Planning a Trip
At all costs, avoid the train from Prague, which takes more than 4 hours on a circuitous route. If you're arriving from another direction, Karlovy Vary's main train station is connected to the town center by bus no. 12 or 13.
Taking a bus to Karlovy Vary is much more convenient. Frequent express buses make it from Prague's Florenc bus station in 2 1/4 hours at a cost of 140Kc ($6.65/£3.35). From Karlovy Vary's Dolní nádrazí (bus station) take a 10-minute walk or local bus no. 4 into Karlovy Vary's spa center. Note that you must have a ticket to board local transport. You can buy tickets for 10Kc (50¢/25p) at the bus station stop, or from the bus driver, which will then cost you 15Kc (70¢/35p). For timetable information go to www.jizdnirady.cz.
The nearly 2-hour drive from Prague to Karlovy Vary can be very busy and dangerous due to undisciplined Czech drivers. If you're going by car, take Highway E48 from the western end of Prague and follow it straight through to Karlovy Vary. This two-lane highway widens in a few spots to let cars pass slow-moving vehicles on hills.
Infocentrum mesta Karlovy Vary is located near the main Mlýnská kolonáda, on Lázenská 1 (tel. 355-321-176). It's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. It has a window at the terminal of the Dolní (lower) nádrazí bus and train station, Západní ulice (tel. 353-232-838). These are the official town's information centers, which will answer your questions and help you with accommodations, getting tickets for entertainment in the city, and so on. Be sure to pick up Promenáda magazine, a comprehensive collection of events with a small map of the town center. Alternatively, you'll find information on www.karlovyvary.cz.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is the place to see and be seen. Each summer (in early July), the country's film stars, celebrities, and wealthy folks, supported by a cast of international stars like Lauren Bacall, Michael Douglas, Alan Alda, Mia Farrow, Milos Forman, Jason Robards, Sharon Stone, and Robert Redford, can be spotted taking part in one of Europe's biggest film festivals. Nine venues screen more than 300 films during the 10-day festival. Go to www.iffkv.cz for more information.
Karlovy Vary plays host to several other events, including a jazz festival and beer Olympiad in May, a Dvorák singing contest in June, a Summer Music Festival in August, and a Dvorák Autumn Music Festival in September and October.
Karlovy Vary is shaped like a T, with the Teplá River running up the stem and the Ohre River at the top of the T. Most of the major streets are pedestrian promenades lining both sides of the Teplá.
A Driving Warning -- Be warned that drivers on Highway E48 between Prague and Karlovy Vary are often reckless. Please take extra care when driving.