This walking tour explores Karlovy Vary (also known as Carlsbad), a beautiful spa town located in the western part of the Czech Republic. Czech king Charles IV founded Karlovy Vary in 1358, and ever since the famous hot springs have attracted many celebrities such as Goethe, Tsar Peter the Great plus a few Austrian Emperors.
This walking tour of Karlovy Vary starts from the Grandhotel Pupp*. This elegant hotel is one of the most famous landmarks in Karlovy Vary. There’s a large car park outside. It’s slightly expensive, but all the parking in town is a similar price. At the end of this walk, the hotel is a nice place to have some refreshments in elegant surroundings.
Train from Prague to Karlovy Vary
Alternatively, you can take the train from Prague to Karlovy Vary Tržnice Train Station. The journey takes just under 2 hours and costs roughly 6 Euros. It’s a few minutes walk from the train station to the central area of Karlovy Vary.
Map of Karlovy Vary Walking Tour Route
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
Top Sights in Karlovy Vary
On this self-guided walking tour you’ll see the main sites and attractions of Karlovy Vary. Half a day is the perfect amount of time to spend in Karlovy Vary, but you could spend a day or two if you visit the museums and the Diana Lookout Tower.
- Karlovy Vary Museum
- Hot Spring Colonnade
- Market, Mill & Park Colonnades
- Jan Becher Museum
- Church of St Peter & St Paul
- Diana Lookout Tower
- Stará Louka
Karlovy Vary Walking Tour Route
This walking trail starts from the car park at Grand Hotel Pupp.
Directions: Head across the bridge to the right.
You’ll immediately see the Imperial Baths, or Kaiserbad Spa, a very grand building by the river on the right. The luxurious spa area inside was built for Emperor Franz Joseph I himself, and the entire building is currently undergoing renovation.
Directions: Turn left to walk along the Tepla River.
The Tepla River runs through the town and is a beautiful spot for a stroll. You can see historic buildings and bridges along the riverbank, offering beautiful views of the town.
Directions: Soon you’ll see the museum and then the theatre on your right.
1. Karlovy Vary Museum
Key Information: Open Oct-Apr 10am–5pm, Wed-Sun and May-Sept 9am-6pm Tue-Sun. Tickets cost 100/60CZK (4/2.50euros).
The Karlovy Vary Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is housed in a grand building along the banks of the Tepla River. It’s a small, recently renovated and well-laid-out museum that follows the history of Karlovy Vary. Exhibits display local culture, spa treatments, industry and more. There are also many interactive elements and touchscreens such as quizzes about what you’ve learned. The descriptions are in both Czech and English and you could spend a couple of hours here.
Slightly further along the river, the Karlovy Vary Theatre* is another grand, neo-baroque building, built by architects from Vienna.
Directions: Continue walking along the river. The hot springs are on your left, while the church is on the right just after the springs.
2. Hot Spring Colonnade
The Hot Spring Colonnade is the main attraction in Karlovy Vary and is located in the city centre. It’s the city’s most famous spring, and you can see the hot mineral water bubbling up from the ground. However, the building it’s in is rather modern and ugly compared to the other colonnades, but it is at least dry in poor weather.
You can taste the mineral water here – there are several different fountains that it gushes out from. You’ll see that the locals all have special porcelain drinking devices for this, but you use any form of container to collect the water.
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene* is a beautiful Baroque church located near the Hot Spring Colonnade with a unique green dome and ornate interior. You can tour the crypt with a guide by getting tickets inside the Hot Spring Colonnade.
Directions: Cross over the river to the first of the other colonnades.
3. Market, Mill & Park Colonnades
The Market Colonnade* is a covered walkway lined with shops and restaurants. There’s a beautiful 19th-century wooden structure with a white lattice at the front, with lovely colourful buildings behind. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat or do some souvenir shopping. You can also buy a special cup to drink the mineral water from, almost all shops sell these.
Directions: Turn right to head along the river.
The Mill Colonnade* is rather grand and is named for the former mill that once stood in the area. The colonnade was built in the 19th century and is home to several hot springs and drinking fountains.
Directions: Keep along the river, and the next colonnade is in the park on the left.
The Park Colonnade* is located in a lovely park and is surrounded by trees and greenery. It was built in the 19th century and has a unique design with a domed roof and ornate ironwork. Dvorakovy Sady Park* is a lovely, small green area containing the Park Colonnade. There are little ponds and many flowers, with lots of benches.
Directions: Walk through the park and turn left at the bridge, up the shopping street. At the next junction, continue straight on to visit the museum, or take the left and left again to walk through a fancy neighbourhood.
4. Jan Becher Museum
Key Information: Open Tue-Sun, 9am–5pm. Tours in English are 250CZK (~10 Euros) and last 45 minutes, which includes a tasting.
The Jan Becher Museum tells the story of the famous Czech herbal liqueur, Becherovka. Karlovy Vary is the birthplace of Becherovka and the museum is located in a historic building that was the original liquor factory for over 140 years. On a tour you can see the production process, interactive exhibits and many old bottles, as well as sample some of the liqueur.
Directions: Return from the museum and find Krale Jiriho Street. Continue walking through the fancy neighbourhood and you’ll come to the obvious church.
5. Church of St. Peter and Paul
The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul* was built in the early 20th century and has a distinctive Russian-style architecture. It is open to visitors and is worth a stop to see the beautiful interior.
Directions: Head past the church, then turn right through the park and up into the woodland. Keep on heading upwards and you’ll reach a large car park. Go left on the other side and it’s not too far to the tower at the top.
6. Diana Lookout Tower
The Diana Lookout Tower* is located on a hill above the town and offers panoramic views of Karlovy Vary. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the top, but the views are worth it. It can alternatively be reached by taking the funicular railway from the street with the Colonnades. The lookout tower itself is over 100 years old and from the top you can see both the forested hills and Karlovy Vary town itself. There’s also a restaurant, mini-zoo and butterfly house at the base of the tower.
Directions: Head back down to the car park, and this time continue straight onwards. It’s a lovely walk back into town, with several viewpoints on the way. When you reach the main street, turn right to head down towards the river and then turn right.
7. Stará Louka
Stará Louka* is Karlovy Vary’s most famous shopping street. It’s lined with high-end boutiques, fancy cafes and colourful, historic buildings. It’s a nice place for a slow walk or souvenir shopping, all by the banks of the Tepla River.
Directions: Walk along the street and you’ll soon return to the hotel car park and the end of the Karlovy Vary Walking Tour.
Attractions Out of Town
Moser Glass Museum
Key Information: Open Mon-Sat, 9am–4pm. Tickets are 150CZK per person. Tours (inc. museum) are from 350CZK per person.
The Moser Glass Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) looks at the history of Moser glasswork for over 160 years. There are contemporary pieces plus luxurious crystal examples. You can get an audioguide in English. There’s also a cafe and shop where you can choose from a wide variety of glass objects. If you haven’t got much time, a visit to just the shop is almost as good as a visit to the museum itself.
Best Places to Stay in Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary has many places to stay, from budget hostels to fancy hotels and everything in between. Check out the best hotels and apartments in Karlovy Vary below:
- Hotel Romance*: A hotel with a great location in the centre of town, with spacious, elegant rooms, a fantastic breakfast and free parking.
Guidebooks to explore more of the Czech Republic
FAQS – Karlovy Vary Walking Tour
Karlovy Vary is known for its hot springs and historic architecture. The famous hot springs have attracted many celebrities such as Goethe, Tsar Peter the Great plus a few Austrian Emperors, all in the hope of taking health benefits from the waters.
The best things to do in Karlovy Vary are to sample the waters at the many hot spring colonnades and perhaps have a spa treatment while visiting. The walk up along the Tepla River through the town, and up to the Diana Lookout Tower are also great things to do.