Exploring West Bohemia in the Czech Republic brought me into the charming spa town of Karlovy Vary, and it was stunning. The town is nestled within a valley, which is built along the Tepla with beautiful art deco, art nouveau, and secessionist buildings.
Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad (German name), is most famous for its numerous healing hot springs that you can drink from and relax in.
Most recently in 2021, Karlovy Vary was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the grouping “Great Spa Towns of Europe”, due to its numerous hot springs, luxurious spas and its historic centre’s 18th – 20th century grand architecture.
The settlement of Karlovy Vary dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries when German settlers made the area their home as craftsmen and miners. The town was a dominant German-speaking area, hence the original name of “Karlsbad”. Over the centuries the town grew into one of Europe’s most popular spa towns with its 13 main springs, and nearly 300 smaller springs.
Karlovy Vary had gone through changes of hands after the world wars when the German speaking parts of the Czech Republic became part of Nazi Germany. Then after WWII the country was absorbed into the Soviet Union, and the German population was expelled without compensation.
Today Karlovy Vary is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic and is the largest spa complex in Europe. It has been well preserved and protected by law as an Urban Monument Reservation. The town is an extraordinary place to visit with its spa cultural landscape, historic town centere, and relaxing atmosphere.
Many visitors to Karlovy Vary drink from the many mineral water taps that flow in various temperatures. You can come in with your own mug, but I purchased one from a souvenir stand that I still own today. There are many fountains around the town, as well as a centralized building with different flowing taps and temperatures. If you have ever tried natural hot spring water, then you know it is very hard and mineral tasting. If you can bare it then there are great health benefits to it.
Grand Hotel Pupp
At the end of the promenade is the Grand Hotel Pupp, and it is the finest place to stay in Karlovy Vary. This luxurious hotel was first opened in 1701 and was the first accommodations and social establishment in this spa town. Today the Grand Hotel Pupp has been visited by many A-List celebrities, been a set location for various films, as well as serving the finest cuisine in Karlovy Vary.
For hotel reservations and information – Grand Hotel Pupp
While in Karlovy Vary, I hopped the funicular to Diana, which was asm lovely tourist complex above the hills of the spa town. There is a variety of things to do in Diana, which includes the observation tower, a butterfly house, small petting zoo, and a historical restaurant that opened in 1941.
Stepping out of the capital city of Prague, and into West Bohemia can offer you a luxurious and relaxing experience. Karlovy Vary was stunning, as it was calming and was a great way to enjoy time in one of the best spa towns in Europe.
I travel because I become uncomfortable being too comfortable…– Carew Papritz
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