The summer has officially arrived in the Czech Republic!
Summer holidays will invariably give you the itch to travel. But before you get out your passport, consider some options in the Czech Republic first!
Recently, I spent a bit of time visiting a few cities around the country. I wanted to see what life was like outside of Prague. Hopefully, after you hear about my experiences, you will be inspired to explore this beautiful country for yourself!
My first adventure was to Karlovy Vary, a town west of Prague near the German border.
Tucked away in the hills, Karlovy Vary is probably best known as a spa town. However, this weekend I wasn’t making my way through the Bohemian forests for a bit of relaxation.
Instead, I was trying to catch the showing of Swiss Army Man on the last day of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF). Now, if you are new to the Czech Republic like myself, then the KVIFF is probably something you haven’t heard of. I certainly hadn’t before this summer. But, it happens to be a large and important festival that has the same accreditation as the Cannes Film Festival. While it may not draw the same star power that Cannes does, it is still an impressive spectacle in its own right.
The festival took place the first week of July, from 1/7 – 9/7. I was afraid that I would not be able to make it to the festival at all because I had already planned a trip during the first half of the week. But, luckily, things worked out so my friends and I could make it on the last day.
Getting to Karlovy Vary was not hard at all. There were many buses making the two-hour trip from Prague, and prices were about 200 Kc or so. I looked into taking the train, but it was more expensive and took longer.
Upon arriving, I realized we had no idea how to buy tickets or even where to go from the bus station. Oops, probably should have prepared more for this trip.
Luckily, the town is not big at all, and we were able to find the big box office area easily enough. There were no tickets available for Swiss Army Man, but we got day passes in hopes that we would get into the movie if enough people with tickets did not show up.
The movie wasn’t until 15:30 so we had some time to explore the town. Nestled under the trees, Karlovy Vary is extremely picturesque. All of the buildings are bright and beautiful, and a river runs through the middle of the town. If we had had more time, I would have liked to hike up to one of the overlooks above the city to get a great view. Plus, there is a deer statue up there, who wouldn’t want to see that?
We didn’t actually have tickets to the movie, just our day passes for the festival. This gave us the possibility of getting into shows if people with tickets didn’t show up, but meant we would have to camp outside the theater early and wait outside in hopes of making it in. Luckily for us, an hour and a half of waiting paid off as we were rewarded with front row seats to the movie.
Before the movie started, the two directors (The Daniels) came in and spoke to the audience. They were two goofballs, but it was really interesting to see the two people responsible for the film.
The only thing that I will say about Swiss Army Man is that the film is unlike anything else that you will ever watch. I won’t even try to summarize it because, honestly, I don’t think I even could. You will have to watch it for yourself. It is a wild visual adventure filled with humor, friendship, and flatulence. I mean all of that in the best possible way. I really enjoyed it.
Afterwards, there was some red carpet shenanigans with celebrities that I didn’t recognize. Though that isn’t saying much because I am really not in tune with “who’s who” in the world of the rich and famous. Even though I didn’t recognize anyone, it was still cool to be a part of the spectacle.
The festival as a whole had a really great atmosphere. Food stands selling everything from Czech cuisine to Mexican dishes lined the area outside the main theatre. People milled about and sat by the river just enjoying the nice weather.
Since we were there on the last day, there were less people than when the festival was at its peak during the week. It would have been really awesome to be there during that time. I would suggest trying to go during the middle of the week if you want the full experience of the festival. If you like a more relaxed atmosphere, the last day definitely provides that.
The KVIFF is great, but it only goes on for one week every year. Don’t worry though, Karlovy Vary is a great place to visit at any time. The town is famous for its relaxing spas. People have been going there for centuries to escape the real world.
If someone asked me I they should go visit Karlovy Vary, I would say absolutely! Going during the KVIFF then great, but a relaxing spa weekend always is a good idea too. Due to its size, you probably won’t need more than a weekend there to get the full experience. A day trip is passable if you just want see the town. However, I think staying a little longer is better so you can relax.
If you are interested in other travel options in the Czech Republic, stay tuned for my next article about Brno. You can also stop by The Spot and check out our travel section so you can plan a trip!
Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences in the comments!