Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
Karlovy Vary © Richard Schubert
The town of Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad, is the queen of the Czech Republic's many spa resort towns. It is a pretty Victorian place with elegant boulevards, elaborate colonnades and brightly coloured buildings lining the picturesque river valley. For those who enjoy a stroll in the countryside, the surrounding forested hillsides are a peaceful and therapeutic place in which to walk.
The main focus of the town is health, and at the centre of attention are the 12 hot springs containing a mineral content rich in restorative and healing properties. The drinking fountains in the colonnades were once the haunt of the European aristocracy, and today the local people gather to fill their quaint little drinking cups, sipping and strolling in the fresh air, encouraging the water to work its magic on their digestive tracts and metabolic disorders. If that doesn't work the locally made Becherovka liqueur is hailed as the 13th spring. Although most of the spa pools and sanatoriums are reserved for people undergoing treatment, visitors can still swim in the heated pool above the Thermal Sanatorium. There is plenty of excellent accommodation in Karlovy Vary, unique souvenirs from the area and myriad relaxing activities to be enjoyed.