Austria, Czech Republic, Germany

The Enchanting Spa Town of Karlovy Vary

Traveling oversees is exciting, but it is also can be incredibly draining. That is why I always try to plan our first stop to be somewhere quiet, charming and relaxing. And, the spa town of Karlovy Vary is just the place! This beautiful city surrounded by wooded hills, features a kaleidoscope of pastel-coloured Art Nouveau buildings overlooking the rivers Ohře and Teplá. Situated about 130 km northwest of Prague, and very close to the German border, makes this an easy day trip from both countries.

The city was named after its founder, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, in 1370. The hot springs were believed to have healing powers, and the town developed into a famous spa resort during the 19th century, welcoming such greats as, Goethe, Chopin, Bach and Beethoven. Even today, there are 13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs and the warm-water of the Teplá River. The mineral water is formed 2,500 meters below the ground level, and drinking is said to have a positive effect on your digestive system (if you can stomach the taste!).

The Colonnades

The most impressive piece of architecture is the neo-Renaissance Mill Colonnade, built in 1881, which holds five different springs. Notice the rooftop statue, they depict the months of the year.

The Park Colonnade features an intricate wrought-iron structure dating back to 1880.  

The Market Colonnade is the only one to be crafted entirely of wood. This neo-classical structure dates from the 1880s.

The Hot Spring Colonnade is in a more modern concrete-and-glass structure built in 1975, and it houses an impressive geyser which spurts water 12 meters into the air.

If you are wanting to have panoramic views of this charming town,  take the Diana Funicular Railway, which climbs 166 meters to the Diana Lookout Tower. This hilltop lookout tower affords some specular views across Karlovy Vary and the surrounding forested hills. Then venture down through the easily marked trails through the forest, allow you glimpes of the village as you descend. A perfect way to end off your hike is in an outdoor café with a coffee and apple strudel.

Seeing this is the largest spa town in Czech Republic, partaking in some treatments should be at the top of your list of things to do. There are so many options you can choose from – traditional spa treatments to intensive wellness programs. Our accommodations, the 5-star Hotel Quisisana Palace https://www.quisisana-palace.com/en/ was where we decided to have our treatments; albeit it was very small, it was absolutely heavenly and the perfect start to our holiday in the Czech Republic!

22 Comments

  • Carol Colborn

    Awesome photos! I have not heard of Karlovy and have not been to the Czech Republic. But my husband would love to go to Prague so we will have the chance to see these lovely spots.

    • admin

      Carol you definitely should make it part of your trip to Czech Republic. It makes for a perfect 1-night stay. As you can see it is a very picturesque town. Very quiet and relaxing too. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy travels.

  • Alison

    I was in the Czech Republic last summer but did not get to Karlovy Vary! Clearly, I will have to pay a visit. I love the colours, the wooden market colonnade and the fact it is a spa town. What a great idea to start your holidays with a laid-back town!

    • admin

      Thank you Alison for your kind compliments. Too bad, you missed out on a real charming town, but it gives you another reason to travel back to Czech Republic! Thanks for taking the time to stop by my site and commenting.

  • Wendy

    I have never been to the Czech Republic, It sounds like a great place to visit. I never think of going to the spa when I am traveling, I am so busy going from place to place. This is a great idea for taking a little time to relax.

    • admin

      Thank you Wendy for taking the time to visit my site and commenting. I agree, usually touring Europe means non-stop seeing the sights, so in this case it was an opportunity to get over our jetlag. You should add Czech Republic to your travel destination list, it has so much history, wonderful architecture and it is just so photogenic. Hopefully you get a chance in the future to go there.

  • Milijana

    I can see why you say it was a perfect start of your holidays.

    I wouldn’t mind starting my holidays in the Czech Republic with a treatment in a spa Karlovy Vary either! What a treat!!

    • admin

      When you travel 8 hours, it is a nice way to ease your jetlag, a definite treat! Thank you Milijana for taking the time to stop by my site and commenting. Hopefully you get a chance in the future to travel the Czech Republic, it is definitely a country worth visiting.

  • Yukti

    I never knew of Karlovy before reading your post but your stunning photos tempt to book tickets for this place. Wooden Market Colonade is worth visiting in this city and loved its well-sculpted roof.

    • admin

      Thank you Yukti your kind compliments. As you know pictures never do real life justice. The different Colonnades are unique and even more magnificent in person. Hopefully you will get a chance to travel to Czech Republic soon.

  • Maggie

    What a beautiful little town! I’ve never heard of it, but your post makes me want to visit! I’d love to take the funicular up to the scenic view. And I can’t believe how intricate and elegant the Park Colonnade is!

    • admin

      Thank you Maggie for taking the time to read my post. Yes, it is a charming and picturesque town that if you ever find yourself in the Czech Republic you should add it to your itinery.

  • Michael Hodgson

    I had heard of Karlovy Vary from friends, but had no idea it was so spectacular … nor so close to the German border — south of Dresden and east of Nuremberg (there are so many “bads” — pronounced baaad and meaning baths or spas in German in the area all around the German / Czech border). Makes me wonder how many other smaller spa towns there might be also in the Czech side. Must visit soon I can see!!!

    • admin

      Thank you for your comments Michael. Yes, we visited Dresden when we were there, and that is such a fabulous city (famous for the Christmas stollen!). It is my understanding that Karlovy Vary is the largest of all the spa towns in the Czech Republic. You are right, it is an area fill of “bad” which does mean bath (or spa) in English. Appreciate you taking the time to stop my my site, I post weekly, so hope you enjoy future posts as well.

  • Himanshu

    Karlovy Vary looks an awesome destination and spa town. Mill Colonnade looks impressive with its façade.Hot sprint colonnade with 12 meter spurts must be a great site to see. I have book marked this as soon I am going to visit Prague.

    • admin

      Fantastic Himanshu, I am glad this has inspired you to possibly add to your future itinery to Czech Republic. All of the Colonnades are unique and different, each one is spectacular to see. Hope you enjoy your future travels. Thank you for visiting my site and commenting.

  • Joshua Schweigert

    I can’t wait for my next visit to Czech. I had such an amazing time during my two days in Prague and I knew right away my friends and I didn’t have enough time planned for there. Next time I go to Prague I will definitely make a detour from Prague and check out Karlovy Vary. It seems like a very cool city to relax in.

    • admin

      Thanks Joshua for taking the time to read and comment on my post. Wow, 2 days in Prague is not enough, that is why you are planning to return. This small town is very photogenic, so if you love to take pictures this is a great destination. Hopefully you get to visit it one day soon.

    • admin

      Thank you Astrid for your comments. We stayed 2 nights, and that included a day trip to Dresden Germany. If you are tight on time, 1-night is great, and if really tight on time then a day trip from Prague could work as well. It was nice to be there for dinner, as there are some great local cuisine restaurants and the city lights on the river make it very pretty.

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