Karlovy Vary

Travel Guide Europe Czech Republic Karlovy Vary

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Introduction

Karlovy Vary is a town in Bohemia, in western Czechia. It is the capital of the administrative region of the same name. Karlovy Vary is internationally famous as a spa town and also for the international film festival, which is organized there every year. Many famous people have visited Karlovy Vary. The town is a very important destination in the wellness tourism niche.

Karlovy Vary, meaning "Charles' Bath", was named after Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who founded the city in 1370. It is famous for its hot springs and its colorful and whimsical architecture. For these reasons, it was a popular tourist destination in the 18th century with guests including Tsar Peter the Great, Emperor Franz Josef I, Beethoven, Goethe, Wagner, Brahms, Leo Tolstoy, and Karl Marx. Tourism grounded to a halt during World War I and the city never regained its former glory. After World War II, the largely German-speaking city was cleared of its inhabitants and replaced with Czech settlers. Czech remains the major language today but the signs of German culture and heritage are still very evident.

The town, along with Prague, was the filming location of many scenes identified as being in Montenegro in the 2006 movie Casino Royale.

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Sights and Activities

  • Mill Colonade (Mlýnská kolonáda). Popular gathering place. Bands play here in the summer.
  • Hot Springs. There are 12 hot springs - you can get a list and descriptions at the Infocentrum.
  • Lázně III. Beautiful spa building.
  • Lázně I (Bus number 2 from the centre, or walk to the top of the town). 09:00-18:00. Beautiful spa building that housed Franz Josef's baths (he did not visit however) and also used for the casino setting in Casino Royale. The building is being restored after a period of closure to become a cultural centre. There is a small exhibition which also gives you a quick peek around the main entrance halls and stairways. €1 / 50 CZK.
  • Diana Lookout Tower (Rozhledna Diana). You can take the funicular railway or take a beautiful walk through the forest to get here. The funicular costs 25 Kč to the middle station, 45 Kč to the upper one, 80 Kč a return ticket. There is a café and hunting lodge style restaurant serving Czech cuisine as well as a small zoo. Animals including piglets and peacocks roam adjacent to the building. Free.
  • Karl Marx Monument. Very close to the Russian embassy and the Orthodox Church and at the start of some woodland walks.
  • Church of St. Peter & St. Paul. Built in 1897. Five golden domes and colourful exterior were modelled on the Byzantine Church of the Holy Trinity near Moscow. The interior of the church is decorated with paintings and icons, gifts of wealthy Russian aristocrats. One of the decorations is a relief representing Russian Tsar Peter the Great.
  • Church of St. Lucas. Anglican church.
  • Karlovy Vary Museum, Nova Louka 23. W-Su 09:00-12:00 & 13:00-17:00. Local history. Adult: 30 Kč; Child: 15 Kč.
  • Jan Becher Museum, Masaryka 57. 09:00--17:00. Dedicated to the local inventor of Becherovka. Adult: 100 Kč; Child: 50 Kč.

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Getting There

By Plane

There is an airport in Karlovy Vary. Its code is KLV. However, it has direct connections only with very few destinations, so for most travellers it will not be a very convenient option. The airport in Prague is not far away, though, and it serves numerous international routes.

By Train

Karlovy Vary has two train stations: Dolní Nádraží (lower station) located next to the bus station, and Horní Nádraží (upper station) located north of the city centre across the Ohře River. Horní Nádraží can be reached by a 10-minute walk or by taking buses 11, 12, or 13. If you arrive at the upper railway station where main line trains stop, cross the car park area to the bus stop on the opposite side to get a bus into town. As of early 2017, Karlovy Vary Horní Nádraží is under reconstruction and there are only very limited facilities for passengers available. There's not a lot to do if you wait for a train there, so it's better to arrive punctually from town.

Trains from Prague leave Prague Main Station every 2 hours and arrive at Horní nádraží in Karlovy Vary 3¼ hours later. Regular fare is 306 Kč, second person pays 184 Kč, more people in a group pay 153 Kč, SporoTiket is 150-170 Kč.

The bus is a cheaper and more efficient method of travel from Prague to Karlovy Vary. However, rail enthusiasts may wish to make this journey by train, as, according to the Thomas Cook European rail guide, it is one of the most scenic train routes in the Czech Republic, with much of it meandering alongside rivers.

Hourly trains operate between Karlovy Vary and Loket (16km, 30 minutes, 29 Kč) and Cheb (52km, 52-63 minutes, 74 Kč). There is also a railway line across the Ore Mountains to Johanngeorgenstadt in Saxony, Germany, with connections further into Saxony via Zwickau.

By Bus

Student Agency operates hourly buses to/from Prague's Florenc and Dejvicka stations 05:00-20:00. The trip takes 2 hours and costs 155 Kč for adults.

Other bus companies also run services from Prague's Florenc station but they are more expensive and not as comfortable as Student Agency's buses. Czechshuttle.com offers daily transport between Karlovy Vary and Cesky Krumlov, among other places.

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Getting Around

The town can comfortably be covered on foot, but a car or motorcycle is useful for exploring the surrounding areas.

Bus travel is very cheap. A week ticket for 220 Kč also gives you a trip on the Diana furnicular. A ticket can be useful if you need to make trips up and down the river for whatever reason.

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Eat

Karlovy Vary is famous for its spa wafers. They come in various flavors and are best when warm. The wafers are sold at street stands in Karlovy Vary, and can also be purchased at grocery stores throughout the Czech Republic.

  • Cafe Pizzeria Venetia, Zahradni 43, ☎ +420 353 729 221. Looks out on the Tepla River. Pizza: 120Kc.
  • Jean De Carro - Very good and spacy interior, however dishes served are of a low quality, despite being high priced.
  • Parlament, Zeyerova 5. closed on Sun. Outdoor tables. Good food.
  • Steakhouse Sklipek, Zeyerova 1, ☎ +420 353 229 197. Huge steak meals. Steaks: 180 Kč.

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Drink

Jan Becher invented the liquor that bears his name (Becherovka) in Karlovy Vary. However, it is an acquired taste.
Some establishments on the river charge twice the price of places 20m+ off the main drag so shop around for a place to drink.

  • Cafe Elephant, Stara Louka 30. Coffee and cake. Coffee: 45 Kč.
  • Juice Bar Kokopelli, Bulharska 9. Juice & Smoothies: 20 Kč-37 Kč.
  • Kafe Brejk, Stara Louka 62. 9am-5pm. Design your own baguette. Coffee: 35 Kč; Baguette: 50 Kč.

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Sleep

  • Camping Březový Háj, 3km south of town, ☎ +420 777 944 252, e-mail: brezovy-haj@seznam.cz. Open Apr-Oct Tent: 90 Kč; Bed: 250 Kč.
  • Hotel Cordoba, Zahradni 37, e-mail: info@hotel-cordoba.com. From 1,800 Kč.
  • Hotel Garni Palatin, Lázeňská 10. Very nice place to stay, it is ideal if you take a mineral water drinking course, because the range from this hotel to the closest spring is roughly 20 meters. The hotel is modern furnished, and despite being given only 3 stars looks like a typical four stars hotel. The only disadvantage is absence of a restaurant (breakfast is possible though).
  • Hotel Kavalrie, T. G. Masaryka 43 (above a cafe, near bus and train stations), ☎ +420 353 229 613. Single: 950 Kč; Double: 1,225 Kč. edit
  • Pension Rainbow, Šeříkova 92 (approx. 15 minutes walk from centre.), ☎ +420 353 560 366, e-mail: reservation@pensionrainbow.cz. Family-run guesthouse offering accommodation in conveniently furnished rooms, each including a bathroom and a TV-SAT set, in quiet environment. from 690 Kč.
  • Pension Fan, U Trati 57/5, ☎ +420 774 289 153, e-mail: reception@penzionfan.cz. Opened in May 2004, is a two-storied building, situated in the district Bohatice. Friendly atmosphere, lot of programmes available: cycling with or without a cycling guide, golf, golf-school, wellness and relax programmes.
  • Pension Romania, Zahradní 948/49. Spacious rooms. From 735 Kč.
  • Sanatorium Astoria, Vřídelní 92 (Opposite the Mill Colonnade). Single: €40; Double: €80.
  • Grandhotel Pupp, Mirove namesti 2, ☎ +420 353 109 631, fax: +420 353 224 032, e-mail: pupp@pupp.cz. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Has been a symbol of Karlovy Vary and Czech Republic for three centuries. It is a place of comfort and first-rate service. It was a major location for the 2006 movie Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah. It also appears in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale as Hotel Splendide in Montenegro. From €130.
  • Hotel Carlsbad Plaza (in the vicinity of the spa facility Lázně I). Deluxe hotel opened in December 2005. €133 and up.

Hotel Thermal. The biggest hotel in the centre of the city, was used by USSR's political elite for recovery and still features spa and wellness services. It is still state owned and hosts the annual film festival. It is slowly being refurbished, but the once-famous thermal swimming pool overlooking the city is currently closed, and is likely to remain so until at least 2018. The indoor pools are of a high standard. Single: From 2,350Kc; Double: From 4,320Kc.

  • Hyalit Aparthotel, Stari Luka 62. 5 stylish apartments. From 1,900 Kč.
  • Hotel Bristol Palace, Zámecký vrch 918/34. Hotel set in an aristocratic manor dating back to the 19th century.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wifi is available in many restaurants and most cafés, especially in larger cities. In particular, all branches of Starbucks, KFC, Gloria Jeans Coffee and Costa Coffee offer free access. You may need to ask a waiter for the passphrase. There are also some hotspots available on the streets and some city quarters (for example in Prague) offer free wifi coverage for everyone. However such coverage is usually very slow and unreliable and you may need to create an account (using a web browser and the page it is automatically redirected to) to be able to use it. In most larger cities, there are also several internet cafés available.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls
There are three main mobile phone operators using the GSM standard, their coverage is very good (except in some remote, mostly uninhabited areas). If you find using roaming with your own operator too expensive or you want to have a Czech phone number, you can buy an anonymous prepaid card from any of the three main operators.

You can call emergency numbers from any phone for free (even without any card). The universal emergency number 112 is functional and you can use it, however you will reach only a telephone operator who will need to contact the real emergency service for you. To save precious time, it is best to call directly the service you need: 150 for firefighters, 155 for medical emergency, and 158 for state police.

Post

Ceska Posta is the national postal service of the Czech Republic. It offers good services with reliable, affordable and relatively fast delivery of postcards, letters and parcels. Postcards and letters weighing up to 20g which are being sent to countries within Europe cost 17 CZK, other countries cost 18 CZK. Within the Czech Republic, prices start at 10 CZK. Opening times of post offices vary but most of them are open from around 8:00am to 6:00pm or 7:00pm Monday to Friday, closing at noon on Saturday, closed on Sunday and public holidays. Larger and/or central post offices might keep longer hours and some have English speaking staff. You can buy stamps here, or at newspaper stands, kiosks or some small (souvenir) shops. Post offices offer a few other services, like (international) money transfers as well. FEDEX, DHL, TNT and UPS offer courier services as well, with fast but relatively expensive services.

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Accommodation in Karlovy Vary

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This is version 23. Last edited at 11:16 on Jun 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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