My most recent journey was to the small town of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. The first time I ever heard of this town was watching the a movie with Queen Latifah (Last Holiday) and the James Bond movie, Casino Royale. In my opinion, it is one of the most colorfully beautiful spa towns in Europe. With a small band of explorers we set off to discover, relax and enjoy our “bohemian girl’s weekend.”
This trip was a Travel with Wendy adventure, full of fun, wine, spas, great food and lots of stories. As they say in Vegas, “What happens in Vegas…stays in Vegas.” Well, we had some of those experiences too. Leaving on Thursday, we stopped halfway from Stuttgart to see the lovely city of Ansbach. A great place to enjoy lunch by the Franconian river we also explored the town for a few hours discovering museums, churches, a wonderful “altstadt,” (old city), palaces and enjoyed some ice cream in the royal gardens.
I’ll be writing more about Ansbach in an upcoming www.militaryingermany.com blog as I investigate more about this area so close to Bamberg and other parts of Franconia Bavaria.
Also known as Carlsbad, this town dated back to 1350 when the first Celtic settlers were established here after the middle ages. Almost instantly, the hot springs were discovered and people began enjoying the therapeutic springs for healing and relaxation. However, the real spa boom didn’t hit until the 18th century when Kings and Queens from all over Europe started visiting this town and the economy boomed.
Everywhere you walk through this town you see the elegance and grandeur of this period. It is located in the western most part of the Czech Republic in the Bohemian region and named after King Charles IV, who was the Holy Roman Emperor and Bohemian king.
Lots to do
Whether you decide to go to Karlovy Vary (KV) for the spas, a festival, the music or it’s a stop on your way to Prague, there’s a lot to do. So much in fact, I’m going back in a few weeks to do more research. Here is a list of things we loved doing this past weekend.
Strolling the promenade
- The promenade makes up 16 mineral springs and 7 Colonnades or Pavilions
- You’ll want to purchase a “Stuppchen” (this is a little water pitcher to drink from the springs)
Mosel Glass Factory
- The retail store is located across from the Mill Colonnade in downtown KV
- The Museum and Factory Tour is located HERE (**VERY HOT inside Factory)
- Excellent historical and visual tour, you can also purchase your crystal and glass here
- Prepare to spend some money, I found the prices to be a little high
- See VAT information below
- Just behind the Grand Hotel Pupp is a funicular/hike up to the Diana Overlook with wonderful panorama views of the city
- €8/person RT for funicular
- Beer garden at top with food and picnic tables
- Butterfly garden and petting zoo
- Great shopping opportunities throughout the entire city including high end brand names and more!
- Grand Hotel Pupp has their own shopping strip mall
- Becherplatz shopping center
- VAT is accepted here, more information is available HERE, there are some restrictions, please read carefully.
Visit the town of Loket
- The hrad Loket – is the castle that draws people to the town but the people are what make you stay
- Eat at the Restaurant Atmosfera , we had pork medallions with grilled vegetables, schnitzel (that was some of the best I’ve had in EUROPE) and steak with rich gravy. The dishes were prepared exquisitely. We were wonderfully surprised as we walked the town to find this gem.
- Visit the Beer Museum, this interactive brewery and beer museum is A LOT of fun! If you have some gents with you this is a pleaser, then of course enjoy a tasting on their patio or bar.
A Travel with Wendy trip would not be complete without some amazing food, restaurant recommendations and stories. This trip is no exception.
- Le’ Marche – 3 – course meal – (about €30-40) without wine
This is considered one of the best restaurants in all of the Czech Republic. My little gang completely agreed. From impeccable service to exquisite plate demonstration our experience was INCREDIBLE.
They offer a 3-course menu or a 6-course menu. If you order the three courses the portions are bigger. Thanks to Shelly for taking one for the team and trying all six. Our “yums and humms” could be heard at our surrounding tables. If you do not want bread, stop them before they put it on your table. Otherwise you will pay for this service. We kept the bread because it was delicious and had a wonderful olive tapenade that accompanied it. Reservations are highly recommended.
- Tusculum – €15-20/entree (main course meal)
Another delightful dining experience was Tusculum. Also a tea room they had pages and pages in their menu dedicated to tea. However, we enjoyed pasta, fish and soups. Our service was perfect and our views on the terrace were unforgettable. Definitely a keeper.
- Quisisana Palace – breakfast cafe (€12-15/person)
Skip having a bite to eat at the Grand Hotel Pupp and hop on over to the Quisisana Palace across the street. This unbelievably tasty cafe has all the views of the Grand Pupp without the price tag. Our waitress, Ivana was perfect and the Eggs Benedict was unforgettable.
Ahhh, the SPAS, Bubbly Spas and more…
Whether you decide to partake in the spas offered by your hotel or visit the many, many spas available throughout the town please relax and enjoy. Here are just a few treatments that were available at our hotel, the Spa Hotel Schlosspark, prices vary but are on the website. We decided to opt for treatments in the hotel so we wouldn’t have to walk around town with a bathrobe. Some treatments are all-natural, (clothing optional) others were with some clothing, but if you have sensitivities, just inform the nurse prior to your procedure.
- Oxygen bath
- Laser Biolamp
- Firming Phyto-Stem cell treatment
- Aromatherapy Massage
- Classical Massage
I think we all look about 10 years younger after our treatments.
Lots of spas are available in Karlovy Vary, like a BEER SPA! This fun and invigorating spa includes all the beer you can drink, a spa tub filled with hot, bubbly beer with hops and wheat concentrate to soften the skin. All of this mixes together with spa water that is all therapeutic. Most beer spa’s range from €30-50/person for an hour. Let me know if you try this out!
Travel tips for Czech Republic
- Vignette – toll sticker for your car window (can purchase through ADAC – prior to your trip) or at gas stations before entering the country
- €12/10 day sticker
- Currency – even though the Czech Republic is part of the EU they still have their own currency, the Koruna. DO NOT EXCHANGE MONEY WITH STREET VENDORS only at Bank ATMs. There are plenty of banks in Karlovy Vary with ATMs, you can exchange your money before you go however American banks do not have this currency and if you have an account at a German bank it will take about two days to order your funds.
- Parking- the streets to downtown Karlovy Vary is very narrow and old cobblestone. If you are taking your car MAKE SURE YOUR HOTEL HAS PARKING AND ORDER IN ADVANCE! We did not order our parking in advance but the hotel next door had spaces and rented us a spot for about €8/day. The average even at our hotel was €10/day for parking.
Absolutely one of my favorite trips in Europe yet! This fun little band of spa seekers laughed and giggled about all the discoveries and unforgettable memories we made. Next up, Münich for the weekend!