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Must see’s and do’s in Karlovy Vary

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Have you ever heard of Karlovy Vary? It’s a town in the west of the Czech Republic, known for its thermal springs and numerous spas. A town that clearly deserves to be discovered.

That’s why, in this article, we present you with absolutely everything you need to do in Karlovy Vary.

So, what are the best things to do?

Where is Karlovy Vary?

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Karlovy Vary is less than 30 kilometers from the German border. From Prague, it’s about 110 to 120 kilometers. In the heart of Bohemia, Vary is home to just under 50,000 inhabitants.It’s a small town, but a very popular one, thanks to its (many) thermal waters and spas. Ideal for a relaxing weekend.
bibliotheque Klementinum prague

Are you in the Czech Republic? Check out our selection of the best things to do in Prague!

How do I get to Karlovy Vary?

Thinking of visiting Karlovy Vary? There are several ways to get there: by car, bus or train! By car, the journey takes just over two hours. By train, you can reach the two stations, Dolní Nádraží and Horní Nádraží in the city center.

A train journey takes around 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the bus, which takes between 2 and 3 hours. The advantage is the low cost of the ticket, which is available at 5 – 7 euros each way.

What to do in Karlovy Vary

In the rest of this article, we’ll tell you absolutely everything you need to know about what you can’t miss in Karlovy Vary. Ideal for organizing your trip and not wasting any time once you’re there.
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1. Enjoy the thermal waters

When it comes to history, Karlovy Vary has nothing to envy any other city in the country. On your way to Karlovy Vary, you’ll learn how Emperor Charles IV decided to build a town here in the mid-14th century, while on a deer hunt.

Seeing a thermal spring springing up before his very eyes, he quickly realized how rich the area was. There are over 300 hot springs and thermal baths with open-air pools. You can also bathe here in winter, making the experience even more enriching and exceptional.

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2. Otto's Column 

If you’re interested in walking, you’ll discover Otto’s Column, located on one of the hills on the edge of town. Dating from the mid-19th century, this monument was built in honor of Greek King Otto I, who came to Karlovy Vary for its famous thermal baths. It’s the place to be if you want to see the city in its entirety.

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3. Discover the Church of St. Peter and Paul

In the center of town, the Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul is a must-see for its architecture, reminiscent of Moscow’s famous Basil the Blessed Cathedral with its golden bulbous steeples. Fans of fairytales and history will find a little piece of Russia in the middle of Bohemian nature.

What’s more, the Tepla River flows through the city, between colorful buildings and greenery, bringing a certain romanticism to the city. Perfect for postcard photos.

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4. Enjoy KVIFF

Karlovy Vary is home to an international film festival, KVIFF. Every year at the same time, thousands of people gather in this pretty town in the far west of the country to take part in this week-long seventh-art extravaganza. It’s an opportunity to discover old and new films from Eastern Europe, as well as the films in competition for the crystal globe.


KVIFF is a film festival not to be missed if you’re in the area. Find out all about it!

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5. Moser Museum

Karlovy Vary’s glassworks are renowned. The Moser Museum, which pays homage to Ludwig Moser, who established his workshop here in 1893, pays tribute to the craftsmen who excelled in the field. The latter was so well known that he offered pieces to the emperors of Austria-Hungary, the Shah of Persia and the Kingdom of Great Britain.

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6.The Vrídlo column

Vrídlo is known as Karlovy Vary’s hottest thermal spring. It reaches 72°C at a height of 12 meters. It is estimated that it discharges (approximately) 2,000 liters of water per minute. An unlikely but important location for the town, which owes its reputation to these gigantic geysers and other springs.

Photo: Jan Becher Pernod Ricard

7. Josef Becher Museum

Josef Becher, the man behind the famous Becherovka, was born in Karlovy Vary! His son, Johann, then helped him market it on a large scale. The national liqueur, Beche as it’s often called, is a fairly strong drink that’s bound to burn your throat if you’re not used to it. The Josef Becher Museum pays tribute to the man who left his mark on Czech culture.

Where to stay in Karlovy Vary?

Planning a nice long weekend in Karlovy Vary? In addition to the unmissable activities, you won’t want to forget to find out where to stay. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive article on the best hotels in Karlovy Vary! We’ve selected the best establishments in town. These are well located and generally affordable, so you can make the most of your stay!

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Discover our selection of the best hotels in Karlovy Vary, to make sure you get a good night’s sleep!

Where to eat in Karlovy Vary?

For completeness, you can also read our article on the best restaurants and bars in Karlovy Vary. We’ve put together a great list of some of the best places to eat and drink in Karlovy Vary. The perfect opportunity to spend a quiet, lively or wild evening!
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Discover our selection of bars and restaurants in Karlovy Vary, for a good meal… And a great night out!

Our final tips for visiting Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is a Czech town. However, German and Russian are very well spoken. English is not the number one language, but if you master it, you should get by without too many problems. Last but not least, the KVIFF festival period is very lively. So don’t hesitate to come before or after, if you want to enjoy a more relaxed stay.