February 28, 2019

Czech Out Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad in English, Karlsbad in Deutsch), Czech Republic, is drop dead gorgeous. Then you also get to relax in one of the city's several spa-hotel options! The villa and mansion hotels are everywhere you look! For Marc and me, this was a no-brainer. We opted to stay in Hotel Smetana and had the entire basement spa to ourselves for nearly two hours!


Karlovy Vary is a little bit hilly, but well-designed with walking trails to get to lookouts and good sidewalks in the city center. I recommend you start at the top of the mountain and wind your way down the Teplá River to where it joins the Ohře River at the base of the town. The whole premise of going to Karlovy Vary is to get these awesome spa and wellness treatments, and part of the prescription is going on walks around the beautiful city!


The best place to start your view and understanding of Karlovy Vary is at the Tower - View of Charles IV., also known as the Observation Deck. Here you can get the big panoramic views of the hillsides and town center alike while breathing in the crisp fresh clean air. Next on your path will be the Modern Art Museum Karlovy Vary, showing off 20th century Czech artists in another older building. You'll start to notice that the city center of Karlovy Vary is nearly exclusively historical buildings, and we wouldn't have it any other way!


Heading downhill, you will run into the glamorous Casino Carlsbad. Notice how many of the hotels you are passing and how many of them (ALL!) have spa treatments available. Look to your left and you'll be dazzled by the Grandhotel Pupp. This is THE place to stay when the budget is a non-issue and fancy high class relaxing is the key! Maybe we'll be mature enough for that in about, oh, two hundred and fifty more years. Until then, we'll enjoy the likes of places more akin to the Vienna House, with it's lovely restaurant and live piano at the Bar & Café Opera.


Now we are arriving at the fun part of what makes Karlovy Vary so different from most European towns. The colonnades! These colonnades run along the river and allow everyone to experience the hot springs under beautifully designed shelters when the weather is not so great.


The Hot Spring Colonnade literally houses an actual hot spring geyser and several mineral water fountains. It is next to the impressively baroque St. Mary Magdalene's Church.


The Market Colonnade is probably my favorite, just because of the elaborately lacy gazebo appearance (pictured in title graphic). The details are immaculate, and the white arches really look like something taken out of the French Quarter in New Orleans, and would definitely make for a magnificent wedding location.

The Castle Colonnade has been morphed into a more private experience of the Castle Spa and sits right behind the Market Colonnade. This is a sought-after hotel and spa in the area, but the upstairs view from the tower is still accessible to the public.


There are several adorable cafes and restaurants along the river as you make your way to the Mill Colonnade. This is the biggest colonnade and was designed in the Neoclassical style. It has the great presence of a temple to the springs and is very handsome standing along the river bank.


The Park Colonnade sits in Dvořák’s Park and is my second favorite, again because of the beautiful gazebo. In all the colonnades, you will find people filling up their water bottles with the warm thermal spring water, on their way to or from walks around town, just like you. They are very charming structures, and each provide a different perspective for the hot springs in Karlovy Vary.


Another architectural treat can be found at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral built in stunning Russian Orthodox fashion. This is a little bit more off the river path, but worth a turn toward the hills and more of the beautiful villa-hotels.


We can't say enough great things about Karlovy Vary, and we are very excited to return someday soon! As I mentioned earlier, we loved our stay at Hotel Smetana, and you can book a room with them via our referral link. We stayed one night in our room with our own balcony, ate both dinner and breakfast buffets, and enjoyed the spa and pool area (free for guests from 17:00-21:30 daily) for only $128.


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How did I know to go to Karlovy Vary?! 

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