In southern and western Sri Lanka, the monsoon season runs from May to September. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t travel during this time. It rains on and off during the monsoon, with showers rarely lasting all day. Over this five-month period, most of southwestern Sri Lanka experiences between 20-120 inches of rain—the rainiest areas are the mid-altitude towns near Horton Plains National Park, while eastern, northern, and high-altitude areas receive less rain.
The monsoon rains mean that temperatures are cooler in southwestern Sri Lanka. In July, Colombo experiences highs around 86°F and lows of 79°F, while in Kandy, highs are around 82°F. In Nuwara Eliya, which is located at high altitude, temperatures run as low as 55°F during this month.
Cities in the north and east of Sri Lanka are dry in July, but this also corresponds with hotter temperatures. In Jaffna, highs are an average of 91°F in July, and in Trincomalee, they reach 95°F. While the Cultural Triangle doesn’t get much rain at this time, conditions may be windy and hot.
Crowds & Costs
The Southwest monsoon brings thinner than usual crowds in July. However, Sri Lanka is visited year-round, and school vacations in the Northern Hemisphere do attract a certain number of visitors from June to August.
Where to Go
Some of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka in July are Trincomalee and Batticaloa, on the island’s east coast. Here, visitors can explore the cities’ historic forts, indulge in some whale-watching, and sunbathe on quiet golden-sand beaches.
South of those cities, you’ll find Yala National Park and the pilgrimage town of Kataragama, where a festival is taking place this month. The city of Jaffna, located at Sri Lanka’s northernmost tip, offers visitors the chance to learn about Sri Lankan Tamil culture.
For more information, see Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka.
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What to Do
July is a good time to see wildlife in Sri Lanka. In Trincomalee, on the east coast, this is the beginning of whale-watching season. Many marine animals migrate around this time, including blue whales, sperm whales, and spinner dolphins.
The dry weather in July makes it an ideal month to visit Yala National Park. The animals tend to congregate around watering holes at this time of year, making them easier to spot. If possible, try to visit the park in the afternoon or during a weekday to avoid crowds. Yala is best known for its leopards, although it’s also home to many other types of animals, like birds, crocodiles, elephants, and wild boars.
Another great place to visit in July is the Kataragama Temple complex. Several poojas (prayers) per day take place at Kataragama, with the largest one being in the evening. You’ll see elephants and devotees making offerings of flowers and fruit; the atmosphere is crowded and festive. This unique complex is syncretic in nature, attracting Sri Lankan pilgrims of all religions.
Events in July
July is a very important month in Sri Lanka, filled with some of the largest festivals of the year.
One of these is the Kataragama Festival, which honors the god Skanda. Taking place over several days in late July or August, the festival kicks off with several peraheras (traditional processions featuring elephants). Some devotees perform extreme feats like walking on hot coals or piercing their skin with hooks. The end of the festival is marked by a “water-cutting ceremony”, where pilgrims bathe and splash in the waters of the Menik Ganga river.
Another festival is Aadi Vel in Colombo, which takes place at the same time as the Kataragama Festival. This custom is said to have started as an alternative to the Kataragama Festival for those who were unable to travel. Colorful chariots are paraded throughout the streets, and dancing and body piercing ceremonies are also common.
Finally, one of the biggest July festivals in Sri Lanka is the Kandy Perahera. This festival, commemorating the Esala Poya day, is usually held in July or August. The focal point of the festival is the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha normally stored in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.
During the Perahera, the tooth relic is paraded throughout the city by dozens of elephants wearing colorful costumes, and dancers performing fire dances. If you plan to be in Kandy during the Perahera, make your arrangements well in advance, including accommodation and finding a seat (street seating with a good view of the parade must be booked in advance, and can get quite pricey right before the event).
Traveling to Sri Lanka in July? Check out these great itineraries.
Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days
Embark on your dream honeymoon with this romantic itinerary, which includes whale-watching in Trincomalee, animal-spotting at Yala National Park, and stops in Kandy and the Cultural Triangle.
Cultural Triangle and the East Coast of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Mix fascinating cultural attractions with Sri Lanka’s quiet eastern beaches on this two-week tour.