Karlovy Vary, also called Carlsbad, for those who never heard of, is a small town in the Bohemian region of Czech Republic, located not far from the German border. If that still doesn’t say much about the place, well, maybe thermal waters, the movie 007 Casino Royale, and oblaten might ring a bell. Truth be told, even though the city is well known among Germans and Czechs and in the movies scene, it was all new to me, until W. and I had the chance to recently visit it.
Famous for its spas and mineral waters, Karlovy Vary is a city of nearly 50,000 inhabitants with a gorgeous architecture, and well known by its heath care tourism. It certainly has something to do with the thermal waters, which are said to provide many heath benefits. The purpose of our visit was not health, but to see what the city has to offer to travellers like us, and after a weekend in town, here are our top 8 things to do in Karlovy Vary:
Have a spa day
In a place famous for its spas, one cannot and should not leave without having some relaxing time in one of them. Taking a bath in thermal waters, having a hot stone massage, getting into a salt cave, are among the innumerous treatments offered by the local spas. You will notice that most hotels already combine your stay with wellness and spa, however, in some places it is also possible to get those treatments even though you’re not staying at the hotels.
Visit the hot springs and drink some
There are 13 main hot springs in Karlovy Vary, and around 300 smaller. While in town, it’s impossible not to notice them, especially at the Colonnades. It is also possible to visit the first hot spring of the city. Anyone can drink the water, the tradition is to have a special porcelain cup and help yourself with the warm water, which in my opinion tastes really weird, but it’s great for your health. The cup is especially made for facilitating drinking the hot water without burning your mouth, they come in different colors and sizes, and are sold as souvenir in small shops spread around the city.
Fall in love with the fairy tale architecture
Karlovy Vary is one of those fairy tale European towns, it’s a competition of pretty colorful buildings, hard to pick a favorite. I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful, but while I was there, I couldn’t stop photographing the architecture and repeating myself several times ‘what a beautiful place’.
Enjoy the panoramic views
The city is located in the middle of small mountains, providing several strategic places for a great view. The most famous is Diana Observation Tower, which can be reached by hiking or by taking a small cable car to the top of the mountain, then climbing a few steps up the towers or getting an elevator. Other options are the Castle Tower, Deer Jump Lookout, among other spots.
Take a break in 007 style
Fans of James Bond (me!) can enjoy the chance to have a coffee and cake at the Grandhotel Pupp’s café, hotel which the movie Casino Royale was filmed. The hotel is gorgeous from the outside and the inside, the café and restaurant are open to the public. For chocolate fans, don’t miss their hot crème chocolate!
Have a Oblaten
Oblaten are wafers originated in Karlovy Vary. They have two thin layers and filling that comes in different flavors, varying from hazelnut, apple-cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, coconut, mint, lemon and many many more. It’s possible to get them as souvenirs in boxes and to have one freshly made for you. Many shops sell them around the city, but it’s also possible to find them on supermarkets. They are delicious and make up for a great souvenir. I loved them and decided to bring a few boxes back home!
Visit the Colonnades
Colonnades are buildings of classical architecture with rows of columns supporting a roof. There are quite a few of them in Karlovy Vary and they are gorgeous. Some are romantic, others simply interesting, all worth a visit and a picture.
Stroll along the river
Karlovy Vary was built around the river Teplá, which means warm, and my favorite thing to do there was just to stroll along the river. Everything is located just next to it, restaurants, cafes, shops, Colonnades, and parks. By following the river, you will be able to see all the above mentioned places along your walk.
Tip: get the Karlovy Vary Card to have free access to over 50 attractions in town, plus discounts!
Where to stay
We stayed in one of the suites of Révelton Suites, located right in the center city, next to shops and restaurants. If you don’t plan on staying at a spa hotel, I couldn’t recommend more to stay in one of their apartments, which are cozy and equipped with everything you need.
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Our visit to Karlovy Vary was sponsored by Révelton Suites. As always, views and opinion are my own and I only recommend what I like and believe my readers will like too.