Written by: Pavita Singh
We recently published a blog about why attending at least one Music festival in your life should be on your bucket list. One of the reasons we listed was the opportunity to travel. However, music festivals need not be the only motivation for music lovers to travel. In every corner of the world, you can experience the influence of various music genres from classical to contemporary and walk the same steps as some of your favorite artists once did. If you’re a music lover itching to plan your next vacation, check out the following musical travel destinations.
1. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool, home of the Beatles, is considered the world capital of pop music. Some popular attractions in Liverpool include The Beatles Story, the Cavern Club (where the Beatles got their start), and the Fab Four Taxi Tour, during which you can see the childhood homes of the Beatles, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and the grave of Eleanor Rigby, all while listening to famous Beatles songs. Liverpool is also famous for hosting big-name performers at Echo Arena. The annual Liverpool International Music Festival takes place every July, and International Beatleweek takes place every August.
2. Berlin, Germany: Berlin is thought to have one of the best club scenes in Europe. The latest trend in Berlin is Echtzeitmusik, or experimental music, which includes some electronica along with a great deal of jazz, rock, pop, and simple improvisation. Punk fans will want to check out the SO36 club, and techno lovers should head to Tresor and Berghain—two of the top techno clubs in the world. There are 7 symphony orchestras in Berlin, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the State Opera. David Bowie and Iggy Pop both lived and recorded major records in Berlin, and you can take guided tours of the places they lived, hung out, and partied.
3. Havana, Cuba: In Havana, you can experience Latin jazz, timba, rumba, salsa, cha-cha, and pre-revolutionary son-style music. Salon Rosada in Marionao is one of the city’s hotspots for music lovers. Insight Cuba offers a tour called Jazz in Havana, where visitors can experience the country’s diverse music scene and even meet some of the musicians.
4. Austin, TX: Austin has the most live music venues per capita in the US. It’s no wonder the city calls itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Austin hosts several important music festivals, including South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, and the Old Settlers’ Music Festival. Some of the city’s musical hotspots are The Continental Club Gallery and Victory Grill. In Austin, you’ll find hundreds of venues open every night playing pretty much any genre imaginable.
5. Trinidad & Tobago: Trinidad & Tobago is the birthplace of Soca—a fusion of calypso, funk, and soul. It’s also where the Steelpan, a drum used in carnival celebrations, was invented. At the International Soca Monarch Competition, you can watch local artists show off their musical talent for the chance to win a prize. The Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, held at the end of February, is the biggest event of the year. Everyone, including tourists, are asked to participate. Some of the musical styles in Trinidad & Tobago are influenced by that of India and Venezuela.
6. Vienna, Austria: Vienna is a must-see destination for classical music lovers. Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms, and Strauss, among others, spent much of their time in Vienna. Visit Mozarthaus Vienna and see where Mozart composed some of his most famous works, including “The Marriage of Figaro.” The city is also the home of the waltz. There are 9 festivals that take place in Vienna every year, along with one-off performances and special events. And of course, you can’t miss out on watching the Vienna Philharmonic perform at the Vienna State Opera House.
7. London, UK: London is an eclectic musical city. You can listen to punk at the Old Blue Last, jazz at Ronnie Scott’s, Latin at Floridita, classical at the London Symphony Orchestra, and opera in Covent Garden. For alternative music, you’ll want to check out Camden. Music oozes out of every pore of the city—you can’t go wrong wherever you go.
8. New York, NY: From Lincoln Center to Broadway to Radio City Music Hall, you can find literally any type of music in New York. Enjoy an opera at the Met or a musical on Broadway. You can also find hundreds of underground venues. Take a walk through Central Park, Prospect Park, Washington Square Park, or any of the other city parks and you’ll hear musicians playing all sorts of instruments and genres. Home to such venerated institutions as Julliard and NYU, many famous musicians have gotten their start in New York. Bob Dylan fans will enjoy Greenwich Village. Jazz lovers should visit the Blue Note Club and Village Vanguard. Other musical venues to check out are The Knitting Factory, Beacon Theater, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
9. Memphis, TN: Rock n Roll fans don’t want to miss out on a visit to the genre’s birthplace. Musicians associated with Memphis include John Lee Hooker, Booker T, Otis Redding, BB King, Johnny Cash, and of course, Elvis Presley. You can tour Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded, and Graceland, where he lived. You can also visit the Stax Records Studio. And don’t forget Beale Street, where you can find several blues clubs and performance venues. In addition to Rock n Roll, there’s a big hip hop and country scene.
10. Nashville, TN: Big names associated with Nashville include Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire. The number-one spot to visit is Grand Ol’ Opry, a live-recorded country music and variety radio show. You can also attend a live recording at Ryman Auditorium or visit any of the numerous venues on Music Row. The Country Music Hall of Fame has a museum featuring memorabilia of such artists as Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift. Alternative music fans will want to check out Jack White’s Third Man Records, a happening record store with a recording studio and live music performance venue. Rock lovers can pay a visit to The Basement, an intimate venue located below Grime’s New & Preloved Music Store.
11. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans is the birthplace of American jazz. Famous musicians associated with New Orleans include Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Harry Connick, Jr., and Wynton Marsalis. Frenchman Street, just outside the French Quarter, has a variety of live music venues with performances 7 days a week, and Congo Square showcases local music all the time. The annual Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka Jazz Fest) is a 2-weekend, 7-day music festival that has performances going on simultaneously on 10 different stages. Genres performed include jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and rock. Another annual festival to check out is the New World Rhythms Festival. And of course, we can’t forget Mardi Gras in February. Fans of traditional New Orleans-style jazz can visit Preservation Hall, which showcases the city’s musical heritage.
12. Detroit, MI: Detroit is famous for bringing us Motown music. You can visit the Motown Museum and learn about the lives and music of Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Temptations, and more. Rap star Eminem also hails from Detroit. Lovers of blues, soul, and hip hop will enjoy their time in Detroit.
13. Milan, Italy: For opera lovers, Milan is a must. Teatro alla Scala (aka La Scala) is rated by National Geographic as the world’s top classical music venue. Nightlife in Milan is pretty hot! The city is filled with venues for a range of musical genres, including pop, indie rock, jazz, and classical. The Milanese love to get their party on! On a typical Friday night, you can find many of them rocking a nightclub.
14. Los Angeles, CA: LA is a hub of creative energy. Sunset Strip, home to iconic rock clubs such as Whisky-a-Go-Go, should definitely be on every music lover’s list. Bands like The Doors and Guns ‘N’ Roses got their start at Whisky-a-Go-Go. Other famous venues include The Roxy, The Viper Room, and the Troubador. You should also try to get over to the Hollywood Bowl. In the 90s, Ice Cube, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, No Doubt, Weezer, and Sublime came to fame in LA.
15. Portland, OR: Portland is the place for indie music lovers. In fact, Slate called Portland “America’s Indie Rock Mecca.” Famous bands from Portland include the Decemberists, Blitzen Trapper, and Quasi. Some of the city’s biggest music venues are the Crystal Ballroom and The Roseland Theater.
16. San Francisco, CA: Birthplace of the hippie counterculture movement, so many iconic names are associated with San Francisco, such as The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana, Metallica, and Green Day. One of the city’s most famous venues is The Fillmore, where many of these artists performed. The Beatles did their final live show at Candlestick Park, and Led Zeppelin performed at Kezar Stadium. San Francisco is also home to Amoeba Music, an impressive record store that’s also a live music venue.
17. Seattle, WA: The grunge music scene was born in Seattle. The city is home to the EMP Museum (originally named the Experience Music Project), which has a permanent exhibit devoted to Nirvana and has exhibits about Jim Hendrix, Pearl Jam, and the evolution of music videos. Other names associated with Seattle include Macklemore, The Postal Service, and the Shins. Some of Seattle’s best live music venues are The Showbox at the Market, Café Racer, and Columbia City Theater. And on your way out, don’t forget to stop by Sub Pop Records at Sea-Tac airport.
18. Prague, Czech Republic: Perhaps Prague’s biggest claim to fame is the Prague International Music Festival, which hosts a variety of musicians from around the world. It’s also got a booming underground music club scene. In fact, the Velvet Revolution had its roots in the city’s underground rock clubs. If you go out for dinner in any of Prague’s amazing restaurants, you’ll almost always get to enjoy a live piano performance. While you’ll find an abundance of nightclubs in Prague, you can also enjoy a classical concert at the Municipal House.
19. Bombay, India: Bombay is home to Bollywood—India’s Hollywood. A major part of Bollywood’s success is its music. Bollywood is one of the liveliest and most fun music genres, and for this reason it has gained popularity all around the world. In Bombay, you can hit up a Bollywood club and dance the night away. The city also has a growing indie music scene. One of the most popular live music venues is Blue Frog. You can also enjoy live music at any of Bombay’s glitzy cocktail clubs.
Any of these places sound interesting? Do you want to learn more from locals or people who have visited these destinations? Check out Konversai! Konversai is a global knowledge platform where users can connect with each other one-on-one via live video and discuss any topic of interest. Konversai is available to anyone anywhere in the world. All you need is a device, an Internet connection, and the desire to learn and share knowledge. If you’re planning a trip, don’t waste your time on an impersonal guidebook. Connect with someone who can give you insider knowledge on exactly what you’re looking for, whether it be the music scene, the nightlife, the best vegetarian restaurants, or the literary landmarks. And if you have that insider knowledge about a particular destination, share it with others and make money doing so! You can charge as much or as little as you wish for your time. No matter what the topic is, you should absolutely be talking about it on Konversai. For the music lovers, it’s a great platform to use if you want to learn or teach an instrument or chat about music theory, composition, and production. Join in on the fun by signing up for Konversai today!
- Dermody, K.C. (2015). 20 of the Best Vacation Destinations for Music Lovers. Trips Discover.
- Furdyk, Brent. (2017). The 15 Most Amazing Travel Destinations for Music Lovers. Slice.
- Independent Traveler. 9 Best Destinations for Music Lovers.
- Viral Travel. Top 16 Travel Spots for Music Lovers.
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