Beatlemania is alive and well in Liverpool. Berlin remains the clubbing capital of Europe, if not the world. For classical music, Vienna continues to waltz over its rivals. But you already knew that, right?
Here’s a chance to celebrate some of Europe’s unsung music cities and to help you come up with itineraries that’ll have you tapping your toes and whistling your way to the tune of a fun-filled and culturally rich musical vacation. So, without further ado, let’s explore some of the best European cities to visit when enjoying the best music during your vacation is a must!
Bologna may be better known for its contributions to Italian gastronomy, but it’s also done well providing the perfect background music for delectable dining. An UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the oldest university in the world, the city has deep musical roots. Dating from 1088, the University of Bologna was among the first ones in the world — and the first in Italy — to offer degrees in music and performing arts. Of course, being a big college town means lots of students, which translates into lots of live music venues, clubs, university events, and music festivals galore! If you’re looking for a variety of ways to experience music from all over the world, the small and elegant Italian city of Bologna is well worth your consideration when looking for exciting places to visit on your next trip to Europe!
Bach, Wagner, Mahler, and Mendelssohn all honed their chops in this gorgeous Eastern German city. Rest assured, you’ll find no finer city on the Old Continent if you’re looking for classic bona fides. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, founded in 1743, is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world, and the city’s Oper Leipzig is among the highest regarded opera houses in Germany. These days, Leipzig is also a hub of goth and darkwave music. If you want to experience this dark side of Leipzig at its fullest, you should definitely visit between late spring and early summer. That’s when the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival paints the town black with a weekend of atmospheric music and attendees donning an inspired display of macabre makeup and costume!
The hills are alive with the sound of music in the the historic city of Salzburg. Picturesquely placed with a stunning Alpine backdrop, Salzburg is as famous for being the setting of The Sound of Music as it is for being the birthplace of one of the world’s most important musicians: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Here you’ll find plenty of tours following in the footsteps of the Von Trapps, both the 1965 movie version of the family and their real-life counterparts. There’s even a Sound of Music puppet show! It should be no surprise that the birthplace of Mozart is a key attraction in the city too. Plenty of concerts performing the various works of the prodigious composer can be attended throughout the year. A major university town, Salzburg has a lively nightlife scene with an impressive number of music and dance venues for a city of only 150,000.
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The fanciful and evocative setting of not just one but two of the world’s most beloved operas (Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro), Seville is as romantic in reality as it is on stage, and, of course, a hotbed for flamenco enthusiasts. It’s hard to beat flamenco when it comes to soul-stirring live music and ground shaking dance performances, especially on a sultry night filled with sangría in charming little bars like La Carbonería. For top-notch professional shows, head to the acclaimed Tablao Flamenco El Arenal. Better yet, plan your trip to match the city’s La Bienal de Flamenco, the biggest flamenco festival in the world!
Fans of traditional folk music would be wise to book some flights to Ireland and flock to Galway for some of the best live music in the whole country. There’s someone performing something amazing any given night of the week at any of the impressive variety of pubs and venues available across this charming town of the rugged west coast of Ireland. Tig Coili and The Crane Bar are world renown pubs for live folk music thanks to its local legends performing seven nights a week. Even en route to a pub or gig, it’s easy to come across a delightful ditty by a busker or street performer.
Are we on tempo when it comes to amazing music cities in Europe? Where do you go to get your groove on or learn about the history of music?