Has there ever been a moment when you yearned for a destination brimming with architectural grandeur, the serenity of nature, spa indulgences, and a rich tapestry of history? If your answer is a resounding ‘yes’, then Karlovy Vary, or Carlsbad as it’s also known, is the wonderland you’ve been dreaming of.
Located in the Czech Republic’s western Bohemia, approximately 130 km (about 81 miles) west of Prague, Karlovy Vary offers a harmonious blend of wellness, exploration, and relaxation. It’s the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic and is famous for both its therapeutic mineral waters and its film festival.
For many, Karlovy Vary is a 2-day stopover while someone visits Prague. For us, Goethe, Karl Max, Beethoven, Wagner, and many other personalities (😂) is definitely a main destination! It is hard to say “I will go for only one day spa in Karlovy Vary”!
The Enchanting Beauty of Karlovy Var
When you step foot in Karlovy Vary, you can’t help but be blown away by its stunning beauty. The pastel-colored buildings, the tranquil Teplá River reflecting everything like a mirror – it’s like walking into a fairytale. And let’s not forget about those awesome colonnades and the hills that surround the town. Every nook and cranny is begging to be Instagrammed!
It’s no wonder why Karlovy Vary is a favorite spot for movie sets and why the film festival there is such a big deal. It’s like this place has all the glitz and glam of Hollywood!
The Rise of a Spa Town
Karlovy Vary owes its inception to Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, who founded the city in 1370. The tale of its discovery is one of uncertainty. The most common is that the Emperor chanced upon this thermal haven during a hunting expedition.
The hot springs, bursting forth from the Earth, are believed to possess therapeutic qualities. Over the centuries, these springs transformed Karlovy Vary into Europe’s foremost spa destination. Historical luminaries such as Goethe, Chopin, and Beethoven were captivated by the town’s charm and healing waters, and they frequented this tranquil retreat.
Getting to Karlovy Vary
The Karlovy Vary International Airport connects the town with Europe’s major hubs. If rail journeys captivate you, opt for a scenic ride with Czech Railways from prime cities, letting the European countryside serenade you en route.
Day 1: Panoramic Views from Diana Tower & Sipping Karlovy Vary’s Healing Waters
We suggest you start your adventure with a visit to the Diana Lookout Tower. You can reach Diana Lookout Tower either by funicular or as part of a walking tour. You will love the views! The Diana Lookout Tower has a lift but unfortunately, it was out of order and we had to climb these 150 steps!
Once at the top you can walk along the very well-marked paths, and visit the Findlanderův Obelisk, the butterfly house, and Adolf’s Wolf, from Munich, bench.
Upon your arrival back to the town center we would suggest buying a Karlovy Vary glass and start tasting water from the many different springs! It’s one claim that has different therapeutical properties but please be aware, nobody said that the water is tasty! 😂
Day 2: Nature Trails and Breathtaking Views
After a day of initial exploration, put on your hiking boots and get ready to immerse in the scenic landscapes surrounding Karlovy Vary! Using the Alltrails website or application you will find out that there are at least nine hike suggestions and you do not need to be necessarily highly experienced for many of them.
We chose the so-called “Karlovy Vary Southern Loop“. An amazing trail of 12.4 kilometers hiking path that leads you through multiple terrains and charming stops with great panoramic views! A trail with a decent elevation that took us around 4 hours to complete.
We definitely suggest having plenty of water and wearing hiking shoes. If you are lucky enough you may find some dears and share with us a photo since we were not that lucky! 🥰
Finish your day of hiking with a well-deserved meal at one of Karlovy Vary’s cozy restaurants and why not a little bit of saunas and thermal baths as long as your hotel provides them!
Day 3: Embracing Karlovy Vary’s Signature Spa Experience
Karlovy Vary is synonymous with spa culture, and for good reason. This town has perfected the art of relaxation, with treatments deeply rooted in centuries-old traditions. On Day 3, immerse yourself in pure indulgence, experiencing the best the town has to offer as we did!
The massages here are not just about chillaxing, they’re all about total mind and body bliss. They’ll help you feel like a brand new person, especially after a solid day of hiking or exploring. Whether you go for a deep-tissue or a classic massage, get ready to be pampered and rejuvenated like never before. It’s pure magic!
But here’s where things get bubbly (literally). Ever heard of a beer spa? Karlovy Vary and Beerspa Beerland have got you covered. Bathing in beer might sound quirky, but it’s believed to rejuvenate the skin, boost circulation, and detoxify. Plus, as you soak in the beer-infused water, you often get to enjoy as much as you wish premium lager Czech beer!
Conclude your spa day by detoxifying in one of the town’s lavish sauna facilities. From steam rooms to herbal inhalation chambers and salt caves, it’s the ideal way to round off a day dedicated to self-care. A nice tip would be to choose a hotel that offers at least… the basics such as saunas, massages, and hydrotherapies! As you will see later in that post, where we stayed, Hotel Pupp, is a great deal in Karlovy Vary offering all the above except the beerspa 😀
Day 4: Diving Deep into Karlovy Vary’s Rich Tapestry
Karlovy Vary isn’t just about scenic beauty; it’s a town that wears its history with pride. On your last day in Karlovy Vary, we would suggest you to explore a little bit more the city. Visit the Karlovy Vary Museum, where stories from eras gone by come alive and just around the corner check on the Jan Becher Museum where you will have the chance to discover the secrets of Becherovka. The legendary herbal liqueur that’s been a favorite for centuries!
Whether you stay or not in Hotel Pupp do not miss the chance to have a coffee in Café Pupp and taste the famous Pupp’s Cake! Rich, decadent, and layered with history, every bite takes you on a journey of velvety textures and sumptuous flavors. It’s not just a cake; it’s an experience, a sweet tradition that’s been cherished through generations.
Dreamy Accommodations: From Grandeur to Coziness
The accommodations in Karlovy Vary we could say that mirror the town’s rich heritage and elegance. When you are in the process of choosing a hotel you should consider the proximity to the Mineral Springs and the availability of Spa and Wellness Facilities.
Our Karlovy Vary Hotels shortlist
Being in such a nice, from an architectural point of view, city, you may consider choosing a hotel that reflects the town’s cultural past. Of course rooms with views of the Teplá River, the town’s Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, or the surrounding forested hills are a bonus! Some of the hotels we singled out during our research are:
- Grandhotel Pupp – Arguably the most iconic hotel in Karlovy Vary, it offers luxurious rooms, a spa center, gourmet dining, and has a rich historical charm. The hotel has views of the town and river and is located centrally.
- Carlsbad Plaza Medical Spa & Wellness hotel – This 5-star hotel offers a wide range of spa treatments, including procedures with the town’s mineral waters. It also boasts a selection of restaurants and is situated close to the major colonnades.
- Hotel Imperial – Located on a hill overlooking Karlovy Vary, this hotel provides stunning views, extensive spa treatments, and an on-site restaurant. Its historical architecture and modern amenities make it a popular choice.
- Spa Resort Sanssouci – This resort offers a range of wellness and spa services, including pools and saunas, and has dining options on-site. It’s a bit more modern in design but still offers the luxurious experience one would expect in Karlovy Vary.
- Boutique Spa Hotel Aqua Marina – Located in a historic building, this hotel offers a combination of modern comforts and spa treatments. Its proximity to the Vřídlo spring and the Park Colonnade is an added advantage.
The Grandhotel Pupp
At our recent Karlovy Vary escapade, we had the absolute pleasure of resting our travel-weary souls at the iconic Grandhotel Pupp. This isn’t just any hotel – it’s like stepping into a time capsule of opulence and grandeur, yet with all the modern comforts our blogger-hearts desired. Apart the fact that this iconic hotel is where our favorite Bond movie, Casino Royale was shot!
We wanted to share our experience in a separate -no sponsored- post! So if you are curious about the behind-the-scenes and all the luxe details check our “Grandhotel Pupp Karlovy Vary: An Insider’s Guide to Luxury & Elegance“ post!
In conclusion, Karlovy Vary is much more than a destination; it’s an odyssey of cultural, historical, and therapeutic experiences. So, are we all set to embark on this unparalleled European escapade? 🏰🌲🍽