Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic

If “Karlovy Vary” sounds familiar, that because It generally makes the headlines round about early- to mid-summer as it plays host to an international film festival every year. A popular retreat among celebrities, movies such as Casino Royale and Last Holiday were also filmed here.

A Perfect Getaway from the Hustle and Bustle of Prague

A quaint, beautiful city, Karlovy Vary makes for a nice day or overnight trip when visiting Czech Republic. Not nearly as busy or tourist-driven as the capital, the atmosphere is more relaxing and quiet…after all, it is a spa town.

To really experience Karlovy Vary, strap on your walking shoes and hit the quaint little streets. The hills, dotted with churches, houses and hotels make for gorgeous scenery. The main strip has a canal that runs through it, with shops on both sides and bridges to connect them at regular spots along the way. Local cafés set up tables and chairs right by the side of the canal for their patrons; there is nothing quite like sipping a cappucino by the water and looking out over this charming town.

The Diana Lookout Tower

For a great view of the city and ample photo ops, there is a cable car that takes you up to the Diana Lookout Tower. Besides an incredible workout, a climb to the top of this tower provides a 360° view, encompassing the entire town. Rather than take the cable car back into the city, there is a network of paths through wooded areas that make for a nice walk.

The Jan Becher Museum and Other Spots to Tour

If museums are your thing, there are a couple of options, including the Moser glassworks museum and the Jan Becher museum. Becher developed the popular Becherovka, a rather potent, herbal-tasting liqueur and a very famous product of Karlovy Vary. Small bottles cost around $3 and are a great souvenir. For more information on the different museums and activities Karlovy Vary has to offer, check out the city’s web site.

Stinky Water!

Speaking of potent, the Becherovka isn’t the only strong liquid to be had. Although the city is famous for its thermal springs and promotes the healing powers associated with them, the water is not for the faint of heart! There is a wicked odour of sulphur that hits you like a ton of bricks before the cup even comes close to your mouth…enough said.

In addition to miniature bottles of Becherovka, Karlovy Vary markets a rather nice souvenir. For those who are brave enough to drink the water, tall ceramic mugs with a “straw” built into the handle are used as people walk down the street…they can fill up as they pass a tap and keep going without worrying about spillage. Almost every souvenir joint sells miniature versions of these mugs. Part shotglass, part teacup, and all ceramic, they are adorable and make for a very unique keepsake.

Quaint, Charming…and Close Enough to Prague

Make no mistake; Prague is the city to visit in Czech Republic. But if you’ve got the time and feel the need for a little getaway from the packed city centre, a train ride through the countryside into this lovely small town just might be in order.