Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the third largest city in Bulgaria. With approximately half a million inhabitants, it is the administrative centre of the homonymous province and Varna Municipality and the tenth-largest city in the Balkans. It is also the fourth largest city on the Black Sea.
Often referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, a starting point for all the resorts in the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. In April 2008, Varna was designated seat of the Black Sea Euro-Region (a new regional organization, not identical to the Black Sea Euroregion) by the Council of Europe.
The Varna culture is a record holder, the oldest golden treasure in the world was discovered in Varna Necropolis, consisting of artifacts dating to 4750 B.C.
The urban area has in excess of 20 km (12 mi) of sand beaches and abounds in thermal mineral water sources (temperature 35–55 °C or 95–131 °F). It enjoys a mild climate influenced by the sea with long, mild, akin to Mediterranean, autumns, and sunny and hot, yet considerably cooler than Mediterranean summers moderated by breezes and regular rainfall. Although Varna receives about two thirds of the average rainfall for Bulgaria, abundant groundwater keeps its wooded hills lush throughout summer. The city is cut off from north and north-east winds by hills along the north arm of the bay, yet January and February still can be bitterly cold at times, with blizzards. Black Sea water has become cleaner after 1989 due to decreased chemical fertilizer in farming; it has low salinity, lacks large predators or poisonous species, and the tidal range is virtually imperceptible.
The public transit system is extensive and reasonably priced, with over 80 local and express bus, local trolleybus, and fixed-route minibus lines; there is a large fleet of taxicabs. In 2007, a number of double-decker buses were purchased; the mayor vowed that by summer 2008, all city buses would be retrofitted with air conditioners and later fueled by methane.
There is a plethora of Internet cafes and many places, including parks, are covered by free public wireless internet service. Varna is connected to other Black Sea cities by the submarine Black Sea Fiber Optical Cable System.
Varna has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with considerable maritime and continental influences. The summer begins in early May and lasts till early October. Temperatures in summer usually vary between 18 C and 21 degrees C in the night and 25–35 C during the day. Seawater temperature during the summer months is usually around 23–27 degrees C. In winter temperatures are about 0 degrees at night and 5-10 degrees C during the day. Snow is possible in December, January, February and rarely in March. Snow falls in winter only several times and melts down considerably fast. The highest temperature ever recorded was 41.0 C and the lowest -19.0 C