Varna is a district town, situated on Varna Bay on the Black Sea, 469 km north-east of Sofia; a seaside resort. Population of over 350 000, third in population after Sofia and Plovdiv, called the seaside capital of Bulgaria. Terminal station on the railway lines Sofia-Varna and Rouse-Varna, a sea port, an international airport, second in traffic after Sofia. Varna is a major port and an industrial center. Manufactures include ships and boats, chemicals, electrical equipment, and textiles.
Founded in 580 BC as the Greek colony of Odessus, it passed to the Roman Empire in the 1st cent. AD The Bulgarians defeated Byzantine emperor Constantine IV at Varna in 679. The city passed to the second Bulgarian kingdom in 1201, was captured by the Turks in 1391, and became an active seaport under their rule. Varna was (1854) the chief naval base of the British and French forces in the Crimean War. The city was liberated from Turkish rule in 1878 and ceded to newly independent Bulgaria. It now has a university (founded 1920), a polytechnic institute, a naval academy, a medical college, and an archaeological museum.
Varna is also an international summer resort with long sand-covered beach strips. The gem of the Bulgarian Black Sea is situated at the end of the big Varna Bay, with a convenient and well conserved water area. The city's peculiar sea charm is sublime and moving. Ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern cultures mingle and coexist throughout the city. Varna lies on the same latitude of the famous Atlantic resorts Bayonne and Biarritz in France, on a large, flat and high terrace on the northwestern most curve of the bay which juts some 7 km inland. During the holiday season, July and August, the sunshine allows 10-11 hours of sunbathing.
The sea is amazingly calm and free of dangerous tides. There are clusters of beach resorts to the north and south of the city: Albena, Golden Sands, St. Constantine and Helen, etc.