November is shoulder season in Sri Lanka. The rain and thunderstorms of the inter-monsoon season keep away the crowds, so visitors can enjoy lower prices and shorter lines. Consider traveling near the end of the month, when the weather in the southwest of the country starts to clear up.

Weather

The months of October and November fall between the southwest and northeast monsoons. This time is known as the “inter-monsoon period”. Rainstorms are evenly spread throughout the island, although the amount of rainfall is less than in the monsoon season. Strong winds and thunderstorms are common. 

Most of Sri Lanka experiences a tropical climate throughout the year, with temperatures varying more by altitude than by latitude. Colombo experiences highs around 86°F and lows of 75°F during November, while in Kandy, average highs are around 84°F. The hill station of Nuwara Eliya offers some of the coolest temperatures on the island, with lows reaching 54°F in November.

The Cultural Triangle is at its wettest from October to December; cities like Anuradhapura get around 10 inches of rain per month at this time. Other northern and eastern cities in Sri Lanka are just entering their monsoon season, which cools down the temperature slightly—highs in Jaffna average 84°F, while in Trincomalee, they average 86°F. 

Crowds & Costs

November is a quiet month in Sri Lanka, meaning that costs are often lower and it will be easier to find accommodation. In most countries, November is an uncommon month to take vacation. Domestic tourists are also unlikely to travel at this time. 

Where to Go

Near the end of November, southwestern Sri Lanka will be entering into its dry season. This is a great time to see the popular attractions around Colombo and Galle before larger numbers of travelers arrive in December. The weather in Kandy will also clear up near the end of the month.

For more information, see Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

What to Do

Visitors to Colombo can check out the city’s many attractions, including the Gangaramaya and Seema Malaka temples, the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, and the National Museum. Colombo is also a great place to try classic Sri Lankan dishes like kottu roti, string hoppers, and pol sambol at some of the country’s best restaurants.

In Galle, visitors can stroll around the historic Dutch Fort to view its churches and iconic lighthouse without the crowds of summer and winter. Nearby, there are a wealth of attractions to experience along the island’s southern coastline. Travelers can enjoy the beaches at Unawatuna, Mirissa, or Talalla on sunny days, or head to Dikwella to see Sri Lanka’s largest seated Buddha statue, which is an impressive 165 feet high.   

This is also a great time to visit Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. Attractions like Sigiriya Rock are very popular, so take advantage of this time to climb to the top and enjoy a peaceful view of the surrounding ancient site.

In Kandy, visitors can explore the famous Temple of the Tooth. Inside is a famous tooth relic which is believed to have come from Gautama Buddha. The city offers interesting museums and tasty food options, as well as the chance to spot some wildlife at the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Events in November

Several events happen in November in Sri Lanka. Note that many religious festivals are calculated according to a lunisolar calendar, meaning that dates vary each year. Check beforehand to confirm exact dates.

Diwali, more commonly known as Deepavali in Sri Lanka, usually falls in late October or early November. This is one of the most important Hindu festivals of the year, and is known as the “Festival of Lights”. Devotees make offerings to the goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth). They also light candles, set off fireworks, and eat special holiday sweets. To celebrate Deepavali, you can head to any of the Hindu temples throughout Sri Lanka. Some of the largest temples on the island are found in the Tamil-majority areas of northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Buddhists celebrate a Poya day on the full moon of each calendar month. November’s Poya day is called the Ill Poya, and honors the first Buddhist missionaries. The main celebrations for Ill Poya take place at the Thuparamaya Stupa in Anuradhapura.  

Traveling to Sri Lanka in November? Check out these great itineraries.

Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
This eight-day trip takes you to some of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka, including Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Galle. 

Best of Sri Lanka - 6 Days
See the popular attractions of Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy, plus a hike in the Knuckles Range, with this six-day itinerary. 

More Helpful Information

October in Sri Lanka
December in Sri Lanka
Unique Ways to Experience Sri Lanka’s National Parks