Karlovy Vary is world famous for its spa facilities. Since the natural hot springs were discovered in the 19th century, the town has been visited by aristocrats, royalty, and celebrities from around the world, seeking to take advantage of the regenerating powers of the water in the comfort of the picturesque surroundings. Some famous visitors include Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud. Most recently, James Bond himself paid a visit to the town to film scenes for Casino Royale at the ornate Grandhotel Pupp, while the likes of Jude Law, Robert De Niro, and Renee Zellweger have also been spotted enjoying the thermal baths.
Location: Bohemian through and through
The town of Karlovy Vary is situated in the north-west of the Czech Republic, just 30 km south of the German border. It is easily accessed from Prague, either via train (2 hours 20 minutes) or by car (just under 2 hours). There are thought to be more than 300 natural hot springs in and around Karlovy Vary.
Business: The business of relaxation
Karlovy Vary has capitalised on its reputation as a spa town, exporting its spa waters and salts around the world, and creating a successful tourist industry in the spa itself. Luxury resorts, such as the Grandhotel Pupp, are cited among the best in the world, with excellent facilities and restaurants.
Culture: From film sets to film festivals
Karlovy Vary has featured in a number of films, but its connection with the silver screen runs even deeper. The Karlovy Vary Film Festival is almost 50 years old, and known as one of Europe’s most prestigious events. Around the beginning of May, the town hosts a traditional ceremony, which heralds the start of the spa season. Guests can take part in the Bohemian parades, visit the craft markets, and experience traditional Czech folk music.
Activities: Soak up the atmosphere
You can’t visit Karlovy Vary without ‘taking the waters’. As well as the natural hot springs and luxury spas, the Tepla River is unnaturally warm and ideal for fans of wild swimming. Every year, the town hosts a popular Triathlon event, which takes over the whole area.