Sri Lanka holidays

Sri Lanka is located close to the equator, so temperatures are pretty consistent all year round. It’s easy to spend all day on its palm-fringed beaches. But if you want to experience what else this island country has to offer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with World Heritage Sites, tea trails, safaris and temples, all at your fingertips.

Things to do

Sri Lanka is a bucket-list destination for many, whether you head here to see its jaw-dropping landscapes or immerse yourself in its diverse culture. Its virgin beaches stretch for miles and are perfect for anyone seeking seclusion. But don’t forget to look out for its stilt fishermen - a real highlight on any Sri Lanka holiday.

If you’ve come here to see the wildlife, you’ll be happy to learn that five of the world’s turtle species can be spotted in the surrounding waters. Over in Yala National Park, you’ll come across Asian leopards and elephants. Head here from March to October for the best chance of seeing them. 

After a day of animal-spotting, it’s worth delving into the country’s cultural heritage. Home to eight UNESCO-listed sites, dedicate some time to visiting its must-see landmarks including Ancient City of Sigiriya, whose giant megalithic rock will instantly demand your attention. Dambulla Cave Temple should also top your list of things to do with carvings dating back to the 1st century B.C.E.  

Map of Sri Lanka

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21°C - 34°C

You can visit Sri Lanka all year round thanks to its warm average temperatures. You’re likely to see showers during its wet periods, but this varies from south (May to September) to the east (October to February). However, rain doesn’t tend to stick around and typically only lasts a couple of minutes.

View live forecast

 

10 - 11 hours

Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) is Sri Lanka’s primary airport and is just 32km north of the capital Colombo.

Sri Lanka is best for...

Tea lovers: As the fourth largest producer, Sri Lanka is famous for its tea. Fans of the hot drink will love learning about the industry while visiting its plantations. Mostly found in the highlands, watch leaves being picked while enjoying the view. There are plenty of tea growing areas, but Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Uda Pussellawa are among the main ones.

Wildlife enthusiasts: Whether you want to see elephants roaming in the wild, or you’ve come here to witness native creatures such as sloth bears and sambar deer, Sri Lanka has some fascinating wildlife living in its national parks. And its marine life is just as impressive with a chance to spot the hitherto elusive blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived on the planet. 

Beach lovers: Sri Lanka’s beaches were made for relaxing days by the water. Surrounded by wild scenery, many of these white sand stretches have not succumbed to mass tourism with beach touts nowhere to be seen. Perfect for dips in the Indian Ocean, Beruwala is popular for its shallow reef.

Fast facts for Sri Lanka

Language:The official language in Sri Lanka is Sinhala, Tamil. You’ll also come across a couple of minority languages. English is taught in most schools, but it is worth picking up local phrases to help avoid any miscommunication. 

Currency: The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lanka Rupee.

Local time: Sri Lanka is 5:30 hours ahead of the UK (GMT+5:30). 

Fly to: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) where you’ll find regular buses and taxis ready to transport you to Colombo. The journey will take just over 30 minutes.

Flight time from UK: 10 - 11 hours

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at Sri Lanka’s tourism website.

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Do I need a visa?

Yes, you need a visa in order to enter Sri Lanka. Before you go, you can apply for your short stay tourist visa online at Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This type of visa is usually issued for stays of up to 30 days and you must not overstay your visa.

It’s possible to get a Sri Lanka visa when you arrive, but it’s always best to apply before you go away, otherwise you risk facing delays at the airport.

For all the latest Sri Lanka visa information, please refer to the FCDO’s entry requirements.

Do I need any vaccinations?

Go and see your doctor at least four to six weeks before travelling to Sri Lanka. They can check whether you need any vaccinations and offer advice. For the latest health and safety information, please refer to the FCDO for the latest health advice.

Should I get travel health insurance?

It’s always wise to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you go away. Treatment in private hospitals can be very expensive in Sri Lanka. 
 

 

Sri Lanka safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Sri Lanka, please visit the FCDO website.

Any other tips?

The pace of life is slow and laid-back in Sri Lanka. Locals are used to welcoming visitors from all over the world and, while covering up is appreciated, you can still wear vests and shorts. However, you’ll need to cover up in places of worship or you won’t be allowed to enter.

Always take care of your personal belongings and be aware of pick-pockets. Try to avoid carrying your passport, money and valuables in the same bag.
 

Sri Lanka weather

You’ll be pleased to know that its position close to the equator means Sri Lanka has constant temperatures which average about 26°C, so you can enjoy it all year round. But it’s worth mentioning the two monsoon seasons to help you decide where to visit and when.

It tends to rain more in the west and south from May to September and then from October to February in the east and north. As most resorts are on the south and west coasts, the best time to visit is late November to mid-April. January to March is a fantastic time to travel across the whole of the country, when you’ll be basking in sunshine and the weather is mostly dry. When it does rain it’s usually short and sharp, heavy but over quickly before the sun returns again. Even in monsoon season there’s still lots of sunshine, and the country wouldn’t be so green and lush without the rainfall.

Temperatures fall as you climb into the tea plantations of the hills, which can be a pleasantly mild 15°C. On the coast, the thermometer stays at around 26°C all year round. April is the driest and hottest month of the year, with the thermometer soaring up to 35°C.

The monsoon begins to hit the south and west in May and June and swimming in the sea during this time is not recommended. Look out for red flags on the beaches and instead head to the brighter north and east coasts. The monsoon begins to dry off towards the end of August, while October is the wettest month in Sri Lanka as the second monsoon comes in from the north and east.

The weather in Sri Lanka means that January, February and March are excellent months to visit, with average temperatures of 30°C, plenty of sunshine (up to 12 hours a day) and minimal rainfall. The monsoon is winding down in the eastern national parks like Yala so it’s a great time for wildlife spotting, as animals gather around water holes. Kandy and the central hills of the Tea Country are also at their finest as the weather warms up, taking the edge off chilly mornings and cooler evenings.

April is a popular month too, with the beaches of the south and west enjoying plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-30s. It’s also good news on the east coast, with rainfall dropping off and mostly blue skies. And heading inland, it’s around 25°C and dry in the Cultural Triangle and hill country, making April the ideal month for trekking in the Knuckles Mountains.

Humidity in Sri Lanka ranges between 60 to 90%. Remember to take light layers to stay cool. The sea is lovely and warm all year round, averaging around 28°C which is perfect for splashing in the shallows or snorkelling among the marine life.
 

Best hotels in Sri Lanka