6 must-visit places in Karlovy Vary

6 must-visit places in Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary, also known under its German name Carlsbad, is the spa capital of Czech Republic. It is located in West Bohemia, less than 30 kilometers from Germany. Besides its healing hot springs and opulent architecture, it’s known to film junkies for its glamorous International Film Festival.

Rest, health and good beer, that’s what tourists from all over the world look for when arriving in Karlovy Vary.

Author Hanka

And this amazing city never fails to deliver. Karlovy Vary is a multicultural city that welcomes everyone. In recent years, the most prominent group of visitors are those from Russia, who - thanks in part to cheap flights from Moscow to Karlovy Vary - also invest in real estate and businesses. 

If you would think that some healing water, cool movies and occasional informal lesson of Russian is all Karlovy Vary can offer, you would be very wrong. There is much more to it. Get inspired by our list of 6 more cool things to experience in this lovely city. 

1) Becherovka

Have you heard of Becherovka, the medicine-turned-alcohol? It was first created in Karlovy Vary in 1807 by Josef Becher. He was a pharmacist and his goal was to create a medicine for different stomach problems. Well, let’s say he (at least partly) succeeded. In small doses it can work as planned - too bad it is so tasty and became so popular as a liquor that it is hard to keep the doctor’s recommended dosage. 

The company has a fascinating history, illustrating the complicated times of the two World Wars and rise and fall of communism. What hasn’t changed much is the recipe - it is the family secret and now only two people know the complete list of ingredients and process. Where to get this amazing liquid?

Just visit any pub, bar or restaurant! And if pure Becherovka is a bit too much for you, ask for a Beton - a mix of Becherovka and tonic. 

2)The five colonnades

After tasting Becherovka, you might want to walk it off a bit. Luckily, Karlovy Vary has completely adopted its status of a city of leisure, slow walks, and romance by building 5 stunning colonnades.

Each of these roofed sidewalks shields at least one hot spring - and also the guests - from rain, wind, and sun and are as enchanting and elegant as the word suggests. The oldest ones - the cast-iron Park Colonnade and the famous Mill Colonnade provide comfort for spa water sipping since 1881.

You can reach the most famous hot spring of Karlovy Vary called very originally “Hot Spring” (Vřídlo in Czech) by the Hot Spring Colonnade, built in 1975 in Functionalist style. Another beautiful space for munching on the iconic round spa wafers is the Market Colonnade from 1883 and the Castle Colonnade built in 1921. 

3) Views on the city 

Karlovy Vary and chill can be a thing not only for those who like the elegance of cities, but also nature lovers. Venture in the forests around the city and you will find many romantic arbors and lookout towers.

Even those whose sense of orientation is virtually non-existent can feel sure and safe when choosing one of many color-coded trails. There are around 130 kilometers of these trails around Karlovy Vary, some of them will lead you to the Deer Leap and Charles VI viewpoints.

The most visited lookout tower is called Diana and is accessible for tourists of all ages and levels of spa city relaxation by funicular from the famous Grandhotel Pupp.

4) Japanese garden

This spa capital is truly a multicultural city, and if you will be overwhelmed by the buzz of the city, you can visit the Japanese zen garden. It is located on the southern edge of the city near the Parkhotel Richmond and was built in 1998. The mastermind behind this oasis of peace is Japanese architect Kanji Nomura.

The garden symbolizes the rapprochement of European and Japanese culture and helps visitors to relax and meditate even in the middle of busy Karlovy Vary. 

5) Horse races 

If Becherovka, elegant walks, and wafers have you feeling a bit heavy, you can use your energy for example on one of many tennis courts. Horse racing is also an exhilarating sport, that is part of the Karlovy Vary culture as much as the International Film Festival. The first horse races were organized before World War One and are always a big social event. Bring your fancy hats!

6) Film festival

The International Film Festival Karlovy Vary is by far the biggest film festival in the Czech Republic and is also one of the oldest ones in the world. While in the beginning, shooting moving images was considered everything but art, film connoisseurs and movie stars have been gathering in Karlovy Vary from 1946.

If you would like to enjoy the festival atmosphere, visit Karlovy Vary at the beginning of July. The IFF Karlovy Vary hosts many celebrities and each year offers to their fans up to 180 movies.

How to have even more fun in Karlovy Vary

This stunning West Bohemian city with a complicated and fascinating history caters to many types of visitors. Health enthusiasts, spa wafer junkies, nature lovers, shopaholics and movie experts can have the time of their life in Karlovy Vary.