September is shoulder season in Sri Lanka. It’s a good opportunity to take advantage of thinner crowds and lower prices, before October brings in the rain and thunderstorms of the inter-monsoon period.

Weather

September is the final month of the Southwest monsoon, meaning it’s the last month of heavy rains in southwestern Sri Lanka and hot, dry weather in northeastern Sri Lanka. During the inter-monsoon period that follows, thunderstorms regularly occur throughout the island.  

Temperatures in Sri Lanka are fairly consistent year-round, with slightly cooler weather in monsoon-affected areas. In September, Colombo experiences highs around 86°F and lows of 77°F, while in Kandy, average highs are around 84°F. Some of the country’s coldest temperatures can be found in Nuwara Eliya, where lows can reach 55°F.

In dry northeastern Sri Lanka, temperatures are significantly hotter. Cities like Trincomalee, Jaffna, and Anuradhapura experience highs in the 90s Fahrenheit throughout September. 

Crowds & Costs

September is a quiet month in Sri Lanka. The crowds visiting on their summer vacations have disappeared, and the monsoon rains in some of the island’s most popular beach areas are a deterrent for many travelers. This is a good time to take advantage of off-season deals and discounts, and explore Sri Lanka’s less-touristed north and east coasts.  

Where to Go

September’s weather makes it a perfect time to visit the attractions of the Cultural Triangle. Sites like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, and Dambulla will be quieter than usual, and conditions for traveling will be pleasant.

You can also check out the cities of Sri Lanka’s east coast, like Trincomalee and Batticaloa, or head up to Jaffna on the northern tip of the island.  

For more information, see Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

What to Do

The Cultural Triangle is filled with UNESCO World Heritage listed historic sites, so traveling there is a truly unforgettable experience.

In Dambulla, you’ll find a Buddhist cave temple complex which has been inhabited by monks since the third century BCE. Inside, you’ll see beautiful wall paintings and statues of the Buddha. Nearby, in Sigiriya, is an ancient city and palace complex built by King Kassapa I on top of an enormous rock formation. Visitors planning to see Dambulla and Sigiriya should note that they’ll need to climb up a winding network of stairways to reach the sites, and some areas are very steep—bring good walking shoes.  

The ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are sprawling, and both require at least a full day to see thoroughly. Each was formerly a capital of Sri Lanka. The temples, stupas, houses, and other buildings are remarkably well-preserved. Many visitors choose to rent bicycles to get around the cities, since walking between the different sites can take a while.

Travelers looking to see wildlife in Sri Lanka should note that Yala National Park is often closed during September, as animals can be aggressive near the end of the dry season. However, it’s still a good time for whale-watching in Trincomalee, before the migration comes to an end next month. 

Events in September

September is generally a quiet month for events in Sri Lanka. However, there are still some events happening around the island; check in advance for exact dates.

A Poya day is celebrated on the full moon of every month in Sri Lanka. September’s Poya day is known as Binara Poya. On this day, Sri Lankan Buddhists commemorate the founding of the Bhikkhuni Sasanaya, or female monastic order. The main celebration of Binara Poya takes place in Mahiyanganaya, a central Sri Lankan town about a two and a half hour drive from Kandy. A spectacular perahera (parade) takes place there on the Poya day, with a special dance performed by the Vedda (indigenous people of Sri Lanka).

In addition, World Tourism Day is celebrated internationally on September 27th. Special events are sometimes planned in Sri Lanka to coincide with that date. 

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

Cultural Triangle and the East Coast of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Explore Sri Lanka’s breathtaking historic attractions and quiet eastern beaches with this itinerary.

Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
See the attractions of the Cultural Triangle, plus Wilpattu National Park and the Hill Country, on this two-week tour. 

More Helpful Information

Sri Lanka in August
Sri Lanka in October
Getting Around in Sri Lanka: All You Need to Know
Unique Ways to Experience Sri Lanka’s National Parks