Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic - Stein Travel
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Karlovy Vary

The town of Karlovy Vary, also known as Karlsbad or Carlsbad, is the most famous 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, and 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 mineral drinking fountains in the colonnades were once the haunt of the European aristocracy, and today the local people gather to fill their drinking cups, sipping and strolling in the fresh air, encouraging the water to work its magic on their digestive tracts or 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, unique souvenirs from the area and a myriad of relaxing opportunities to be found.

Information & Facts

Language

Czech is the official language but English and German are also widely spoken.

Money

The official currency is the Czech crown, locally known as the Koruna (CZK), which is divided into 100 haler. Most credit cards including American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted, but it is best to have cash handy when travelling away from Prague and the main tourist centres. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels; commission is highest in hotels. Banks are closed on weekends. ATMs (known as 'bankomats') are becoming more common in Prague and are probably the best way to obtain local currency at a good rate and without commission. The Czech Republic is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe, though the gap is closing.

Time

GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

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