Why are the Czech spas some of the best in the world? The main reason is the healing mineral springs. Spa care in the Czech Republic has a tradition going back hundreds of years. So, the spas of the Czech Republic have earned a reputation as some of the best spas in the world. These three spa towns make up the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. First, there is Karlovy Vary with its beautiful colonnades. Then there is Marianske Lazne with its melodic fountain. Lastly, there is Frantiskovy Lazne with its characteristic neo-Baroque to Art Deco style, near the border with Germany. Take a five-day road trip from Prague with us to see the beauty of the spas and get to know them up close.
Since most people come to the Czech Republic to visit Prague, we started our road trip from there. It is less than two hours by car from Prague to our first stop of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, Karlovy Vary. Karlovy Vary is Carlsbad in English. Have you ever heard of Carlsbad, California? The town is the namesake of Karlovy Vary. In 1886 the mineral water was tested. The findings showed the water to have the same mineral content as a famous spa in Karlsbad, Bohemia. So, four men joined together to form the Carlsbad Land and Water Company. Karlsbad, Bohemia is today Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
The spas of Karlovy Vary will pamper you in world-class elegance. Most of Karlovy Vary’s architecture dates from the Renaissance to 1930 although its inception was in 1370 as part of the Roman Empire.
Vridlo Hot Spring
While in Karlovy Vary, you must visit the pavilion of the Vridlo hot spring. The Vridlo hot spring is the symbol of this world-famous spa city. Vridlo is the only source of thermal water used for the local spa baths. The mineral water is 162 degrees Fahrenheit and flows at a rate of 528 gallons per minute. The stunning buildings and all of its fountains, look as though they stepped out of a fairy tale.
The Elegant Colonnades of Karlovy Vary
All things considered, a visit to Karlovy Vary must include visiting the colonnades. This is because Karlovy Vary prides itself in its wonderful colonnades. Built in the 19th and early 20th century all the colonnades provide mineral hot spring water. There are five colonnades in total. If possible, see them all but don’t miss these three.
The richly decorated Sadova Kolonada, Park Colonnade, made of cast-iron is Viennese in design. In like fashion, at this colonnade, you can enjoy the waters of the Park Spring and the Snake Spring.
The second colonnade you must see is the carved wooden Trzni Kolonada, Market Colonnade, built in Swiss style by a Viennese architect. At this colonnade, you will find the Charles IV Spring, Lower Castle Spring, and of course the Market Spring.
Another not to miss colonnade is the lovely stone Mlynska Kolonada or Mill Colonnade, built in Neo-Renaissance style by a Czech architect. Consequently, the colonnade attic gable adorned with twelve sandstone symbolic statues representing the months of the year is the largest colonnade in the city. Inside the colonnade, you will find five mineral springs: the Mill Spring, the Rusalka Spring, the Prince Wenceslas Spring, the Libuse Spring, and the Rock Spring.
The Drinking Cure
Karlovy Vary is a beautiful city, but the main draw to the city is the hot mineral water. People come from everywhere to drink this water. The water can be quite hot, so they made a special cup to drink it without burning your mouth. You fill the cup with water from a spring and drink from the spout. Thus, this method cools the water and allows you to sip the water safely.
Traditional Spa Wafers
While in Karlovy Vary, you must try their spa wafers. The Karlovy Vary spa wafers are a traditional and very common snack in the town. These wafers date back before the 1800s. Cooks would make the wafers, sprinkle with sugar and serve to the spa guests. Undoubtedly, it is the Karlovy Vary spring water and salt, that give the wafers a unique flavor.
Located in a former 170-year-old distillery that produced the famed Becherovka liquor is an amazing restaurant. Becherovka liqueur is an herbal liquor. We tasted it once, and there is at least some anise and cinnamon in the mix.
Hence, the Becherovka Restaurant located in Becherplatz allows you to experience the heyday times of this spa city. Becherplatz is a place to relive the golden age of Karlovy Vary, the turn of the 19th and 20th century.
We recommend staying at the neo-classical Hotel Imperial. The Hotel Imperial dominates Karlovy Vary. Built in the year 1913 to attract a wealthy clientele, the hotel guarantees its guests perfection in every detail. Guests come for medicinal spa treatments as well as relaxation treatments. Thus, the focus of Karlovy Vary spa treatments is again the mineral water.
The top reason to stay at Hotel Imperial is its spa facilities. Several floors make up the spa treatment rooms. Directly pumped into the hotel, are 12 springs from the area. Also, as an added benefit, there is a pool and whirlpool too.
There is also a funicular that will take you down to the city center. A funicular is a cable car rail system for steep incline slopes. Overall, the system employs a pair of passenger vehicles that are pulled on a slope by the same cable that loops over a pulley wheel at the upper end of a track.
Jachymov Were You Can Soak in Radioactive Water
Midday on day two, take a short drive and travel to the mining city of Jachymov to visit the Svornost mine. Jachymov is a small city of Bohemia close to the Czech border with Germany. The mine is only available for tours by advanced request.
At the end of the 19th century, Marie Curie discovered the element radium for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Significantly, the radium came from the mineral pitchblende in the Svornst mine.
There are seventeen metal-bearing ores, silver, uranium, tin, lead, cobalt, platinum, tungsten and more than four hundred different minerals in the Jachymov area. Subsequently, the Svornost mine provides the thirteen thousand years old radioactive healing water for the Jachymov spas.
In this area, we recommend staying at the Hotel Radium Palace. While staying at the Palace enjoy their unique radon water treatment. Undeniably, not many of your friends will be able to say that they had a therapeutic radon water bath.
Have the Feeling You’ve been transported back in time in Marianske Lazne
On day three of your journey travel to the wonderful town of Marianske Lazne. Marianske Lazne known for striking parks, romantic colonnades, delightful pavilions, and wonderful shops and restaurants is also home to carbon dioxide springs. Most of the varied architecture comes from the town's Golden Era in the second half of the 19th century. Not surprisingly, after the war, many celebrities and European rulers came to enjoy the therapeutic carbon dioxide springs.
Furthermore, make sure to visit the Singing Fountain; it is one of the prevailing features of Marianske Lazne. At every odd hour from 7 am until 10 pm with a final performance at 10 pm, music plays and the fountain springs to life. Unfortunately, the performance only takes place from the end of April till the end of October.
Marianske Lazne also has a stunning colonnade. Make sure to visit the neo-Baroque Colonnade dating back to 1889. This colonnade is also of cast iron construction. Undeniably, this colonnade considered a precious specimen of period building common to the Czech and other European spa towns is gorgeous.
Lunch at Health Spa Resort Hvezda
For lunch, we recommend the Franz Joseph Restaurant located in the Health Spa Resort Hvezda. As you arrive at this hotel, your first words will be wow. Moreover, the beautiful buildings that make up this hotel and spa date from 1905. For lunch, the restaurant offers many specialties from the Czech Republic. And, they also offer a healthy array of fresh foods on their buffet.
Sleep and be Treated Like a Royal at Health Spa Resort Nove Lazne
For the night’s stay in Marianske Lazne, we recommend the Health Spa Resort Nove Lazne. Certainly, from the moment you arrive, you will feel like a royal. The facade of this 5-star hotel is stunning. In addition, the setting, a wooded valley is peaceful yet within walking distance to most everything.
At this spa, reel in luxury in original Roman baths adorned with marble columns dating from 1896. After your bath, they have quiet resting lounges for your use. Also, if you are longing for pampering, the spa offers a huge range of relaxing wellness treatments. Keith and I loved that the baths were large and coed so we could enjoy our bath together.
The hotel had a beautiful bar where some of us got together for a before dinner drink.
A group of us had a spa signature treatment, exclusively provided by the Health Spa Nove Lazne. It was an oxygen and CO2 treatment. In Marianske Lazne, natural CO2 gas seeps out from the ground. We sat in an empty swimming pool so to speak with soft music playing while a tech fitted each of us with oxygen. As we sat there, CO2 began to billow up all around us. Basically, the carbon dioxide absorbs through the skin into the body, where it slows down the heart activity and reduces the blood pressure. The gas is also said to improve blood circulation and kidney activity and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Fantastic Czech Dinner in the Forrest
For dinner, try Jezirko in Jachymov. Nestled in the forest on a small lake this restaurant serves unique cuisine. Their menu derived from ingredients found mostly in the local forest is traditional Czech cuisines with a modern twist. Consequently, the dinner we had at Jezirko was one of the best dinners we had in the Czech Republic!
On day four, travel to Frantiskovy Lazne. Frantiskovy Lazne is a spa town in Cheb District of the Karlovy Vary Region, in the Czech Republic. Together with Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně, it completes the renowned West Bohemian Spa Triangle.
Thus the third and smallest of the Western Bohemian spa triangle is quaint Frantiskovy Lazne. Undeniably, with its sunny finish of yellow paint, cared for parks with statues and springs, Frantiskovy Lazne is lovely. Also, the town center is up for UNESCO World Heritage designation. Even though Frantiskovy Lazne is small compared to its cousin's towns of Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, it still has graceful colonnades, pavilions, parks, and yellow neoclassical buildings. Frantiskovy Lazne has a gentle charm and is worth visiting.
Frantiskovy Lazne is small, so it is a wonderful place to stroll. The main sights of Frantiskovy Lazne are the Church of the Ascension of the Cross, and the town's central spring, the Frantiskuv Pramen. In addition, to better understand the spa's history, there is a City Museum to visit. Frantiskuv Pramen Spring is the oldest local spring. Locals have used it since the Middle Ages.
Unlike all the other spa towns we have visited thus far, Frantiskovy Lazne only has cold springs. The area is also known for its mud. Similarly, like the springs, this mud is rich in minerals and used for mud baths and mudpacks in spa treatments.
Medieval Castle in Loket
Continue on a short way to the medieval city of Loket. Loket named for its rocky location dates to the year 870. Thus, you do not want to be in the area and miss Loket Castle. Loket Castle is a 12th-century Gothic castle. This historical stone castle known to be impenetrable because of its tremendously thick walls is now a museum and a national monument. Today the castle contains many medieval artifacts. The castle also features prison cells and a torture chamber.
Moreover, for a bit of trivia, the city center of Loket and their castle were both used as locations in the 2006 film Casino Royale. Thus, in the movie, Loket represented a town in Montenegro.
The Elegant Grandhotel Pupp
Now it is time to head back to Karlovy Vary. Yes, we are recommending spending two nights in Karlovy Vary; the city is worth a second night.
For this last night, we recommend staying at the five-star Grandhotel Pupp. Most Important, It was the location of the casino in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Also, the Grandhotel Pupp was the main location for the 2006 movie, the Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah.
Besides the hotel’s fame in the movies, the hotel has lovely appointed rooms that include an evening turndown service. Also, the Grandhotel Pupp has a modern fitness center and a spa fit for royals. There are several restaurants and a bar. We had before dinner drinks in Becher’s Bar. The bar reminds me of a gentlemen’s club from the early 1900s.
The beautiful Neo-Baroque interior of the Festive Hall represents the ambiance that is Karlovy Vary. Built in 1701 the hall, originally named the Saxony Hall has an exquisite stage and has always been a favorite of aristocrats since its conception. If you stay at the hotel, ask for a tour.
Experience Something Different Dining at Le Marche Karlovy Vary
For your last Night in Karlovy Vary, we recommend dinner at Le Marche. At Le Marche, the menu is never the same. Therefore, the menu dictated by the season and the availability of fresh ingredients is simple yet scrumptious. Experience fine cuisine augmented by impeccable service in a lovely atmosphere. The restaurant is lovely, but in the summer, they also have al fresco dining.
Spend the next morning walking the town of Karlovy Vary. Without a doubt, the city views are charming as the sun rises. So, after a relaxing breakfast and walk through the town, drive back to Prague.
Experience the Glamor of Karlovy Vary
In essence, Karlovy Vary has a rich history, steaming mineral springs and spas, walking trails and plenty of upscale boutiques, and restaurants. In addition, Karlovy Vary exudes glamour, and I am sure it’s the reason the city and its buildings are the locations of films.
West Bohemian Spa Triangle
Czech spas are world-class. Much of this is due to the healing mineral springs. Accordingly, traditional spa care in the Czech Republic has been around for centuries. Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne, and Frantiskovy Lazne make up the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. However, we recommend adding Jachymo and Loket for an even greater Czechia spa experience.
The best way to travel to Karlovy Vary is to fly into Prague and then rent a car or get on one of the many direct buses. The ride is about 2 hours.
To read more about the Czech Republic check out our article on Ostrava and Opava
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