With its generally warm climate, daily balance of sun and showers, and variety of attractions of both the cultural and experiential variety, Sri Lanka is a country without strict high and low seasons.
Need more reasons to book your trip? If you do, you’re in luck: We’ve got 12 good reasons to visit Sri Lanka, one for each month of the year. Read on to find inspiration and practical tips on why you ought to be travelling to Sri Lanka this year.
1. January: Take part in the Adam’s Peak pilgrimage
Located in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Adam’s Peak, also known at Sri Pada, is a sacred mountain, World Heritage site and popular destination for both tourists and pilgrims of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian faiths. A “footprint” in the rock atop the mountain is claimed to be that of Buddha, Adam or St Thomas depending on who you ask, but the views from the top of Sri Lanka’s fourth highest peak are enough reason for a visit. The hike to the summit can take 5 hours or more, and the path is a particularly busy place to be during the pilgrimage season from December to April. Pay a visit in January to walk with devotees on a day or night ascension, the latter of which rewards climbers with a view of the sunrise on the eastern side of the peak and the mountain’s massive shadow cast over the landscape to the west.
2. February: Visit the high country in peak tea harvest season
February brings the start of the dry season in the southern central hill regions of Sri Lanka, making it the ideal time to visit famous tea-growing districts like Nuwara Eliya. Located in the Central Province, the Nuwara Eliya district is centred around a city of the same name. Take a scenic train ride from Colombo to get your first glimpse of the landscape, then take a tuk-tuk from town out into countryside — following the curving roads that cut back around the terraced, tea-covered hills — to pay a visit to one of the many tea producers in the region. Mackwood’s Fine Tea is one of the most well known. Learn about how tea is grown, picked, harvested, and exported with a tour of their facilities and visit to their museum, and close out your trip with a slice of cake and authentic cuppa in their tea room. On your way back to town, stop at one of the many fruit and vegetable stands along the side of the road to grab a healthy snack or some groceries from the piles of colourful local produce.
3. March: Take a dive with blue whales and sea turtles
They say travel can make you feel small, but for a guaranteed way to grasp just how tiny a space you occupy in the world, try taking a dip in the ocean next to a blue whale. The best time of year to share the seas with the world’s largest mammal is from February to April, and a visit to Sri Lanka in March not only puts you in the middle of that season, but is also considered to be among the best times of year to visit the country, period. This month sees the best weather across the whole of the island nation, which is known for variable weather that differs significantly from region to region for such a small country.
4. April: Get festive during Tamil and Sinhala New Year holidays
If your January New Year’s resolutions could do with a mid-year reset, plan an April trip to Sri Lanka to celebrate both the Sinhala and Tamil New Years. Avurudu for Sinhala Buddhists and Puththandu for Tamil Hindus both fall on 14 April, which is totally unique to the country of Sri Lanka. No other nation celebrates this double holiday, which is marked — as any good holiday should be — by ceremonies and community gatherings, complete with colourful decor and traditional foods.
5. May: Catch the best flight prices of the year
If Sri Lanka is already on your list for any of the reasons detailed here but cost is your determining factor, May is your month. The median price for flights from the UK to Sri Lanka in May is lower than than the rest of the year, about￡389 roundtrip.
6. June: Soak up the sun on the east coast
Because Sri Lanka has two separate monsoon seasons in two different areas of the country at different times of the year rather than one monsoon covering the whole country at one time, there’s sun to be found at any time of year. Sri Lanka’s best-known beaches might be the ones on the southern and western coasts, but the lesser-known beaches on the eastern coast are also worth a trip, particularly in June. Unlike the southwestern beaches, which are impacted by monsoon season in June and tourists the rest of the year, the east coast beaches are largely untouched and offer a more off-the-beaten-path experience.
7. July: Celebrate Esala Perahera Festival in Kandy
The city of Kandy in south central Sri Lanka is a popular destination for both tourists and locals as it’s home to the country’s most celebrated Buddhist Temple, Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. The temple is so named because it houses the Sacred Tooth Relic, which Sri Lankan legend claims is the tooth of Buddha. Each year for 10 days in July or August, Kandy goes into full party mode to celebrate Esala Perahara, the Festival of the Sacred Tooth. The festival is celebrated with a procession of dancers, drummers, and fire acrobats, all lead by a costumed Sri Lankan tusker elephant carrying a mold of the Sacred Tooth relic. The temple itself is also decked out in lights and ornaments for the festival, making the whole attraction all the more picturesque.
8. August: View the leopards at Yala National Park
If big cats are your thing, August is the month for you, as it’s a great time of year to track leopards (and other animals) at Yala National Park, home to one of the highest gatherings of leopards in the world. Located on Sri Lanka’s southeast side, the park is comprised of five districts and offers visitors a total of 13,000 hectares of protected land to explore. In addition to leopards, Yala National Park is home to elephants, sloths, peacocks, and crocodiles.
9. September: See the elephant migrations to Minneriya
Each year during the dry season, herds of elephants by the hundreds come together at the man-made watering hole at Minneriya National Park, the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. Minneriya is located north of Kandy in central Sri Lanka, so dry season in this region runs from May to September, making this an ideal month to catch the migration before the monsoons kick back up and the elephants disperse.
10. October: Have the Cultural Triangle all to yourself
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is comprised of a handful of major points of interest, including the cities of Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa, and attractions like the caves at Dambulla and the “lion rock” fortress Sigiriya. Popular and, at times, crowded, pay a visit to these hot spots in October to avoid the masses that flock more to this region in the dry season. While October is known as a rainier time of year in this part of the country, the unpredictable nature of Sri Lankan weather means that the sun does manage to break through the cloud cover on occasion.
11. November: Explore the cities with fewer crowds
As monsoons gain power in the north, opt for the cities on the southern and western coasts for a Sri Lankan city break. The country’s capital of Colombo has great city staples; we recommend the Colombo National Museum for a taste of culture, Barefoot Gallery & Cafe for a colourful shopping and cafe scene, and Cloud Red for an Instagram-worthy roof-top cocktail. Three hours south of Colombo, the coastal city of Galle is also worth a visit. Known as the home of traditional Sri Lankan stilt fishermen, the influences of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonists are still visible in the city’s architecture and antiques.
12. December: Get the best of Sri Lanka’s southern and western beaches
With the Christmas holidays and generally chilly weather setting in at home, December can be a popular time of year for travel to Sri Lanka, and with good reason. The weather is lovely — warm and dry in the day with mild evenings — and the post-monsoon landscape is lush and green. The best place to soak up the sun is on the beaches of the southern and western coast. Beaches like Unawatuna and Mirissa offer expanses of picturesque white sand and clear blue water and all the relaxation a person could ask for.
If these 12 reasons have you convinced that Sri Lanka is your next go-to holiday, head to www.kayak.co.uk to start looking for flights.
Check out also our honest first-timer’s guide To Sri Lanka.
Note: These rates are based on the most recent data pulled from KAYAK.co.uk, the cheapest prices are always displayed first, regardless of specific dates mentioned. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy, are per night and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available