The beautiful island of Sri Lanka offers an incredibly diverse range of experiences, with varied landscapes, pristine beaches, an astonishing variety of bird and animal wildlife, and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Kandy is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Visitors can observe the ancient traditions and ceremonies at its Temple of the Tooth throughout the year, or catch the frenetic 10-day Kandy Esala Perahera festival in August. Other attractions include The Royal Botanic Gardens, while the heart of Sri Lanka’s scenic Tea Country is just a two hour drive or train ride away.
The Cultural Triangle contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the cave temple of Dambulla, the ancient capitals of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, the rock fortress of Sirigirya, and Kandy itself.
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with many restaurants and designer shops, though much evidence remains of its Dutch and British colonial past.
The South West Coast between Colombo and Galle offers range of attractions including the glorious golden sands and water sports of Bentota, the bustling Monday market at Aluthgama, with the Galapota Temple just inland, and the surfer’s paradise of Hikkaduwa.
Galle is best known for its Dutch-built Fort and Old Town, but is also a bustling centre for trade with one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Koggala Lake nearby is surrounded by a working tea estate, and the walking trails of the Kottawa Conservation Forest and Uduwalawe National Park, with its herds of elephants and sambar deer, are also within reach.
The sleepy fishing port of Tangalle in the south is a place to laze on the white sand beach, swim in the blue waters and wander into the old town where the Dutch Colonial influence is still evident. The amazing rock temples of Mulkirigala are nearby.
On the East Coast, the historic old town of Trincomalee is one of the main centres of Tamil-speaking culture on the island and is also of importance to Hindus, with one of the five historical temples dedicated to Shiva. Pigeon Island National Park off the coast is perfect for snorkelling. The golden beaches and clear waters continue south through Passekudah to the quiet town of Batticaloa, inland from which is the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
Negombo is a small town north of Colombo with a long canal network, colonial remains including the Dutch Fort and many centuries-old Dutch and Portuguese houses and churches. There is a colourful daily fish auction at Llelama and the protected marshland area of Muthurajawela is home to over 190 species of wildlife.
Yala National Park contains terrain quite different from the rest of Sri Lanka and is reminiscent of the African bush with scrub parkland making it ideal for spotting elephant, deer, wild boar, sloth bear and many other smaller animals. It has allegedly the highest concentration of leopard in the world. There are also some areas of jungle, freshwater lakes and beach which give rise to a large variety of birdlife with over 130 species having been sighted.
The best time to travel to Sri Lanka largely depends on which part of the country you plan to visit and the experiences you seek. Let’s explore the weather in different parts of Sri Lanka and the ideal time to travel to each region:
West and South Coast (Colombo, Galle, Bentota):
Best Time to Travel: November to April
Weather: The west and south coast of Sri Lanka experience a tropical climate with two distinct monsoon seasons. The dry season (November to April) brings sunny days and minimal rainfall, making it the best time to visit. This period is ideal for beach activities, water sports, and exploring cultural attractions. The wet season (May to October) brings more rainfall and occasional storms, making beach activities less favourable.
East Coast (Trincomalee, Arugam Bay):
Best Time to Travel: May to September
Weather: The east coast of Sri Lanka experiences a different monsoon pattern compared to the west and south. The dry season (May to September) offers sunny and dry weather, making it the best time to visit. This period is ideal for beach lovers and water enthusiasts, with excellent conditions for surfing in places like Arugam Bay. The wet season (October to April) brings heavy rainfall and is less suitable for beach activities.
Hill Country (Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Kandy):
Best Time to Travel: December to March
Weather: The hill country of Sri Lanka experiences a cooler climate due to its higher elevations. The dry season (December to March) offers pleasant weather and is the best time to visit. This period is ideal for exploring tea plantations, enjoying scenic train rides, and trekking. The wet season (April to November) brings frequent rainfall and can result in cooler temperatures, so it’s best to avoid this period for outdoor activities.
Cultural Triangle (Sigiriya, Dambulla, Anuradhapura):
Best Time to Travel: November to April
Weather: The cultural triangle in Sri Lanka experiences a dry and hot climate. The dry season (November to April) is the best time to visit, offering comfortable temperatures for exploring ancient ruins and historical sites. The wet season (May to October) brings occasional rainfall, but it can still be a good time to visit with lush green landscapes and fewer crowds.
In conclusion, the best time to travel to Sri Lanka depends on the region you plan to visit and the experiences you seek. For most parts of the country, the dry season from November to April offers the most pleasant weather and is ideal for beach activities, outdoor adventures, and exploring cultural attractions. However, specific regions, like the east coast, are best visited during the dry season from May to September, while the hill country is most enjoyable during the dry season from December to March. Before planning your trip to Sri Lanka, it’s essential to consider the weather conditions in the specific areas you intend to visit and plan accordingly to make the most of your journey.