Karlovy Vary is a popular spa resort named after its founder, Emperor Charles IV. Legend has it that Charles discovered the hot springs while chasing a stag.
Today, the water from those hot springs is used to treat disorders of the digestive system and metabolic diseases. The town is otherwise historically famous for its delicious spa wafers, Moser glass, Carlsbad porcelain and Becherovka herbal liqueur, not to mention the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, an annual gathering of international celebrities.
Graceful colonnades, spa houses, luxurious hotels (of which the oldest and best known is the 300 year old Grand Hotel Pupp) and other developments spread out across the Teplá River valley as well as visitors tasting the healing waters that spring up from the ground - these are the classic images of Karlovy Vary.
Dozens of famous rulers, writers, poets and composers came to Karlovy Vary to avail themselves of the curative power of the hot springs. Numerous monuments and memorial plaques throughout the city commemorate these visits. In order to make the place even more comfortable for spa guests and visitors, the surrounding hills were remodeled into large forest parks with walking paths, promenades, statues and picturesque buildings featuring unique lookout points that provide magnificent panoramas of the spa town. Today, Karlovy Vary is the biggest and the most frequently visited spa resort in the Czech Republic. It is also the region's administrative center.
Getting There: Direct train from Mariánské Lázně, by car (55 minutes)