on Sri Lanka’s south western beaches. The sea is also at its calmest at this time of year, and so you’re more likely to see the amazing blue and sperm whales that frequent this coastline.

If you’re visiting Galle, Uda Walawe or Yala National Parks and hoping to spot leopards, elephants, wild boar and birds, then February to June, during the dry season, is the best time to visit.

April still has good odds for relatively dry weather, and party-goers will want to consider visiting at this time, with the Sinhala and Tamil Nadu New Year festivals making for a colourful atmosphere.

In the heart of Sri Lanka, the Central Highlands are more of a year-round destination, with Sri Lanka’s Tea country, situated at around 2,000m altitude, experiencing year-round temperatures of around 15-18C, with January to March the sunniest and driest time and October and November the wettest months. Beautiful Kandy, at the lower elevation of around 700m, is warmer and drier than the surrounding hills and in August hosts the second of the Esala festivals.

YONDER SUGGESTIONS

Yonder offers luxury tours to Sri Lanka. Each tour of Sri Lanka created by Yonder is done on a bespoke basis.

You should seek advice on the best parts of the island to travel to based on your departure date. Yonder covers the whole of Sri Lanka from Jaffna in the north to Tangalle in the south including the capital Colombo.

Every hotel and villa in Sri Lanka featured by Yonder has been personally sampled by Yonder’s Escapologists.

If you want want to find specific details on any Sri Lanka holiday, browse through Yonder’s Destinations pages or look at their Inspirations and Collections pages.

All Yonder itineraries are crafted on a tailor-made, one-off basis, so you can be sure that your holiday will be as individual as you are.