Fodor's To Europe!

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Days 7-8
Previous stop: Český Krumlov Return to full itinerary »

Long a popular spa town, Karlovy Vary is now as famous for megastars as it is for mineral water. Each summer Hollywood royalty flocks here for the film festival; the rest of the year, it's a popular spot for Russians who enjoy the healing springs. The city is perfect for exploring on foot: just follow the Tepla River through the valley for a relaxing afternoon of fresh air (and if you time it right, you could spot Leonardo DiCaprio).
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  • History

Experiences

  • Take the waters or try a spa treatment. For centuries Europeans sought the mineral springs here for their healing qualities. Traditionalists sip the water from porcelain mugs with straws, which make classic souvenirs.
  • Overlooking the town, the Stag's Leap is worth the uphill hike for its panoramic view. There's even a small pub on top, where you can reward yourself with a fortifying beer or snack.
  • Becherovka, an herbal liqueur, is manufactured in Karlovy Vary. Many Czechs believe it's medicinal, thanks to the blend of regional herbs and the use of the water that they say aids digestion.

Festivals

  • The Karlovy Vary Film Festival, in the first week of July, is the biggest in Central Europe and attracts many film stars.
  • The Whitewater Kayaking Festival is usually in mid-June.

Side Trips

  • Visit Plzen (50 mi/81 km south of Karlovy Vary) to see where Pilsner Urquell, the Czech Republic's most famous beer, is made. The town is the birthplace of Pilsner-style brews.
  • Marianské Lazne (30 mi/48 km south of Karlovy Vary) is an old-fashioned spa town that rivals its neighbor for charm and spa treatments, if not for tourists.

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