Most of Bulgaria, including Sofia and the interior regions, has a temperate continental climate typical of Central Europe. The exception is Bulgarian coastline along the Black Sea, including cities like Varna and Burgas, which have a Mediterranean climate.
The weather is moderate, and the seasons are distinct, with long, hot summers and relatively mild winters. Humidity levels in Bulgaria vary throughout the seasons, with summers being relatively dry, and humidity increasing during autumn and winter months. Coastal areas typically experience higher humidity levels due to proximity to the Black Sea.
Springtime may be foggy and unpredictable in early March, but temperatures become warmer by June, rising to about 70°F (20°C). That said, the high-altitude mountain areas remain snowy well into July, when the summer heat arrives.
Summer in Bulgaria starts in June and finishes towards the middle of September. Temperatures hover around 77°F (25°C) but can rise to 104°F (40°C) on a sunny and clear day. While the interior of Bulgaria can be sweltering, the coastal areas offer a refreshing breeze and average around a comfortable 70°F (20°C). Summer thunderstorms and hailstorms occasionally occur, with higher chances of storms during the peak summer months of July and August. These storms can be severe, causing flash floods and damage to infrastructure, although they are generally short-lived.
Temperatures don't often drop below 50°F (10°C) during the short autumn from mid-September to October. While rainfall increases, it is dry compared to the rest of Europe. As the season progresses, winter brings more snow than rain.
Winter lasts from late October to mid-March and offers choice skiing opportunities because of the abundant snowfall. Expats can expect temperatures as low as 23°F (-5°C) or 5°F (-15°C) in the coldest regions. That said, it is often clear and sunny, softening the effect of the biting cold and making the thick snow enjoyable. Ski enthusiasts can find many popular ski resorts in Bulgaria, such as Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo.
There have been several devastating floods in this region of Europe. While these are infrequent, violent storms and heavy snowfall are common and should be considered part of the climate. Areas near major rivers, like the Danube and Maritsa, are more prone to floods. The Bulgarian government has been improving the country's flood prevention and management systems to minimise the risks and impact of flooding. Expats should pay close attention to any government directives regarding the weather, such as not travelling or being outdoors in harsh conditions.
►Read Accommodation in Bulgaria to learn more about the housing market.
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