Updated: Jan 22
Sri Lanka’s weather is tropical and climatically the island is divided into two zones: The dry zone that spreads over the Northern plains, North central plains, Eastern plains and the Northern and Eastern coastal belts. The Wet Zone that encompasses the South Western region and the single mountain mass of the island that is aptly called the Central Highlands.
Sri Lanka’s weather patterns are generally well-defined. However the dramatic global climatic changes do make an impact on Sri Lanka too. So there are times that it can rain unexpectedly or you might experience a heat wave.
The main southwest (“Yala”) monsoon brings rain to the west and southwest coasts and the hill country from April or May to September and is wettest from April to June.
The less severe northeast (“Maha”) monsoon hits the east coast from November to March and is wettest from November to December.
The country’s position close to the Equator means that at least the temperature in Sri Lanka remains fairly constant year-round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26–30°C. During the hottest part of the day, they can often climb up well into the 30°Cs. Temperatures decrease with altitude, reducing to a temperate 18–22°C in Kandy. In Nuwara Eliya and the highest parts of the island, on average it's a pleasantly mild 14–17°C.
The Best Time to Travel
Simply, the best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April and May to September.
1.November to March
The principal tourist season in Sri Lanka is during November to March when it is the dry season for the South Western and Southern coastal areas and the Central Highlands. November through to March are also the months when most foreign tourists visit the island, the majority of them escaping the European winter. During Christmas up to the New Year which is one of the main holiday seasons, accommodation rates in most tourist hotels hit the highest levels all over the island in view of the sharp upsurge of inward traffic of tourists into the island. Advance bookings of hotel rooms during this period are highly recommended.
2. April to September
The secondary tourist season that spans from April to September are the ideal months to tour the ancient cities of the North Central Plains and the Eastern Coast.
3. July to August
July / August is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera, the 10-day festival held in homage to the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, and also the time of the Kataragama Festival in the South. In both towns, accommodation just before, during and immediately after the festivals is very difficult to come by. Rates could shoot up to double or still higher. The tourists who wish to arrive in Sri Lanka during this period are advised to make bookings of hotel rooms well in advance.