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Bulgaria enjoys a temperate climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters, often with heavy snow. Southern Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast record the highest temperatures, with Sandanski often named the sunniest and hottest town in the country; Smolyan, the highest town in the country, is one of the coolest, as you’d expect. The Danube plain, meanwhile, is subject to the extremes of central Europe. Sofia’s climate is generally favourable, with average daytime highs of around 28°C in July and August and 3°C from December to February. Rainfall is highest in the mountains and rural life is often disrupted in winter by huge snowfalls.

When to go

Bulgaria has a temperate climate with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers. The Rodopi Mountains form a barrier to the moderating Mediterranean influence of the Aegean, while the Danube Plain is open to the extremes of central Europe. Sofia’s generally favourable climate is one of its main attributes, with average daytime highs of 28°C in July and August and 3°C from December to February. The Black Sea moderates temperatures in the east of the country. Rainfall is highest in the mountains, and in winter life throughout Bulgaria is sometimes disrupted by heavy snowfalls.

Spring (particularly April to mid-June) is an excellent time to visit. The weather is good, the theatres and other cultural venues are in full swing and low-season rates still generally apply. Summer (mid-June to early September) is ideal for hiking and festivals, but it’s also the peak holiday season, especially on the Black Sea coast. Temperatures can be very high during this period too. September is perhaps one of the best months to see Bulgaria. The autumn trees are glorious, fruit and vegetables are plentiful, the tourist hordes have returned home, and you can still sunbathe and swim in the Black Sea.

By mid-October, almost all Black Sea resorts have closed down. As the weather gets colder over the next two months, a gloom about the impending winter (December to March) permeates Bulgaria. Then, as soon as the first snows fall in around mid-December, Bulgarians start to perk up and flock to the ski resorts, which sometimes stay operating until mid-April.

The high season along the Black Sea coast is mid-July to late August; at the ski resorts, it’s Christmas/New Year and February to mid-March. If you avoid these places at these times, you may be astounded at how few tourists there are in Bulgaria.