The Best Destinations In Europe For Listening To Live Music, According To Rick Steves

What first comes to mind when thinking of European art might be the continent's visual art from spectacular bucket list paintings to imposing cathedrals. However, the buildings and streets of many European cities are filled with audial art as well. This may include orchestral performances at historic churches or performers busking along the streets. Even the now globally successful Italian band Måneskin got their start busking before winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021.

Music closer aligned with modern pop culture like Måneskin or ABBA (another former Eurovision champion) and traditional European music is abundant. Luckily, travel expert Rick Steves can help fellow travelers narrow down Europe's music hotspots, but his picks do not involve major arena concerts for global touring artists whom you could catch in a city near you. Steves' recommendations help you soak in more local culture and perhaps even in historic or unlikely venues. His favorites are located in Czechia, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy.

Combine baroque architecture with baroque music in Prague

Though Czechia has endured multiple bouts of foreign rule and war, its capital of Prague has largely been unscathed. This means that Prague is filled with beautiful centuries old architecture, including the largest ancient castle in the world. Some of the city's baroque era (17th and early 18th century) structures host concerts with music of the same era like that of Vivaldi. Among these venues is St. Salvator Church at the Klementinum (centered in above photo) just steps from the Charles Bridge. Rick Steves recommends using the Prague Ticket Office to find concerts here and elsewhere in the city.

Given the popularity of Irish culture even outside of Ireland, many likely have an idea of what traditional Irish music sounds like. However, it becomes all the more special when played by locals in an Irish pub. Musicians in these pubs might not always plan their gatherings, but you're in for a treat if you stumble across some. "When you get there, you realize that this transcends tourism. You're part of the local scene," Steves told WFMT. If you don't hear any in pubs, buskers of any genre frequent Grafton Street in Dublin, making for a vibrant musical atmosphere outdoors as well.

Catch performers indoors and on the streets during Festival Fringe

Florence, Italy is well aware of its cultural significance. After all, it is the home of Michelangelo's David sculpture, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore which highlights the skyline, and so much more. Perhaps this is why the city's government — "because they're so classy," Rick Steves teases — does not let just any busker perform just anywhere. But maybe the government is onto something. Additionally, Florentine buskers shine brighter at night. "In every most beautiful little spot, almost like it's made-to-order for quality street musicians, you find a venue for an impromptu concert under the stars," Steves explained to WFMT.

Steves' favorite place to hear music in Scotland comes with other types of performers lining the streets and performing in theaters as well. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe occurs throughout most of August and participation is open to all. This means the festival encompasses acting, circus tricks, dancing, music, and other forms of entertainment. "The Festival Fringe is just people who love sharing their art, their music, their culture, their drama," says Steves. "It's just lots of fun."