Last updated on September 16th, 2023 at 04:48 pm

Apart from being pampered at splendid spa hotels and wellness centres, there are many other amazing things to do in Karlovy Vary. This thorough guide on what to do in Karlovy Vary is here not only to help you plan the perfect trip to Karlovy Vary but also to introduce you to all the other charms of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle.

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What Is The West Bohemian Spa Triangle

Before we go into detail about the best things to do in Karlovy Vary and around, we should make one thing clear. Karlovy Vary is the most famous spa town in the Czech Republic. Yet there are many other wonders to discover in the so-called West Bohemian Spa Triangle.

Situated close to the Czech Republic’s western border with Germany, the West Bohemian Spa Triangle is comprised of three famous spa towns: Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne and Frantiskovy Lazne. All three towns are within short driving distance from each other, offering travellers the opportunity to effortlessly get to know all of them.

Forming part of The Great Spa Towns of Europe – a transnational UNESCO site that includes eleven spa towns in seven European countries – the three towns are renowned for their countless mineral springs that have been known for their healing properties for centuries.

The Elisabeth spa behind a little park with trees and a flower bush where the date the photo was taken is made of flowers. The date is 31.5.23.
One of the historic spas in Karlovy Vary

During the 18th, and especially the 19th century when the railway made travelling a lot easier, people from all walks of life, such as scientists, royals, poets and artists, flocked to the three spa towns for medical treatments or simply to relax.

The West Bohemian Spa Triangle’s glory was halted during the two World Wars. Afterwards, the spas were nationalised. For the first time, the spas were available to the working class rather than just the elite of the time. The now re-privatised spa hotels attract people from all over the world, who enjoy the best spa vacation in the three picturesque towns.

Although the area’s main draw is its spa culture, there are several other cultural and natural treasures to explore there. Read on to find out more about the best things to see in Karlovy Vary and the West Bohemian Spa Triangle.

The river at the beginning of the spa zone of the city. On the left there is a riverside promenade with people walking along it and a row of pastel-coloured buildings.
Charming Karlovy Vary

Is Karlovy Vary Worth Visiting on a Day Trip From Prague?

Located about two hours by bus from Prague, Karlovy Vary is one of the most popular day trips from the Czech capital. We understand that visiting this picture-perfect town on a day trip sounds tempting. However, we recommend spending at least a couple of nights in Karlovy Vary and not just because this is what any responsible traveller would do.

The reasons are simple. First of all, the town’s fantastic spa hotels offer plenty of treatments. That’s a reason in itself to spend a few days in a superb hotel, pampered to your heart’s content.

Another reason is that Karlovy Vary is infested with hordes of day trippers in the daytime. In the evening, though, when all the crowds are gone, you can have the dimly lit colonnades and spring fountains all to yourselves. And this is pure magic.

Last but not least, a day trip from Prague to Karlovy Vary can only give you a small taste of the town. Yet it won’t leave you enough time to explore the extended area of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. That’s a huge shame if you ask us.

If you’re not convinced yet or if you’re on a seriously tight schedule, this day trip from Prague will give you a quick glimpse of this stunning town.

A big sign reading "I love Karlovy Vary" in the middle of a pedestrianised street at the heart of the town. Love at the sign is shown with a heart shape.
If you spend a few days in Karlovy Vary, you will love it, too

Karlovy Vary Travel Tips

  • Best time to visit Karlovy Vary: Karlovy Vary is a year-round destination and that’s not just a saying. Whatever season you choose for your trip to Karlovy Vary, the town looks gorgeous and the spa hotels await. Of course, spring and autumn are ideal because the weather is perfect then. Summer is the best for anyone wishing to feel the unique vibe of the International Film Festival while winter can be a one-of-a-kind experience. Did someone say soaking in the hot water while it’s snowing outside?
  • How many days in Karlovy Vary: If you’re visiting Karlovy Vary for medical purposes, the experts advise that you should spend at least two weeks there. However, if you’re there for the pampering and sightseeing instead, a minimum of two nights is a good start. That said, if you want to travel around the West Bohemian Spa Triangle – which you should – you’ll need at least five full days.
  • How to get to Karlovy Vary: Prague Airport is the nearest airport to Karlovy Vary. The best way to get from Prague to Karlovy Vary is by Flixbus. The journey takes about two hours. However, if you plan to explore more than just the town of Karlovy Vary, it’s better to rent a car from Prague. Driving will give you the flexibility to easily tour the Spa Triangle and the fascinating mining region – more on that soon.
  • How to get around Karlovy Vary: The town is very compact and walkable. You can go anywhere you want on foot.
  • Where to stay in Karlovy Vary: Some of the best hotels in Karlovy Vary are in the town’s spa zone. Most hotels include spa packages with your stay. Our top three choices for accommodation in Karlovy Vary are Grandhotel Pupp, Hotel Prezident and Thermal Hotel.
  • Languages spoken in Karlovy Vary: Czech, of course. But we’re pretty sure that’s not a helpful piece of information. What’s helpful to keep in mind is that – outside of Karlovy Vary where pretty much everyone speaks good English – you might struggle to communicate in English in less touristy places, such as Frantiskovy Lazne, the Ore Mountains and elsewhere. Or even find restaurant menus in English for that matter. Therefore, make sure you keep Google Translate handy at all times.
The bus station of Karlovy Vary.
The main bus station in Karlovy Vary

Travel Resources To Help You Plan Your Karlovy Vary Trip

Top 17 Things To Do in Karlovy Vary & Around

Among the three spa towns of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, Karlovy Vary, or Carlsbad/Karlsbad, is the most visited one. It’s also the largest spa complex in Europe.

The first people to discover the healing benefits of the hot springs in Karlovy Vary were German-speaking settlers in the 13th century.

The settlement was upgraded to a city in 1370. Then, according to the legend, Emperor Charles IV, the same Charles one of the most photogenic spots in Prague – Charles Bridge – was named after, healed his injured leg with water from a mineral spring. The city was then named Karlovy Vary, which is Czech for Charles’ Baths.

Four people are sitting on white benches in front of a bridge over the river. On the right, three of them are chatting while on the left a woman is sitting alone.
Slow living in Karlovy Vary

1. Learn About Karlovy Vary’s Hot Springs

Karlovy Vary sits in an area with volcanic activity at a depth of 2500 metres. This is causing the formation of several springs at the earth’s surface. All the springs contain dissolved minerals, beneficial for human health. Drinking water from the hot springs in Karlovy Vary helps cure several ailments. The water temperature varies from spring to spring and can reach up to 74°C.

The springs in Karlovy Vary produce 2000 litres of mineral water per minute. The impressive part is that 95% of this water is produced from Spring Number 1 in the Hot Spring Colonnade. The rest 5% of the water comes from the town’s other springs.

Almost all of the springs are situated in the colonnades that adorn the town. Each spring has a sign with its number, name and water temperature.

A thermal mineral spring with two faucets. The spring's basin is orange because of the minerals in the water.
One of the Karlovy Vary hot springs

2. Buy a Spa Cup & Try The Water

From your first stroll around Karlovy Vary, you will notice people walking from spring to spring with a special cup in hand. That’s no other than the famous Karlovy Vary spa cup. You can find spa cups to buy in different sizes and with various decorations everywhere in the town.

The shape of the spa cup is pretty much the same. There is a handle to hold it like a cup and a spout like the one on a teapot but it’s for drinking, not pouring. This special design of the spa cup allows you to drink hot water straight from the spring without burning your tongue.

According to spa specialists, the benefits of mineral water have the best effect if you’re walking at a slow pace while drinking. Therefore, once you buy your spa cup, walk along the colonnades and try the thermal mineral water from the springs.

Be prepared for high temperatures and a metallic taste. The taste might not be that pleasant, but thermal water is beneficial for your health. However, you should consult a spa doctor before you randomly start drinking water from the springs. A spa expert can explain which springs are best for your health, which time of the day is the most appropriate to drink and how much water you can drink.

Stands with spa cups of different size in a souvenir shop.
Spa cups on sale in Karlovy Vary

3. Stroll Along The Colonnades

Without a doubt, the colonnades of Karlovy Vary are the town’s most emblematic structures. Strolling around the peaceful colonnades in the evening, when the day trippers are long gone, is one of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary.

Market Colonnade

Undoubtedly the most elegant colonnade in the town, the Market Colonnade is a carved wooden structure built by Viennese architects in the Swiss style at the end of the 19th century.

Legend has it that Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV healed his legs with the water from the Charles IV Spring located in the Market Colonnade. Above this spring, you can see a bronze panel that commemorates the discovery of the thermal springs by Emperor Charles IV in 1370. The Market Colonnade houses two more springs: the Lower Castle Spring and the Market Spring.

The white wooden Market Colonnade. People are walking on the pedestrianised street in front of the colonnade.
Isn’t the Market Colonnade a beauty?

Mill Colonnade

Built in Neo-Rennaisance style at the end of the 19th century, the Mill Colonnade is the largest colonnade in Karlovy Vary. It was named after an old mill that was standing on this site before the colonnade was constructed. The colonnade features 124 Corinthian columns. Above the portico, there are 12 statues that represent the 12 months of the year.

At the Mill Colonnade, there are five mineral springs with water temperatures that range from 53°C to 65°C. These are the Mill Spring, Nymph Spring, Prince Wenceslas Spring, Libuse Spring and Rock Spring.

If you hear music while walking near the Mill Colonnade, it’s probably the spa orchestra that gives free concerts at the colonnade’s special orchestra space.

The main long facade of the Mill Colonnade. Five statues sit atop the colonnade's rooftop terrace. People are walking on the pedestrianised street in front of the colonnade.
The Mill Colonnade dominates its surroundings

Park Colonnade

Situated in the middle of a park, the Park Colonnade used to be part of the Blanensky Pavillion, a concert and restaurant hall that was built at the end of the 19th century and was demolished in the 1960s. The richly decorated cast-iron colonnade has two mineral springs, the Park Spring and the Snake Spring.

The iron-cast Park colonnade. It is formed by two gazebos linked with a corridor. People stand on the first gazebo in order to drink water from the spring and take photos. Walking along the colonnades is one of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary.
The gorgeous Park Colonnade never stops attracting people who want to take a photo with it

Castle Colonnade

Built in Art Nouveau style, this stone colonnade is no longer accessible to the general public as it’s incorporated into a spa hotel.

Freedom Spring Arbour

This isn’t a colonnade but a beautiful gazebo housing just one spring: the Freedom or Liberty Spring. This spring was discovered in the early 1860s. Spa experts recommend drinking a cup of water from this spring before dinner as it helps with digestion.

Hot Spring Colonnade

Unlike all the other elaborate colonnades, the austere Hot Spring Colonnade is a functionalistic building that was completed in 1975 to replace an earlier cast-iron colonnade.

Inside the Hot Spring Colonnade is the Vridlo Spring or Spring Number 1, the most powerful and hottest spring in the town. The water comes to the surface from a depth of two kilometres and its temperature reaches 73.4°C.

The large amount of carbon dioxide along with the underground water cause a natural geyser that can reach a height of up to 12 metres. It can go even higher up but it’s regulated never to go beyond 12 metres for safety reasons.

From the Vridlo Spring, mineral water is transferred to the town’s spa hotels to be used for various treatments. Inside the building, you can see the geyzer and drink water from the five fountains where some of the thermal water from the Vridlo Spring is diverted and kept in cooler temperatures that are suitable for drinking.

The geyzer inside the functionalistic building of the Vridlo Spring.
Hands down the most impressive of all Karlovy Vary attractions

4. Visit The Vridlo Underground

After you visit the Hot Spring Colonnade, you can continue to the historical underground part of the Vridlo Spring on a guided tour. The underground corridor was used as the technology basement of the cast-iron colonnade that stood there from 1879 to 1939.

The most impressive things you’ll see in the Vridlo Underground are the famous stone roses, probably the best souvenirs you can find in Karlovy Vary. These roses are initially made of paper. However, after spending a couple of weeks in the Vridlo Underground, soaking in the mineral water, they turn to stone.

The underground corridor of the Vridlo Spring.
Getting to the depths of the Vridlo Underground is a unique experience

5. Walk Along Stara Louka & Masaryka Streets

One of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary is to walk along Stara Louka and Masaryka streets. The starting point of Masaryka Street is the Jan Becher Museum. Masaryka Street is the main shopping street and ends where the town’s spa zone begins. From there, you can walk along the river and enter the spa zone with the colonnades.

A few steps from the Hot Spring Colonnade, don’t miss the Baroque Church of Saint Mary Magdalene. As you continue walking along the river, you will find the pedestrianised Stara Louka Street. This is probably the most beautiful street in Karlovy Vary, as it’s lined with pastel-coloured elegant buildings on both sides of the river.

The pedestrianised Masaryka Street. Along both sides of the street there are commercial shops, such as a McDonald's, a pharmacy and a BILLA supermarket.
Masaryka Street

6. Live The Experience of The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Upon entering the town, a huge sign of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival welcomes you to this fairytale-like town. When planning our trip to Karlovy Vary, little did we know about the festival. However, we soon found out that it’s one of the oldest film festivals in the world. Not to mention the most important one in Central and Eastern Europe.

The International Film Festival is held in Karlovy Vary every year in early July. During the festival, cinephiles from all over the world flock to Karlovy Vary to indulge in daily binge-watching of countless films. Others are more interested in catching glimpses of their favourite film stars in the streets of Karlovy Vary.

Most film screenings take place at the Thermal Hotel. For more information about the festival, have a look here.

A golden cobble with John Malkovich 2009 written on it. The sign is placed on the pavement between other stones.
Outside Grandhotel Pupp, golden cobblestones on the ground indicate who’s been to Karlovy Vary for the festival and which year

7. Stay at The Same Hotel as Your Favourite Movie Stars

Grandhotel Pupp, probably the most historic spa hotel in Karlovy Vary, has hosted many prominent foreign guests, such as Ornella Mouti, Michael Douglas and John Travolta, to name but a few. Moreover, the hotel has been a filming location for several films, among which Casino Royale is the most famous.

If you want to get a little bit of the glory of your favourite film stars, visit Karlovy Vary any time of the year and stay at the iconic Grandhotel Pupp.

Book here one of the 228 unique rooms for a luxury stay at one of the world’s first-class hotels.

A partial view of the exterior of Grandhotel Pupp.
Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary is one of the town’s landmarks

8. Swim With a View at Thermal Hotel

Unlike Budapest, where you can find some of the best thermal baths in Europe, Karlovy Vary’s thermal water is more widely available for drinking rather than bathing.

However, one of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary is to plunge into the mineral water swimming pool at the rooftop terrace of Hotel Thermal which offers the best view of the town. You can visit the famous Thermal Hotel pool even if you’re not a guest of the hotel.

There are two outdoor pools on the rooftop terrace. The main swimming pool has four 25-metre swimming lanes and a water temperature of 32°C. The smaller one is a thermal pool with a water temperature of 38°C.

Click here for the price list and the opening hours.

The swimming pool at the rooftop terrace of Hotel Thermal. In the background, panoramic views of Karlovy Vary. Spending an afternoon at the Thermal Hotel pool is one of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary.
A rooftop swimming pool with warm water and spectacular views? Count us in!

9. Book Some Spa Treatments at Hotel Prezident

As we said before, the hot mineral water from the Vridlo Spring is distributed to the town’s spa hotels to be used for treatments. Among the best spa hotels in Karlovy Vary, the family-run Hotel Prezident stands out. A few steps from the Vridlo Spring, this Luxury Spa & Wellness Hotel is the best place to simply relax or cure several illnesses.

Apart from the friendly and homelike atmosphere, what makes Prezident Hotel unique is the valuable experience and knowledge of its founder, Milada Sarova, M.D. Among the countless people this passionate spa expert has looked after throughout the decades were celebrities from all over the world, such as Czech President Vaclav Havel, actors Ben Kingsley, Gerard Depardieu and many more.

Book your room at Hotel Prezident and have Ms Sarova and her team prepare a tailor-made spa treatment plan for you.

The rooftop terrace of Hotel Prezident. There are several tables with chairs and a few tent gazebos.
The peaceful rooftop terrace at Hotel Prezident, one of the best spa hotels in Karlovy Vary

10. Have Dinner at The Best Restaurant in Karlovy Vary

Situated near the Park Colonnade, Tusculum is one of the best restaurants in Karlovy Vary. Featuring a tasting menu prepared with ingredients from the owners’ organic farm and paired with superb Czech wines, Tusculum Restaurant offers a unique culinary experience. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry. There are options on the menu for you.

The welcome dish at Tusculum restaurant. Two spoons filled with red sauce on a plate. In the middle of the plate there's a sign with the restaurant's name on it.
Food at Tusculum tastes as good as it looks

11. Take The Funicular To The Diana Lookout Tower

Erected in 1914, the 40-metre-high Diana Lookout Tower is the most popular of all the watchtowers that are scattered across the hills over Karlovy Vary. The tower has a lift that will take you to the observation deck. From there, you can enjoy panoramic views of the spa town.

Right next to the Diana Observation Tower, you will find the historical Diana Restaurant which was built in the same period as the tower. It’s the ideal place for a delicious lunch amidst nature, with several veggie options.

The easiest way to get to the Diana Lookout Tower is to take the funicular from the heart of Karlovy Vary, near Grandhotel Pupp. We’d recommend riding the funicular up to the tower and walking back down to the town for a chance to enjoy a scenic hike with splendid views along the way.

The observation deck of the Diana Lookout Tower with panoramic views in the background.
Stunning views from the Diana Observation Tower

12. Try Becherovka

Karlovy Vary is the birthplace of one of the most popular spirits in the Czech Republic. The world-famous Becherovka is a herbal digestive liqueur invented by Jan Becher at the beginning of the 19th century. Back then, it was used as a medicine for stomach ailments.

The liqueur is made with water from Karlovy Vary and the recipe is a well-kept secret that only two people in the company know. According to the locals, Becherovka is the 13th spring of Karlovy Vary.

To find out more about the history and the production of Becherovka, you can visit the Jan Becher Museum on a guided tour. Besides the original Becherovka, there are also other products with different recipes that you can taste during the tour. What’s more, Becherovka serves as the main ingredient in cocktails you can only find in Karlovy Vary. The most famous among them is the BeTon (Becherovka & Tonic).

The bar of Jan Becher Museum. A big sign of Becherovka is over several shelves with bottles on the wall. Five bottles with different products of Becherovka and three shots are at the bar in the foreground.
The bar inside the Jan Becher Museum

13. Visit Loket Castle

A mere 20-minute drive from Karlovy Vary, Loket Castle is one of the best places to visit near the famous spa town. Perched on a rocky hill with the Ohre River flowing around it, Loket Castle looks as though it comes straight out of a fairy tale.

Completely different from other castles we’ve seen in the Czech Republic, like the massive Sychrov Castle in Liberec, Loket Castle reminded us a lot of Bran Castle in Romania instead.

Founded in the second half of the 12th century, Loket Castle was built in Gothic style. In 1319, Prince Wenceslas, the future Emperor Charles IV, was imprisoned in the castle at the age of three, when his mother, Queen Eliska Premyslova, tried unsuccessfully to hide from the quick-tempered King John Luxembourg.

Inside the castle, you can see exciting exhibits, like the meteorite that fell in Loket around 1400. Furthermore, there are unique Gothic murals and historical arms collections. For spectacular views, climb up the 26-metre-high Castle Tower.

Check out the official website for information about opening hours and entrance fees.

Panoramic view of Loket Castle from the bridge. The castle is perched on a rocky hill. At the foot of the hill there is a river and a riverside promenade.
Loket Castle boasts a dreamy location

14 . Step Inside a Glassworks

Bohemia has been renowned for its high-quality glass and glassmaking craftsmanship throughout the centuries. Moser Glassworks was established in Karlovy Vary in 1857. With time, it became one of the most famous luxury crystal manufacturers in the world. Glass from the Moser Glassworks has been used to decorate palaces, create awards and craft many other invaluable objects.

Everything made in Moser Glassworks is lead-free and 100% handcrafted. Nowadays, the Moser Glass Factory is one of the best places to visit in Karlovy Vary. During a guided tour, you can see with your own eyes how glassmakers transform glass into masterpieces of art. On the same tour, you can also visit the Moser Museum.

Check out the official website for information about opening hours and admission fees.

The Moser Glassworks, one of the best places to visit in Karlovy Vary. Glassmaking masters with ovens behind them work the glass on an elevated platform.
Moser Karlovy Vary: Stepping inside a working glassworks is a fascinating experience

15. Get in The Depths of a UNESCO-Listed Mine

A spa vacation may be one of the main reasons to visit Karlovy Vary and the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. However, the mining region of the Krusne Mountains in the north of Bohemia awaits the more adventurous among you.

The mining region of the so-called Ore Mountains is shared between northwestern Czechia and southeastern Germany. The whole area was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2019 as mining activity has been documented there for over 800 years. Besides silver, some of the metals extracted at the mines were tin, cobalt, copper, iron and uranium.

It’s no overstatement to say that Europe’s entire monetary system started in the Ore Mountains. The silver from these mines was minted into tolars, the coins used in the area and, more specifically, in the town of Jachymov. If the word tolar rings a bell, you’re right. The dollar is named after the silver tolar that was born once upon a time in this corner of Bohemia.

A group of six people wearing yellow helmets and green anoraks in the Johannes mine.
At the Johannes Mine

Some of these mines are now open to the public, offering insightful guided tours. Keep in mind that each of these mines has a different level of difficulty. For example, the Mauritius Mine is very easy to walk through, while the Johannes Mine is quite demanding as it requires – among other challenges – climbing steep staircases, not at all suited for people with a fear of heights.

The important thing is that there’s a mine for everyone. No matter which mine you choose to visit, though, make sure that there are tours available in English.

During our trip to Karlovy Vary, we visited the Johannes Mine. The largest mine in the area, it was almost constantly in operation since the 16th century. The two-hour tour in the depths of the Johannes Mine is an unparalleled journey that narrates 500 years of mining history through dark wet tunnels and large chambers, dug centuries ago in the bosom of the Krusne Mountains.

Maria wearing a yellow helmet with a light and a green anorak in the Johannes mine. She's doing the V sign at the camera, smiling.
Facing our fears be like

16. Stop For a Beer Tasting at a Microbrewery

Right after the adrenaline-filled experience of exploring a mine, what’s better than a glass of top-quality – and ice-cold – Czech beer?

Almost on the border with Germany, Bozi Dar is a small town in the Ore mining region of Karlovy Vary. The little town is ideal for a beer stop at the Pivovar Cerveny Vlk Microbrewery. Alternatively, you can overnight at one of the town’s hotels if you want to explore more of the region’s gems.

Pivovar Cerveny Vlk serves several kinds of beer brewed in-house with local hops and accompanied by burgers and fancy dishes. The passionate Canadian-Czech brewmaster puts all his love into making the best version of the Czech national drink. The ambience and beer are amazing there. However, we would love to see more vegetarian options on the menu next time we visit.

A beer flight with five different beers.
Did someone say beer tasting?

17. Hike To The Wolf Pits

Located near the village of Horni Blatna, the Wolf Pits is an otherworldly landscape that was formed after the collapse of the Wolfgang Mine. The latter was in operation from the 16th to the 18th century. The pit is about 120 metres long and the dramatic rocks go so deep that you can see ice at their base even in the summer. You can get there after a short uphill hike from Horni Blatna.

Our guide and Maria are looking at the ice at the bottom of the Wolf Pit rocks.
Staring at the depths of the Wolf Pits

The Other Spa Towns of The West Bohemian Spa Triangle

Top 8 Things To Do in Mariánské Lázně

The second-largest town of the West Bohemia Spa Triangle, Marianske Lazne gave us the impression of being in a Spa Disneyland of sorts, abundant in beautiful parks and stunning 19th-century architecture with fountains and colonnades.

The colonnade with Karolina Spring. The colonnade is surrounded by a forest. Tulips and other flowers are in the background.
Beautiful Marianske Lazne

1. Stand Before The Singing Fountain

One of the best things to do in Marianske Lazne is to experience one of the music shows that the Singing Fountain puts on. Classical music masterpieces engage in an enchanting dance with the colourful jets of water from the fountain, captivating onlookers. This unique performance takes place every odd hour from the morning until it gets dark and it’s something you shouldn’t miss.

The Singing Fountain in Marianske Lazne during a music performance. The jet of the fountain has turned red and people are watching the show around the fountain. The Maxim Gorky Colonnade is in the background.
The Singing Fountain at dusk

2. Linger at The Colonnade

A few steps from the Singing Fountain, the neo-Baroque Maxim Gorky Colonnade stands in all its glory since 1889. Take a stroll along its 180-metre promenade to appreciate the beauty of this remarkable monument before you sit for a glass of wine at one of the elegant cafés that line the colonnade.

The interior of the cast-iron Maxim Gorky colonnade. A few café restaurants are inside the colonnade.
Gorgeous late afternoon light at the colonnade

3. Wander Through The Parks

Marianske Lazne boasts several lush parks, like the one that adorns the very heart of the town. That said, the most visited park in Marianske Lazne is Park Boheminium, the fourth-largest miniature park in Europe. The latter features over 70 detailed models of historical buildings in the Czech Republic.

A pond with a fountain at the park in Marianske Lazne.
In Marianske Lazne, there’s no shortage of relaxing green spaces

4. Discover The Royal Statues

Among several statues of prominent personalities – including those of Goethe and Chopin, both of whom were in love with Marianske Lazne – the royal statues of King Edward VII of England and Emperor Franz Joseph I stand out.

King Edward VII visited Marianske Lazne nine times in total. In 1904, he met the last Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I there, turning Marianske Lazne into an important European political centre.

You can read more about the Habsburgs’ capital in our 3-day Vienna Itinerary.

The human-sized royal statues of the British King Edward VII and the Emperor Franz Joseph I in the park in Marianske Lazne. The Austrian Emperor stands on the left wearing his military uniform and King Edward on the right wearing a costume, a coat, a hat and holding a cane.
A penny for their thoughts?

5. Devour a Spa Wafer

Spa wafers became an integral part of the spa culture around the 18th century. Most probably, spa wafers were inspired by communion bread. Originally, a spa wafer came in a single layer with sugar on top. However, over time, this changed. A spa wafer now consists of two pieces filled with sugar or even chocolate, hazelnuts and almonds.

The delicious dough is made with spring water and salt from the Karlovy Vary region. Don’t leave without trying at least one spa wafer from the Kolonada shop, the pioneer spa wafer brand, based in Marianske Lazne.

6. Walk To The Forest Spring

Even though there are about 100 mineral springs around Marianske Lazne, only 40 of them are in the town. Contrary to Karlovy Vary’s springs, those in Marianske Lazne have cold water.

If your time allows you to visit only one of the town’s springs, grab the opportunity to take a short walk to the Forest Spring. The water from the Forest Spring tastes funny but it’s beneficial for upper respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.

The Forest Spring in Marianske Lazne. The spring is next to a stream of mineral water that's orange in colour because of the minerals.
The Forest Spring

7. Be Pampered at Nove Lazne Hotel

Featuring 97 gorgeous rooms and suites, this historic 5-star spa hotel offers its guests complete premium spa services. With a renowned Roman bath area, several swimming pools, 40 treatment cabins, saunas and access to natural mineral springs, Nove Lazne is one of the best spa hotels in the West Bohemian Spa Triangle.

At Nove Lazne, you’ll have the opportunity to feel like royalty. King Edward VII was so fond of Marianske Lazne that he had his very own spa cabin inside Nove Lazne Hotel. Nowadays, you can have a spa treatment in this very room of the historic Neo-Rennaisance hotel if you like.

Book your room at Nove Lazne and indulge in luxurious spa treatments.

The facade of Hotel Nove Lazne.
The elegant Nove Lazne Hotel

8. Have Dinner at Hotel Swiss House

Apart from being a splendid boutique hotel, Hotel Swiss House takes great pride in its exquisite restaurant. At the relaxing garden or the cosy indoor space, you can enjoy a delicious gourmet tasting menu with local ingredients that caters to vegetarians or people with any other dietary requirements. And you’ll be friends with the cutest cat.

A beetroot soup with sour cream and decorative leaves.
Delicious beetroot soup

Top 4 Things To Do in Františkovy Lázně

Named after the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, Frantiskovy Lazne is the smallest of the three towns that comprise the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. The little spa town was founded in the 18th century. Since then, it has attracted famous guests like Goethe, Johan Strauss, Franz Kafka and many others.

With more than 20 mineral springs with cold water, Frantiskovy Lazne is famous for treatments of gynaecological problems and infertility.

1. Enjoy a Day at Aquaforum

For some water fun, especially if you’re travelling with kids, Aquaforum is the place to be in Frantiskovy Lazne. You will find indoor and outdoor swimming pools and water slides there, as well as fitness and wellness centres for a pure fun and relaxing experience.

The exterior of Aquaforum.
The Aquaforum – Hotel Pawlik complex

2. Spend The Night at Hotel Pawlik

Hotel Pawlik is probably the best dining and accommodation option in Frantiskovy Lazne. Besides its direct access to Aquaforum and several top-quality spa facilities, Hotel Pawlik offers anything a guest would need for a memorable stay.

Seriously, name it and it’s there. From bicycles to rent, a library and a reading room to a game centre with billiards and a daycare room, the 4-star spa resort has something for everyone. On top of that, Hotel Pawlik is like a cultural centre of sorts as it organises several events, open to locals and visitors alike.

Book a room at Hotel Pawlik for the most relaxing stay.

Top view of a served table at Hotel Pawlik's restaurant. The chair and the towel are red while the tablecloth is white. On the table, there is a glass of water, a soup and a plate with vegetables, bread and canapés.
Lunch at Pawlik Hotel

3. Wander Around The Bijou Town

Frantiskovy Lazne may be a tiny town but it has no shortage of peaceful parks and elegant neo-classical buildings and colonnades. Take a stroll from Pawlik Hotel through the park with the Goethe Memorial and wander around the bijou centre of Frantiskovy Lazne.

The main pedestrianised street in Frantiskovy Lazne. On both sides of the street, there are white benches, trees and bushes. The street is lined with elaborate yellow buildings with grey roofs.
A stroll through Frantiskovy Lazne is always a good idea

4. Look For The Small Boy Statue

As we said, Frantiskovy Lazne specialises in the treatment of infertility problems. Therefore, the town’s symbol is the statue of a miraculous little boy, called Frantisek. See? It’s not only Brussels that has a small (naked) boy as a symbol. According to the legend, if a woman touches Frantisek, she’ll get pregnant before too long. We tend to believe that it’s the healing properties of the water that does the trick instead.

The little boy statue called Frantisek. The boy sits naked on a ball and is holding a fish.
Ladies, if you don’t want to have kids, refrain from touching Frantisek – just in case

We hope that this list of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary and the West Bohemian Spa Triangle inspired you to consider this destination for your next Central Europe adventure. A spa vacation complemented by beautiful nature, stunning architecture and several cultural treasures is the best way to get acquainted with this very special part of the Czech Republic.

Selfie of Maria and Katerina in front of the river in Karlovy Vary.
We’ll be back for more spa pampering – that’s a promise!

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina

Disclosure: We visited Karlovy Vary and the West Bohemian Spa Triangle on a press trip organised and sponsored by Visit Czechia and Karlovy Vary Region. This article about the best things to do in Karlovy Vary and around was sponsored by Visit Czechia, but all opinions are our own, as always.

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