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What to do in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Czech Republic

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Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad, is a city in the western part of the Czech Republic and is listed in its entirety as a UNESCO World Heritage Site spa. Not surprisingly, it is considered the spa town of the country. But Karlovy Vary is not only known for its more than sixty springs, thermal waters and spas. The town also consists of colorful, stately villas and mansions and is located in the beautiful Ore Mountains and Western Bohemia. Karlovy Vary is one of the attractions in Bohemia that you should definitely visit during your road trip through the Czech Republic. What to do in Karlovy Vary? We share the best tips for the most beautiful places and attractions.

The town of Karlovy Vary is bursting with springs of which the Vřídlo, or ‘Sprudel’ is the most famous and impressive. The Vřídlo is a fountain where water up to 12 meters high is sprayed into the air. The temperature of the water is 73 degrees and, like the other springs, has a healing effect. The Vřídlo hot spring can be found right next to the imposing, glass Vřídelní kolonáda

Hot Spring Colonnade Karolovy Vary

Admire the special collonades in Karlovy Vary

Many of the hot springs in Karlovy Vary are located in collanades. Some collanades that are definitely worth visiting are the Mill Collonade, Hot Springs Collonade and the Market Collonade. Our favorite collonade in Karlovy Vary is the Mill Collonade – Tržní kolonáda – which was built over 100 years ago. The structure consists of 124 white stone pillars and a number of beautiful hot springs are located within it

Markt Colonnade
Markt Colonnade Karlovy Vary

Drink the thermal water of Karlovy Vary

In total, in Karlovy Vary you will find twelve hot springs (Vřídlo) from which you can drink the beneficial water. And drinking the healing water in Karlovy Vary is not something you do just from a glass or cup. The best way to start your city trip is to buy a special mug with a spout from which you can drink. You can buy them anywhere in the city. The funny thing is that during your walk through the city you will notice that a majority of the people you meet are walking around with the same kind of mug. The mugs are available in different sizes and colors. We ourselves bought a Karlovy Vary mug for 70 czk.

From all the hot springs in Karlovy Vary comes hot water that has a somewhat iron taste. I can’t say it’s necessarily delicious to drink and you definitely have to get used to it.

Orthodox Church of Saint Peter and Paul

Just outside the city center, in the Westend Residential district, you will find one of the most beautiful structures in the city. The Orthodox Church of Saint Peter and Paul was built in the late 1800s. The biggest eye-catchers are the five golden domes and the light blue elements. You can take a look inside the imposing Orthodox church for free.

And while you’re in the Westend Residential District I definitely recommend taking a short walk. In this part of town you will find the most stately, colorful and impressive mansions and hotels. Because Karlovy Vary was popular with visitors from all over the world, stately homes were built here in various European styles, all of which you can see here.

Orthodoxe Kerk van Saint Peter en Paul

Walk through Dvorák park

Along the Tepla River, which flows right through Karlovy Vary, you will find not only restaurants, hotels and hot springs and collonades, but also the small, but fine Dvorák Park. You can take a nice walk along the water here. Enjoy the tranquility and also there is a beautiful collonade here, namely Park Collonade. In Park Collonade you can find some beautiful hot springs

Dvorák park Karlovy Vary

St Mary Magdalene Church

Another impressive building in the center is the St Mary Magdalene Church. This church which was built in the fourteenth century and stands right next to the Hot Springs Collonade. Unfortunately, the gate was closed during our visit, but we were able to get a small glimpse of all the splendor. The exterior of the church is also incredibly imposing and so worth a look

Strolling through Stara Louka

Stara Louka is the main street of Karlovy Vary that runs right along the Tepla River. The street is completely car-free and bursting with cozy restaurants. fine hotels and bustling terraces. In particular, the colorful buildings make the street extra beautiful

Stara Louka Karlovy Vary
Stara Louka Karlovy Vary

The Diana watchtower for the best view over Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is located in the western Czech Republic in the Ore Mountains. For the best views you should visit the Diana Tower. The Diana watchtower is built on a hill and can be reached via a beautiful walking route or with the funicular. A ride on the funicular only takes a few minutes and costs 80 czk (single) or 110 czk (return). You can also choose to stop at another viewpoint, Jelení Skok, on the way there or back

Diana uitkijktoren

Eating and Drinking in Karlovy Vary

In terms of food and drink in Karlovy Vary, there are two things you must definitely try. The drink Becherovka and the traditional waffles ‘Lázeňské Oplatky’. Becherovka is an herbal liqueur invented by Czech pharmacist Joseph Becher. You can order this herbal liqueur anywhere in the city. In Dvorák park you will also find a special kiosk where you can try the drink. The delicacy you must try is the Lázeňské Oplatky waffle. These flat waffles are available in many different flavors.

Our favorite restaurants in Karlovy Vary

  • Bali Coffee Bar: Here you imagine yourself to be in Bali and enjoy delicious breakfast bowls and other fresh dishes. Also the coffees are a must! (see photos below)
  • Bagel Lounge: For lunch you should definitely crash at Bagel Lounge. We ate the best bagels ever and the atmosphere is great too.
  • Sabor Mediterraneo: Fancy tapas and/or steak? Sabor Mediterraneo is the place to be.
  • Spunt & Knoflik Company: In this trendy lounge bar you can not only go for a drink, but you can also eat the best burgers and wraps. Highly recommended!

Want to taste some delicious craft beers in Karlovy Vary? Then pay a visit to Beer & Láska. In this small store you can try a few draft beers. Or buy them to bring home.

The city is only 130 kilometers west of Prague. Therefore, you can also choose to book a day tour from Prague to Karlovy Vary.

Where to stay in Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is a real spa town and radiates luxury. Fortunately, however, there are also a number of excellent ‘budget’ options. We spent one night at Revelton Studios Karlovy Vary. Here you stay in a lovely studio with all modern conveniences. A spacious double bed on the mezzanine. a private kitchen, small living room and lovely bathroom. Revelton Studios is located within walking distance of the center and therefore a perfect base for your city trip.

Are you going to Karlovy Vary with your campervan? Unfortunately, the city seems to turn away vanlifers a bit, but there is one place where you can stay cheaply in your camper van. At NON-STOP Parkoviště right next to the Central Station. You can stay in the parking lot for about six euros for twenty-four hours and sleeping is allowed. The grounds are guarded 24/7. Although it is certainly not the nicest place we have stayed at it is a good option. We ourselves spend one night here in our self-built camper

Do you have any recommendations for places to visit in the city that we missed?