Country: Czech Republic
Karlovy Vary, also known by its German name Karlsbad, is best known for being the largest spa town in the Czech Republic, as well as producing a strong herbal liqueur called Becherovka, the ingredients of which are only known by two people.
The town was founded in the 14th century by Charles IV. It is believed that while he was hunting in the woods he happened upon a hot water spring and declared it to have healing powers. In the 18th and 19th centuries Karlovy Vary became known as a spa town for the wealthy, and today there are around 300 small mineral springs surrounding the city, however only 13 of these are actually suitable for drinking.
Aside from its spas and sanatoriums, the yearly International A Class Film Festival attracts film buffs every July – the town has even featured in Casino Royale. Shoppers delight in the expensive Stara Iouka shopping street, and the city is also known for the glass manufacturer Moser, as well as its porcelain.
Visitors should head to the top of the Diana Outlook Tower for spending views, on a good day it is possible to see 70km into the distance. The tower is reached on foot or by cable car, to get to the top itself there are 150 steps or a handy lift.
After all this, head to the Jan Becher Museum to sample the mysterious Becherovka liqueur and discover its history.