I have moved to the Czech Republic when I was five months pregnant. This is also when I started to give myself a bit of time to rest and enjoy the freedom from a “9-5” job. I have started yoga classes, hooked up with lots of parents-to-be, finally got to read a book and do exercises. But what could be better than hiking during pregnancy and traveling in the Czech Republic with kids? You are on maternity leave after all! Today we will tell you about all the things to do in Karlovy Vary, a fantastic hidden gem, Loket town, and Marianske Lazne.
Just at the right time, my younger sister visited me in Prague, and we have all decided to take a road trip and spend a weekend in Karlovy Vary with kids in one of the most beautiful places in the whole Czech Republic.
Recommended Trip Length
I would definitely recommend making it three days two nights minimum. Although the distance between the three towns is not that significant, you will need to pay at least a day’s visit exploring Karlovy Vary, Loket, and Marianske Lazne.
My husband had to work (poor him!), so we have arranged a weekend in Karlovy Vary, including traveling to Loket and one day in Marianske Lazne without my hubby sending him back to Prague by bus.
- Friday (evening) – traveling to Karlovy Vary with kids departing from Prague;
- Saturday – breakfast in Karlovy Vary and one full day in Loket town visiting Loket castle with kids. Then the dinner and night walk in Karlovy Vary;
- Sunday – a day walk in Karlovy Vary, a bus back to Prague in the late afternoon for my hubby and a short drive to Marianske Lazne for us;
- Monday – one day in Marianske Lazne and drive back home to Prague in the afternoon.
I would definitely recommend renting a car if you are looking into visiting all these places. It is a very easy and relatively short drive. It would also save you tons of time. However, taking a bus is extremely easy and cheap too. Check out our travel resources here.
It is about a two-hour drive from Prague to Karlovy Vary (approx. 130-140 km away). The road is nice and easy. We have departed in the late evening and arrived by 11 pm. Besides, it started to rain cats and dogs and I, a pregnant woman, was the one driving. Thanks to the quality of the roads and relaxing music, as we have arrived just fine.
It is also much easier to get around Karlovy Vary by car in case if you reserved something cheap. It is all 5-10 minutes of the distance by car. Of course, there is a possibility to book a place right in the city center but it might get costly.
Another advantage of renting a car is going from Karlovy Vary straight to Loket. It will take you only 15 minutes (approx. 14 km away). Alternatively, you can take a bus, Autobusy Karlovy (departs every 3 hours) or Arriva Vychodnicechy (every 4 hours). It is just a 20-minute ride.
The easiest way to get from Karlovy Vary to the third city, Marianske Lazne, is also by car. It takes roughly 45 minutes (approx. 55 km away). However, the train option is a good alternative.
Things to do in Loket
We went to Loket on the first day of our trip, so I’d start from this city. Besides, to be fair, it was a highlight of the whole journey. I personally think Loket is one of the most beautiful places we were in the Czech Republic. So, what is this Loket about?
It is situated near Karlovy Vary, but not many people know about it. It is a very small town with a 12th- century gothic castle in it. The town center is filled with little narrow streets, gardens, cafes, and restaurants, where we had a chance to enjoy the live band in the middle of the square and our lunch topped with some ice cream in the end. Also, the center is a national monument and as such is preserved from modern developments. I guess it is a big deal in the whole Czech Republic, at least the Prague government put high restrictions on almost all historical buildings, read more about it here.
The word “Loket” means “elbow” in the Czech language. It was named so due to the town center being surrounded on three sides by the Ohre River, and the shape the river takes is similar to that of an elbow.
It is a truly and incredibly gorgeous town to visit and it has one of the most picturesque sites in Europe, in my opinion. After we have parked our car in the parking lot, we climbed up crossing the bridge straight to the castle area. The castle area is the half size of the whole town, but it is quite miniature. It is definitely a lot of fun to visit Loket castle with kids too.
In Loket live only 3,000 inhabitants. At the entrance, we got a free map and toured around the castle which took us less than 30-40 minutes. The castle itself is very nice inside. And it is quite old too. We were able to visit different rooms, see what people used to wear, use and eat; what ceremonies they had; etc. The worst room was the torture one, of course. We were able to clearly see what items and machines people used to torture criminals.
You should pay to enter the castle, all the prices and information on guides can be found here.
Later at around midday, we left this area and had a walk around Loket’s center, which is quite tiny as well. We had a nice lunch. Streets were filled with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops, so it was easy to choose from. We chose a nice spot in the middle of the central square where the live band was playing.
It was a great decision to walk around Loket town. If you leave the town, meaning cross the bridge to go out (because the town is surrounded by the river), you will be able to climb one of the hills and see Loket from the top view. This is where my real hiking as a pregnant woman has begun.
The view is mind-blowing! It took me quite a while to climb that 100 m, about an hour, I’d say, thanks to my patient travel mates. But it was 100% worth it. The one thing that was a lifesaver for me during this trip and especially when climbing up was a sling. It turned out it wasn’t meant only for the babies but for pregnant women too.
In addition, we have seen lots of kayakers on the river. If you visit Loket in the summer, it is definitely a nice activity to do there.
Things to do in Karlovy Vary with kids and as adults
Karlovy Vary is one of the most popular Spa cities in the whole Czech Republic and it is well-known in Europe for its healing abilities. It is filled with numerous hot springs: 13 main thermal springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Tepla River. It was founded in 1370 and named after Charles IV, that is why it is also known as Carlsbad.
Honestly, I thought it is much bigger than it looks. If you visit Karlovy Vary, one or two days should be more than enough, especially if you have planned spa treatment. People (primarily seniors and the ones who have health problems) from all over the world come here for healing, rehabilitation, and relaxation. But there are also numerous places to visit in Karlovy Vary with kids.Booking.com
The majority of tourists are Russians. But not only Russians are tourists here in Karlovy Vary, they also took over large parts of this city by investing and purchasing properties. If in Cesky Krumlov you are able to find German-speaking Czechs, in Karlovy Vary streets are full of Cyrillic signs. Also, the majority of the population speaks perfect Russian.
When visiting Karlovy Vary with kids, it is nice to take a walk along the main street. You will be able to feel the meditative atmosphere. This city seriously relaxes you. Mill Colonnade is one of the most famous sites of Karlovy Vary. It is a large colonnade containing 5 main hot springs. It is also considered to be a symbol of the town. You will find its picture on many souvenirs.
Speaking of souvenirs, one of the most common souvenirs of this city is a tiny ornamented jar that you can use to drink magic liquid from each hot spring. Although people who visit Karlovy Vary for a healing or Spa reason bring their own large cups and bottles. It is important you know what organ or body part each hot spring has an effect on. Some tourists come with a prescription from a specialist, and fill in bottles with one or two of a kind. It is also forbidden to intake a lot of the hot spring’s content for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
But this is not all the things to do in Karlovy Vary. Apart from Jan Becher Museum and the museum of Glass Moser, which are supposed to be the top city attractions, we recommend going on Diana Funicular – a cable car. We didn’t visit those museums, but we decided it would be quite nice to enjoy the top view of Karlovy Vary. The funicular runs every 15 minutes. It takes you about 3 minutes to reach the top.
Alternatively, to avoid paying, it is possible to climb the hill yourself. Well, it was definitely not my case, unless I was prepared to give birth right on the top of the city. The ones who travel to Karlovy Vary with kids should take a carrier or sling to carry their little ones. Buggy or pram is not an option in this case. On top of the hill, you will find a cafe and a tower to get even higher for the stunning city view. You can find all information on pricing and timetable here.
Things to do in Marianske Lazne
Marianske Lazne is the city we liked the least, to be honest. But I think the best to come here in winter, as it is one of the ski resort centers. During summer it is nice to come here for a spa and walk. There are still quite a few places to visit in Marianske Lazne. Again, the car is very useful, especially if you are in Marianske Lazne.
This city is filled with spa centers, all at the same price and of similar quality, so we have simply googled the nearest one to us. It was a nice 2-hour relaxation. We have done Jacuzzi, saunas and pools. In my pregnancy case, I enjoyed common saunas and avoided infrared sauna which can be quite dangerous for your little one.
After the spa, we have done a city walk. The main attraction of Marianske Lazne is Park Boheminium Marianske Lazne where you can find a singing fountain. The park is huge and looks gorgeous. Right in the center on top, you will find the fountain. This is probably the attraction you have to visit Marianske Lazne for.
There is a daily program of music played as the fountain springs into life – these performances take place every odd hour from 7 am until 10 pm with the final two displays (9 am & 10 pm), making use of embedded lights. Each year on 30th April at 9 pm, the fountain puts on its first performance of the new tourist season. The official close of the season comes on 31st October at 8 pm when the fountain puts on its final show. You can read more about it here. In the evenings, this area has lots of music performances that are worth to listen.
Unfortunately, we didn’t check on the fountain’s singing schedule and came 10 minutes late. We couldn’t wait another two hours as we had to head back home, so we dropped a coin in it sending a universe our request to return one day.
We hope we got you excited by the hidden gems in Czech Republic and a variety of things to do in Karlovy Vary with kids!
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