Karlovy Vary Travel Guide

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary Travel Guide

Welcome to Karlovy Vary

Also known as Carlsbad, Karlovy Vary, is a famous spa town in the western part of the Czech Republic. It is located in Bohemia, approximately 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Prague. Nestled amidst rolling hills and renowned for its therapeutic hot springs, this gem in the heart of the Czech Republic is a true haven of relaxation and rejuvenation. 

Stepping into Karlovy Vary feels like entering a fairytale. You will be captivated by the town’s rich history, elegant architecture and colourful buildings exuding a timeless charm and transporting you to another era where the legacy of Karlovy Vary’s rich history is evident in every corner. The elegant promenades, adorned with beautiful architecture, provide a soothing backdrop for leisurely walks.

This spa destination dates back to the 14th century when Emperor Charles IV discovered the healing properties of the local thermal waters. Since then, Karlovy Vary has become a popular retreat for people seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and treatment for various ailments.

Stroll along the elegant promenade and sip the healing waters from the different drinking fountains using the ornate cups you can purchase from the local shops. Sipping the warm elixirs, which are known to aid digestion and promote well-being, is a refreshing experience.

Beyond the healing waters, this town is home to the esteemed Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, drawing filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts worldwide. 

How To Get There

By Air: Prague’s Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG) is the nearest international airport to Karlovy Vary. You can take a direct bus or a combination of bus and train to Karlovy Vary. The journey takes approximately 2 to 3 hours.

By Train: Karlovy Vary has a train station that is well-connected to major cities in the Czech Republic, including Prague. Trains are a convenient and scenic option for reaching Karlovy Vary. The journey from Prague takes 2 to 3 hours, depending on the train.

By Bus: Buses offer another affordable and convenient way to reach Karlovy Vary. Regular bus services connect Karlovy Vary to Prague and other major regional cities. The bus journey from Prague takes around 2 to 3 hours. Some famous bus companies that serve routes to Karlovy Vary include FlixBusRegioJet and Leo Express.

By Car: If you prefer to drive, Karlovy Vary can be reached by car via well-maintained highways. From Prague, take the D6 highway towards Karlovy Vary. The drive takes approx. 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions. Alternatively, consider using a bus company for a day tour from Prague, like Viator or Get Your Guide.

Places Of Interest

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Mill Colonnade

One of the town’s iconic landmarks, the Mill Colonnade is a beautiful colonnade housing several hot mineral springs. Admire the grandeur of this neo-Renaissance arcade, and ndulge in the hot springs’ therapeutic benefits by savouring a sip of their mineral-rich waters.

Karlovy Vary Hot Springs

Karlovy Vary Hot Springs

Explore the numerous hot springs scattered throughout the town. From the Vřídlo, the most famous geyser reaching heights of up to 12 meters, to the Snake Spring and the Market Spring, each spring offers its unique mineral composition and therapeutic properties.

Diana Observation Tower

Enjoy breathtaking views of Karlovy Vary and its surrounding landscape from the Diana Observation Tower. Take a cable car ride up to the top and soak in the panoramic vistas while sipping a refreshing beverage at the tower’s café.

Karlovy Vary Castle

Karlovy Vary Castle

Venture up the hill to explore the picturesque Karlovy Vary Castle. Admire its Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and enjoy panoramic views of the town while exploring the castle museum to learn about its history. Book tickets here.

Jan Becher Museum

Visit the Jan Becher Museum to learn about the production of Becherovka, the renowned herbal liqueur that originated in Karlovy Vary. Take a guided tour, discover the secret recipe, and sample this traditional Czech spirit. Book tours here.

Karlovy Vary Museum

Karlovy Vary Museum

Discover the town’s rich history and cultural heritage at the Karlovy Vary Museum. Explore exhibits showcasing spa traditions, historical artefacts, and artworks highlighting the town’s past.

Loket Castle

Loket Castle

Visit the enchanting Loket Castle, located near Karlovy Vary. This medieval fortress, nestled on a hilltop overlooking the Ohře River, offers stunning views and a chance to explore its fascinating history and architecture. Book tours here.

Moser Glassworks

Moser Glassworks

Discover the art of glassmaking at Moser Glassworks, a renowned manufacturer of exquisite crystal glass. Take a guided tour to witness the meticulous craftsmanship and learn about the history of this iconic brand. You can even purchase stunning glassware as a lasting memento. Book tours here.

Grandhotel Pupp

Grandhotel Pupp

The iconic hotel, known for its luxurious elegance, has become an emblem of Karlovy Vary. This historic hotel has hosted renowned guests and even served as a filming location for movies such as The Last Holiday and Casino Royale. Step inside to admire its opulent interiors or indulge in a gourmet dining experience.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Karlovy Vary annually hosts one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in Central and Eastern Europe. This international event attracts filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts worldwide, adding a vibrant cultural touch to the town. If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the festival, attend film screenings, premieres, and events, and rub shoulders with filmmakers and actors from around the globe.

Where To Stay

Luxury Hotels

Luxury Spa Hotel Olympic Palace: 

This hotel offers breathtaking views near the picturesque Hot Spring Colonnade in Karlovy Vary. It’s an ideal base for exploring the town’s renowned thermal springs, strolling along the charming riverside promenade, and immersing in its rich cultural heritage.

Mid-Range Hotels

Spa Resort Sanssouci: 

This hotel offers scenic views and is situated near the idyllic forests of Karlovy Vary. It provides easy access to the renowned Mill Colonnade and is a mid-range hotel that caters to guests seeking relaxation and wellness experiences.

Budget Hotels

Hotel Kavalerie:  

Hotel Kavalerie boasts pleasant views and a convenient location near the picturesque river in Karlovy Vary. It is a budget-friendly hotel that offers affordability while being close to the famous Hot Spring Colonnade and its healing thermal waters.

Where To Eat

Beyond its wellness offerings, Karlovy Vary is known for its traditional spa wafers, a delicate and crispy delight that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. Enjoy local delicacies, including savoury Czech dishes and the famous herbal liqueur, Becherovka.  

Restaurant U Tomáše: Situated near the Hot Spring Colonnade, this restaurant serves traditional Czech cuisine with a modern twist. You’ll find reasonably priced, flavorful dishes from goulash and schnitzel to Czech dumplings.

Restaurace La Hospoda: Restaurace La Hospoda in Karlovy Vary offers a cosy atmosphere and a menu of Czech and international dishes. Its friendly service and reasonable prices make it a popular spot for locals and visitors.

Pizzeria Roma: If you’re in the mood for pizza, head to Pizzeria Roma. This cosy restaurant serves a variety of Italian-style pizzas, pasta, and salads at affordable prices.

Café Elefant: Established in 1713, this historic café is one of the oldest in Karlovy Vary. Enjoy a cup of coffee, indulge in homemade cakes, or savour a light meal in the charming ambience of this renowned café.

Final Thoughts

Whether you seek relaxation, wellness, or simply a charming escape from the ordinary, Karlovy Vary is a destination that promises to captivate your heart and revitalize your soul. With its healing waters, architectural splendour, and serene atmosphere, the town offers a soothing retreat for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Allow yourself to be embraced by the healing waters, indulge in luxurious spa treatments, and immerse yourself in the charm of Karlovy Vary. It’s a journey that will leave you refreshed, renewed, and longing to return.

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