Between Karlovy Vary and Sokolov is a tiny town of less than 5,000 inhabitants that is worth a visit for those seeking a quiet spot to recharge. Founded in the 13th century, Loket, or elbow in Czech, lies nestled in a crook of an arm of the Ohře River surrounded on three sides by water. The best time to visit Loket is summer as nearly everything is better in the warmer weather, but even winter’s cold grip can’t dim its beauty.
1. The feeling that time has stood still
With only a bridge and a small bit of land to connect it to the mainland, the town has been preserved from most modern development. The quiet, narrow, winding cobbled streets, and small squares virtually devoid of car traffic give the feeling of being in a simpler time and the place is utterly charming no matter the season. And with little to no traffic, walking around is truly a breath of fresh air.
2. Loket Castle
The central focal point of the town is the 12th-century gothic Loket Castle. Once known as the Impregnable Castle of Bohemia, because of the thickness of its walls, it is one of the oldest and most historical stone castles in the Czech Republic. Nowadays it is divided into nine different sections which have many medieval artifacts on display. The castle and dungeons, including prison cells and the torture chamber are open to the public and the castle museum provides a lovely view of the town square and its surrounds.
3. Porcelain production
Making use of the rich amounts of kaolin, loam and other raw materials found in the Sokolovsky region the Leander porcelain factory was established in Loket in the 19th century. The tradition continues today as can be seen in the quality of these wares which can be found in gift shops throughout the town.
4. The amphitheater
From July 16-18 the town plays host to the annual Loket Summer Cultural Festival held in an outdoor amphitheater right below Loket Castle on the Ohře. The festival features performances by the Czech National Opera, but a variety of both classic and modern music events are held in this unique open-air environment.
5. Czech motocross grand prix
If you prefer a little excitement in your relaxation then the Motocross FIM World Championship takes place July 25-26. It is the biggest and most famous motorsport event in the Czech Republic and features the best pro riders in the world.
6. Slavkov forest
Climbers, cyclists, and Sunday strollers can enjoy the surrounding forests with several marked paths that lead you through the lush forests to interesting look-out points. For more on Czech forests see 5 Fairytale Czech Forests.
7. Svatošské rocksy
One of these paths will lead you to the natural monumental granite rocks known as Hans-Heiling Rock (Svatošské rocks). Climbers will find a wonderland of stone formed by the erosive actions of wind, rain, and river. Perfect for a day trip of exploration and discovery.
8. Relaxing on the river
Canoe rentals can be found along the river banks that ring the town and there is nothing finer on a hot day than to enjoy the soothing rocking of a boat and the cool breezes coming off the river. For more on rafting options on the Ohře River see our articles: Canoeing in the Czech Republic and 7 Summer Rafting Adventures.
9. Green spaces galore
As the town is surrounded by water the river walks are long and lovely and the waterfront parks perfect for picnicking, playing, enjoying the sun, or for just chilling out and doing nothing.
10. Karlovy Vary
If you want to skip the crowds that converge on Karlovy Vary for the film festival, head to its famous spas and thermal springs, a quick trip away, after the festivities. You can even walk the 17km trail to Karlovy Vary if the mood strikes you.
Photos by Margot Buff.