Karlovy Vary is a star among the spa cities of Czech Republic. Not only the locals but also thousands of foreigners choose it as their destination every year to relax and cure their ailments. And there’s one more thing you should know about the city…
Many many Hollywood celebrities have been here. John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Scarlett Johannson, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon and many other know Karlovy Vary. They came to the International Film Festival that the city hosts every year.
Karlovy Vary – the spa city
The life in this beautiful Bohemian city revolves around the spas. And the spas thrive thanks to the many springs with curative effects from which 13 are being used for treatment by drinking. The luxurious hotels are ready to attend every need of their demanding clients. And they specialize in spa treatments, of course.
One of the most famous springs is called Vřídlo (from the Czech verb vřít – to boil). It rises from the fountain in one of the city’s colonnades and with its 73 °C it’s the warmest thermal spring in Bohemia.
A large part of the sights in Karlovy Vary has a typical spa character, you’ll notice it especially on the spa buildings, historical hotels and the colonnades.
Right after the spas there are three branches of industry which are important to the city and attract the tourists as well. One of them is the glass industry and there are several shops in which you can purchase the famous and highly appreciated Moser glass. If you’re more of a porcelain fan, you will appreciate the pink porcelain of Karlovy Vary which has a long tradition as well.
And last but not least, let’s not forget the food industry. Like in other spa cities, you have to taste the round spa waffers (lázeňské oplatky). Also, the city is an important producer of mineral waters distributed to the whole country. You might have heard about Mattoni or Magnesia and there are several more. Well and then there is Becherovka. The herbal miracle which is sometimes called “the 14th spring of Karlovy Vary”. We’ve written a bit more about Becherovka in this post. There’s a Museum of Becherovka in Karlovy Vary and it is definitely worth visiting and not only because there’s a tasting at the end of the tour;-)
So what is there to see?
From the original spa buidings only four survived until the present. There are also five colonnades featuring one or more of the springs each.
Several of the hotels are buildings of high historical value and are protected as such. There’s the famous Grandhotel Pupp from the early 18th century, Hotel Imperial built in 1912 for the elite among the spa clientele or Hotel Palacký which is located right on the side of the river Teplá. And of course the Hotel Thermal, the headquarters of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
There are also several important religious buildings in Karlovy Vary like the Roman-Catholic church of St. Mary Magdalene or the Russian Orthodox church of St. Peter and Paul.
The city pays tribute to many famous people some of whom visited Karlovy Vary regularly. And so you can see not only statues of Antonín Dvořák, J. W. Goethe or Ludwig van Beethoven but also a toombstone of W. A. Mozart in the so called Mozart park.
Everyone who visits Karlovy Vary should go to at least one of the vantage points or lookout towers to enjoy the marvelous views of the city. If you want a tip, probably the most famous place is called Jelení skok (Deer’s Jump). It’s actually the name of the bronze chamois statue which became a symbol of this place. You can easily walk there on the forest path from the colonnade with the Vřídlo fountain or take the Diana furnicular – check the schedule here.
Where to eat in Karlovy Vary
If you decide to go to Jelení skok, you might as well stay for lunch. There’s the Restaurant-Café Diana built at the beginning of the 20th century. There’s also a butterfly house right at the restaurant. The Staroslovanská Kuchyně restaurant offers dishes prepared in stone ovens and beer from their own brewery, it’s worth visiting especially if you’re a fan of meat. La Hospoda is another place of interest, it offers traditional dishes in a fine dining way.
And we mustn’t forget the cafés. Café Kava offers not only coffee but also homemade desserts, pancakes, ice cream…if you go there before lunch, you probably won’t eat lunch! Welsova kavárna is a good option if you want a light lunch and coffee right after because it offers delicious baguettes, fresh bread, soups and quiches. Freedom Café has coffee from a family roasting plant on its menu as well as tea, delicious desserts and burgers. It also features cultural events.
We’re sure there are other great places to eat and drink in Karlovy Vary so let us know in the comments if there’s a place you can recommend!
All the public transport in Karlovy Vary is covered by buses. There are also two furniculars and one touristic car train that takes you around the main sights. The city’s public transport company has a great website in English where you can check all the schedules.
Did you enjoy our virtual trip to Karlovy Vary? Or have you visited the city in person? And where to next? Check our Bohemia cathegory to see our recommendations! And now enjoy some more photos: