It’s quite well-known that, sometimes, the best holidays are the off-season ones. Less crowded places, more time and space to explore, more affordable airline fares, and so on.
This also applies when you want to visit Romania – especially if you consider that a good part of the Romanian off-season has to do with winter.
Indeed, traveling to Romania in the cold season might not be the most popular option, but avid travelers have been raving about it for quite some time. And if you analyze your options carefully, you might be in for a pleasant surprise and a better experience than expected.
Let yourself immerse in the white, eerie, winter scenery of Romania, but make sure you read all the useful info below first.
The first thing you’ll hear if you want to travel to Romania in winter is ”beware of the cold”. It’s because the country has a continental climate that spans from hot summers to ice-cold winters.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Romania during the months of December, January, or February, expect the temperature to range somewhere between -1ºC (30ºF) and -2,5°C (27,5ºF). Mind you, these are average figures, so make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared for -10ºC values.
If you’re headed towards the Carpathian Mountains area, however, you’ll have to prepare for averages of -4ºC (25ºF), with minimum temperatures reaching the -15ºC range.
These climatic conditions favor relatively frequent snowfalls, which are occasionally heavier than the norm. If you’re a fan of snowy, dreamland sights, make sure you visit Romania in late December or January. The mountain peaks, however, are covered in snow all through the winter months and even longer – up until March or April.
Needless to say, it’s essential you get winter tires in case you’re on a road trip and travel by personal car. This will help you avoid slipping and sliding on the icy roads.
Traveling to the Eastern side of Europe during the cold season means you should consider a few extra aspects.
Choose a comfortable and warm pair of hiking boots, especially if you’re planning to go on long walks (potentially on snow-covered roads). You’ll want to enjoy your time in Romania without being bothered by frostbite or dampness.
If you’re not used to such cold temperatures, consider adding some thermal leggings and/or a long-sleeved thermal top to get an extra layer of protection.
Depending on the size of your luggage, you might also need to replace sweaters (which eat up quite a lot of space) with thermal clothing (whose fabric makes it easier to save space, while also keeping you warm).
Get a slightly oversized yet warm waterproof coat that allows you to add several layers if needed. Plus, comfortable woolen hats, gloves, and scarves should also be on your priority list.
Get Cozy at Winter Fairs!
Now that the packing chapter is done and dealt with, you can start immersing yourself in the prospect of sorting out your list of destinations.
Before going any further, though, you have to consider that, for the majority of Romanians, winter is the Christmas season.
This is relevant because the Romanian culture is deeply rooted in the Orthodox Christian traditions, wherein Christmas is given significant importance and is a time of celebration best spent among friends and family.
We mentioned the above to help you understand the context of a visit to Romania before Christmas.
Bearing a deep spiritual meaning, Christmas generates a distinctive kind of excitement and animation which will be noticeable if you drop by one of the Christmas fairs (Targul de Craciun). You can find them in the following locations:
- Sibiu – it is the place where you’ll find a similar vibe to the Viennese Fair. If you visit Sibiu after mid-November, it’ll be impossible to miss the fair – lots of colors, lights, Christmas decorations, and scents. The market is open one week after Christmas as well, so if you’re considering a New Year’s Eve in the Sibiu area, you can still get a bit of Christmas magic.
- Bucharest – you’ll find it in Piata Constitutiei (Constitution Square), with lots of local and international exhibitors, Santa’s House, a carousel, and a pretty large ice rink.
- Cluj-Napoca – The Christmas fair in this city has developed throughout the years and is a fun replica of the Sibiu one, with interesting decorations and an ideal background towered by the imposing Gothic-styled cathedral. Live music, ice skating, and video mapping are among the activities you can take part in here.
Of course, it’s best to visit the markets at night, when the lights will be the best compliment to the mulled wine, roasted almonds, traditional goods and sweets, and the cultural festivities unfolding on the open-air stages.
Get Moving with Winter Sports
For the more adventurous tourists out there, Romania has plenty to offer during the cold season. We’re mainly talking about the ski resorts where you can have tons of winter fun at (very) convenient prices.
Poiana Brasov is where you should be heading to if skiing on a budget is on your mind.
Located on the Postavaru massif, this is the most popular option for ski aficionados due to its well-groomed slopes that offer a great experience for beginners and intermediates alike.
Once you’re done skiing and relishing in the breathtaking landscape, you can use this opportunity to visit Bran Castle or Peles Castle.
Besides Poiana Brasov, you can find other 150 certified ski slopes – totally explainable if you think Romania is almost 1/3 covered in mountains. Other top destinations would be:
- Transalpina Ski Resort;
Visit Romania – The Underground Version: Caves and Mines
If you’re not necessarily fond of winter sports, no need to fret. Romania has plenty to offer – from spectacular sights above the ground to eerie sights underground.
The country is rich in caves, caverns, and mines that are serious candidates for the title of ‘top jaw-droppers seen while traveling’. You’ll have plenty to admire and marvel at if you check out the following destinations:
- Scarisoara Glacier Cave – Romania’s biggest underground glacier
- Bear’s Cave – located in the Apuseni Mountains, this cave has one of the most spectacular collections of pillars, columns, stalactites, and stalagmites in Romania.
- Ialomicioarei Cave – close to Brasov, this cave is 480 meters long, of which 400 are available to visitors.
- The Wind Cave (Pestera Vantului – the largest cave in Romania with 52 km of passages, located in Bihor county near Suncuius village. It is currently undergoing some work to make it tourist-friendly).
The best thing about doing a cave tour in Romania is that you can partly get away from the cold (caves and mines maintain a stable temperature throughout the whole year, so you won’t need to worry about temperatures below 1ºC/ 33,8ºF).
Have a look at this tour to get some ideas about where you’d like to go:
Welcome to Icy Romania
If the last paragraph was rather comprised of travel ideas for summer persons, let’s say this one is for winter lovers.
You can have a full-on winter experience if you book an icy room at the Balea Ice Hotel.
It’s going to be a rather unusual experience, especially if you stay overnight and also step into the ice church there (they even hold religious mass).
Winter Has Come – Will You Want to Experience It in Romania?
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