Cheb  is situated on the river Ohře (also called Eger in German), at the foot of one of the spurs of the Smrčiny and near the border with Germany.

On 3 October 1938, the town was visited by Adolf Hitler; shortly afterwards German troops marched into the Sudetenland and seized control. From 1938 until 1945 the town was annexed to Germany. On 1 May 1939, the town split away from the surrounding district to form its own municipal district together with the settlement of Matzelbach, and gave its name to the most westerly of the three administrative regions of the Sudetenland.

By the end of the Second World War, the bulk of the German population and Cheb was an important part of the Sudetenland. After the war, the German people were displaced and the city was largely depopulated.