Karlovy Vary is a picturesque spa town located in the western part of the Czech Republic. It is situated in the Karlovy Vary Region and is the largest and most famous spa town in the country.
The town is nestled in the deep and narrow valley of the Teplá River and is surrounded by lush green hills.
Karlovy Vary, also known by its German name Karlsbad, has a rich history dating back to the 14th century. It was founded by the Emperor Charles IV and quickly gained recognition for its natural hot springs with healing properties. The town’s architecture reflects a mix of Baroque, Art Nouveau, and Renaissance styles, giving it a unique and elegant atmosphere.
The main attraction of Karlovy Vary is its 13 thermal springs, which were believed to have curative powers and attract visitors seeking wellness and relaxation.
Our driver initially dropped us off at this Kaiserbad Spa, where you can join a tour for visiting the spa rooms, or a tour around the place. Apparently this place was also used in James Bond’s Casino Royale movie! The Kaiserbad was a 19th century bath house, built in the looks of renaissance grandeur.
Grandhotel Pupp (website), also used in Casino Royale
Speaking of Casino Royale, Karlovy Vary is also renowned for its International Film Festival. The festival, one of the oldest in the world, has been held annually since 1946 and attracts filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts from all over the globe.
Karlovy Vary is also known for its unique porcelain production, so you can browse through exquisite porcelain shops and purchase traditional Czech souvenirs. These narrowly shaped cups can be bought so that you can drink from the spa water that sprouts out at different locations. Rumour has been said that while other cities and towns in Czech Republic were heavily affected by the Black Death plague from 1347 to 1351, this town of Karlovy Vary wasn’t affected at all because the people here drank the spa water here, known for their healing properties. Needless to say, I drank a few cups of it after hearing this myth.
Café Elefant (Instagram)
We went to Café Elefant for a few reasons – we were starting to get cold and wanted to go indoors, and we saw these beautiful desserts! And when we were researching places to eat, we wanted somewhere quick, so a cafe sounded like a good option
In terms of cuisine, Karlovy Vary is famous for its local delicacies, such as the traditional spa wafers, Becherovka liqueur, and herbal spa candies. There are numerous restaurants and cafes offering a variety of international and Czech dishes, allowing you to savor the flavors of the region.
And here, with this L shaped glass windowed architecture, is the Vřídelní Kolonáda (karlovyvary.cz)
Besides its eye catching architecture, the most powerful, famous and visible spring is the Vřídlo, which shoots up to a height of approximately 12 meters. The water from these springs is used in various forms of spa treatments, such as drinking cures, thermal baths, and mineral-rich mud applications.
The town offers a plethora of cultural and recreational activities for visitors. You can explore the picturesque colonnades and promenades, visit the elegant spa buildings, or take a leisurely walk through the beautiful forests and hills surrounding the town.
And now for my favourite tourist spot, the Mill Colonnade (website). It’s my favourite because it’s designed as a stone colonnade built in Pseudo-Renaissance style, perfect for photo taking
Inside the largest colonnade in Karlovy Vary, you can find five different mineral springs. We took a jug from about three of them. These spa water tastes quite salty. Different mineral springs will have different taste and different temperature – some might be hotter than others, so be careful.
And just like Mill Colonnade, Park Colonnade also offers mineral springs too. However, the temperature from these springs was not as hot as the ones in Mill Colonnade, and when we tasted the water from here, it tasted very copperish, so needless to say we didn’t drink much from these
Sigmund Freud apparently used to come here. I used to study Sigmund Freud in psychology, where he made the famous claim that as a child, the son will be infatuated with his mother, and the daughter will be infatuated with her father, and he also talked about oral fixation as well, like if you were always denied putting something in your mouth or doing an activity orally as a baby or child like sucking on your mother’s nipples for milk or drinking from a milk bottle or always denied from playing around with toys or food, when you become older you become much more inclined for addiction to things such as smoking because you want to fulfill the need to put something in your mouth. Also, I didn’t know he was Austrian.
Overall, Karlovy Vary is a stunning and vibrant spa town, offering a perfect combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and relaxation to its visitors. Whether you seek wellness, cultural experiences, or just a tranquil escape, Karlovy Vary is a destination worth exploring.