In the 19th century the Bohemian spa resort Karlovy Vary was the place to be. The polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said it was one of only three cities in the world that he would like to live in. Karlovy Vary was the height of fashion, and the Old Town today is testament to this old-world appeal, enriched with neo-renaissance and baroque promenades, colonnades and hotels, and of course, thermal springs. It is still the most distinguished spa resort in the Czech Republic, a destination for high-end R&R that sits on the northern edge of the Slavkovský Les, a beautiful swathe of forest-covered highlands.
1. Mill Colonnade
There’s no better place to start than this emblematic landmark, a dignified, twin-aisled walkway flanked by 124 columns in the heart of the old town. Here the Spa Orchestra puts on free concerts throughout the year, and five of Karlovy Vary’s 13 hot springs emerge along the colonnade. Each spring is labelled with a plaque detailing the waters’ temperatures and mineral contents, and the best thing is that you can bring your own cup to sample the waters as you stroll. It’s completely free and open at any time of day. And if you don’t have a cup don’t worry because spa cups are sold everywhere in the Old Town.