December is the first real month of winter in Romania, although conditions can be pretty wintery in November, too. The country is broadly divided into three climatic zones: the area west of the Carpathian Mountains, with milder winters; the eastern region, with very cold winters; and the coastal Black Sea region, with a more Mediterranean climate and mild winters. Overall, the average temperature range in Romania in December is between 26° and 39°F (-3° and 4°C), with low-to-moderate rainfall. December is not officially as cold as January, but much colder temperatures aren't uncommon, and icy winds from Russia add to the chill.
Crowds & Costs
December is low season for travel to Romania, as is the whole of winter. Most foreign travelers visit in the warmer summer months. Prices are lower in December, although they're always somewhat lower than in some other parts of Europe. You're unlikely to encounter many crowds, except perhaps at the most popular Christmas markets, and these are more commonly frequented by locals than tourists. Ski season picks up in December, particularly later in the month.
Where to Go
Most Romanians are Romanian Orthodox Christians and celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th December (there are some Roman Catholics and Protestants, too). Beautiful places to experience a Romanian Christmas are Maramures and Bucovina, in the north of Romania. Both are cultural highlights that should be a high priority for visitors throughout the year, but are particularly lovely around Christmas time. Bucovina is known for its UNESCO-listed medieval monasteries, and Maramures contains magnificent wooden churches, houses, and carved gates. To enjoy Christmas markets, those in Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu, in Transylvania, are often considered the best.
What to Do
The ski and snow sports season in Romania usually starts in November, picking up in December as the conditions stabilize. Skiing in Romania is much more affordable than in the Alps, for instance. Poiana Brasov, near Brasov, is one of the most popular and luxurious ski resorts in Romania, and has been voted one of the most affordable ski resorts in Europe. It contains a 14-mile (23-km) ski and snowboarding slope. Other ski resorts include Straja, Sinaia, and Predeal.
Events in December
Great Union Day, 1st December. This is Romania's national holiday and marks the union of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.
Christmas Day, 25th December. Unlike Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas on 7th January, Romanian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 25th December, according to the Gregorian rather than Julian calendar.
Winter Customs Festival, late December. This winter festival is held in Sighet, beside the border with Ukraine. Ancient pagan and Christian beliefs combine in a colorful celebration of street theater, music, and costumes.
Traveling to Romania in December? Check out these great itineraries
Discover Medieval Romania - 6 Days. Discover medieval architecture and modern culture in Romanian as you travel by train around the country on this 6-day itinerary.
Medieval History & Regional Cuisine in Romania - 5 Days. This unique 5-day tour highlights three of the best things about Romania: castles, medieval cities, and food.
Dracula's Bran Castle - Day Trip. Lovers of folklore and fairy tales shouldn't miss this day trip to Bran Castle in Transylvania, known for its links to the legend of Dracula.