When people say there’s music to certain places in the world, they aren’t lying. Some cities seem to have music in the air, which pulls you from one site to another if only to follow the sound and discover the next verse of what the city has to offer.
These destinations are some of the great spots for music lovers around the world. Since everyone moves to their own beat, we’ve highlighted seven different destinations that are great for music lovers. Hopefully, you’ll find a destination listed that’ll cater to your own inner music and help you experience a different side of travel.
The Sydney Opera House is probably the most famous opera house in the entire world, largely due to its fascinating architectural structure, which resembles sails rising from the waters of Sydney Harbour. It’s also a great place to catch a concert, whether a symphony orchestra playing Mozart or a big name pop star. However, you should head to Melbourne if you want to dig into Australia’s music scene. The city gave the world musical stars like Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, and local venues like the Old Bar in Fitzroy and Cherry Bar are cultural destinations in their own right. In Australia, you’ll also have the change to engage with the traditional music of the nation’s Aboriginal peoples, who famously use instruments such as the didgeridoo to craft haunting music that captures the essence of this beautiful land.
No country is more synonymous with classical music than Austria. This Central European nation gave the world Mozart and fed the talents of countless other classical composers through the endowments of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace and the setting for The Sound of Music, so it has its obvious highlights for music lovers, but Vienna is the ultimate destination for those that want to explore the world through music. Not only does it have the world-famous Vienna State Opera, which epitomizes the classical style of the philharmonic, but it’s also rife with museums such as the Haus der Musik and the Mozart Apartment that let you explore the history behind the famous music you’ll hear at the opera.
Few countries can compete with the sheer musical innovation of Brazil. Blending European and African sounds with its own Indigenous forms, the country gave us the famous sounds of samba and bossa nova, but also forró, choro, frevo, axé, and several other native stylings that capture the many sounds of Brazil. The yearly Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the world’s greatest demonstration of samba—it does take place at the Sambadrome, after all—while the sounds of bossa nova, best exemplified by Antônio Carlos Jobin’s world-famous “The Girl from Ipanema,” live on in the city’s many clubs and musical halls. Beyond the classics, Brazil is inspiring the modern dance scene with hip-hop styles such as funk carioca, which has emerged over the past two decades and been taken onto the world stage by DJs such as Diplo.
In terms of the influence of one band, it’s hard to top the Beatles and all they accomplished in their sole decade of work. Hard-working Liverpool, in the northwest of England, is the home of the Beatles and one of the bucket list destinations for fans of rock music. In England you can chart the journey of the Beatles and other bands of the British Invasion that dominated popular music in the 1960s, or you can explore the punk and new wave scenes of the 1970s and 80s by heading to Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, site of the Sex Pistols’ “Gig That Changed the World” in 1976. You can walk Abbey Road in London or head to Royal Albert Hall, the country’s premiere concert venue, to engage with the country’s long legacy of great music. And this is all before getting into London’s West End and all the musical theatre options that abound. For the music lover, England is truly a destination with endless distractions.
Like England, Germany has had an enormous influence over popular music. The clubs of Hamburg gave the Beatles their start (those chaps again!) while David Bowie and Lou Reed redefined themselves during extensive stays in Berlin. But Berlin is about more than simply the expats that found rejuvenation within its innovative music scene. It’s home to a music culture that plays to a variety of tastes, from the thumbing beats of the techno clubs like Berghain and Watergate to the sounds of Bach and Beethoven at the Berliner Philharmoniker. In Nuremburg you’ll find two of the largest musical festivals in the world, the simultaneous Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals held each June. If your tastes skew more classical, head to Leipzig to delve into the life of Johannes Sebastian Bach, who spent his final 27 years there.
Appropriate for a country known as the Rainbow Nation, South Africa has a diverse musical culture, which draws on everything from traditional tribal music to Dutch folk songs to metal from Germany and England, but creates sounds all its own. In the 1960s and 1970s, South Africa was known for its own smooth forms of jazz and soul, which were imported from the United States, while the 1980s saw the rise of rock and punk across diverse communities in the cities. The genre experimentation and musical syncretism broke through in the late 2000s with bands like BLK JKS and Die Antwoord. Depending on where you go in South Africa, you can delve into different musical styles, from Cape jazz in Cape Town to the trap and hip-hop stylings of Johannesburg’s nightlife to a blend of various styles at massive festivals like Oppikoppi and Ramfest. Few countries accommodate so many different musical interests.
If you’re at all tuned into the current pop culture moment, you’ll know that K-pop reigns supreme among international pop music styles. Psy kicked off the obsession in North America when his song “Gangnam Style” went viral on YouTube in 2012, but the boy band BTS really ignited the world’s appetite for Korean music in more recent years. Korean bands like BTS have passionate fan bases of millions strong across the world, but mostly perform back home, making the nation something of a mecca for K-pop fans. Beyond the concerts of internationally celebrated pop bands, Seoul and other Korean cities are also great places for karaoke, called noraebang in Korean, which may be Japanese in origin, but has become a formative part of Korean culture and nightlife.