Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary travel guide

Karlovy Vary, also known as Carlsbad, lies in the west of the Czech Republic just on the border with Germany. The town was named after Emperor Charles IV, but only became a household name in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hot water springs run under the city, to which healing and therapeutic qualities are attributed. Every year, thousands of guests and tourists come and visit to spoil themselves and benefit from these powerful waters. Spread out over the whole city you'll find cheerfully decorated faucets. These pump up healing waters non-stop and are eagerly drunk by people trying to purify their body.
Carlsbad is perhaps a bit of faded glory, but it's still a cozy town for a nice day trip.

sadova colonnade karlovy vary carlsbad

The Sadova colonnade or Park colonnade. One of the many beautiful gazebos in Karlovy Vary.

  Average costs in Karlovy Vary

Stay – Karlovy Vary is not at all expensive to spend the night. For a double or triple room you only pay €10 to €15 per night. Of course it’s nicer to sleep in a more luxurious hotel in this cozy city. A three-star hotel requires at least twenty euros per night, a four-star hotel starts at €25. Excessive luxury will always cost you a little more, but there are more than enough star hotels to choose from! Check out Booking.com for an extensive range of hotels in Carlsbad.

Eat – Karlovy Vary may be a town for the elite, but the food isn’t that expensive either. In a classy restaurant you pay between twelve and eighteen euros for an exceptionally tasty dish, for that price starters are often included. In less fancy restaurants you pay between six and twelve euros for a, still, delicious dish.
Would you like an authentic pitcher from Carlsbad? There are a lot of stalls scattered around the city. Such a pitcher costs between 100 and 200 czk.

Transport – Karlovy Vary is small enough to just walk around. Public transport is really not necessary. From Prague to Karlovy Vary you pay between five and eight euros for a single ticket on the comfortable tour bus.

karlovy vary carlsbad thermal baths

The healing mineral water is a crowd pleaser in Carlsbad.

 Saving money in Carlsbad

Don’t use exchange bureaus – Everywhere in the Czech Republic you see exchange bureaus popping up. That is of no difference in Karlovy Vary. At first sight they seem to use attractive rates to exchange euros into Czech crowns. But there’s a lot of commission added, which doesn’t make it very appealing anymore.. Get money from the ATM’s if you want the best rate.

Organize a day trip from Prague on your own – Karlovy Vary or Karlsbad is two hours away from Prague. The beauty of the city attracts many tourists, and of course a few tour operators take advantage of that! Pay less by planning the trip yourself. From Prague, a bus leaves for Carlsbad almost every hour. Much cheaper than an organized excursion!

Diana viewing platform karlovy vary

From the Diana viewing platform you get a spectacular view of Karlovy Vary!

  Things to do in Carlsbad

Diana viewing tower – At the very edge of the city you can find a cable car (or a lot of stairs!) with which you can go to the Diana watchtower. A return ticket for this funicular costs 80 czk.
Once you arrive at the top you get a nice view, but on top of the watchtower the view gets even better!

Colonnades – The grandeur and glory of Carlsbad is still clearly visible. A remnant of these are the many graceful colonnades. These elongated gazebos curl through the city in white and are a delight to the eye. Be sure to look for the park colonnade (= vridelni kolonnade), the ‘market colonnade’ and the ‘mill colonnade’.

Orthodox St. Peter and Paul Church – A little hidden behind the other beautiful buildings lies this beautiful orthodox church. The white and baby blue building is decorated with a few gold-colored domes and I think it was one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Be sure to visit the church from the inside as well and be surprised at how sober it looks in comparison to the outside.

St. Mary Magdalene church – Another beautiful church in Karlovy Vary is the Mary Magdalene church. This baroque church is located much more central in the city and is certainly worth a photo if you’re near.

Discover the healing water! – Go to a spa and let yourself be immersed in the therapeutic water or a mud bath. If you may believe everything they say, this water is great for your skin and treats all sorts of skin problems. If you don’t feel like spending too long in a spa you can also buy a Carlsbad pitcher and drink the thermal water during your visit. You might feel like a completely new person afterwards… Or not.

Walking around in the city – Walk from the modern center to the historic center and stroll around at your leisure. The beautiful pastel-colored facades, the beautiful churches, the cozy markets and the many colonnades will keep you busy for at least half a day.

saint peter and paul church karlovy vary

The Orthodox St. Peter and Paul Church in Carlsbad. What a beautiful building!

  Things to avoid in Karlovy Vary

Taking the wrong bus back to Prague – Have you arranged a day trip to Prague? Make sure you also depart back from the correct bus stop. There are two, and if you come from Prague you might get off at the first stop in Karlovy Vary. To take the bus back to Prague you have to walk five hundred meters (about 1500 ft) further to the central bus station. The buses don’t stop at the other stop!

Forget your swimsuit – In the many spas and saunas of Karlovy Vary, men and women bathe together almost always. A swimsuit is therefore mandatory!

Alzbetiny Lazne spa Carlsbad.

The Alzbetiny Lazne spa in Carlsbad.

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