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


  • 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.


  • 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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