Traveling oversees is exciting, but those first couple of days fighting jet lag take a toll. That is why I always try to plan our first stop to be somewhere quiet, charming and bit more relaxing to ease into your holiday. 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. It is situated about 130 km northwest of Prague, and very close to the German border, which 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, as such, 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 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.
Hot Springs Colonnade
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.
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, Hotel Quisisana Palace was where we decided to have our treatments; and it was absolutely heavenly and the perfect start to our holiday in the Czech Republic!
Beyond the spa
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 spectacular views across Karlovy Vary and the surrounding forested hills. Then venture down through the easily marked trails through the forest, allow you glimpses 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.
Or, why not stroll the wide sweeping boulevards and take in the pretty pastel coloured architecture of the Art Nouveau buildings. The town is small so it won’t take you too long to wander about.
Or perhaps you want to do some shopping? You will find lots of high-end boutique shops, galleries, jewelry and luxury designer stores. This is where the wealthy come to holiday.