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Founded more than 600 years ago, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad, KV) is the Czech Republic’s premier spa town and the highlight of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle (the other two points being Marienbad and Františkovy Lázně). KV’s raison d’être are 12 thermal springs that gurgle and spit their health-giving aqua mineralis into pavilions and colonnades dotted throughout this fairytale town occupying the valley of the River Teplá. Once teeming with factory workers and party stooges enjoying (free) breaks from Eastern Europe’s brave new world, in the last two decades KV has undergone a complete image change and now boasts countless luxury spa ...

Founded more than 600 years ago, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad, KV) is the Czech Republic’s premier spa town and the highlight of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle (the other two points being Marienbad and Františkovy Lázně). KV’s raison d’être are 12 thermal springs that gurgle and spit their health-giving aqua mineralis into pavilions and colonnades dotted throughout this fairytale town occupying the valley of the River Teplá. Once teeming with factory workers and party stooges enjoying (free) breaks from Eastern Europe’s brave new world, in the last two decades KV has undergone a complete image change and now boasts countless luxury spa hotels where guests are pampered and pummeled without a scary rubber hose or white coat in sight. But despite the focus on wellness breaks, the spas are still very much focused on medical treatments using the town’s thermal spring water in a range of prescribed procedures. But you don’t have to be a spa fanatic to visit this magical corner of Bohemia – don walking boots for exhilarating forays into the surrounding hills, sip a tumbler of KV’s famous "13th spring" (an herb liqueur called Becherovka) as you ogle the town’s magnificent architecture or jostle with the stars at Eastern Europe’s top film festival held in early July.

Marc Di Duca
About the Expert

Marc Di Duca has written and updated more than 40 guides, mainly for Lonely Planet but also for AA, Thomas Cook, Berlitz and Bradt. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the former communist world, his main field of expertise is Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Karlovy Vary is located in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá, approximately 130 km west of Prague.
  • Language: Czech
  • Currency: Czech Koruna
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring, early autumn. The Carlsbad International Film Festival takes place in early July.