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How to Visit the Karlovy Vary Spa Town in 2023

Wondering how to visit the Karlovy Vary spa town? Come with me, I’ll share all the best parts!

Nestled in the heart of the Czech Republic lies a hidden gem that’s been soothing souls and calming minds for centuries.

If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday, Karlovy Vary is the perfect destination to unwind and rejuvenate. Known as one of Europe’s most famous spa towns, Karlovy Vary boasts stunning architecture, picturesque streets and an array of natural hot springs with healing properties.

I was curious about the healing powers and when planning a trip to the Czech Republic, I just knew I needed to add this beautiful place to my itinerary. What better way than making this your first stop, it helped with the enviable jet lag and set up the rest of my holiday so perfectly.

Whether soaking up the mineral-rich waters or strolling through its charming streets, this quaint town offers a unique experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized. So grab your robe and slippers, it’s time to discover Karlovy Vary!

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How to Get to the Karlovy Vary Spa Town

Karlovy Vary lies in the western part of the Czech Republic, situated approximately 130 km (80 miles) west of Prague.

Karlovy Vary is well-connected by various modes of transportation. The nearest international airport is Prague Airport, and from there, you can rent a car, or take a direct bus or train to Karlovy Vary. It is also possible to reach the town by train or bus from other cities in the Czech Republic.

Another popular way to reach this town is by taking a tour. After you’ve seen the top sites in Prague this is one day trip you don’t want to miss out on.

Top Rated Tour for Czech Republic Spa Town Karlovy Vary

#1 Top Pick
garden bed with fountain  in karlovy vary spa town


Day Trip to Karlovy Vary with Spa House Visit

✅ From Prague to Karlovy Vary

✅ 9.5 hours

✅ Visit the largest spa

REVIEWERS say: Visiting Karlovy Vary has been a bucket list and it didn’t disappoint! Tour was a great mix of tour and free time. Enjoyed the chosen karlovy vary day spa.

Is Karlovy Vary Worth Visiting?

spring flowers with buildings in karlovy vary
Springtime in Karlovy Vary

Most definitely, this charming spa town is worth visiting! Located in western Bohemia Karlovy Vary has been attracting visitors for centuries with its natural hot springs, stunning architecture, and rich cultural history.

One of the main attractions of Karlovy Vary is its 13 mineral springs that have been used for medicinal purposes since the 14th century. Visitors can sample the water from various fountains throughout the city and even buy special cups designed to drink the mineral water in order to experience its health benefits. The thermal baths and luxurious spas in Karlovy Vary offer a range of treatments using these natural resources, making it an ideal destination for those looking to relax and rejuvenate.

Aside from its wellness offerings, Karlovy Vary is also home to some impressive architecture. One particular highlight is the Grandhotel Pupp, which was built in 1701 and has hosted numerous celebrities over the years such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Queen Elizabeth II. The hotel’s opulent interiors make it a popular spot for film shoots – it was famously featured in James Bond’s Casino Royale.

Cultural enthusiasts will also appreciate Karlovy Vary’s rich history – from its founding by Charles IV in 1370 to serving as a filming location for movies like Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah. As such, the town developed into a famous spa resort during the 19th century, welcoming such greats as, Goethe, Chopin, Bach and Beethoven.

The town hosts many festivals throughout the year including an international film festival which showcases films from around the world.

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Best Spas in Karlovy Vary

No visit to Karlovy Vary is complete without visiting the Colonnades. Colonnades can be found all throughout the town. Each with its own unique design and mineral water at different temperatures.

There are 13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs and the warm water of the Teplá River. The mineral water is formed 2,500 m below the ground level. Drinking it is said to have a positive effect on your digestive system – that is if you can stomach the taste!

Mill Colonnade

mill colannade in Karlovy vary

The Mill Colonnade is the most impressive one in Karlovy Vary. The architecture is the Neo-Renaissance and was built in 1881. It’s also the largest as it holds five different springs, all at varying temperatures. At the centre of the Colonnade, there are rooftop statues, each depicting the months of the year.

Park Colonnade

colannade in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

The Park Colonnade features an intricate wrought-iron structure dating back to 1880. Surrounding this Colonnade is a lovely park which is full of magnolia blooms in springtime.

Market Colonnade

wooden colannade in the Spa Town of Karlovy Vary | Czech Republic

The Market Colonnade is the only one to be crafted entirely of wood. This neo-classical structure dates from the 1880s. It is a long colonnade that is located next to shops, hence the name ‘market.’

Hot Springs Colonnade

The Hot Spring Colonnade is located 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.

geyser with water  spurts in Karlovy vary in the Czech Republic

The Becher Drinking Cure

Take part in the local tradition. The Becher Drinking Cure refers to the centuries-old practice of drinking mineral water believed to hold medicinal properties from a small porcelain cup. Little kiosks sell these drinking cups, shaped like small teapots, for you to fill and sip as you wander throughout the town. The Becher Drinking Cure recommends walking during and after to take advantage of the full digestive treatment. Warning, this is not a pleasant taste, but worth a try and it makes a great souvenir to take home with you.

Book a Relaxing Spa Treatment

Mill colannade in spa town of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic
Mill Colonnade

One of the most popular things to do in Karlovy Vary is to treat yourself to a spa treatment. You can’t visit the largest spa town in the Czech Republic and not at least try one. There are so many options, at all budget levels, that you can choose from. From traditional spa treatments to intensive wellness programs, there is even a beer spa experience.

Whether you book at one of the wellness retreats, or the hotel you’re staying at, these superior spa treatments are unlike any others you may have experienced in the past.

Traveller’s Tip: Book your Spa Treatmens in advance. Many spa and wellness centres do not accept walk-in and availaibility is limited.

What to Do in Karlovy Vary (Beyond the Spas)

Once you’ve tried the Becher Drinking Cure, strolled the Colonnades and experienced a relaxing spa treatment (or two) there’s still much more to do in Karlovy Vary.

Visit the Diana Observation Tower

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One of the top things to do in Karlovy Vary is to visit the Diana Lookout Tower. You can reach this popular lookout point by hiking about 30 minutes to the top or by taking the Diana Funicular Railway, which climbs 166 m to the top. The Observation deck is another 150 steps to reach the top. This hilltop Diana lookout tower affords some spectacular views across Karlovy Vary and the surrounding forested hills.

Once here, you can walk 5 minutes to the Deer Jump Lookout, which has a legendary tale. The story goes that while chasing a stag the hunting party’s dog fell into a deep hole. The dog howled because the hole was actually a hot spring and that’s how they were discovered.

If you took the funicular up, why not venture down on foot? Simply follow the easily marked trails through the forest, allowing you glimpses of the village as you descend.

Admire the Art Nouveau Architecture

Karlovy Vary is a town meant for going for long leisurely strolls. Wide sweeping boulevards with tiny foot bridges bring you from one side to the other all while you gaze upon the pretty pastel-coloured architecture of the Art Nouveau buildings. 

Walk down Stara Louka

One of the most popular streets in Karlovy Vary is Stara Louka. Lining the street are hotels, cafes, restaurants and luxury shops. The street starts at the corner of the famous Grandhotel Pupp and ends at the junction of Divadelni Namesti and Trziste Street. Look out for street vendors selling Carlsbad Wafers and no visit to this spa town is complete without trying some. Choose flavours from lemon, vanilla, hazelnut or cinnamon.

Eat Cake at Cafe Pupp

apple strudel
I got the traditional apple strudel

Not a guest of the most famous hotel in Karlovy Vary, Grandhotel Pupp, and still want to see the inside? Here’s a way you can. Enjoy tea or coffee along with their famous chocolate cake with apricot caviar and replay the movie location of Queen Latifah’s Last Holiday and Casino Royale. A little indulgent? Oh yes, but it’s a memory you’ll have forever.

Go to a Museum

yellow building Karlovy Vary spa town

The Czech Republic is famous for its glass. Learn more about one of the country’s largest export at the Moser Museum which maps out the centuries-old history with more than 1,000 pieces on display. You can watch the entire process of blowing, shaping, and creating the colour of these professional glassmakers.

Visit the Jan Becher Museum to learn more about the herbal liqueur from Karlovy Vary. This museum traces its roots back 200 years and you can have a chance to taste the liqueur or even bring back a small bottle with you.

Visit a Church

The 14th-century church of Saint Mary Magdalene sits next to the Hot Spring Colonnade in the town’s centre where you can book a tour to visit an underground crypt. Or visit the impressive Orthodox Church of St. Peter & Paul resembles an old Russian church with gold domes.

Where to Stay in Karlovy Vary

Here are the highest-rated and recommended hotels:


What is the best time to visit Karlovy Vary?

The best time to visit Karlovy Vary is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the town is less crowded. However, each season has its charm, and the town is also lovely during summer and winter.

How long should I plan to stay in Karlovy Vary?

A typical visit to Karlovy Vary can range from 1 to 3 days. This duration allows you to explore the main attractions, enjoy spa treatments, and experience the unique atmosphere of the town. However, if you want to explore the surrounding areas or participate in more extensive spa treatments, you may want to consider a longer stay.

Is it safe to drink the water from the hot springs?

The water from the hot springs in Karlovy Vary is considered safe for drinking. In fact, it is believed to have therapeutic properties. However, if you are unsure or have specific health concerns, it is advisable to consult with a medical professional before consuming the water.

Are there any natural attractions near Karlovy Vary?

Yes, there are several natural attractions near Karlovy Vary. The Slavkovský les (Slavkov Forest) is a beautiful forested area where you can hike and enjoy nature. You can also visit the nearby town of Loket, known for its stunning medieval castle and picturesque surroundings.

What are the shopping options in Karlovy Vary?

Karlovy Vary offers a variety of shopping opportunities. You can find traditional Czech souvenirs, such as porcelain and glassware, as well as high-quality local products like herbal cosmetics and herbal teas. The town also has a few shopping malls and boutiques where you can find clothing, accessories, and more.

Are there any cultural events or festivals in Karlovy Vary?

Yes, Karlovy Vary hosts several cultural events and festivals throughout the year. The most famous event is the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which takes place annually in July. Other events include the Karlovy Vary Folklore Festival and Christmas markets.

As a Holidaymaker

Karlovy Vary features the highest concentration of hot healing springs. This relaxing spa town is a luxury holiday destination. From the luxurious Karlovy Vary spas to hotels to restaurants and high-end shopping. It’s a pretty small town that is a must-see when in the Czech Republic with great things to do perfectly for a couple night’s stay.

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