Sri Lanka in a nutshell: pulsing culture, stunning views, mouth-watering food, favorable exchange rates, wild elephant safaris, so many wild animals, picture-perfect beaches, saving sea turtles, and notably wide-ranging weather!
Whether this Ireland-sized island just made your travel list or if it has long-been your dream adventure destination, here’s everything to know about Sri Lanka weather throughout the year.
Sri Lanka Weather Snapshot
- Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with two monsoon seasons.
- The southwest monsoon, or ‘Yala’, which blows from mid-May to late-September from the southwest.
- The northeast monsoon, or the ‘Maha’, which blows in the opposite direction between October and late January.
- Storms are usually brief, heavy downpours.
- Coastal and mid-lowland areas enjoy average annual daytime temps of around 27–30°C. This can reach into the 30°Cs during the hottest part of the day.
For reference, Sri Lanka's 'Tea Region' includes Kandy, Ella, and Nuwara Ellya (not visited on tour). Sirigiya and Udawalawe National Park will share similar weather patterns to the Tea Region, which are also visited on tour.
Month-By-Month - Sri Lanka Weather
Planning around the two monsoon seasons can be tricky. We schedule our tours around this to minimise the impact of inclement weather on our trips. If you plan to travel solo, knowing the best time to visit Sri Lanka is definitely helpful!
This in-depth, month-by-month breakdown of Sri Lanka’s weather can be your helpful planning assistant.
Sri Lanka Weather in January
Expect manageably warm weather with average temperatures of about 27°C in Colombo and in the southwest region. Across parts of the rest of the country, average temperatures rise to an average of 30-31°C. Sunshine will be plentiful, as will humidity, at the beaches we visit on tour in Mirissa, Unawatuna, and Hikkaduwa! We will find cooler temperatures in the elevated mountain regions such as Kandy and Ella. Too soon for monsoon season but there is the chance of spot bursts of rainfall here and there.
In the north and on eastern coasts, the monsoon should be starting to wind down, with typically less rainfall expected than in February than in previous months.
Sri Lanka Weather in February
One of the best times, in general, to visit Sri Lanka as a whole but especially along the southwest coast and the middle of the country from Colombo across to Sirigiya. This month slides in between the wetter months with lower humidity than the previous month. The national average temperature will be 27°C-28°C with beach days ranging into the 30’s on the southwest coast.
The monsoon should be starting to wind down even more than in January in the north and on the east coast. Less rainfall but still chances in places like Jaffa, Trincomalee, and Arugam Bay.
Sri Lanka Weather in March
Great weather, a higher amount of travelers. Temperatures in March range from 24°C to 32°C. The weather will be mostly sunny and quite humid. This can make some sticky treks but fantastic for beach days and morning safaris! Ella and Kandy will be noticeably cooler so not to worry about too much sweating during the best treks on tour. If you are looking for one month with the best weather in most of the country at one time, March is a top option for a Sri Lanka trip.
Sri Lanka Weather in April
Generally warm and sunny until the end of the month. Yala monsoon season begins then so there is the chance of rain and clouds in the southwest coast. This will also be the last month with a high volume of tourists for some time. The temperatures do stay about uniform to March and will average 29°C throughout Sri Lanka with fewer sunny beach days. This does bring a larger dip in temperatures in Kandy and Ella so this prime trekking time with green bursting from everywhere.
Sri Lanka Weather in May
Monsoon season is now engaged. The average temperatures will be 29°C and mostly sunny, with a few showers that won’t last all day. Storms blow in from the west and south coast bringing cloudy days with intermittent sunshine. The rain is often heavy but brief. Sea conditions can be very poor this time of year so be sure to check conditions, swells, and tides before jumping in. Look for red flags at hotels or at beach entrances as this indicates you should not swim.
Temperatures remain high in and around Kandy (avg temp: 32 °C) with light rainfall and less than in the south. The Tea Country towards Ella will also see minimal rainfall and pleasant temperatures that hover in the mid-20°C's. On the east coast towards Trincomalee and Arugam Bay, expect good beach day and mostly sunny days.
Sri Lanka Weather in June
The western and southern coastal beach areas of Sri Lanka like Mirissa and Unawatuna, as well as south highlands in Ella, are still in summer monsoon in June. Temperatures across Sri Lanka are 27-28°C on average, but it will still be cooler up in the hills and mountain regions.
A tick up in rainfall compared to May so you can expect some wet adventure days. In the south and west, you can usually plan for these showers in the afternoon. The storms are still usually short and brief so you can expect sunshine, too! Places like the surf town of Arugam Bay in the southeast should have sunny days and good surf.
Sri Lanka Weather in July
Things are looking up, or at least sunnier, come July. Expect weather conditions in the south and west of Sri Lanka to improve as the summer monsoon eases off. Temperatures for Sri Lanka as a whole hover around an average of 30°C. Short, sharp showers should still be expected. You can find cheaper hotel prices across the country – good if on a budget.
The north and east coast will see lots of sunshine, with temperatures in the low- to mid-30s. Towards the Kandy region, it will be warmer than the coast, and the hills around Ella will be a little cooler - most notably in the evenings.
Sri Lanka Weather in August
August sees a significant dip in rainfall compared with both July and September. This is a brief reprieve from the next monsoon season to come. Temperatures remain high on the coast with average temps around 28-29°C on the island as a whole. The hill regions in Ella and Kandy will be cool at night.
There will usually be good weather in the north towards Jaffa and along the east coast. That means you can go basically anywhere in Sri Lanka with acceptable beach weather. Though again, the sea conditions can be rough so make sure to check before going for a swim in the sea in August.
In higher elevated places like Ella or Kandy, the temperatures are 32°C with little to no rainfall. August is basically sandwiched in between two monsoon seasons and you can expect a good chance of nice weather conditions.
Sri Lanka Weather in September
September is a mixed bag. Early on you can expect agreeable weather, sticky humidity, and average temperatures in the high-20’s. By the end of the month, heavy rain with high winds begins. The best place for clear skies will be the east coast. Although towards the end of September rainfall is expected to increase along the east.
West Coast and through the middle of the country in Kandy, Sirigiya, and Ella, think high winds and intense rain that rips through coastal areas. Swimming in the sea, most notably on the south and west coast, can be dangerous due to rough conditions. You can expect fewer visitors than in other months.
Sri Lanka Weather in October
The monsoon seasons have handed off from one to the other. The northeast monsoon begins as the southwest monsoon starts to fade. Safe to expect some rainfall at any time and at any place in the country in October. Average temperatures in the southwest hover around 28°C and slightly rise to 30°C elsewhere.
All in all, October is one of the wettest, most humid months of the year in Sri Lanka. Many shops and restaurants will close this time of year due to a lack of customers. Beaches can be quiet but some people prefer that! Swimming is still not recommended but you can check with hotel or beach flags for updates on conditions.
Sri Lanka Weather in November
Another wet month… but only to start!The nice weather shifts from the north and east coasts to the south and west. Tea lands and mountain regions near Ella and Kandy will be rainy to start the month and clear skies by the end. Average temperatures will be 27-28°C in these areas. Beaches in Mirissa, Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa should see plenty of sunshine by this point as well. Average temps here will be 29-30°C.
Towards the north and east in places like Jaffa and Trincomalee, the temperature drops slightly and rainfall is higher with average temps of 27°C). Expect unpredictable conditions but if you hit it right, there could be a lot of nice backpacking weather come month’s end.
Sri Lanka Weather in December
December is a top time of year to visit Sri Lanka's western and southern coasts - as well as stunning Sirigiya and the capital of Colombo! This is peak beach conditions at the stunning beaches hugging the south and southwest of the island. Sunny, dry days can be expected here. Temperatures will hover around 28-29°C.
There will be an uptick in tourist numbers and larger crowds but that is to be expected with the weather behaving so nicely. In contrast, the north and east experience high amounts of rainfall at this time of year as the north-east monsoon blows.
Least Favourable Time For A Visit
This is a fair question to ask. If there is one time of year when the weather is most unpredictable that is in October to early November – during the inter-monsoonal period. Though, the amount of rainfall will be in opposite relation to the number of tourists.
If you like no crowds, lower prices, and green bursting from nature, this is a time to consider a trip to Sri Lanka. Just expect the weather to be disagreeable or at the very least unpredictable.
The ‘Teardrop of India’ may look relatively small on a map but this island is just about the same size as Ireland and with more diverse topography. The five towering mountain ranges that straddle Sri Lanka and add to the quick-changing weather patterns from one region to the next with the two distinct monsoon seasons. These varying weather patterns mean there is always a nice place to explore in Sri Lanka!