Karlovy Vary is famous for its spas and 12 hot springs. The town is located in the far west of the Czech Republic, close to the German border, 124 km (2 hours by car) from Prague.
A good time to experience Karlovy Vary is during the holiday season. We recommend exploring on foot, since the city center is for pedestrians only. (Cars must be left in one of the numerous parking lots). Be warned, many parking spaces are reserved for local residents and the Municipal Police are very active.
The town centre is very lively, especially on weekends! A lot of the major real estate is owned by the large number of Russians who reside here. The architecture is extraordinary, although the main spa is a not so pretty modern building. The town's colonnades and many parks give it a truly romantic air. Reserve a whole day in order to properly explore the city on foot and to make the most of your time here. You’ll appreciate the splendour of the luxurious hotel 'Pupp', even if you don't stay there! Many esteemed visitors - including Brahms, Napoleon, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Sigmund Freud, Russian nobility of course James Bond (in the movies, anyway) - have slept in this palace, which dates from the 18th century.
Since the time of Peter the Great period, the town has been popular with Russians as well. The Church of St.s Peter and Paul contains beautiful icons and paintings donated by Russia in the 19th century. This Orthodox religious monument, completed in 1897 in the Byzantine style with five golden onion-shaped domes and a blue roof shaped like tulips, is the city’s jewel.
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Bohemia. Dientzenhofer’s work blends beautifully with the town’s otherwise 19th-century character.
And while in town don't forget to taste its 13th spring - not water, but the liqueur 'Becherovka', made from herbs matured in an oak cask.
“Casino Royale”, the James Bond movie, was filmed in Loket and Karlovy Vary. If you have seen the film you will enjoy recognising the two towns in various scenes.
Karlovy Vary is also the home of Moser crystal, founded in 1857. Moser are the suppliers of certain European royal courts, with prices to match. The factory is in on the outskirts of the town and offers tours.
For nature lovers, a funicular goes to the top of the hill overlooking town, from where there are striking views. Or explore one of the local hiking trails. You can walk all the way to Loket (15km), just like Goethe in the old days!