What to do in Karlovy Vary first, what attractions to see? The best time for visiting, where to stay, what original foods to try? What to visit in Karlovy Vary surroundings and why – explored good Time for Trip.
Karlovy Vary is a small resort town in western Czech Republic. It’s among the most famous attractions in the country, specializing in both therapeutic and excursion tourism.
For the curious traveler, there isn’t much to see here in terms of prominent attractions in Karlovy Vary, apart from the healing mineral springs. However, that’s not a problem, as just one day spent at the resort will fill you with vivid impressions and optimism.
Is it any wonder that dozens of buses arrive at Karlovy Vary daily during the season?
Usually, the bus tours from Prague aren’t particularly expensive. But, sadly, this kind of trips give you only a few hours to explore Karlovy Vary.
And this isn’t entirely right. So those who would like to enjoy a calm and unhurried atmosphere and truly relax should stay in Karlovy Vary for several days. After all, wouldn’t you like to treat yourself not just to something pleasant but also beneficial?
By the way, there are many excellent spa hotels in the resort. They might not be considered cheap, but they generally don’t break the bank. First and foremost, we recommend looking at the offer of Spa Hotel Anglický Dvůr, where in the middle of winter (celebrating Christmas and New Year in Karlovy Vary is a popular pastime), you can rent a room for two for just €170-200 per day. Another option is the slightly more expensive but still not quite reaching the most luxurious hotels in the city, Olympia Spa & Wellness.
Best Time to Visit Karlovy Vary
For a trip to a resort like Karlovy Vary, there’s no need to choose a particular month. It’s great here year-round, and tourists enjoy visiting the town at any time of the year.
Arriving in spring, you’ll see the trees budding and the flowers blooming. The city awakens from its winter slumber, and everywhere is filled with freshness and aromas, perfect for a rejuvenating break. Even without specific therapeutic procedures, you’ll feel great as you stroll through the streets of Karlovy Vary.
In the summer, this charming Czech town is also very beautiful. You can spend hours walking along the promenade, admiring the impressive architecture, or sitting on a bench with a book. It’s worth noting that as the resort gets warmer, it becomes more crowded. During the “high season,” prices for accommodation in local hotels, as well as the cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner in cafes and restaurants, naturally rise.
If you’re planning to travel with kids, it’s better to visit Karlovy Vary in the summer. Just remember to take precautions for hot weather. Although it’s not a beach resort, you should use sunscreen and hats for children during outings.
Those who visit Karlovy Vary in the autumn can enjoy beautiful landscapes when the tree leaves change to various colors – yellow, orange, and red. The air becomes cooler, and occasional rain showers bring freshness. However, autumn typically brings more overcast days, which might make some people feel a bit melancholic. On the other hand, this setting can inspire interesting ideas for creative individuals.
From late October to the end of March, the weather in Karlovy Vary isn’t especially warm. However, you can easily overcome this by wearing tick clothing. So, dress warmly and without any fear explore the city during the “low season”.
During this time, the number of tourists in Karlovy Vary decreases, and consequently, hotel prices drop. So, in the “off-season,” you can enjoy a vacation for less money.
In the grand scheme of things, few people are likely to go to Karlovy Vary for an extended period for sightseeing. Two days are sufficient to see all the city’s attractions. Most people come here for spa treatment. Therefore, the time of year for procedures isn’t of great importance.
The thermal mineral water sources are accessible to guests year-round, both in summer and winter. The pools with mineral water are also open all year, maintaining a consistent temperature.
You can visit Karlovy Vary with a child even in the winter, for example, during the preparation and celebration of Christmas and New Year. Like all European cities, Karlovy Vary adores these holidays and adheres to traditions.
Well before Christmas, the city transforms: shop windows are decorated with Christmas displays, colorful illuminations, and decorated Christmas trees. Decorations and gifts become available in stores, and Christmas markets take place on the streets.
The air is filled with a magical atmosphere, family warmth, and coziness. Such a trip will be memorable not only for children but also for adults. And if you combine your vacation with therapeutic procedures at a sanatorium, your holiday will leave only pleasant memories.
Top Attractions of Karlovy Vary
There aren’t too many interesting places, so listing them won’t take long. The first thing to do in Karlovy Vary is to visit the mineral water springs – there are over 10 major ones. They all come from the same source, so you won’t find differences in taste, but the water temperature varies.
The most famous local colonnade is the Mill Colonnade, built between 1871 and 1881, adorned with 124 Corinthian columns. Inside, there are five springs, and you can try the water for free.
Karlovy Vary has other colonnades as well. For example, you can visit the Castle Colonnade or the Market Colonnade, adorned with intricate wooden lacework. The Geyser Colonnade, built around the main local geyser, is less impressive but still valuable.
Of course, don’t miss the Open Air Colonnade located near the famous Dvořák Park.
Next to it is Karlovy Vary’s main architectural attraction, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. It was built for Catholic parishioners in the early 18th century by the renowned architect Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.
Organ concerts held inside the church will especially appeal to music lovers, as there are excellent acoustics here.
We also recommend visiting the Diana Observation Tower, standing atop a 70-meter hill. From here, you’ll get stunning views of the city and, on a clear day, the Ore Mountains are visible.
Interestingly, you only need to pay for the funicular, the lower station of which is located near the Grandhotel Pupp.
If you have time, visit the Moser Glass Museum. Bohemia is renowned for its glass production, and the museum at the factory is filled with mesmerizing exhibits.
Hotels and Spas
A bit further, on the opposite bank of the Teplá River, is the Grandhotel Pupp, famous for its appearance in the James Bond film “Casino Royale” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino_Royale.
While strolling along the Teplá River promenades, you’ll undoubtedly notice the largest spa complex in Europe, Elizabeth Bath. It’s located in the lush Smetana Park and is a great example of how a functional hotel building can be integrated into the historic architecture.
The “baths” opened in 1906 and were named after Empress Elisabeth of Austria, although she only visited Karlovy Vary once in her life in 1892. Interestingly, the royal personage stayed at the still-existing Hotel Tereza.
What to Try in Karlovy Vary
Guidebooks rightly emphasize that Karlovy Vary produces the strong liqueur “Becherovka” (38%), which is infused with herbs and is therefore extremely beneficial. This is the most popular and recognizable souvenir you can bring from the Czech Republic, aside from beer, of course.
You must also try the famous Karlovy Vary wafers, Oplatky. Moreover, these wafers are not just a treat; they are also a healthy product thanks to the local mineral water in their recipe.
A great winter dish to try here, especially for those who are very hungry, is the Karlovy Vary roll. It’s made from veal, ham, and bacon, served with a special sauce and a side of potatoes or rice.
What to Visit Near Karlovy Vary
Loket Castle is the largest medieval fortification near the town, and you can see it. The castle has been preserved excellently. Under normal conditions, the fortress is open to visitors year-round. You can explore it on your own or rent an audio guide.
Few foreign travelers to the Czech Republic are aware of the existence of the city of Cheb. It’s not surprising because it’s located in the westernmost part of the country, in the foothills of the Ore Mountains, not far from the German border.
Most people visit Cheb only if they are staying in Karlovy Vary. In all tourist agencies in the city, there’s an excursion to Cheb on offer, or you can drive there by car; it’s just half an hour away.
Cheb is an incredible city, and when you arrive there, you’ll get the strong feeling that it’s frozen in time, like you’ve been transported back centuries. The city was built by Slavic tribes as a border fortress, later changing hands between Germans and Czechs many times, and it only definitively became a part of Czechoslovakia after World War I.
The central square of the city is lined with closely packed Gothic houses with red-tiled roofs. The varied colors of the houses and their cozy, old-fashioned charm give Cheb a pronounced festive note.