The Most Musical Destinations in the World

Long exposure of famous State Opera in Vienna Austria (Photo via AND-ONE / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Lacey Pfalz
by Lacey Pfalz
Last updated: 6:00 AM ET, Sun February 20, 2022

Let's Explore the World Through Music...

Music is an expression of the soul, and people across continents and millennia have been playing and creating music as long as we can remember. Some would say that music is a universal language, so let's take a look at the world's greatest musical cities.

Some have been the birthplace of musical genres, like Vienna and London, while others draw in musicians and music-lovers alike with their unique culture, fun atmosphere and popular musical attractions, like Seoul or Johannesburg. Others offer a blend of traditional or classical music with more modern beats, like Havana and Mumbai. Read on to discover some of the world's most musical destinations.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria is a stunning European gem, offering photo-worthy architecture and a decidedly romantic atmosphere. One of the reasons why Vienna is considered so romantic is its music culture. Walking around the city, travelers can listen to street performers playing classical music on violins and cellos, while lovers of classical music can visit the museums of some of the most well-known composers, including Beethoven, Hayden, Mozart, Strauss and more. They can also listen to the works of these composers at the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Opera. Travelers can even visit the cemetery to see where many of these beloved composers are buried, with a special section just for them.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is easily the most recognizable home of American country music, and it isn't hard to see why. From the famous Bluebird Cafe to the Grand Ole Opry House and the Country Music Hall of Fame, there's no shortage of great music, star-studded performances and music-centered attractions in Nashville to enjoy, even if you're not a country music lover! Each bar isn't complete without a live band, musician or singer in this music-centered city.

Andalusia, Spain

The region of Andalusia in southern Spain is most well-known for its Moorish architecture and multicultural past, home to the large cities of Seville and Malaga, as well as the Straight of Gibraltar. But it's also home to a centuries-old music and dance culture that is just as passionate as its history: flamenco. The romantic dance is practiced throughout the region and is set to equally incredible music, usually guitar in the finger-plucking style. The region itself is also home to several large celebrations, including the Catholic religious festivals and feria, all of which include live traditional music and dancing, as well as parades and other unique events.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California is where budding stars and seasoned pros make their homes. For travelers, Los Angeles offers plentiful entertainment options, including a lively nightlife scene and ample concert venues, as well as tours through celebrity neighborhoods and more. Hollywood is a fun place to visit movie-famous spaces as well as the Walk of Fame. It's also home to several different music festivals.

Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig, Germany is home to incredible 11th-century Gothic buildings and features a history that is crucial to both the far past and the nearer present. But its real claim to fame is its musical culture. The home of Bach, Wagner, Schumann and Mendelssohn, this city's musical past dates back 800 years! The city offers the Leipzig Music Trail, or Notenspur, for travelers and residents alike to enjoy, which connects 23 of the biggest musical attractions in the city along a five-kilometer trail, which travelers can follow by walking along a steel insert in the ground that curves across the city. A walk through the city can also find travelers within earshot of classical music being played in parks and plazas by street performers, too.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana is the home of jazz and big band music in the United States. With its unique, music-centered Creole culture, even funerals feature dirges played by musicians with horn instruments. New Orleans is also home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States and offers plenty of jazz clubs, bars and entertainment venues in which to listen to some of the city's incredible music in between visiting its historical sites, like the spooky "Cities of the Dead," the city's aboveground cemeteries.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina is a cultural hotspot, known as the home of delicious foods, famous writers like Jorge Luis Borges and the Argentine tango. In fact, the Argentine tango is such a big dance in its home city that travelers can spot tango dancers performing on the streets, not to mention in theaters during performances or in tango-specific nightclubs! With tango comes tango music, typically played with a guitar or an ensemble called an orquesta típica, made up of at least two violins, a flute, a piano, a double bass and two concertinas. Options for tango dancing and listening to tango music are so plentiful in this city, as are opportunities to listen to other folk music. While the tango originated in Spain, the Argentine tango has a life and culture of its own in Buenos Aires.

New York City, New York

New York City is another popular city for budding actors and performers to try to make it big. From the underground speakeasies to high-line nightclubs, New York offers plenty of opportunities to listen to music, but one style has historic roots grounded in Broadway: show tunes. From modern marvels like Hamilton and Come From Away to decades-old shows like Annie and Oklahoma!, travelers have been flocking to the Big Apple to catch some of the best Broadway performances by some of the most famous performers for centuries. Its legacy continues through the present day and has survived even the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Caribbean island of Jamaica is today known as the reggae capital of the world, and it's not surprising to see why. Reggae music was first performed in the 1960s and eventually spread to become a worldwide hit genre, with performers like Bob Marley gaining fame as far as London and the U.S., as well as in Africa. The genre was characterized by its tempo and often political lyrics. It would later become connected with the Rastafari movement, but today its influence is perceived in music performed across the island, from beach bars to well-known resorts and more.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is a multi-cultural city offering some incredible opportunities to listen to live music of many different genres. It was recognized as one of the top cities in the world for listening to live music because of its many music venues and because it's a popular destination for performers to perform while on tour. It also offers three large music festivals each year, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival. While it's located in one of the most country states in the nation, it doesn't just offer country music, but a wide variety of genres.

London, England

Besides being one of the first cities to listen to classical music, London has been a gateway for new genres and creating worldwide sensations for centuries. More recently, it was home to popular rock stars like The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin and more, as well as Elton John, Adele and many more. Today, London's music culture is preserved in its nightlife, where travelers and Londoners both can enjoy live music in dive bars, nightclubs and more. Fans of The Beatles can recreate their iconic photoshoot on Abbey Road, while travelers wandering through trendy, eclectic SoHo can walk along the same streets as The Kinks, the Sex Pistols, Elton John, David Bowie and even Bob Marley!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin mixes the best of past musical culture with a futuristic style. Known for its nightlife, this German capital offers plenty to enjoy for the party-goer, from jazz clubs to nightclubs playing EDM. The Berliner Philharmoniker is one of the best in the world and features a great glimpse into the city's storied past while providing residents and travelers alike an opportunity to listen to some great classical music, as does the Deutsche Oper and the Berlin Festspiele. The city's parks and outdoor spaces also offer a variety of music-listening moments, since the city is known for its street performers. Whether it be someone singing the latest hit or a lonely violinist playing classical music, travelers will be surprised at how much music this city creates.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Jazz has long been woven into the tapestry of civil rights movements across the globe; while its origins might have begun among African Americans in the United States, it's made its home on another continent, where it continues to flourish to this day. Johannesburg, South Africa is now considered the capital of jazz music, having made popular performers Abdullah Ibrahim, Maleh, Benjamin Jephta and so many more. Today, travelers can enjoy listening to jazz performed in clubs across the city in between visiting its other historical sites and listening to South Africa's other popular musical genres.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba is another musically inclined city in which diverse cultures have blended throughout the centuries to create a truly multicultural music genre. Cuban music is most influenced from African and Spanish roots, but it also takes influence from the island's native inhabitants' music as well as Jamaican, American, French and even Chinese music! Santeria, a religion with ties to percussion instruments, also influenced Cuban music, which often has a strong focus on the beat of the music being played. Cuban music has also influenced other cultures' musical genres across the globe, attributing influence to Afrobeats in Africa, to the Argentine tango music of Argentina and even to the development of jazz in the U.S. The isolated island continues its musical culture in its bars, clubs and in its streets.

Tokyo, Japan

One of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo is the home of J-Pop, or Japanese pop music, but it also offers opportunities for other genres to flourish, like techno-minded genres and even jazz. The eclectic city that's been known for its iconic animal cafes and fun vending machines are only part of the city's entertainment, with ample concert venues and nightclubs to enjoy, especially in Shibuya. For a more laid-back musical excursion, check out the Meikyoku Kissa Lion, a historic cafe dating back to 1926 that is one of the only ones of its kind left in Japan. Why is it so special, you ask? Its express purpose is for its patrons to listen to classical music in silence while drinking a cup of coffee. Where else can you experience such a contemplative atmosphere? For a cafe serving up traditional Japanese music along with its brews, try the Hands Expo Cafe, which includes live performances.

Sydney, Australia

Perhaps one of the most photographed places in all of Sydney, let alone Australia, is the sail-shaped Sydney Opera House. Today, it welcomes over eight million tourists each year to awe at the architectural marvel, while 1.5 million sit and watch performances ranging from Italian opera to First Nations cultural performances and everything in between. The Opera House is a bridge for travelers and Australians alike, bridging the gap between the past and the present, as well as between cultures. Sydney is also a multicultural city, and its music reflects that in its plentiful music festivals and music venues, ranging from underground jazz lounges to dive bars, modern nightclubs and more.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is most notable for travelers as being one of the earliest places to become Christianized, and its capital of Addis Ababa is the site of the world's largest city marketplace, with over 7,000 businesses selling everything from food to clothes and more, but its music is something unique, too. Ethiopia's more recent musical culture grew large with the advent of "Ethio-jazz," in the mid-1900s, a type that combined Ethiopian singing methods with the jazz genre, singing in local Amharic. Mahmoud Ahmed, one of the biggest Ethiopian performers, grew in worldwide fame and performed across the world during Ethiopia's worst crises in the late 1900s into the 2000s, when Ethio-jazz was suppressed by the government. Today, it is no longer suppressed and continues across Ethiopia. The Royal Lounge and the African Jazz Village club at the Ghion Hotel in the capital are great places to listen to jazz. Teddy Afro, an Ethiopian pop star, is also making his way onto the international pop music scene, showing that Addis Ababa, while holding to its cultural and historical musical roots, continues to be influenced by other popular genres across the globe.

Seoul, South Korea

South Korea is home to some of the world's most popular singing groups, and that's not an exaggeration. BTS, Blackpink, Exo and many more have gained international renown, with large fanbases in places like the United States as Korean entertainment is shared and loved across the world. Seoul, South Korea's capital and largest city, is a great place to indulge in a K-pop obsession, with entertainment venues offering plenty of concerts. Gangnam, famous for the filming location for the "Gangnam Style" craze of 2012, is a must-visit for its modern architecture and iconic attractions, while K-Star Road is compared with London's Abbey Road, which offers some of the city's biggest K-pop attractions on one street, including sculptures representing popular K-pop groups, groups' preferred stores and more. Nightclubs, bars and other venues also offer great opportunities for listening to music. Additionally, travelers can take a step back in time with a trip to Jeongdong Theater, which hosts performances of traditional Korean music, Korean opera, called pansori and other music styles, located near Deoksu Palace.

Mumbai, India

Home to India's cinematic sensation, Bollywood, Mumbai offers so many cultural experiences, from drinking homemade chai from a tea stall on the street to its incredible historic attractions, but one Mumbai specialty is its music. Bollywood is famous the world over for its sweeping choreographed dancing and singing, and Mumbai offers plenty of attractions and venues that make music their focus. The most famous Bollywood singers have performed at the Shanmukhananda Hall, while the city itself hosts a blues festival, a rock festival, a bass festival, a sufi festival, an EDM festival and many more. Film City is a popular studio complex where many movies are filmed, while travelers can go to Colaba to see if they get scouted as extras in Bollywood films. Bandstand Promenade is located where many Bollywood stars live, so like in Hollywood, Bollywood fans might be able to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Last on our list is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Home to a multicultural music scene, it's also home to what is considered to be the biggest music-centric festival in the world: Carnival. While it's most famous for its spectacular floats, colorful parade performers and crazy nightlife, its music is also a huge draw. During Carnival, samba music and dancing reigns supreme, the high-energy dance and music floating above everything else. Today, a trip to this city can fill one's ears with the sounds of samba, Afro-Brazilian hip-hop, Bossa Nova, choro, Brazilian jazz and baile funk. Plenty of places throughout the city offer live music, while some neighborhoods even offer live performances and dances outside in plazas for everyone to enjoy.

From reggae to K-pop and everything in between, here are some of the world's most musical places.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me