Sri Lanka Weather and Climate

Geographical location

Sri Lanka (former name: Ceylon) is an island and an independent republic in the Indian Ocean since 1948. The Asian state was first conquered by Portugal in the coastal areas (1518) and soon after fell to the Netherlands.

With the change into the 19th century, the English influence grew and from 1803 Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was a British crown colony. Many thousands of years ago Sri Lanka was still part of the Indian land mass, today the island is separated from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu by the Gulf of Mannar and the narrow Palk Strait. The “soul of Sri Lanka” is the name given to the central highlands with a pronounced mountain plateau on which the tea-growing areas are located. The highest point in Sri Lanka is Mount Pedro (Pidurutalagala) with 2,524 meters.

The other areas of the country are the coasts with palm-fringed beaches and the tropical lowlands. Sri Lanka has around 22 million inhabitants and, strictly speaking, two capitals: the seat of government and thus the legal capital is Sri Jayewardenepura, but the actual capital is Colombo on the west coast. The most popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka include Kandy, Jaffna, Galle, Hikkaduwa and Tissa with the neighboring Yala National Park. The starting point for almost all trips to Sri Lanka is Colombo Airport (Bandaranaike International Airport) in Katunayaka, about 35 kilometers north of Colombo.

Climate in Sri Lanka

Basically, Sri Lanka is dominated by two different winds (monsoons), the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. These monsoons also have very different effects in the various island regions, so that there are suitable travel destinations in Sri Lanka at any time of the year. In the south and on the west coast of the country, most of the rain falls from May to October, although the months of July and August remain comparatively friendly. Even in the monsoon season the sun shows up regularly, there are usually short and very strong showers once or twice a day.

Bathing is not possible during this travel time (not least due to thunderstorms) in the west and south of Sri Lanka, while the east coast is ideal. In the period of the northeast monsoon, the tables turn: From November to the end of January, the east of Sri Lanka is hit by sometimes heavy rainy periods, while dry and sunny weather is now common in the popular seaside resorts on the south and west coast. The northernmost part of the island is very dry and is only hit by rains in November and December.

When to go to Sri Lanka

Based on the rainy season in Sri Lanka and the different monsoons impairments, we give you the following travel recommendation: For the central highlands and a beach holiday on the southwest coast, mid-December to the end of March are the absolute best travel time in Sri Lanka. The optimal travel time for a beach holiday in the northeast is, however, from the beginning of March to the end of August. The daytime temperatures on the coast rarely drop below 30 degrees, in combination with the very high humidity, Europeans find the hot phases in particular to be quite uncomfortable.

We therefore strongly recommend our readers a tour of Sri Lanka in order not only to experience as much of the scenic and cultural diversity as possible, but also to enjoy the much cooler climate in the central highlands as a welcome change. Hurricanes (so-called cyclones in Sri Lanka) are rare, but quite violent natural phenomena. They occur mainly between September and December and in May, the north coast and northeast coast are more frequently affected than the south of the island and the west coast.

In the past 15 years, seven cyclones have been recorded in Sri Lanka. This is by no means a reason to steer clear of Sri Lanka, because there are cyclones all over the tropics and even the USA are hit by hurricanes much more frequently. However, it should be important to you to compare your desired travel time with our information and climate tables. Many a bargain offer lies in the worst possible travel time and with this assistance we would like to prevent your Sri Lanka vacation from falling into the water not only symbolically.

Optimal travel time for the regions

In the following overview you can see the best travel time depending on the region (Sri Lanka).

Place Best travel time
Colombo January, February, March and December
Central highlands January, February, March, April and December
Northeast coast April, May, June, July and August

Temperatures, precipitation, sunshine in Colombo (Sri Lanka)

Jan Feb March Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daytime temperature 31 ° C 31 ° C 32 ° C 32 ° C 31 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C 30 ° C
Night temperature 22 ° C 23 ° C 24 ° C 25 ° C 26 ° C 26 ° C 25 ° C 25 ° C 25 ° C 24 ° C 23 ° C 23 ° C
Water temperature 27 ° C 27 ° C 28 ° C 28 ° C 29 ° C 29 ° C 28 ° C 27 ° C 27 ° C 28 ° C 27 ° C 27 ° C
Precipitation in mm 62 69 130 253 382 186 125 114 236 369 310 168
Hours of sunshine 8 9 9 8 7 7 7 7 6 7 7 7
Sunrise 6:25 6:25 6:15 6:00 5:55 5:55 6:00 6:05 6:00 5:55 6:00 6:15
Sunset 18:15 18:20 18:20 18:20 18:20 18:25 18:30 18:25 18:10 17:55 17:50 17:55

Temperatures

The annual average temperature in Colombo is 27.4 ° C. For comparison: Munich reaches an average of 8.6 ° C, in Berlin it is 9.6 ° C. The warmest month is May (28.3 ° C), coldest month of January with mean values of 26.6 ° C. The maximum water temperature in Colombo is 29 ° C. Comfortable bathing is possible at these temperatures. All months have a water temperature of at least 21 ° C and are therefore suitable for a beach holiday.

Precipitation

The annual precipitation is 2404 mm. For comparison: In Munich, 967 mm, in Berlin 570 mm, precipitation is measured annually. The months of April, May, June, September, October and November are considered the rainy season, as more than 175 mm of precipitation can be expected per month. Overall, about 1736 mm of precipitation can be expected in the rainy season. You cannot expect snow in any month in Colombo.

Sunshine

As our climate table shows, March is the sunniest month with an average of 8.9 hours of sunshine per day. On average over the year, the sun shines 7.2 hours per day. For comparison: In Munich and Berlin, the sun shines an average of 4.7 hours per day throughout the year.

Cities nearby

The following larger towns are nearby and have a similar climate: Homagama, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Ja-Ela, Gampaha, Moratuwa, Negombo, Pita Kotte and Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.

Sri Lanka Weather and Climate
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