Still commonly referred to by its German name, Karlsbad (or Carlsbad), the town of Karlovy Vary is rich with history and well worth taking the time to explore. Founded in 1358, the town has welcomed such illustrious visitors as Peter the Great, Beethoven, Chopin, Schiller, Karl Marx, and Goethe.
The main attraction is Karlovy Vary's superb hot springs, which literally burst into the Tepla River as it flows through the city, with tremendous jets of water shooting to heights of up to 14 meters, shrouding the riverbanks in a seemingly constant cloud of steam. All told, the city boasts 13 main springs (and up to 300 smaller ones), with numerous opportunities for visitors to steam, soak, and drink the waters for its many curative attributes.
The city's spa-influenced architecture is another big draw, with many beautiful examples of Neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's also a cultural hotspot boasting a performing arts center, art galleries, and a number of museums, and is famous for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the longest running such events in Europe.