Hundreds of years of tradition in more than 40 spa towns with hundreds of healing springs and rich natural resources make the Czech Republic one of the world´s spa super powers. There is no other place in the world with such a high concentration of healing mineral springs as the west Bohemian spa triangle, which is formed by three famous spa towns: Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně. The collection of Czech spa “firsts” would not be complete without the inclusion of the spa towns of Jáchymov and Jeseník. But what is it that really makes the Czech spas so unique? The success of the Czech spas lies in the combination of quality medical care, progressive healing and rehabilitative methods using natural resources such as mineral water, mud and peat, natural gas and the positive effects of the local climate.
Tradition and the present
According to an old custom people used to express their gratitude for getting better after illness by throwing coins into the healing springs. The vast amount of Roman and Celtic coins found in the thermal springs of Teplice shows that the history of Czech balneology goes as far back as 2000 years. By the end of the 19th Century the renown of the Czech spas was such that they were often described as the salons of Europe. These days the Czech spa towns offer their guests modern facilities and the highest standard of service.
Teplice: a long spa tradition
The thermal springs of Teplice which are used mostly for treatment of the musculoskeletal system and the vascular diseases rank among the best known and longest established in Central Europe. Teplice is also one of the 60 towns located near the Czech-German border where the International Festival Mitte Europa takes place. It is an event which crosses borders with a focus on classical music bringing together the Czech and German cultures.
Karlovy Vary – the largest Czech spa town
Karlovy Vary is the most popular Czech spa town and it is frequented by clients from all over the world. The treatments are aimed mainly at metabolic disorders and diseases of the digestive tract but also at patients recovering after oncological treatment. There are thirteen hot springs with temperatures ranging from 41 °C to 73 °C springing from a depth of 2 to 2.5 kilometres. The temperature of the two cold springs is around 15 °C. The spring fountains can usually be found beneath the roofs of beautiful colonnades offering shelter for pleasant strolls with a cup of healing water in your hands.
A range of significant cultural events are held in Karlovy Vary every year making it even more attractive for visitors. At the beginning of June film stars and move buffs meet here to experience the unique atmosphere of the International Film Festival Karlovy Vary. In October Karlovy Vary welcomes tourism and spa professionals at the oldest festival of tourism films in the world – TOURFILM. Karlovy Vary is also synonymous with the traditional manufacturing of crystal glass and porcelain, the production of world renowned herbal liqueur Becherovka and the bottling of Mattoni mineral water.
Mariánské Lázně – the spa of famous guests
Mariánské Lázně opened for its first spa season in 1808 and quickly became very popular with the European upper classes. Among the famous guests of Mariánské Lázně were the English King Edward VII, the Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin and the German writer J. W. Goethe. One of the famous guests is celebrated to this day at the Chopin Festival which brings together the world’s leading pianists to perform his music. The architectural treasures such as the neo-baroque colonnade, Empire-style houses and the Singing Fountain contribute to the unforgettable atmosphere of this town. The spa focuses on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, urinary tract diseases and kidneys and gynaecological problems. The healing procedures are based on utilising natural resources such as cold ferrous water, natural gas and healing bogs.
Františkovy Lázně´s intimate atmosphere
Františkovy Lázně is considered one of the most charming Czech spa towns. The homogenous classical architecture and the vast forest park give an impression that time has stopped at the turn of the 19th Century. However the medical treatment of heart and vascular diseases and gynaecological problems is very much of the 21st Century. In common with the other Czech spas they use natural resources to treat various problems. These include baths in mineral water rich in natural gas or bath and wraps in healing bogs
Jeseníky and Jáchymov: world leaders
The first hydrotherapy spa – spa Jeseník – was founded amidst the unspoilt countryside of north-west Moravia. Patients suffering from mental disorder, diseases of the respiratory tract or vascular diseases all come here to regain their health. The thermal springs of Jáchymov which contain radon and other rare substances are the only ones of their kind in the world. That is the reason why this spa town located at the foot of the Krušné Mountains is a much sought after place for treatment of the musculoskeletal system.
Luhačovice – a spa in a nature reserve
The largest Moravian spa town of Luhačovice specialises in treatment of the respiratory diseases and diseases of the digestive tract. Every hour 15,000 litres of mineral water rich in mineral resources and natural gas reaches the surface. The healing effect of the water is considered to be one of the most effective in Europe. The location of Luhačovice in the middle of the Bile Karpaty nature reserve is another factor contributing to successful treatment. It was a Slovakian architect Dušan Jurkovič who gave Luhačovice its unmistakeable charm by designing a collection of houses in the folk art nouveau style. The buildings can still be admired today by spa guests as well as lovers of architecture
Among the other spa towns which we should not forget are Karlova Studánka, which boasts the cleanest air in Central Europe, Darkov, which specialises in the treatment of burns and post-surgery treatment, Třeboň, whose healing bog improves arthritis and rheumatism, Poděbrady with its renowned treatment of heart diseases, Lázně Kynžvart which focuses entirely on children, and Anenske bog spa in Bělohrad which was the first in the Czech Republic to claim EUROPESPAMED certificate awarded by the European Federation of Spas.
Spa packages to suit everyone´s needs
There are many reasons which bring different people to the spas. It might be that they just want to take a break from work and stress, treat some nagging health problems or recover after surgery. The spa programmes on offer reflect these varied needs. There are no longer only traditional spa programmes or programmes focused mainly or exclusively on senior citizens or children but also a wealth of modern wellness packages. These packages are tailored to suit the needs of various groups of people and you can try programmes for managers, anti-stress, weight-loss, detoxifying or wellness and beauty.
It is said that a mere stroll in a spa town has relaxing effects on people. You slow down to admire the beautiful architecture of the spa houses, manicured parks, blooming gardens and the stunning colonnades which invite you to relax. The pleasant ambiance of the spa towns made them a popular venue for social gatherings: there were balls, music and theatre performances and of course business meetings and networking events. These are by no means consigned to history. Every year at the beginning of May there are events to officially welcome the next spa season and to symbolically “open” the healing springs again. When your travels take you to the spa, don´t forget to take some typical souvenirs back home. Delicious spa wafers, herbal liqueurs or special cups designed to drink the healing water will remind you of the fantastic time you had there for many years afterwards.
We all know that a healthy lifestyle revolves around plenty of exercise. But only a few of us find time for it during the busy working week. What might seem exceptional on a regular weekday will feel absolutely natural in the spas. There are plenty of sports activities to choose from. Keep to a relaxing pace while on a stroll along the spa walking tracks. Do you prefer cycling? No problem, as there cycling tracks available around the spa towns to suit all levels. Indoor activities include the water park or a game on high quality tennis courts. If you fancy combining your spa stay with golf there is no better place to do that. Some of the oldest and most famous Czech golf courses can be found near Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně. You can also opt for fishing while enjoying your spa stay. Třeboň and Toušeň are fantastic places for fishing. When winter comes it doesn´t mean that the spas are no longer an option. Skiing slopes as well as cross-country skiing tracks will be close at hand for you in Jeseník, Jánské Lázně or in Lázně Libverda.