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Climate - Romania

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go, what to pack

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Flag - Romania

Map - Romania

Romania has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers.
The Black Sea coast has a slightly milder climate, but not by much, since it often receives air masses coming from inland.
In the long Carpathian range which crosses Romania, the weather gets colder and rainier with increasing altitude: the winter snowfall are replaced by the summer thunderstorms, occurring in the afternoon.

Rainfall is not abundant in the inland plains, since it amounts to around 600 millimetres per year, although it is well distributed throughout the year, with a maximum in May and June, mainly because of thunderstorms which occur in the afternoon.
Here is the average precipitation in Bucharest.
Average precipitation Bucharest
Bucharest J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 40 35 40 45 70 75 65 50 40 30 50 45 595
Days 6 6 6 7 6 6 7 6 5 5 6 6 72

Along the coast of the Black Sea, precipitation is quite low, amounting to around 385 mm per annum, being the summer thunderstorms less frequent; here from 20 to 40 millimetres per month fall throughout the year.
Here is the average precipitation in Constanta.
Average precipitation Constanta
Constanta J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 30 25 20 30 35 40 35 30 25 40 40 35 385
Days 4 4 3 4 4 3 3 3 2 3 5 5 43

The situation is different in the mountainous areas, where rainfall is more abundant, and exceeds 40 in per year.

Winter, from December to February, is cold throughout Romania. Cold air stagnates in the lowest layers, and the sky is often cloudy. Snowfall is quite common but not abundant; in inland plains, there are about thirty days with snow per year. The ground is often covered with snow in Bucharest. During winter, the temperatures are fairly uniform across the continental region, and decrease especially with increasing altitude. In the plains, the average temperature in January goes between -1 °C and -2.5 °C. In the capital Bucharest, the average is -2 °C.
Here are the average temperatures of Bucharest.
Bucharest average temperatures
Bucharest J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) -6 -3 0 6 11 14 16 15 11 6 2 -3
Max (°C) 2 4 11 18 23 27 29 29 25 18 10 4


In the Transylvanian Plateau, west of the Carpathians, winter is slightly colder: in Cluj-Napoca, 400 metres above sea level, the average in January is -3.5 °C, while in Sibiu, at the same altitude it's -4 °C.
Romania, like other parts of the Balkan Peninsula, is exposed to cold air outbreaks from northern Europe and Russia, most likely in winter and spring. They were more frequent in the past decades, when the climate was colder, however they can lower the temperatures to around -20 °C, while in summer a bit of cool air at high altitudes, in contrast with the hot air lying in the lower layers, can give rise to thunderstorms.
During winter, the mildest area of Romania is Dobrudja, the stretch of plain east of the Danube, overlooking the Black Sea coast, where the average temperature in January is just above freezing, around 1 °C. The days of the year in which the night-time temperature goes below freezing are 110 in Bucharest and 70 in Constanta, on the coast. The cold record of the last 20 years is -23 °C in Bucharest and -18 °C in Constanta. During colder winters, the Black Sea coast can even freeze, as happened in February 2012. This makes it clear that winter along the coast of the Black Sea, albeit milder than in the interior, is still cold.

Here are the average temperatures in Constanta.
Constanta average temperatures
Constanta J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) -3 -1 2 7 12 16 18 18 14 9 5 0
Max (°C) 4 5 8 14 20 24 26 26 22 17 11 6

The temperature of the Black Sea is acceptable for swimming in summer: it's 23 °C in July and 24 °C in August, while it is a bit cool in June and September.
Sea temperature Constanta
Constanta J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sea (°C) 7 6 7 10 15 20 23 24 21 17 13 9

As mentioned, until a few decades ago, winter was a few degrees colder, here as in other Eastern Europe countries, so the average temperatures were lower than those of the last decades.
Summer, from June to August, is quite warm in the plains and hills of Transylvania (the region west and north of the Carpathian Mountains) and in the region east of the Carpathians, on the border with Moldova: the maximum average temperatures are around 25 °C in the plains, and 23 °C at around 400 metres above sea level. Wallachia, the region south of the Carpathians where Bucharest is located, is warmer, and it's often hot: here it's easy for the temperature to reach 35 °C and above. Sometimes, however, it can get hot even in the northern plains and hills.
Along the Black Sea coast, in summer the weather is nice, warm or sometimes even hot, but tempered by the breezes.
Summer is a fairly rainy season, especially because of afternoon thunderstorms, which occur especially in the period from May to July, and are most frequent and abundant in the mountains. Sometimes these thunderstorms are so strong that they can cause floods.
The amount of sunshine in summer is good in the lowlands, while the weather is more easily cloudy on the mountains and in Transylvania, where, however, the sun still often shines.

At the Bran Castle, which according to legend was Dracula's castle, located at 750 metres above sea level, winters are cold and snowy, while summers are pleasant, with a daytime average of 23 °C and cool nights, but also possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. A similar climate is found in the Poenari Castle, which should be the real Dracula's Castle, Prince Vlad III of Wallachia, located at 820 metres of altitude.
The Monasteries of Bucovina are located about 350 metres above sea level in Moldavia, near the border with the Republic of Moldova: during the day it can get hot in July and August, while the nights are still cool.

When to go

The best time to visit Romania is from May to September.
June is the rainiest month, because of of afternoon thunderstorms.
July and August can be hot in inland plains, especially in the south, ie in Wallachia (see Bucharest), so you can choose May, June and September, especially if you suffer from the heat.
In May, the country is in bloom and the temperature is generally pleasant, even though the afternoon thunderstorms are already possible.
September is usually a sweet and quiet month, with little rain; sometimes a warm and sunny weather lasts until October.
The Black Sea coast in summer is good for a beach holiday, but in winter, having an average temperature around freezing and possible wind and snowfall, it's certainly not a refuge from the cold European winter.

What to pack

In winter: warm clothes, sweater or fleece, down jacket, hat, gloves and scarf, raincoat or umbrella.
In summer: light clothes, t-shirts and shorts, but also long pants, light jacket and sweatshirt for the evening; umbrella. Some heavier clothes for the mountains.

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