Karlovy Vary is a spa town in the Czech Republic that can be reached by just 2 hours drive from Prague. It’s a romantic town that has 13 natural thermal springs and is often visited by those seeking a therapeutic and relaxing break.
There is no doubt that Prague is a wonderful city and it’s worth staying 2-3 days to explore it. However, Prague is not the only breathtaking place in the Czech Republic. If you have 3 or more days in Prague, I definitely recommend taking a day trip into the surrounding towns. There are several choices of day trips from Prague, and what you choose depends on your interests (culture? history? sights? relaxation?) and how much time you have.
I had 3 days in Prague so I had ample time for one day trip. I sought advice from JayWay Travel which day trip they can recommend. I went on an 11-day Central Europe private tour with JayWay Boutique Travel and one of the things that I absolutely loved about taking a private tour with JayWay is the very personalised approach and service they give. After learning more about my travel personality and interests, they suggested Karlovy Vary as a day trip from Prague.
I was a little intrigued about this town that has a hollywood starlet’s screen name vibe , and it ended up being just my kind of relaxing day trip.
Karlovy Vary was founded in the 14th century by the Bohemian King Charles IV. Rumour has it that he accidentally stumbled upon the springs while he was hunting and he discovered the theraputic waters of Karlovy Vary.
Since then Karlovy Vary has been a glamorous getaway for locals, Europeans and other international visitors for its health tourism and the yearly Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the leading film event in Central and Eastern Europe.
Karlovy Vary has a very unique combination of having luxury brand shops in one area, health spas and beauty clinics in one, and with just a few steps, lush gardens (that almost look like forests) welcome you.
One of the most famous spots of Karlovy Vary is the Hot Spring Colonnade.
Built with functionalism architecture style in mind, it houses a natural geyser (above) and the spring waters are underneath. Visitors can purchase specially designed ‘tea-cups’ so one can drink the spring water.
These cups have a ‘spout’ at the end of the handle, which is actually where you take a sip from (like a straw). This is to minimise contact between your teeth and the spring water, as natural hot spring water is said to be harsh to the teeth enamel.
I got my own little cup and tried the water. I knew for sure that it was 100% natural spring water and filled with minerals because it tasted quite salty (and a little rusty, you will see my reaction in the video)
But all in the name of good health! 🙂
Here’s a small video summary of our indulgent day in Karlovy Vary:
After having a taste of natural spring waters, it was time to experience what people flock to Karlovy Vary for: it’s health treatments.
We went to Quisisana Palace, a luxury hotel (member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World) that overlooks the Tepla river.
They have a private spa that utilises salt from the hot spring waters (the one I just drank from).
My treatment began with a good soak in the jacuzzi infused with the natural salts.
This soaking session was already relaxing enough for me but the best part of the afternoon soon took place.
This insanely relaxing massage was heavenly, especially as we’d been travelling not just in Prague but Europe (read: walking a lot).
We then decided it was time to get some visual treatment so we headed to Karlovy Vary’s lookout area, the Diana Observation Tower.
Here we got the magnificent views of the forests of Karlovy Vary, where you can see from afar the steam from the geothermal springs.
Now you can see why King Charles IV fell in love with Karlovy Vary!
Before leaving Karlovy Vary, I just had to sample the extremely wonderful Karlovy Vary wafers.
These wafers are also sold in Prague but it originally came from Karlovy Vary. The very first Karlovy Vary wafers, from the 1800’s were sprinkled with sugar and given as treats to spa-goers. Today, there are a multitude of flavours (chocolate and hazelnut are the best!) and you can have the option to have it toasted or cold (toasted is the way to go).
On the way back to Prague, we stopped by Loket Castle, where it was Zombie’s turn to be indulged : Loket Castle is a 12th century Gothic style castle whose dungeons and rooms are so preserved that they still have the torture dungeon intact (complete with chains and torutre devices). There is a torture museum in Prague but you could not get any more authentic than Loket Castle’s.
It was definitely a most enjoyable day trip. JayWay Travel really took the time to consider our interests (indulgence, views, and history!) and made an excellent choice in choosing Karlovy Vary.
Nataly and Charlie from JayWay Travel, who are both Prague locals, accompanied us in the day trip and between the two of them, filled us with information about Karlovy Vary – the town’s foundation, their personal experiences in Karlovy Vary, and most of all, Karlovy Vary’s tourism journey and significance.
After this indulgent post, I’d love to know, what has been your favourite day trip?
We travelled to Prague and Karlovy Vary as guests of JayWay Boutique Travel. There is no obligation to write a favourable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.