It’s no surprise that the Central European country is an excellent place to visit as someone who loves skincare, wellness, and pampering. Besides the bounty of brands old and new, the mud and thermal waters of Hungary deeply influence the country’s spa treatments and techniques as well as the ingredients that go into their products. Budapest itself has more thermal springs than any global capital—there are 450 public spas and baths alone.
“The mud in Hungary is very rich in minerals like magnesium and calcium carbonates which has a nourishing effect as well as being deeply cleansing,” explained Margaret De Heinrich De Omorovicza, co-founder of Omorovicza which is one of the most popular Hungarian skin care lines sold in the U.S. at Nordstrom, Sephora, Bergdorf’s, and more. In fact, some thermal baths are so strong they require a doctor’s note to visit. Here, a primer on what makes Hungary a worthy destination for any beauty lover.
Omorovicza is one of the must-visited spas in Hungary, with the brand’s flagship store and spa on Andrássy Avenue in the capital city of Budapest, one of the busiest and most luxurious areas in the city. Founded by Stephen and Margaret de Heinrich de Omorovicza in 2006, the line harnesses the power of the land’s thermal water and mud in its product and treatments.
“Most people think you can include minerals or mineral water in beauty products and the effect will be the same as visiting a thermal spring,” explained Margaret. “This is incorrect. Minerals are large compounds—too large to be absorbed in the skin. Omorovicza has patented a process to change the molecular structure of the minerals found in the Hungarian thermal waters so that they can be absorbed into the epidermis—where they are most effective. We call this our Healing Concentrate.”
Next, head up to Egerszalók in Northern Hungary to visit the Salt Hill—a stunning, natural wonder. The cascades of salt are the result of mineral-rich water, which pooled above active hot springs. The water that comes from the hill is said to have properties that alleviate everything from joint and back pain to eczema. Rather conveniently, the Saliris hotel and spa is situated right near Salt Hill and has a menu that offers open-air baths utilizing the mineral-rich water along with saunas and pools.
One of the most unique baths in Budapest (and arguably, the world) is the Rudas Thermal Bath. Built in 1550, it has all the classic elements of a Turkish bathhouse and also contains a hamam—a Turkish bath building—as well as warm thermal springs. Along with six thermal baths, there’s also a larger swimming pool. What makes it really special, though, is the fact that on Friday and Saturday it’s open from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The rooftop pool has access to stunning views of the Budapest skyline and iconic, illuminated Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night.
For a totally different experience, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest is Europe’s largest, with 21 total baths. The ornate space is much newer than many of the decades-old baths in Budapest, having been built in 1913. Stepping inside the massive space might prove to be overwhelming with the addition of saunas and fitness classes, but the outdoor pools look incredible when it’s snowing and prove to be one of winter’s biggest attractions.
Hungary has some of the best natural water sources, thermal outdoor spas and lakes combined, where some of the word's top athletes go for rest and beautification. Lake Balaton in Western Hungary is practically a national monument for the sheer amount of people who flock there from all over the country and Europe to go swimming and sailing during the summer. It’s the largest lake in central Europe.
After enjoying a day on Lake Balaton, head west to Lake Hévíz. It’s the largest natural thermal lake in the world and tourists, locals, and athletes alike go there to bathe—the water replenishes itself nearly every 72 hours. Filled with calcium and magnesium carbonates and humic and fulvic acids, the properties are so powerful that Omorovicza uses the moor mud from the lake in its products. The mud has detoxifying and purifying properties, and the water is so medicinal that doctors have set up a rehab facility for patients with disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis—treatments range from special massages to baths with weight exercises. Guests can buy tickets to go into Lake Hévíz on their own time (by the hour or for an entire day) to enjoy the wellness properties, and there are also signature, Hungarian massages available to all.