Who doesn’t love a spa? A crazy person, that’s who!
Only two hours’ drive from Prague, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic (Czechia), is known for its underground water springs and abundant health spas. The town gained its popularity and fame as a spa town during the 19th century and has held its title ever since. The Bohemian town is known for its healing waters and rejuvenating atmosphere so much that the 2006 film “Last Holiday,” starring Queen Latifah, is centered around a final, healing trip for a terminally ill woman.
What makes this water so unique?
The water is said to have healing properties due to the various minerals it contains. The water contains many of the minerals on the periodic table, allowing it to fill the gaps in one’s mineral intake.
The water comes from natural springs about 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) below the surface. Once it reaches the surface, the water is accessible via fountains located throughout the town. Many of the fifteen (15) fountains are ornate and full of eloquent details. The water comes out of the fountains quite warm, some near-boiling (212°F/100°C). One has to be very careful when drinking the water; it’s actually best to sip it. Sipping is important for the medicinal benefits, not just to prevent getting burnt. No need to worry about accidentally getting burnt because each fountain lists the temperature of the water and sometimes the benefits of the specific fountain/water.
The taste of the water is something to get used to. There was no denying that the water was full of minerals. Immediately, I tasted the salts and minerals (mainly copper). I felt like I was drinking penny water LOL. The mineral water has been used to treat gastrointestinal disease, metabolic diseases, periodontal disease, and musculoskeletal diseases.
The water’s properties are not the only unique part of the process. For the best results, it is recommended that one drinks out of the specially-designed mugs. The mugs include a built-in straw – imagine a kid’s sippy cup – which encourages sipping instead of chugging the water. These mugs range in prices and detail. We purchased our mug for about €5, and it has an excellent design of the town on it.
What else to see and do in Karlovy Vary
The mineral springs are not the only thing to see and experience in Karlovy Vary. You don’t have to drink the water, perse, but viewing the fountains is great. The buildings which house the fountains are sights to see, as well. One building, the Mill Collonade, has a Neo-Renassaince design including Roman gods for each astrological sign on the roof. I loved this building in particular.
One of the most ornate buildings in the town is the Market Colonnade, which has another fountain that has three springs. It was built in the 1880s, is open to the elements, and has many elaborate details. It was made in a Swiss-style, with wooden carvings resembling lace.Park Collonade, which is a long structure that houses a fountain at the end. It neighbors a pond, which was frozen during our visit.
For shopping, be sure to visit Stará Louka. The town’s shopping street is full of colorful buildings situated across the Teplá River. There are plenty of walking bridges to access shops and restaurants.
The Czech Republic was formerly part of the Soviet Union (USSR), and some of the Soviet-era architecture can be seen while visiting Karlovy Vary. One building, in particular, Hotel Thermal, possesses an incredibly Functional design famous from that era. We took a trip inside the building and saw a casino, restaurant, and the lobby of the hotel.
Additional Points of Interest in Karlovy Vary
- Hotel Pupp
- Café Elefant – stop in to get a cup of coffee, delicious cake, or enjoy a great place to people watch. This café has been visited by likes of Beethoven, Goethe, and more.
- First spring in Karlovy Vary
- “Karlovy Vary” sign overlooking the Teplá River, right near the first spring
- Becherovka liquor giant bottle
- Many pharmacies that sell local medicinal products other than the water. We purchased a beer-infused chapstick. Beer is very moisturizing FYI
- You can visit this guy!
- Have an extended stay at one of the healing spas in the town. I’m sure you’ll feel great afterward!
Karlovy Vary is a place to visit for health, views, and history. Karlovy Vary is the name and spas are the game! Be sure to pack your walking shoes, an open mind, and some malleable tastebuds.
Fun Fact: The town is also known as Carlsbad (Karlsbad).
Have you ever been to a spa town? What was your favorite?
Until my next adventure,