One of the questions I often get asked by friends who live outside of Turkey is, “What’s the weather like in Bursa?” Some people immediately follow with another question: “It’s a lot like a desert, isn’t it?” When I respond by saying no, they sometimes look a little surprised. It seems as though there might be a misconception out there that Bursa weather is hot, dry, and desert-like. (And that there are herds of camels roaming the sand dunes in the arid Bursa countryside.)
While it is true that Bursa is hot in the summertime, it certainly isn’t arid, dry, and drab. And there aren’t camels roaming sand dunes, either. In fact, Bursa is widely known as Turkey’s Green City, and for good reason: pine forests blanket the mountainsides, olive and fig groves cover the rolling hills, and grasses, sedges, and stands of deciduous trees landscape the city’s plains and lowlands. Bursa is not at all in a desert.
The climate that affords Bursa its lush, green flora is subtropical and Mediterranean, marked by hot, humid summers and cool, wet winters. With that in mind, here’s a season-by-season summary of Bursa weather:
Winter. Winter months in Bursa are the wettest, rainiest months of the year. Sometimes the temperatures get cold enough to turn the rain into snow, though snowfalls usually melt away in a few days. In the city, winter high temperatures average around 10ºC (50ºF) and lows average around 2ºC (35ºF). Temperatures in the neighborhood of -10ºC (14ºF) are considered extremely cold. Winter air in Bursa is humid, the sky is often cloudy, and precipitation can be expected to fall on about half of the days in any winter month. Sometimes it feels like it rains for days and days at a time. On the mountain, of course, winter conditions are colder and the thick snowpack lasts the entire winter, making Uludağ a haven for winter sport lovers.
Spring. As you might expect, spring sees a gradual warming up and drying out in Bursa. Average high temperatures in April are around 20ºC (68ºF) while average April lows fall around 7ºC (45ºF). Over the course of the season, the number of precipitation days decreases to around 10 per month while relative humidity lingers in the neighborhood of 70%.
Summer. Summers in Bursa can get hot and feel humid, with average high temperatures in the lower 30sºC (upper 80s/lower 90sºF). During a heat wave, however, temperatures can exceed 40ºC (104ºF). Coupled with a normal relative humidity of 65% or higher, summertime heat in Bursa can feel anywhere from fairly comfortable to downright oppressive. The high humidity tends to keep summer nights relatively warm, with average low temperatures around 18ºC (65ºF). Despite the humidity, Bursa sees only around 5 or 6 monthly precipitation days during summer. Of course, on a hot day, it’s not hard to cool off with a trip up the mountain or with a visit to the seaside.
Autumn. Autumn months in Bursa are fairly warm, with average high temperatures ranging in the low to mid-20s Celsius (lower 70s Fahrenheit). Late September and October days can still feel hot. Average October lows are around 10ºC (50ºF). As autumn continues and temperatures trend downward, the number of monthly precipitation days increases to around 10.
With hot, humid summers and cool, wet winters, Bursa’s definitely not the desert that many imagine. On the contrary, Bursa’s seasonal weather can sometimes remind me a little of a lush tropical paradise. Other times, it feels to me a bit like a cold, soggy boreal rainforest.