As a tropical Island right on the equator, Sri Lanka is known as a genuine year-round destination.
But that doesn’t really mean you should travel to Sri Lanka on a whim too. Because Sri Lanka also has its fair share of upsetting weather and seasonal attractions so if you’re looking for a helpful primer on when best to visit Sri Lanka and what things to do in Sri Lanka based on the season, you’ve come to the right place.
Sri Lanka is a dual weather Island meaning that pretty much all of Sri Lanka’s weather patterns are dependent on two big monsoons that sweep through Sri Lanka each year.
But don’t worry, because the two monsoons blow past in opposite directions, and never overlap, you can be sure of fair weather on either side of the Island at any given time.
Once you understand the two big monsoons, you’re pretty much done with figuring out Sri Lanka’s tropical weather.
The Southwest monsoon brings rain to the west and southwest coast and the central Hill country from April or May to September, but is generally wettest from April to June. Thus, in the west and southwest coasts, the dry season runs from December to March.
The other monsoon, the Northeast monsoon brings wind and rain to the eastern and northeastern coastal regions, with rain showers also in the central Hill country, from November to March, with the wettest months being November and December. The dry season, thus, in this region is from May to September.
There is also an inter-monsoonal period, right before the Northeast monsoon hits, where rain and thunderstorms can hit anywhere across the island but it usually clears up in the second half of November.
It’s a trick question, really, because the answer depends on where you want to go, where you’re staying and what things you want to do in Sri Lanka.
Because the monsoon seasons alternate, with half the Island in a wet season and the other half enjoying a dry season at any given time of the year, when you should visit Sri Lanka really truly depends on your itinerary.
So how do you decide?
Here’s a quick guide:
Visiting Sri Lanka for the European Winter (December – February)
December to February is smack dab in the middle of the Northeast monsoon so if you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka around these months for your winter, you should make a beeline for the western and southwest coastal regions.
Colombo is a great place to serve as the hub for your trip and once you decide on where to stay in Colombo, destination beaches in the western coast such as Bentota, Kalpitiya and Hikkaduwa are a short train journey away.
In the south western coasts, fair weather is pretty much the order of the day too and beaches such as Mirissa, Tangalle and Weligama are all pretty popular at this time. Make sure to hit Galle, in the south, for a historical escape and you can even make it to Yala National Park, one of Sri Lanka’s largest nature reserves teeming with leopards and elephants for your viewing pleasure.
Visiting Sri Lanka for the European Summer (June – August)
Since the Southwest monsoon is in full swing by the time your summer rolls around, this is the perfect time to hit the north, north eastern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka.
The Jaffna peninsula and Jaffna city is an excellent outdoor location during these times, with its bustling and colorful atmosphere. So are the east coast beaches, namely, Passikudah, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Nilaveli and Arugam Bay, the latter being famous for its world class surfing waves.
This is also a great time to visit Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, home to five of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO world heritage sites. Because this region is in the ‘dry zone’ only December and November bring rain here and it is quite arid and dry the remainder of the year. This is also quite close to Minneriya National Park where you can watch the annual elephant migration.
Since both monsoons influence the weather in the Central region, there’s not a dedicated dry season here but the high altitude and the surrounding hills mean that the climate in the Hill country is quite balmy and mild most days.
Kandy, the Hill country’s cultural capital, enjoys lower rainfall than elsewhere and the December-May period also marks the pilgrimage season for Adam’s Peak, a must-do for any trekker and hiker.
The city of Kalutara is located on the coastal strip of the Western Province of the beautiful island, Sri Lanka. This city is quite popular among the tourists as it is home to some of the best beach hotels in the island. Kalutara hotels are surrounded by many cultural and historic landmarks and offer you a luxurious and comfortable stay at the beach with a breathtaking view. However, it is quite rare that the complete beauty of this city and its surroundings are explored by tourists. We understand that planning a trip can be exciting but also quite daunting. As a tourist, you want to experience as much as you can while enjoying and relaxing on your vacation. Finding the perfect balance can be quite stressful. But don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of places that would be ideal for you to explore on your vacation. These places are generally overlooked, which means that it wouldn’t include the general tourist rush, providing you with an opportunity to blissfully relax and enjoy nature.
This beach is on a spit of land off the coast of Kalutara extending between the sea and the estuary of Kalu River. It is not as popular as the other tourist spots and therefore it’s relatively unspoiled as well. This golden beach will give you the opportunity to see the local fishermen at work while children run around the shore either playing volleyball or flying kites. While you are in the area, if you are interested in seeing colonial architecture make sure to check out the giant Kalutara Bridge and the remnants of the fort.
This lighthouse is located on Barberyn Island off Bentota which is around 20 minutes away from Kalutara. This 8 acre tropical island has hosted this 100 foot tall lighthouse for over a century and today it’s one of the only four international lighthouses in Sri Lanka. One of the friendly lighthouse keepers is always willing to talk about the history of the lighthouse and explain how it’s operated. Additionally, this beautiful island is one worth exploring with tall palm trees and the bright blue sea. This picturesque island is ideal for a relaxing walk or even a picnic.
Ventura beach, also known as Bentota beach, is the ideal spot for all those who are looking for an adrenaline rush on vacation. The best months to catch calm waves that are safe for a swim are on October to April allowing anybody to engage in water sports such as snorkeling, scuba-diving, wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and much more. This breathtakingly beautiful beach is also lined with hotels and restaurants that are known for their delicious seafood and international cuisines.
The Dedduwa lake is near the Western Coast of the island of Sri Lanka and is surrounded by beautiful Gardens known as Lunuganga which is world renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa’s country estate. Surrounded by rubber and plantations, the lake is located in a beautiful spot with a mesmerizing view of the hills in the distant. You can either sit back and relax in this peaceful and serene destination or take long walks or a guided tour around the area to learn about the rich history of this place.
If you are looking for a break from the popular areas and from sport and tourist activities, this lake is ideal for you. There are quite a few restaurants on the shore of the lake allowing guests to enjoy a great meal while enjoying the gorgeous view of the lake. This spot is away from the main town making it possible for tourists to even fish or sight birds in the area. It’s the ideal getaway location.
This wide almost white sand beach is located just 15km away from Kalutara and is perfect for those who are looking for a secluded beach spot. Sandwiched between the crowded Bentota beach and Beruwala beach, Moragalla beach although beautiful is usually unnoticed. The sea around Moragalla is quite shallow because of the underwater coral reef that lies close to the coastline. Moragalla beach is the ideal spot for a lazy dip in the ocean or a relaxing stroll around the beach collecting seashells that will later remind you of this idyllic beach.
Like a visit to south Asia is incomplete without a visit to scenic and serene Sri Lanka, a visit to our beautiful island paradise is incomplete without visiting Kalutara, a happening and commercial town situated 43km from the island’s capital. If you’re traveling straight to Kalutara from the airport, we suggest either taking a train or hiring a private vehicle, as the journey will take you roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes; depending on traffic.
Like most parts of the island, Kalutara has it’s own few landmarks and tourist attractions that make the area standout with the tourists. You could either stay at accommodations in Kalutara town itself, or opt for the more famous beach side Waskaduwa hotels near Kalutara. Regardless to where you stay, here are a few places you shouldn’t miss when visiting Kalutara.
The Kalutara Bodhiya is one of the most famous temples of the island, drawing thousands of islanders to it every year. The large temple is located in the southern part of the town, and is known by any local driver. It is a serene place ideal for centering and bringing balance to one’s mind; and a good start for any journey. Worshippers and those who visit the temple are advised to wear clothing that cover their knees and shoulders, and behave in a quiet and calm manner.
If you’re one of adventure, and love visiting old caves, then the history of this cave alone will make this trip worth your while. Fondly known as “pahiyangala” by the locals, this cave gets its name due to an ancient Chinese monk who’s said to have used the cave as his rest stop, centuries ago. This cave is also archeologically rich, and is the largest cave in the island. Additionally, it’s also one of the largest found natural rock formation found in Asia. A trip to this cave is known to be quite adventurous, so wearing sensible shoes and leaving behind young children is advisable.
Sri Lanka is an island that houses people of many religions; Christianity a prominent religion among them. The Holy cross church situated in the Galle road is a serene and beautiful building, and attracts many visitors to it¾irrespective of their religion. This popular church is not only beguiling from within; it also has spectacular views as it stands on an elevated area facing the ocean¾making it very popular for weddings nowadays. Merely a kilometer from town, you can easily access this church by road.
Sri Lanka is known for its beautiful carvings and batik creations; from traditional wooden facemasks to the contemporary wearable batiks. A visit to Sri Lanka can be made more memorable by purchasing items made by local artists, giving yourself a tangible token to remind yourself of your time in our paradise island. However, if you’re travelling light and are unable to purchase these items at the moment, do the next best thing, by visiting a craft museum to have a closer look at these items. Ranjith’s carving and batik museum is one such famous museum in the Kalutara district, where you’d be able to witness some of the finest creations of the island.
Just like the Kalutara Bodhiya, the Asokaramaya temple is another prominent temple situated in Kalutara; though less crowded by the tourists. This temple is situated in the northern part of the town, and boasts of colorful statues and paintings that will surely mesmerize you. Though it has been expanded considerably since it’s original construction, the temple is still considered to be smaller by local standards, and makes the perfect spot for a quick visit.
You cannot visit Sri Lanka and avoid the waterfalls; you’ll be missing out on so much! Start your waterfall adventure right here at Kalutara by visiting the areas famed Thudugala Ella. The waterfall is not one of the largest or widest found on the island, but is certainly charming. For the best experience, try to visit the falls in the early hours of the day, when it’s less populated. Don’t forget to try to get to the top of the waterfall, where you’ll find a shallow pool perfect for a dip…!
If you’re looking for a truly serene experience, and you feel visiting the popular temples may not be the right thing for you, we suggest you visit the Bodhinagala Forest hermitage. Located in Ingiriya, just 37km from Kalutara town, you can easily get there via hired vehicles. A serene surrounding as well as fresh air is promised to you here, provided you remember this is a sacred area, and behave respectfully…
In today’s world, where we hardly take time for ourselves, relationships are hard to maintain. This is largely due to the fact that we simply don’t put enough effort into our relationships, allowing them to wither away. In our opinion, a romantic getaway is a must for not only new couples, but also those who are seeking to keep their relationship always fresh. Spending time away from everyone who knows you and every form of distractions gives you the opportunity to understand and appreciate each other in a deeper level. We also love the idea of pre-wedding getaways, and believe beaches are the best for these kind of vacations. If you’re considering Sri Lanka for your romantic getaway, we must say you’ve made the perfect choice!
Spoilt with breathtaking beaches and some of the prettiest sunrises and sunsets you’ll see on this part of the world, creating a romantic atmosphere in this pretty tropical island is no major feat. Here are a few suggestions of the prettiest and most romantic beaches and beach destination of Sri Lanka; so that you too will agree that this is the perfect island for a romantic getaway.
Located 65km away from the capital city, Bentota is a coastal town in the Southern province of the island. You can easily travel to Bentota via a train or bus journey. At Bentota, apart from the sunbathing and having romantic meals by the sea, there are plenty of other attractions to keep your getaway lively and romantic. One of the most romantic attractions would be a diving adventure, as Bentota is a popular diving spot of the island. If you’ve never done it before, you could easily enroll in a diving school in the area; learning something together will only strengthen your bond with each other. Apart from diving, you could also try other water sports to keep you occupied at the beach. If you don’t want your getaway to be only about the sand and the sea, take the time to explore the Kosgoda turtle conservation, visit the Brief garden or partake in the Madu river safari.
Situated 40km from Colombo, Kalutara is a major city in the Western province of Sri Lanka. Once again, you can take a train or bus ride to get there from the capital, or choose to opt for a romantic and long car ride. If you choose a car ride, make sure it’s not during the busy hours of the day to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Due to its fame, there are plenty of options when it comes to Kalutara hotels; to suit any budget. Apart from the romantic sunsets and pretty beaches, Kalutara is also famous for the Pahiyangala Cave; the largest cave of the island. The cave houses a 40-foot-long reclining Buddha statue. Myths around the area suggest the renown monk Faxian once used to occupy the cave; giving it another name¾The Fa Hian cave. If you’re interested in waterfall hunting, and are up for a romantic adventure, consider taking a small detour to Thudugala Ella. This waterfall may not be very large, but is very charming. The easy trek to the falls will certainly interest the adventurous side in you, while still being easy to manage for the inexperienced. For a truly romantic time, climb further up; until you find the secluded pool that will serve to be your own private bath. To best enjoy the waterfall, aim to arrive at the falls early, before the locals and other tourists arrive.
Whether or not you’ve heard of the other beaches we’ve mentioned here, if you have done even the slightest research on Sri Lanka, you are sure to have come across pictures and information on Mirissa. Located 150km from Colombo, and in the South coast of the island, Mirissa is one of the most famous coastal towns of the island. A relatively small town, it has quite a few romantic beaches for you to choose from. Catching the sunset from parrot rock or coconut tree hill will be an unforgettable experience to the two of you. However, this little town is so popular with the tourists due to its Instagram-feed-friendliness; from murals on the walls, to breath taking views, this town has it all! Alternative to spending your entire getaway at the beach, you could also surf and go on a whale and dolphin watching trip. Remember that there’s a season for watching these large aquatic mammals; so plan your trip accordingly. Most of the town closes down by 10 pm, but will be up with the sun. This ensures time alone for couples, as there’s nothing much to do except snuggle in your comfortable hotel rooms.
With its location 195km from Colombo, Tangalle is a hustling and bustling town in the Southern province of Sri Lanka. This town has historical importance to the locals, as it was town used as anchorage by both British and Dutch invaders. Nowadays, Tangalle is famous for its long stretches of sandy beaches, its numerous hotels and the fantastic and fresh seafood available in the area. If natural oddities interest you, Sri Lanka’s one and only natural “blow hole” is just a short distance from the town. The sound from the blow hole can be heard to quite a distance, so you’ll not have a hard time finding it! Tangalle is also a diving spot for the island, and here too you will be able to find schools and instructors with ease. Other attractions of the area include visiting the Kalametiya Bird sanctuary, Turtle watch Rakawa, and for a religious experience, the Mulkirigala Rock Monastery. The sea is also suitable for surfing, for both the experienced, or those wanting to learn.
The beaches of Tricomalee has received much love from locals and tourists alike for decades now. With a culture so vastly different from most of the island, this major resort port city is located 237km from Colombo, in the Eastern province of the island. Fondly known as “Trinco” by the locals, this city has some of the island’s most famous beaches, and also proudly boasts of having one of the finest natural deep water harbors in the world. The perfect location to catch some of the island’s prettiest sunrises, Trinco is best travelled to via a train ride or bus ride. We advice against travelling by road, as the journey is simply too long and tedious. Once again, due to its popularity, you will have a variety of hotel options to choose from; with and without the sea view. Apart from the romantic beaches, Trinco is also famous for its historically important and religious sites. If you’re familiar with the Indian epic, The Ramayana, you will be intrigued to know that the area is believed to have a connection to the epic. Apart from sight seeing and stealing romantic moments at the beach, at Trinco, you are also able to snorkel, due to the clearness of the water. Most parts of the sea around Trinco is relatively shallow, and is safe even for the most inexperienced swimmer.
Canoeing in River Kalu Ganga
A fun and unique way to absorb the culture of Sri Lanka is by canoeing down the Kalu Ganga, as those cruising down the river get to see every day Sri Lankan life as well as the beauty of nature and the spiritual core of the country. Even absolute beginners or amateurs can take this route, as places that offer this will have a short tutorial before the trip begins. Experienced ones can choose a half day trip or even have a trip that lasts for days, camping out between river runs. An excursion down Kalu Ganga is part of the trend of eco-tourism, enabling tourists to see the most intriguing parts of Sri Lankan nature. If you’re staying in one of the Kalutara hotels situated by the river then this is the perfect way to see your surroundings. The river itself is quite safe to traverse, and floating down past the banks of the river on a sunny morning is a delightful experience that is both adventurous and relaxing.
Explore Fa Hien caves
The Fa Hien caves, also known as Pahiyangala, are absolutely fascinating, and an intriguing way to spend a day exploring. They are named after a monk who is believed to have stayed here for a while as he journeyed through the country. That is not the only thing that makes the caves historically significant, however, as the remains of several ancient humans were found in these caves, dating to possibly the Mesolithic period – thousands of years ago! The trek to the caves isn’t too difficult, and is a rewarding one as it combines a great view with the interest of the caves themselves. You can walk through the system, and look around the architectural digs. Take care, because there are stones with sharp edges.
Bodhinagala Forest Reserve
This is a hermitage in Dombagaskanda that is right on the banks of the Kalu Ganga near the Dombagaskanda hill. The shade of the trees that reach to the skies in this wet zone rain forest reserve makes for a serene, calm, and meditative atmosphere which explains the location of the hermitage. Trekking to the hermitage is a nice, quiet adventure that will lead you to where monks have been ruminating since the 1950s. The reserve is also lovely to visit whether you’re staying in Kalutara or Colombo, as it is an easy drive to it. As you walk through the grove, you may want to imagine what it was like when the entire forest was wild and pristine, before human intervention. You might witness a number of birds, butterflies and other wildlife, and watch out for leeches! Take plenty of pre-emptive measures where they are concerned, and have some salt on you to remove them if you one does find itself attached to you. The reserve is a haven for bird enthusiasts, so take your binoculars if you can.
An ingenious and surprisingly recent form of catching fish, Stilt Fishing was born from the idea of fisherman who wanted to fish in the water without the use of their boats, hoping to catch fish in shallow waters with relative ease. However after the Tsunami, Stilt fishing has not been as viable as it once was. As a technique, however, it is still a fascinating one, and you can try it for yourself! Picturesque and unique, Stilt fishing requires an incredible amount of balance on the part of the fisherman. It consists of a skeletal structure, a pole embedded into the sea with a bar attached that becomes the seat. The fisherman is thus positioned above the water, so that the fish are not aware of his presence. Using a rod, the fisherman then endeavours to catch small fish, collecting them in a bag that will be attached to their waist or to the pole itself.
Wind surfing is picking up speed in the country, and anyone can try it, whether total beginners or experienced surfers. There are beaches that lend themselves to those trying it out for the first time as well as those who want to challenge themselves. An adrenaline filled activity, windsurfing is the perfect way to spend a day at the beach! November to April is the best time to do it, and you can always hire boards and even trainers if you feel the need, and spend your day riding the waves.