As an American living in Bavaria, day trips to Czech Republic are easy. But one of the lesser-known destinations may be Karlovy Vary, a spa town in the northwest corner of the country. With their mineral hot springs and beer spas, it makes for a great weekend getaway!
Americans Living in Germany: Know Before You Go
It’s a 2-hour drive from Prague to Karlovy Vary, but from Weiden in der Oberpfalz, it’s just over an hour. So if you’re spending a long weekend in Prague, you can easily spend an entire day visiting the famous spa town! Or you can take an easy drive from the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
And if you’re an American living in Germany, remember to bring your tourist passport. If you stay overnight, most hotels will want to photocopy it. But regardless of whether you go for a day trip or overnight stay, you need to bring your passport because you’re leaving the country where your SOFA status is valid.
Also, be sure to buy a vignette before you cross into Czech Republic! If you’re caught driving through the country without one, the fines run up to 5,000 Czech Koruna (around €180). You can buy one for 10 days, 30 days, or 1 year from a gas station at the border.
Many places accept card, but we recommend you bring some cash just in case. Some banks in Germany have Czech Koruna, or you can just withdraw from an ATM in Czech Republic.
What to Do in Karlovy Vary: from Beer Baths to Hot Springs
Whether you want to spend your time in spas or out walking around, there are plenty of things to do in Karlovy Vary!
What is a beer spa?
There are multiple beer spas in Karlovy Vary and throughout Czech Republic, but the most famous is Beer Spa Carlsbad. For one hour, you can enjoy a bath while drinking beer by a fireplace. And when you’re finished with your bath, relax on the hay bed and keep drinking beer! (I promise it’s more relaxing than it may sound.)
But if you prefer a more traditional spa experience, I highly recommend going to Savoy Westend Hotel. They offer comprehensive packages that include massages, facials, skin treatments, and even medical therapy. If you just want some simple relaxation, you can enjoy their pools, saunas, and baths.
Either way, make a spa reservation in advance!
Sights to See
Like most old European cities, there’s a big, old church that you can visit for free. Saint Peter & Paul Cathedral in Karlovy Vary was built in the late 1800s in the Byzantine style, topped with five gold cupolas. Even on an overcast day, it’s a beautiful sight!
The Market Colonnade is also another popular site to visit. This picturesque structure was constructed in the late 1800s at the site of the oldest baths in the city. At the end of the year, the Christmas Market takes place here.
And while you can still find springs within the Market Colonnade, the Mill Colonnade was the first of its kind built in Karlovy Vary. The structure allows patrons to enjoy the hot springs in any weather conditions!
If you’re visiting Czech Republic for a long weekend, Prague is just a 2-hour drive from Karlovy Vary!
If you want an amazing view of the city and countryside, head up to the Diana Observation Center. And after you take a few pictures, be sure to visit the animals at the mini zoo! How can you resist a tiny pig and pygmy goats?
Where to Eat in Karlovy Vary
I recommend heading up to the Diana Observation Center around lunch time so that you can have a meal at the restaurant. It’s reasonably priced and surrounded by nature – a nice reprieve from the city!
And when you’re back in town, check out U Švejka for an equally hearty meal! Wherever you go, I recommend ordering the fried Camembert (if you don’t mind strong cheese!). And wash it all down with a half-liter of beer, all at an affordable price.
If you enjoy Czech beer, visit the Pilsner Urquell brewery – just a 70-minute drive from Karlovy Vary!
If you’re a fan of breakfast, check out Bagel Lounge. You can treat yourself to an indulgent bagel sandwich, or enjoy a morning spread of pancakes, waffles, and eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Karlovy Vary
Before packing your car for an easy spa weekend, check out some of the most common questions people ask.
Yes! You’re not actually bathing in a giant vat of beer. Instead, the staff will add a mixture of hops, malt, and brewer’s yeast to the bath water. The oils from the hops and the vitamins from the brewer’s yeast are great for your skin!
Plus, everyone can benefit from a little rest and relaxation. Just don’t forget to bring a bathing suit!
Yes – so they say. People have done the “drinking cure” for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, most of which are related to gastrointestinal diseases. But it’s recommended that you consult a spa physician before trying it.
You’ll see people around town drinking from the fountains with these cool little cups. I didn’t really enjoy the mineral water myself – I found it too concentrated and salty.
With so many things to do in Karlovy Vary, I definitely recommend doing a spa treatment, visiting the hot springs, and eating traditional Czech food. Keep in mind that children under 18 are not allowed at the beer spas, but are welcome at Savoy Westend Hotel.
In case you didn’t notice, we really enjoyed the Savoy Westend Hotel. It’s clean, majestic, and super affordable! And unlike many other European hotels, their rooms are spacious. You’ll truly feel like royalty if you stay here.
Plus, it’s an easy walk to pretty much everything in town. The church is just a 2-minute stroll, and the Diana Observation Center is a nice hike across the street.
Depending on the time of year and day of the week, you can book a room for anywhere between €100-200 per night. You can also add breakfast for an additional €25 per person.
Ready to Relax at the Karlovy Vary Hot Springs?
There are plenty of things to do in Karlovy Vary to keep you entertained. Whether you want a weekend away with the girls, the boys, or the family, everyone will enjoy this Czech spa town!