A whole 'Liszt' of reasons to visit Budapest

This year there are more reasons than ever to visit the beautiful Hungarian capital, as celebrations are underway for the bicentenary of the birth of Franz Liszt, the piano virtuoso, composer and music teacher. Concerts and exhibitions are taking place across the country, and it's the perfect opportunity for music-lovers to discover the delights of this magical city on the Danube.

In reality, Budapest is two cities, Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube, the great river that has marked its history. Buda is the old medieval city on the hill while Pest is the enlargement of the vast city that grew up when it became the second capital of the great Austria-Hungary. With the Liszt bicentennial, this year is an extra special year for the city, but there are plenty of non-musical reasons to visit, too, including the chance to sample the delights of the International Wine Festival held each September, discover the Asian-Colonial-style Buddha-Bar Hotel within the historical Klotild Palace (opening February 2012) or visit the ultra-modern CET, where culture and commerce merge. Or maybe you'll be tempted by a cruise on the Danube to admire the fine architecture along the banks...

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Hotel Gellert Spa, Budapest, Hungary
The Art Nouveau spa and thermal baths at the Danubius Hotel Gellert are considered the finest in the city and include saunas, indoor and outdoor pools and wave pool / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Gerbeaud Cafe, Budapest, Hungary
Gerbeaud Cafe, with its fine stucco work, marble, glistening chandeliers, exotic wood panelling and furniture, is one of the largest of Europe's traditional cafes / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Budapest, Hungary
Standing on a hill top, Buda Castle, a World Heritage monument, was the palace of the Hungarian kings in Budapest / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

National Theatre, Budapest, Hungary
The National Theatre, opened in 2002, on the banks of the Danube / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Andrassy Avenue, Budapest, Hungary
Andrassy Avenue is one of Budapest's landmarks and links the Erzsebet ter (Elizabeth Square) with the Varosliget (Park City). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the boulevard is flanked by houses and mansions with beautiful neo-Renaissance facades, where some of the most prestigious boutiques – Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli... – are to be found / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Liszt bicentenary
Number 35 Vorosmarty, on the corner with the great Andrassy Avenue, is home to the Old Academy of Music, which houses the delightful museum dedicated to the great Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, a must-see visit, particularly in this, the musician's bicentenary year / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Liszt museum, Budapest, Hungary
Liszt gave music lessons in his rooms, and, among other instruments, the museum includes two grand pianos, a Bosendorfer, used by students, and the maestro's own Chickering with its impressive wrought silver music stand with busts of Beethoven, Schubert and Weber / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Liszt Museum, Budapest, Hungary
The Liszt Museum is located in the rooms occupied by the maestro during his last visits to Budapest, and tries to recreate how they would have looked when he lived there by mixing a number of Liszt's personal belongings with other period pieces / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Hugarian Fish soup
Paprika, both spicy and sweet, features in some of Budapest's typical cuisine, including the familiar goulash and the local fish soup – halasz leves or halaszle – prepared with chunks of fish (usually carp), onion, tomato and spicy paprika / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Szechenyi Chain bridge, Budapest, Hungary
The Danube Promenade leads along the banks of the river on the Pest side to the luxurious Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel, an icon of Art Nouveau style, with panoramic views of the river and the Buda hills / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Budapest, Hungary
Night view showing the Szechenyi Chain Bridge – a suspension bridge spanning the Danube – and the Gresham Palace, with the Basilica in the background / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Budapest parliament building, Hungary
The ornate parliament building, the most monumental building in the city, overlooks the Danube and affords an awe-inspiring sight from the opposite bank or from the river itself / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Millenaris Park, Budapest, Hungary
Millenaris Park, located in the old Ganz factory, is now a modern creative and cultural centre for exhibitions, plays, concerts and shows / © Hungarian Tourist Board 

Budapest, Hungary
Looking our across the Danube from the modern designer hotel Lanchid 19 / © Hungarian Tourist Board