From dreamy rice fields to sprawling tea plantations, rural villages to nature preserves teeming with wildlife, the range of Sri Lanka's geographical and cultural treasures is astounding—and there's no better way to see it all than on two wheels. Find out how to navigate the roads, weather, and more with this comprehensive guide to cycling in Sri Lanka.
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Sri Lanka is a compact country so domestic flights are limited. Newer highways are reducing travel times for those who take the bus. However, trains are the more comfortable way to get around. The best way to see Sri Lanks is on a bike and there is an excellent network of roads to get you around to every corner of the country.
An intact flora and fauna collection is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest assets and a couple of park visits are a great way to break up your tour. Horton Plains, Yala, and Udawalawe National Parks are often the highlights, but each park has its own unique way to avoid the crowds and have an amazing experience.
When to visit Sri Lanka
January is part of the high season in Sri Lanka, when the main tourist areas in the southwest are cool and dry. While the monsoon season is still going on in the northeast of the country, the late autumn rains in the "Cultural Triangle" will have mostly finished by now, making it a good time to visit the island’s historic sites.
By February, peak tourist season is well underway in Sri Lanka. The beaches in the southwest are pleasant and dry, and the northeast monsoon is winding down. The Cultural Triangle also has good weather at this time.
March is the last month for excellent beach weather in the southwest of the island, and the peak tourist season is winding down at this time along with the sunny skies. The Cultural Triangle is dry, and the north and east don’t receive too much rain this month, making it a great time to visit.
April is considered a shoulder season in Sri Lanka. The weather's generally good during this month, although the southwest starts to experience heavy evening thunderstorms during this “inter-monsoon” period. Visitors to Sri Lanka in April can enjoy reasonable weather in both the north and south of the island, with fewer crowds than at other times of year.
In May, the southwest monsoon will have started in Sri Lanka, and travelers can expect several hours of rain per day in Colombo and on the island’s southern beaches. On the other hand, the northeast monsoon will be over; this is a great month to check out northern and eastern Sri Lanka, the Cultural Triangle, and the hill country.
In June, the southwest monsoon rains are falling over Sri Lanka. Colombo is damp and humid, and the island’s southern beaches and mountainous center are experiencing intermittent rainfall. Sri Lanka’s northeastern half will be dry, however, making this a good time to explore the island’s less-touristed regions.
Sri Lanka’s two distinct monsoon seasons truly make it a year-round destination. While July is a wet month in southwestern Sri Lanka, the island’s northeastern half will be dry. This is a good time to explore national parks, wander along deserted beaches, and enjoy July’s colorful festivals.
In August, the southwest monsoon is nearing its end in Sri Lanka. With lower rainfall than surrounding months and many tourists from the northern hemisphere on summer vacation, it’s a popular time to visit. Consider a trip to Trincomalee or Yala National Park for wildlife spotting, celebrate the Kandy Perahera, or witness one of the country's largest temple festivals in Jaffna.
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.
October is the beginning of Sri Lanka’s off-season, so visitors can expect to benefit from lower prices and shorter lines at the attractions. At this point, the summer crowds are gone and the winter ones haven't yet arrived. The inter-monsoon season brings intermittent rain and thunderstorms throughout the island.
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.
December is the beginning of Sri Lanka’s high season. The main tourist areas in the southwest will be cool and dry, and Buddhist pilgrims start flocking to the summit of Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak. This is a great month to visit Colombo, Kandy, and the island’s most developed beaches.