Karlovy Vary sights

Karlovy Vary sights

When describing the sights of Carlsbad, one cannot fail to mention the thermal springs, which are the main feature of the spa, founded back in the 14th century by Charles IV. The water from Karlovy Vary’s mineral springs is used for medicinal drinking and bathing. There are a lot of other attractions on the tourist map of Karlovy Vary. The Japanese Stone Garden, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the city theater, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, the Old Castle and other local attractions are perfect photo subjects.

Like the mineral water of the famous Vřídlo mineral spring the tourist life of the town thunders, the soul of which is the colonnades – a pilgrimage site for hundreds of travelers. The Mill Colonnade, which dates back to 1881, is a major tourist attraction in Karlovy Vary. This is the largest Neo-Renaissance colonnade comprising a network of thermal springs, including the Mill Spring, Libušín, Prince Wenceslas Spring, Rock Spring, and Mermaid Spring. The colonnade itself evokes associations with an ancient temple, rich in sculptures dedicated to scenes from Czech mythology. The interesting sculptural composition “12 Months” deserves close attention.

The Karlovy Vary churches cannot be overlooked: St. Mary Magdalene Church – a high Baroque example, built in 1737, the Greek-Catholic St. Andreas Church, which got its present appearance in 1841, the Anglican Church of St. Luke in Pseudo-Gothic style, and the Orthodox Church of St. Stephen in 1847. Luka in pseudo-Gothic style, built in 1877 on the Castle Hill, the ruins of the church of St. Lengart, dating back to the 13th century, the church of St. Urban of the second half of the 13th century. The religious landmark of Carlsbad – the orthodox cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, built in the Russian-Byzantine style in 1897, which was built for the funds of Russians who came to the beneficial land for recreation purposes – is considered to be the architectural landmark of the town. Under its vaults are a lot of pictures and icons brought by guests from Russia, and two icons donated by Nicholas II are carefully preserved.

Sights of Karlovy Vary are lavish with interesting monuments: the so-called “Plague Column” or the Holy Trinity Column built in honor of the victory over the terrible plague, the Three Crosses Mountain built in memory of the fighting brothers of the Catholic faith, the monuments of Ludwig van Beethoven, Adam Mickiewicz. Local architectural masterpieces may well include the Post Court building (1791), as well as the city theater, designed in the late 19th century.

The castles of Karlovy Vary allow you to find yourself in history. For example, the picturesque Loket Castle, the former administrative center of the region of the same name and the hunting lodge of the Luxembourg kings, reeks of the Middle Ages. Rugged interiors, narrow streets, a torture chamber with elaborate items, a lot of beliefs associated with the underground – everything bears a historical stamp. To go back hundreds of years, to see unique collections of porcelain, weapons and rare books, to feel the place, which was so loved by Goethe – is worth a lot. The city-fortress of Bečov, founded in the XIII century, also has a rich past. The most valuable items here are the Chapel of the Apparition of the Virgin Mary, decorated with frescoes of biblical themes from the 14th century, and the casket with the relics of St. Mark.

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You can admire the town and its surroundings thanks to the look-out towers, which are a peculiar sightseeing attraction of Karlovy Vary: Diana Lookout Tower – the most famous one, surrounded by the scenery of the Ore Mountains; Doubská hora with the Aberg Hotel; Goethe Lookout Tower with its 165 steps; Charles IV Tower at 514 m above sea level; Deer Leap Lookout with an unexpected view of the town and another landmark of Karlovy Vary – a statue of a chamois looking down on the town. You can climb the lookout towers by funicular railway or on foot along forest paths.

Connoisseurs of Bohemian crystal turn to the famous Moser glassworks, the birthplace of Bohemian glass. There is an interesting museum at the plant, Mozer, which displays rare exhibits, sheds light on the history of the company and takes visitors into the process of glassblowing. In the souvenir shop you can always buy unsurpassed crystal products. The Jan Becher Museum is also quite interesting, especially for connoisseurs of fine liquors, because it is dedicated to the famous herbal liquor Becherovka, which is produced only in Karlovy Vary. This wonder drink with the aroma of melissa and cinnamon is jokingly called the thirteenth healing spring. Visitors can watch a documentary about the liquor, learn about the background of its production, taste the liquor from the special porcelain glasses, and, if they wish, buy a bottle or two at the producer’s price.

The parks, alleys and palisades in Karlovy Vary, beautiful at any time of the year, are particularly fascinating among the natural features that are organically interwoven into the townscape. Locals and tourists alike choose Smetana Gardens, the park with the lake – Lesser Versailles, Dvořák Gardens, Charles IV Gardens and the Stone Garden, which is literally a place for meditation.

Karlovy Vary is attractive not only for tourists wishing to improve their health. It is so easy to get in touch with Czech art in the local gallery, have a look in the Elerhant café or resist the temptation of a waffle assortment in the patisserie Oplatky. The sights of Karlovy Vary are a stepping stone to the heart of this atmospheric city, the pride not only of the Czech Republic but also of the whole of Europe.

17 recommended sights in Karlovy Vary


So you have arrived in Karlovy Vary. What to see and where to go first? About this and not only – in our article.

Karlovy Vary is the second most popular city in the Czech Republic among tourists, which has the unofficial title of “the green jewel of the West Bohemian triangle”. Its colonnades and geothermal springs make it one of the most attractive spa towns in Europe, and there are many other interesting sights that many tourists simply do not know about.

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Hot Spring Colonnade

Hot Spring Colonnade

Hot Spring Colonnade.| Photo: wikimedia.

Vrzhidlo is the most famous of all the thermal springs of Karlovy Vary and also one of the hottest. The water temperature is 72°C and jets gush out from the ground under such a high pressure that they reach a height of 12 meters, spewing 2,000 liters of water per minute.

The geyser is located inside the Geyser or Vřídelní kolonáda (Geyser Colonnade), a 70’s Functionalist building with four other springs (totally free access).

If you taste the local water for the first time, you will probably be quite surprised – it takes some getting used to. We also recommend a visit to the underground colonnade to see how the center operates from the inside and also to find out how the famous aragonite crystals are formed.

Address: Vřídelní kolonáda, Divadelní nám. 2036/2, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Mill Colonnade

Mlýnská Colonnade

The Mill Colonnade.

The most striking architectural attraction in Karlovy Vary is without any doubt the Renaissance Mlynska Colonnade, built between 1871 and 1881, with as many as five mineral springs.

The balustrade of the upper terrace is decorated with statues symbolizing the months of the year, and inside the building itself you can see a small orchestra shell. Opposite the Mlina Colonnade is a magnificent building (reconstructed from old blueprints) with a restaurant and inn. It is believed that in 1711 Peter the Great himself stayed in this house during his visit to Karlovy Vary.

Address: Mlýnská kolonáda, Mlýnské nábř., 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

St. Mary Magdalene Church

St. Mary Magdalene Church

St. Mary Magdalene Church. | Photo: ccdoh1 / Flickr.

The St. Mary Magdalene Church is the most important Catholic church in Karlovy Vary and one of the most grandiose Baroque buildings in the city.

This imposing church in the city’s central spa street was built by the renowned baroque master Kilian Dientzenhofer, architect of the Church of St. Nicholas in Prague’s Malá Strana. The construction was completed in the 1830s. The crypt has an underground altar and a crypt in which the ashes of those who were once buried in the 18th-century church cemetery that surrounded the church are buried.

Address: Kostel Maří Magdalény, nám. Svobody 1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

The Garden Colonnade

Garden Colonnade

The Garden Colonnade.

This elegant wrought-iron colonnade was built in 1880. It is the first to greet tourists at the entrance to the tourist promenade on the north side. The Garden Colonnade was designed by Viennese architects Fellner & Helmer, who also worked on the Market Colonnade.

Address: Sadová kolonáda, Zahradní, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Market Colonnade

Market Colonnade

Market Colonnade.

This openwork neoclassical colonnade (the only one in the city made entirely of wood) appeared in Karlovy Vary in the 1880s as a result of the work of the legendary Viennese architectural firm Fellner & Helmer. The bronze plaque above the Charles IV spring depicts the discovery of the hot springs by Emperor Charles in the 14th century.

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Address: Tržní kolonáda, Tržiště, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Cableway Diana

The boarding pavilion of the funicular Diana. | Photo: suchosch / Flickr.

A narrow alley north of the Grandhotel Pupp leads to the boarding pavilion of the Diana funicular, which rises 166 meters and offers tourists a magnificent view from the viewing tower of the same name. Cable car leaves every 15 minutes. You can go back on foot through a picturesque forest.

Address: Lanovka Diana, Mariánská 1218/1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Diana Lookout Tower

Diana Lookout Tower

Diana Lookout Tower.

The famous Diana Lookout Tower, built in 1914, is situated at the top of Friendship Hill. If you are in good physical shape, you can try to climb up to it on forest trails, the most convenient time for these hikes is spring, early summer and fall.

Another option is to take the special funicular railway, which leaves from Karlovy Vary every 15 minutes and takes about three minutes to ascend. The range of the view from the tower is 70 kilometers on a clear day. There is a restaurant and a mini zoo nearby. The Diana Observation Tower is one of the main sights in Karlovy Vary.

Address: Diana Tower, Vrch přátelství 5/1, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Moser Museum

Moser Museum

Moser factory museum.

The Moser Glassworks Museum is situated on the western outskirts of Karlovy Vary. There are more than 2000 exhibits that tell a rich history of the company. Tourists are offered to buy tours of the nearby glassworks. There is a store at the museum, but the prices are not very different from those that can be found in the city.

Address: Návštěvnické centrum Moser, Kpt. Jaroše 46/19, Dvory, 360 06 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Becherovka Museum

Becherovka Museum

Becherovka Museum.

Karlovy Vary is the birthplace of Josef Becher, a 19th century pharmacist who developed his own medicinal tonic known as Becherovka. After Josef’s death his son Johann continued to develop the family business and began mass production of the drink, which later became the national treasure of the Czech Republic.

In the Jan Becher Museum you will see the original glassware and other interesting artifacts, as well as learn how Becherovka is brewed and stored. A visit to the museum involves tasting the drink, which is an additional motivating factor!

Jan Bechter Museum is rightly considered one of the main attractions of Karlovy Vary. You can find pictures and descriptions of the place on any tourist portal dedicated to the Czech Republic. Do not forget to buy a bottle of Becherovka for friends and relatives and for yourself.

Address: Jana Bechera Muzeum, Tomáše Garrigue Masaryka, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

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Peter and Paul Church

Peter and Paul Church

Peter and Paul Church.

When visiting Karlovy Vary, be sure to visit the magnificent Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul from 1898. Although the church is located in an area known for its incredibly beautiful Art Nouveau villas, it manages to stand out for its tall golden domes and blue roof vaults.

The church was built at the expense of wealthy Russians who visited the resort. The external appearance borrowed typical design features of Russian churches of the XVII century, so the temple in the section has the shape of a cross. The interior of the church is as attractive as its exterior: the bas-relief of Peter the Great, numerous frescos and the large wooden wall with icons and paintings are of particular interest.

Address: Chrám sv. apoštolů Petra a Pavla, Krále Jiřího 2c, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Karlovy Vary Museum and Art Gallery

Karlovy Vary Museum & Art Gallery

Karlovy Vary Museum and Art Gallery.

If you want to learn about the history of the city and the region, you can visit the Karlovy Vary Museum. Its permanent collection offers an in-depth look at the development of the region as an important spa center, and you can learn more about the characteristics of the local waters and their therapeutic applications.

The museum also has an interesting library with many books related not only to balneology (study of mineral waters), but also to the art history of the region. It is also worth visiting the picture gallery with its beautiful collection of paintings and statues of famous Czech masters. There are also regular concerts and various theatrical performances.

Address: Galerie umění Karlovy Vary, Goethova stezka 1215/6, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Loket Castle

Loket Castle

Loket Castle.

Only 13 kilometers from the center of Karlovy Vary lies the quaint little town of Loket with its main tourist attraction – the magnificent ancient 12th century castle high above the settlement. The castle of Loket is perfectly preserved and has undergone very few changes since its construction.

Its thick stone walls, used as a prison in the 18th and 20th centuries, earned Loket the reputation of the most impregnable fortress in Bohemia. If you can, try to coincide your visit with the annual opera festival held here every July, for the castle plays a major role and provides a wonderful backdrop for the Czech National Opera, which puts on open-air performances in the local amphitheatre.

Address: Hrad Loket, Zámecká 67, 357 33 Loket, Czech Republic.

Motorcycle Museum

Motorcycle Museum

Museum of motorcycles.

Motorcycle museum is located a few minutes drive from Karlovy Vary in a small village called Bečov nad Teplou. Here two-wheelers fans can see more than 40 well preserved models of old motorcycles and numerous moto artifacts, including engines and specialized paraphernalia.

All this splendor is housed neatly in an old 13th century building. You might also enjoy the small Toy Museum, which has exhibits from all over Bohemia, as well as a collection of cutlery and weapons. After a visit to the museum, be sure to wander the streets of this quiet village with its many fine old buildings (including even a castle) and superb coastal scenery.

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Address: Muzeum historických motocyklů, náměstí 5. května, Bečov nad Teplou, Czech Republic.

Spa Hotel Thermal

Spa Hotel Thermal

Spa Hotel Thermal. | Photo: whereisemil / Flickr.

This building doesn’t really fit in with the look of Karlovy Vary, but that’s what makes it special. The Thermal Spa Hotel is a 10-story complex from the 1970s, built during the Soviet era, and its appearance stands in stark contrast to the sophisticated architecture of the Old Town.

Although it wasn’t a popular destination at first, today it’s one of the city’s main landmarks. The Thermal offers the only outdoor public pool in the city center. In early July it hosts the annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the region’s leading cinematic event, which turned half a century old in 2015.

Address: Spa Hotel Thermal, Ivana Petroviče Pavlova 2001/11, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Grand Hotel Pupp

Grand Hotel Pupp

Grand Hotel Pupp.

This majestic 228-room hotel with more than 300 years of history is located on a hillside and gives its guests a spectacular view of Karlovy Vary. It was named after Johann Georg Pupp, the local confectioner, who founded the hotel.

Over the centuries, Pupp’s descendants expanded and transformed the hotel, and by the early 20th century its building acquired the neo-baroque look that we can see today. The rich and famous from all over the world love to stay in this oasis of affluence, and film buffs know the hotel from the 2006 James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’.

Address: Grandhotel Pupp, Mírové náměstí, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Stara Loka Street

Stara Loka Street

The Stara Louka Street.

Stará Louka is the central and the most picturesque street in Karlovy Vary: old town houses on the northern bank of the river Teplá, surrounded by evergreen hills of Slavkovský Forest, will not leave you indifferent to any tourist.

Along the street are lined with cozy boutiques, cafes and restaurants. This is an ideal place for quiet walks on weekends and friendly conversations on one of the terraces by the river with a cup of fragrant coffee. Nowa Louka street stretches along the opposite bank of the river, on which the theater named after Vítězslav Nezval is located.

Address: Stará Louka, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Post Court

Post Court

Post Court.

The renowned postal yard is situated in the mountains south of the town. Originally it was a stable for postal horses, which soon became a popular staging post for travelers and locals.

After a while, a restaurant opened here, where the local aristocracy and nobility held noisy parties “for their own.” In this neoclassical building you will see many state rooms with two spectacular pavilions, decorated in the French style. The ballroom with a covered terrace stands out among all the rooms.

Address: Poštovní Dvůr, Slovenská 309/2, 360 01 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

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