So, you have arrived in Karlovy Vary. What to see and where to go first? About this and not only – in our article.
Karlovy Vary is the second most popular city in the Czech Republic among tourists, which bears the unofficial title of “the green pearl of the West Bohemian triangle”. Its colonnades and geothermal springs make this place one of the most attractive resort towns in Europe, while there are many other interesting sights that many tourists simply do not know about.
Hot Spring Colonnade
Vrzidlo is the most famous of all thermal springs in Karlovy Vary and also one of the hottest. Its water temperature is 72 ° C, and the jets burst out of the ground under such powerful pressure that they reach a height of 12 meters, spewing 2000 liters of water per minute.
This geyser is located inside the Vřídelní kolonáda (Vřídelní kolonáda) Colonnade (Vřídelní kolonáda), a functionalist-style building from the 70s, which houses four more springs (absolutely free access).
Having tasted the local water for the first time, you will surely be surprised – it takes a little getting used to this water. We also recommend visiting the underground of the colonnade to see how this center functions from the inside, and at the same time learn how the famous aragonite crystals are formed.
Address: Vřídelní kolonáda, Divadelní nám. 2036/2, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
The most striking architectural monument in Karlovy Vary is undoubtedly the Renaissance Mlyn Colonnade, built in 1871-1881, in which as many as five mineral springs work.
The balustrade of the upper terrace is decorated with statues symbolizing the months of the year, and a small orchestral shell can be seen inside the building itself. Opposite the Mlinska Colonnade there is a magnificent building (recreated according to old drawings) with a restaurant and a hotel. It is believed that Peter the Great himself stayed in this house in 1711 while visiting Karlovy Vary.
Address: Mlýnská kolonáda, Mlýnské nábř., 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Church of St. Mary Magdalene
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is the most important Catholic church in Karlovy Vary and one of the city’s grandest Baroque buildings.
The renowned Baroque master Kilian Dientzenhofer, the architect of St. Nicholas Church in Prague’s Mala Strana, worked on the construction of this imposing church, located on the city’s central spa street. The construction was completed in the 30s of the 18th century. In the crypt there is an underground altar and a crypt in which the ashes of those who were once buried in the 18th century church cemetery that surrounded the church are buried.
Address: Church of Mary Magdalene, nám. Svobody 1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
This elegant wrought iron colonnade was built in 1880. She is the first to meet tourists when entering the tourist promenade from the north side. The Garden Colonnade was designed by the Viennese architecture firm Fellner & Helmer, which also worked on the Market Colonnade.
Address: Sadová kolonáda, Zahradní, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
This openwork neoclassical colonnade (the only one in the city made entirely of wood) appeared in Karlovy Vary in the 1880s as a result of the works of the legendary Viennese architecture firm Fellner & Helmer. A bronze plaque above Charles IV’s spring depicts the discovery of the hot springs by Emperor Charles in the 14th century.
Address: Tržní kolonáda, Tržiště, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
A narrow alley to the north of the Grand Hotel Pupp leads to the landing pavilion of the Diana funicular, which rises 166 meters and offers tourists a magnificent view from the observation tower of the same name. The funicular leaves every 15 minutes. You can go back down on foot through a picturesque forest.
Address: Lanovka Diana, Mariánská 1218/1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Lookout tower “Diana”
The famous Diana lookout tower, built in 1914, is located on the top of the Friendship Hill. If you are in good physical shape, you can try to climb to it along the forest trails, the most convenient time for these hikes is spring, early summer and autumn.
Another option is to take a special funicular that leaves from Karlovy Vary every 15 minutes and goes up in about three minutes. The viewing range from the tower is 70 kilometers on a clear day. Nearby there is a restaurant and a mini-zoo. The Diana Lookout Tower is considered one of the main attractions of Karlovy Vary.
Address: Diana Tower, Vrch přátelství 5/1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
The Moser Glassworks Museum is located on the western outskirts of Karlovy Vary. It displays more than 2000 exhibits that tell the rich history of the company. Tourists are offered to purchase tours to a nearby glass factory. There is a shop at the museum, but the prices here are not very different from those that can be found in the city.
Address: Moser Visitor Center, Kpt. Jaroše 46/19, Dvory, 360 06 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Karlovy Vary is the birthplace of Josef Becher, a 19th century pharmacist who developed his own medicinal tonic, which we know as Becherovka. After the death of Joseph, his son Johann continued to develop the family business and began to mass produce the drink, which later became a national treasure of the Czech Republic.
In the Jan Becher Museum, you will see original dishes and other interesting artifacts, as well as learn how Becherovka is brewed and stored. A visit to the museum involves tasting a drink, which is an additional motivating factor!
The Jan Bechter Museum is rightfully considered one of the main attractions of Karlovy Vary. Photos and descriptions of this place can be found on any tourist portal dedicated to the Czech Republic. Do not forget to buy a bottle of Becherovka for friends and family and for yourself – as a keepsake.
Address: Muzeum Jana Bechera, Tomáše Garrigue Masaryka, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Peter and Paul Church
Arriving in Karlovy Vary, be sure to visit the magnificent church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in 1898. Despite being located in an area known for its incredibly beautiful Art Nouveau villas, it manages to stand out from the crowd with its tall golden domes and blue roof vaults.
The church was built with funds from wealthy Russians who visited the resort. The appearance borrowed typical features of the design of Russian churches of the 17th century, so the temple has the shape of a cross in cross-section. The interior of the church is as attractive as its exterior: the bas-relief of Peter the Great, numerous frescoes and a large wooden wall with icons and paintings attract particular attention.
Address: Chrám sv. of the Apostles Peter and Paul, King George 2c, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Karlovy Vary Museum and Art Gallery
If you want to learn about the history of the city and the region, we recommend visiting the Karlovy Vary Museum. Its permanent collection offers an in-depth look at the development of the region as an important spa center, while learning a lot about the local waters and their therapeutic uses.
The museum also has an interesting library with many books related not only to balneology (the study of mineral waters), but also to the history of art in the region. It also makes sense to visit the art gallery with its excellent collection of paintings and statues by famous Czech masters. In addition, concerts and various theatrical performances are regularly held here.
Address: Karlovy Vary Art Gallery, Goethova stezka 1215/6, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Just 13 kilometers from the center of Karlovy Vary is the quaint town of Loket with its main tourist attraction in the form of a magnificent ancient castle of the 12th century, located high above the settlement. Loket Castle is perfectly preserved and has undergone very few changes since its construction.
Its thick stone walls, which were used as a prison in the 18th and 20th centuries, earned Loket a reputation as the most impregnable fortress in Bohemia. If you can, try to match your visit to this attraction with the start of the annual Opera Festival every July – the castle plays a major role in it, providing a stunning backdrop for the Czech National Opera, which plays open-air performances at the local amphitheater.
Address: Hrad Loket, Zámecká 67, 357 33 Loket, Czech Republic.
The Motorcycle Museum is located a short drive from Karlovy Vary in a small village called Bečov nad Teplou. Here, fans of two-wheeled vehicles will be able to see over 40 well-preserved models of old motorcycles and numerous motorcycle artifacts, including engines and specialized paraphernalia.
All this splendor is neatly placed in an old building of the 13th century. You will also love the small toy museum, which contains exhibits from all over the Czech Republic, as well as a collection of cutlery and weapons. After visiting the museum, be sure to wander the streets of this quiet village – you will come across many beautiful old buildings (including even a castle) on your way and enjoy the superb coastal scenery.
Address: Museum of Historical Motorcycles, 5th May Square, Bechov-na-Teplou, Czech Republic.
Spa Hotel Thermal
In fact, this building does not really fit into the look of Karlovy Vary, but this is what makes it special. The Thermal Spa Hotel is a 10-storey complex dating back to the 1970s, dating back to the Soviet era, and its appearance is in stark contrast to the sophisticated architecture of the Old Town.
And although at first this place was not very popular, today it is one of the main city landmarks. Thermal offers the only public outdoor pool in the city center. In early July, it hosts the annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival – the region’s leading cinematic event, which turned half a century in 2015.
Address: Spa Hotel Thermal, Ivana Petroviče Pavlova 2001/11, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Grand Hotel Pupp
This magnificent hotel with 228 rooms with over 300 years of history is located on a hillside and offers its guests a stunning view of Karlovy Vary. It was named after Johann Georg Pupp, the local pastry chef who founded the hotel.
Over the centuries of its existence, Pupp’s descendants expanded and transformed the hotel, and by the beginning of the 20th century, its building acquired the neo-Baroque look that we can observe today. This oasis of abundance is a popular destination for wealthy and famous guests from all over the world, and moviegoers will know this hotel from the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale.
Address: Grandhotel Pupp, Mírové náměstí, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Stara Louka Street
Stara Louka is considered the central and most picturesque street of Karlovy Vary: old townhouses on the northern bank of the Teplav River, surrounded by the evergreen hills of the Slavkov Forest, will impress any tourist.
Cozy boutiques, cafes and restaurants are lined up along the street. This is the ideal place for relaxing walks on weekends and chatting on one of the terraces by the river over a cup of aromatic coffee. Along the opposite bank of the river stretches Nova Luka Street, on which the Vitezslav Nezval Theater is located.
Address: Stará Louka, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
The famous post office is located in the mountains south of the city. It was originally a post-horse stable, which soon developed into a popular staging post for travelers and locals alike.
After a while, a restaurant was opened here, where the local aristocracy and the nobility staged noisy parties “for their own.” This neoclassical building features many stately rooms with two spectacular French-style pavilions. Among all the premises, the dance hall with a covered terrace stands out.
Address: Poštovní Dvůr, Slovenská 309/2, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.