Czech Spa Towns: Visiting Best Spas in Karlovy Vary

Nestled in the heart of the Czech Republic lies a hidden gem that’s been soothing souls and calming minds for centuries. One of the best Czech spa towns is where you’ll find it – Karlovy Vary.

The Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary boasts stunning colourful architecture, picturesque streets and an array of natural hot springs with healing properties. It’s the perfect destination to unwind and rejuvenate.

I was curious about its healing powers, so I made sure it found its way onto my Czech Republic itinerary. As the first of many destinations in the Czech Republic, it helped with the enviable jet lag and set up the rest of my holiday in the Czech Republic perfectly.

Of all the spa towns in the Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary stands out as being the best! 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.

But there are others too! This article will focus on the best spas in Karlovy Vary and cover a couple more destinations to add to your list too.

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Czech Spa Town of Karlovy Vary

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

Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad translates as “Charles Bath” and was named for Charles IV, King of Bohemia who founded the city in 1370.

The thirteen mineral springs found here have been used for medicinal purposes since the 14th century.

In the 18th century, is when this spa town near Prague became a very popular destination for both elites and creatives. The Grandhotel Pupp opened in 1701 and drew high-profile guests including Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Tolstoy, Karl Marx and Tsar Peter the Great to experience the health benefits.

Best Spas in Karlovy Vary

colannade in Karlovy Vary one of the best spa towns in the czech republic

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

Of the thirteen 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!

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 going from one colonnade to another.

The Becher Drinking Cure recommends walking during and after to take advantage of the full digestive treatment.

Warning, this is not a pleasant taste, I could barely stomach the taste. But it’s worth a try and makes a great souvenir to take home with you.

Mill Colonnade

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

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.

wooden colannade in the Spas in Karlovy Vary Czech Republic

Market Colonnade

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.

Spa Treatments

From traditional spa treatments to intensive wellness programs, to unique beer spa experiences, there are endless options to try and at all budgets.

Book well in advance through the hotel you’re staying at or wellness centres but rest assured these superior spa treatments are unlike any others you may have experienced in the past.

I booked through my hotel (Quisisnana, which has since closed) and enjoyed a warm chocolate wrap. Was it every soothing and smelled heavenly!

After checking out some of the other spas, like Castle Spa and Elizabeth Spa, I recommend the Elizabeth Spa. Not only is it located in an impresive Communist-era building, but the prices were reasonable.

Beyond the Spa, 8 Things to Do in Karlovy Vary

CZ KV 132

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.

1. Diana Observation Tower

Experience breathtaking views in Karlovy Vary at the Diana Lookout Tower. Reach the summit with a 30-minute hike or take the Diana Funicular Railway for a 166-meter ascent. The observation deck, accessed by 150 steps, offers spectacular panoramic views of Karlovy Vary and the surrounding hills.

Discover the legendary Deer Jump Lookout just a 5-minute walk away, where a hunting party’s dog uncovered a hot spring during a chase. If you took the funicular up, enjoy a scenic descent on easily marked forest trails, catching glimpses of the village along the way.

2. Admire the Architecture

Karlovy Vary is a town meant for strolling. 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. 

Another notable building is the Peter House. This is one of the older buildings in Karlovy Vary, easily recognizable by it’s half timbered frame.

3. 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. They make for great gifts to bring back home with you if you can resist the urge to not eat them yourself.

spring flowers with buildings in czech spa towns like karlovy vary

4. Eat Cake at Cafe Pupp

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.

5. Go to a Museum

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.

6. 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.

7. Shop Until You Drop

Karlovy Vary offers plenty of boutique shops. You can find traditional Czech souvenirs, such as pink porcelain and Bohemiam crystal – two items that this town is known for. Another local speciality is a liqueur called Becherovka, which is a legendary herbal elixir.

I on the other hand was drawn to the designer shops, and a Burberry scraf found its way into my luggage somehow.

8. Attend a Festival

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 market.

Getting to Karlovy Vary From Prague

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

  • By Car: drive west from Prague on the D6 highway, which becomes the E48, and follow signs to Karlovy Vary. The journey takes around 2 hours, depending on traffic.
  • By Bus: you will arrive at the Dolní Nádraží Station in about 2.5 hours from Prague
  • By Train: you will arrive at Horní Nádraží Station from Prague in about 3.5 hours and from there take a bus or taxi to the pedestrian-friendly spa zone in Karlovy Vary

Hotels in Karlovy Vary

I wish I could recommend my hotel, Quisisana Palace, but unfortunately it has since closed. If I was to return to Karlovy Vary, here is where I would book:

Other Czech Spa Towns To Visit


church steeple and building in czech spa towns

Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, offers a vibrant cultural scene and historic landmarks like the UNESCO Heritage site of Špilberk Castle and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.

Beyond its rich history, Brno is known for modern wellness centers like Infiniti Maximus, located on the city’s outskirts. This well-equipped thermal spa features indoor and outdoor baths, unique saunas, and various massages, including the recommended anti-stress massage.

Experienced by Adri of Traveltipzone
The sauna world includes unique experiences like the honey sauna, citrus sauna, salt sauna, and Turkish steam bath. For enthusiasts of spa treatments, various massages are available, such as the honey detox massage, infinity massage, or anti-stress massage.

I highly recommend the anti-stress massage, especially when enjoyed as a couple’s treatment.

  • Spend at least a full day in Brno, providing enough time for relaxation, but add additional days if you wish to explore the city’s landmarks
  • The distance between Prague and Brno is approximately 210 km (130 miles)
  • Drive from Prague to Brno by taking the D1 highway southeast for around 2 to 2.5 hours

Marianske Lazne

fountain with yellow building in czech spa towns

The spa experience in Marianske Lazne, renowned for therapeutic spas, features notable establishments like Ensana’s prestigious spa hotels.

The five-star Nove Lazne stands out, offering diverse medical treatments utilizing local spring waters, natural gases, and mud. The hotel includes a wellness area with amenities like a Roman bath, saunas, jacuzzi, and a rejuvenating vortex spa.

Experienced by Joanna of The World in My Pocket
Set amidst pine forests, it provides a tranquil spa experience in a Neo-Baroque architectural backdrop. The town’s charm is enhanced by statues adorning buildings. A nightly highlight is the singing fountain’s performance at 9 PM, located near the elegant Colonnade adorned with intricate ironwork.

The Pavilion, adjacent to the fountain, serves as a hub where various springs converge. Here, visitors can purchase a unique spa mug designed for a healthful experience—drinking spring water through its handle like a ceramic straw.

I enjoyed a relaxation spa package at Nove Lazne, which included different treatments such as massages, bubble baths and air wraps.

  • The distance from Prague to Marianske Lazne is approximately 170 km (105 miles)
  • Rent a car and take the D5 highway towards Plzen. From Plzen, follow signs to Marianske Lazne (approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes drive, depending on traffic)

Chodová Planá

iron sign of person in spa in czech spa towns

Chodová Planá, a charming Czech spa town near the German border, is renowned for introducing the world to “Beer Baths.” Home to the historic Chodovar Brewery since the 1500s, the town offers a unique spa experience at the Chodová Planá Beer Spa.

Experienced by LeAnna of Wander in Germany
At the Chodová Planá Beer Spa, immerse yourself in a vat of water infused with hops, yeast, and their signature Pilsner Beer. The combination of local mineral water and beer ingredients is believed to be excellent for your skin and body.

Enjoy a popular spa treatment, a full-body massage using the same ingredients that create their delicious beer. The carbonated bubbles provide a gentle exfoliation, leaving your skin soft and revitalized.

The experience of soaking in a beer bath followed by a beer massage is both memorable and amusing. Afterward, wrap yourself in a warm blanket for relaxation in a quiet beer cave, accompanied by more beer, of course!

  • Chodová Planá, located in western Bohemia near the German border, is about 100km from Prague and a 15-minute drive from the famous spa town of Mariánské Lázně. It makes for an ideal day trip from Mariánské Lázně or, if driving in Germany, a convenient excursion from the nearby Bavarian Forest.
  • Accessible by car from Prague in under two hours via the E50, the town is easily reached, with trains and buses requiring at least 3-4 hours for the journey.

As a Holidaymaker

My few days spent in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic was highlight of my overall trip! Not just because I love a good spa experience, but it was the combination of picturesque town, stunning architecture and elegant charm.

Looking for another delightful day trip from Prague, I recommend the fairytale town of Český Krumlov.

If you are looking for travel planning resources to book car, train or accommodations use my go-to recommendations.

And, if you are still planning your Prague itinerary I break down each of the historical quarters of Old Town Prague sharing best things to see and do. I recommend you start with the top attraction, visiting Prague Castle.