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Karlovy Vary is not only the most famous spa town in the Czech Republic but also the largest.

With more than a dozen hot springs and about 300 smaller springs, Karlovy Vary is a very popular tourist attraction.

Known as the jewel of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, it sits conveniently about 130 km west of Prague.

The city, also known as Karlsbad (German) or Carlsbad (English), was founded in 1370. It was a German-speaking city before World War II. Thereafter, the Czech settlers moved in and today the official language is Czech.

Karlovy Vary means “Charles’ Bath”, named after Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor.

From ancient glory to today, with its colorful and whimsical architecture, it is no wonder then that it was the setting for many scenes in the 2006 James Bond movie, Casino Royale. For instance, the casino setting in Casino Royale was at the beautiful Lázně 1 (Spa 1) building.

CARLSBAD
KURHAUS
PAVILION COTTAGE
HISTORIC CENTER
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Make Karlovy Vary your home for a few days

Before I go further, let’s talk about accommodation. If you are like me, you don’t enjoy packing and unpacking every other day. Therefore, to stay at Karlovy Vary and explore beyond its borders during your stay, is an absolute pleasure and a great convenience. I’ll give you some accommodation tips a bit later. For now, it’s worth noting that should you take my advice, there is no shortage of beautiful sightseeing ahead of you.

  • Nuremberg: By car, it’s 2 hours 10 minutes (214.4 km) via A6
  • Dresden: By car, it’s 2 hours 11 minutes (176.2 km) via Route 13/E442
  • Prague: By car, it’s 1 hour 42 minutes (128.3 km) via Route 6 and E48. Another option is to book tickets for a private sightseeing day trip
Prague Vltava River
Vltava River, Prague
Hot Source Karlovy Vary Spa Historically

Things to do

Market Colonnade

Market Colonnade Karlovy Vary
Market Colonnade
Karlovy Vary Market Colonnade

Market Colonnade is an iconic 1880s structure with 3 mineral-spring drinking-water fountains.

karlovy vary horse carraige
Karlovy Vary Чехия At night
Karlovy Vary Czech Republic Water Garden Park Pond
Promenade and river in karlovy vary

The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Karlovy Vary Russian Orthodox Church
The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
Karlovy Vary Russian Orthodox Church Russian OrthodoxKarlovy Vary Russian Orthodox Church

The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, constructed in 1897, has five golden domes and a colorful exterior. Inside the ornate Russian Orthodox church is art and gifts from wealthy Russian aristocrats.

Mill Colonnade

mill colonnade karlovy varyczech republickarlovy varyhistoric centerarchitecture
Mill Colonnade
Mill Colonnade Karlovy Vary

Mill Colonnade (completed construction in 1881 by Josef Zítek) runs parallel to the River Teplá It has 5 different springs.

Diana Observation Tower (Rozhledna Diana)

Enjoy beautiful city views from the historic lookout tower. Taste Czech cuisine at the hunting lodge-style restaurant. There’s also a small zoo.

Photo Credit to Lubor Ferenc, Wikimedia Commons

The Prospect Deer Jump

Karlovy Vary Deer Jump Lookout Czech Republic

The lookout, with completely different city views, sits at 472 meters above sea level. It is believed to be the oldest lookout point in the city, dating back to 1804.

Jan Becher Museum

Czech Cuisine

The Czech Republic is known for its very own herbal bitters liqueur, namely Becherovka. At the museum, you’ll be going back to 1807 when the pharmacist Jan Becher concocted the herbal bitters drink with water from the city’s springs.

Up to today, the same recipe is used. Becherovka is also preferred by many locals as a digestive, to be enjoyed after dinner.

Diana Deer Jump Lookout

Karlovy Vary Deer Jump Lookout Czech Republic

The lookout, with completely different city views, sits at 472 meters above sea level. It is believed to be the oldest lookout point in the city, dating back to 1804.

Stará Louka Street

Karlovy Vary Stara Louka Street

Stará Louka is the city’s most famous and prominent shopping street. Here you’ll find anything from high-end boutiques to coffee shops. 

Wander along the river Teplá and take in the beautiful setting. Then, do another walk in this calm and relaxing setting. However, plant it around sunset for another charming view.

the russian orthodox churchdomegoldenradiantshinebuildingczech republickarlovy varythe russian communityarchitecturetowerschurchreligionfaithsymbol

Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church Dome Golden Radiant karlovy vary
Karlovy Vary Russian Orthodox Church

St. Mary Magdalene's Church

St Mary Magdalene Church Karlovy Vary

The church was built in 1737 and is a beautiful show of high Baroque architecture. You can view its interior during daily worships.

So by the way, it’s not easy to miss being right in the heart of the lovely city. Just follow the towers in the skyline.

Inside is a precious altarpiece, Baroque Eucharist sculptures, Gothic Madonna, and other decorations.  A visit to the city will not be complete until you’ve ticked this Baroque monument off as “seen and done”!

Lázeňská Street

Lazenska Street Karlovy Vary Czech Republic
Karlovy Vary Karlovy Vary Czech Republic
On the banks of the River Teplá.

I give you the coordinate to view the bronze memorial plaque of the famous composer Ludwig von Beethoven. The plaque is to commemorate his stay in the very beautiful Lazenská street in February 1796.

Location: N 50° 05.208 E 014° 24.336; 33U E 457477 N 5548450

Butterfly House Diana

Discover the most beautiful and exotic butterflies from around the world in a tropical garden setting. For instance, butterflies from Thailand, from the Philippines, or from the rainforests of South America or Mexico.

As you meander amongst more than 300 colorful beauties fluttering around you, you will be fascinated by the range of colors and sizes. For example, some butterflies have a wingspan of up to 20 cm!

Also, you get to do some souvenir shopping at the pretty butterfly-themed shop. Make sure you have enough cash with you because they only take cash as payment.

karlovy vary butterfly sightseeing
karlovy vary butterfly

Experience Karlovy Vary as a day tour

Historic stay in Karlovy Vary

Hotel Imperial

Karlovy Vary Imperial Hotel

In the early 20th century, the city lacks sufficient capacity for spa accommodation. Then, local entrepreneur Alfred Schwalb identified an opportunity to build a “fairy-tale” international grand hotel with exquisite views.

Combined with a transport solution in the form of the single-track funicular up a 127-meter long tunnel, construction started and the hotel opened its doors in June 1912.

Not only was it the venue of the World Chess Championship in 1923, but it also has an impressive guest list: 

  • The most famous of all European banking dynasties namely the Rothchild family, legendary composer Richard Strauss, President T.G. Masaryk, members of the Polish and Russian noble and royal families, Hollywood star Douglas Fairbanks and many more.

Awards: World Travel Award 2007 for the best spa hotel in the Czech Republic.

Grandhotel Pupp

Grandhotel Pupp

If you think Hotel Splendide in James Bond’s 2006 Casino Royale was really in Montenegro, you’re wrong. The setting for the location was actually the Grandhotel Pupp! It was also the setting for other movies such as the 2006 comedy “Once Again Holidays”, with Queen Latifah.

Ludwig von Beethoven stayed here in 1812 when he gave a concert with the violinist Giovanni Battista Polledro.

An entertainment establishment was previously on the same site, constructed in 1701. It was demolished in 1892, and the construction of a modern hotel is today’s Grandhotel Pupp. Between 1892 and today the hotel had several name changes. It was even nationalized by the government. That is, after the Second World War. Subsequently, the hotel was privatized again and after extensive restorations, it sure is a treasure.

 

Stay in award-winning apartment accommodation

Rêvelton Suites

Staying in these apartments is super homely and stylishly designed with everything you may need.  The spacious suites and classic pastel-colored design is not only pleasant to the eye but provides ample privacy. 

They work on an efficient contactless check-in system, making it even more convenient to pick these mini-mansions as your preferred stay.

World Travel Awards:

  • Czech Republic’s Leading Serviced Apartments 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Best spa hotels & resorts