Weather in Sri Lanka in January

Dreaming of escaping to the tropical island of Sri Lanka in January? This month is known for being the high tourist season for good reason. While much of the northern hemisphere is shivering under blankets of snow, Sri Lanka is basking in glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. Here’s our guide to the weather in Sri Lanka in January.

Want to learn even more useful information for your upcoming trip to Sri Lanka? Read our travel tips for travelling to Sri Lanka and how to get to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka in January at a glance

  • January weather in Sri Lanka is typically warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).
  • This month marks the dry season for most parts of the island, particularly along the western and southern coasts.
  • January is peak tourist season in Sri Lanka, so you expect larger crowds at popular sights.

Is January a good time to visit Sri Lanka?

Yes, Sri Lanka is a great time to visit Sri Lanka. First off, January is when Sri Lanka's weather really shines. The dry season is in full swing, meaning you can expect nothing but clear skies and sunshine pretty much everywhere you go.

The weather is generally warm with temperatures hovering around a balmy 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F) and lower humidity levels compared to other times of the year. This is the perfect time to visit ancient temples, explore national parks to spot wildlife, and relax on Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches

Given that January falls within the high tourism season, you can expect bustling crowds, especially in popular destinations like Colombo, Kandy, Galle, and Nuwara Eliya. 

With longer daylight hours during this time of year, you'll have plenty of time to squeeze in all of your sightseeing adventures.

Ready to take your trip without the hassle of planning and booking? See our tailor-made trip service.

Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka © Shutterstock

The weather in Sri Lanka in January is great for exploring Nilaveli Beach © Shutterstock

Temperatures in Sri Lanka in January

The weather in Sri Lanka in January means in general warm temperatures. The average rainfall does vary across the country, but it’s not likely to mess up your travel plans.

North Sri Lanka

In January, North Sri Lanka (like Jaffna and Mannar) experiences warm temperatures with an average high of around 31°C (88°F) and an average low of about 22°C (72°F). The region typically sees minimal rainfall during this time, with occasional short showers. 

Southwest Sri Lanka

January in Southwest Sri Lanka (such as in Colombo and Galle) brings slightly cooler temperatures compared to the north. The average high temperature hovers around 29°C (84°F), while the average low is approximately 23°C (73°F). Rainfall in this region is moderate during January, with occasional heavy showers. 

Southeast Sri Lanka

Similar to the southwest, Southeast Sri Lanka (in cities like Batticaloa and Trincomalee) experiences warm temperatures in January. The average high temperature is around 29°C (84°F), with lows averaging about 24°C (75°F). Rainfall in this region is comparatively lower, with occasional light showers. 

Learn more and compare the weather in different months with our guide to the weather in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan vegetable curry © Shutterstock

Sri Lankan vegetable curry © Shutterstock

Can it rain in Sri Lanka in January?

In January, Sri Lanka experiences predominantly dry weather, especially along its western and southern coasts, characterized by warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. However, despite being the peak of the dry season, there is still the possibility of occasional rainfall in certain parts of the island during this month.

n particular, areas in the northern and eastern regions, such as Trincomalee and Batticaloa, may experience sporadic showers during January. These rainfall occurrences, though infrequent, are typically brief and shouldn't disrupt your plans too much. 

What about crowds and costs?

January is the peak tourist season in Sri Lanka, thanks to its fantastic weather. You'll find crowds aplenty at popular spots like beaches and cultural sites. With all those extra visitors, prices for accommodation and activities tend to go up compared to quieter months.

But don't let that deter you —January brings its fair share of perks. The weather is usually sunny and dry across the entire island, perfect for exploring its diverse landscapes and getting stuck into outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife safaris, and water sports.

If you're not a fan of big crowds and inflated prices, you might want to consider visiting in December or February instead. You'll still get great weather, but with fewer tourists, offering a more peaceful experience. For the budget-conscious traveler, the off-peak months from May to September could be worth considering, although you'll need to be prepared for some rainy spells.

Still planning your trip? Browse our Sri Lanka itineraries for inspiration. 


The weather in Sri Lanka in January is great for exploring towns like Ella  © Shutterstock

Ready for your dream trip to Sri Lanka in January?

Eager for an adventure in Sri Lanka? Choose our tailor-made trip service and say goodbye to the exhaustive research for your dream vacation. Trust us for the planning and booking. Our trips, meticulously designed by local travel experts, are fully adaptable to your preferences.

  • Off the beaten track Sri Lanka (12 days): The perfect Sri Lankan adventure: hike historic temples, experience village life, tour tea factories, and relax on the beach.
  • Sri Lanka for adventure lovers (16 days):  Explore forests, mountains, and paddy fields while enjoying activities like abseiling, water sports, trekking, and cycling.
  • Sri Lanka flora and fauna (13 days): For those fascinated by Sri Lanka's biodiversity and World Heritage sites, this 12-day round trip offers an immersive journey through lush jungles, ancient cities, waterfalls, and beaches.

What to do in Sri Lanka in January

If you're gearing up for your Sri Lanka trip, make sure to see if any of the country's amazing festivals and events are happening during your visit. Secure your accommodation early for the best choices. Need more inspiration for your Sri Lankan adventure? Explore our top picks for the best things to do in the country. 

Thai Pongal Festival

Celebrated by the Tamil community, Thai Pongal is a harvest festival that typically falls in mid-January. It's a time when farmers express gratitude to the sun god for a bountiful harvest through various rituals. During this time you can witness colorful decorations, and traditional dances, and enjoy delicious Tamil cuisine like Pongal, a sweet rice dish. Don't miss the chance to join in the festivities and learn about Sri Lanka's rich agricultural heritage.

Relax on the beaches

Sri Lanka's got you covered with its stunning array of sun-kissed beaches. Head over to Mirissa Beach for a dose of tranquility and maybe catch a glimpse of the majestic whales cruising by. Or, if you're up for some adventure, Bentota Beach offers a mix of serene landscapes and thrilling water sports. For surf enthusiasts, Hikkaduwa Beach is where you'll want to head.

View on Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque or Red Masjid Mosque is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

Duruthu Perahera

Held in Kelaniya, Duruthu Perahera is a grand Buddhist procession commemorating Lord Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka. Elaborately adorned elephants, traditional dancers, and drummers parade through the streets, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Here you can soak in the spiritual ambiance, witness ancient rituals, and gain insight into Buddhist traditions. 

Visit Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, is like a journey back in time. Here you can explore magnificent ruins, including towering stupas and intricate stone carvings, scattered across vast expanses of lush greenery. This is the home of sacred sites like the Sri Maha Bodhi, a revered fig tree believed to be the oldest historically documented tree in the world. 

Galle Literary Festival (GLF)

Renowned as one of Asia's premier literary events, GLF attracts prominent authors, poets, and intellectuals from around the world to the historic city of Galle. Held annually in January, the festival features panel discussions, book launches, workshops, and performances, creating a dynamic platform for literary enthusiasts. Here you can engage with literary luminaries, explore diverse perspectives, and immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of Galle's colonial charm. 

written by

updated 06.06.2024

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