Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Rail Guide to Karlovy Vary

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Local languageCzech
Country Czech Republic


The town of Karlovy Vary (often known by its German name Karlsbad) lies about 120 kilometres from Prague. It is situated in the western part of Czech Republic (Bohemia) near the border with Germany. Karlovy Vary is best known in the Czech Republic as the largest spa town in the country as well as a producer of a local herbal liqueur called Becherovka.

The town of Karlovy Vary was established by Charles IV in the 14th century. Legend says that when Charles IV was hunting in the local woods he came upon a spring of hot water drawing out of the earth and he pronounced it as water with healing powers. The town of Karlovy Vary has had a very turbulent history and was devastated by the Thirty Years War. Despite all this the town has managed to flourish and in the 18th and 19th century it became a spa town for the rich and the prominent. The first public spa house was built in the 18th century and many more followed since, mainly in the 19th century when the two main Colonnades were built.

Nowadays Karlovy Vary enjoys a clientele from all over the world. The city is surrounded by about 300 small mineral springs although only 13 of these are suitable for drinking in the Colonnades. There are many hotels and guest-houses catering for the town's visitors, as well as sanatoriums providing specialist medical treatments.

Each year at the beginning of July Karlovy Vary attracts film enthusiasts and the city hosts the International A class Film Festival which is highly regarded in the worldwide cinematographic circle.

Karlovy Vary is not only known for its balneology but also for the aforementioned Becherovka liqueur as well as for Moser the glass manufacturer, and for its long history in Porcelain making. The town has featured in a number of international movies such as Casino Royal and Last Holiday.

Things to do

The beauty and grand past of Karlovy Vary is evident as you move along the River Teplá's banks towards a series of colonnades designed by different architects, but many by the Viennese duo Helmer and Fellner. The Mill, Park, Market, Chateau and Thermal Colonnades are all fine examples with each housing several thermal springs for the public to visit and enjoy.

As you move on from the Colonnades to the south you approach the city's most famous and high-class shopping street Stará louka. The shops and boutiques here attract the shopping elite and even include a branch of Versace! There is also a shop selling the Moser glass for which the city is famous and which is still made in Karlovy Vary today. If you fancy getting to know more about the blowing and production process, you can always head over to the Moser Glass Museum where you'll get a guided tour around the factory and see the glass making in process.

Further on still, the Diana Outlook Tower is situated above the famous Grand Hotel Pupp and provides a great view over the area. On a good visibility day you might see up to 70km away. The tower can be reached on foot or by a cable car and once by the tower you can climb up the 150 steps to appreciate the view or if you're feeling a little less energetic just take the lift!

Along with the spas and Moser glass, the city is also famous for Becherovka Liquer. Go along to the Jan Becher Museum to discover the history of Becherovka liqueur making as well as for a tasting of this potent, herbal drink. Just do not expect the recipe to be revealed as there are only two people in the world who know how to make it!

Local transport

The Public transport in Karlovy Vary is generally very easy to use. All the public buses leave from the town central Market Place (Trznice). Karlovy Vary's main train station is connected to the town centre by bus numbers 12 and 13.

Buses no 91 and 92 are sightseeing buses which run every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of April until the end of September. The tour will cost you about 70 Kc.

Most of the Intercity buses run from the Dolni Nadrazi Terminal (Lower Station Terminal) however a few others go from Trznice (Market Place) as well.

Recommended places and events to visit in Karlovy Vary

Event (During July)
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Thermal Hotel, Ivana Petrovica Pavlova 11, 360 01 Karlovy Vary