Music is one of the most popular forms of escapism. So why not consider combining your love for music with your next vacation? Each country and culture has its own sound, from London’s pop scene to New York’s rock ‘n’ roll dominance. But which destinations are the most iconic for a music lover's city-break dream?
To reveal the best vacation hotspots for music lovers in 2023, this report has analyzed global cities notable for their music scene, on factors such as upcoming music festivals, record shops, and music venues.
Whether you are into bluesy jazz delights or prefer the beat of electric dance, be sure to read on to discover which cities you should be looking to groove in this year.
The best global city destinations for music lovers
1. London, The United Kingdom - 9.95 / 10
London ranks as the best city break for music lovers, boasting a remarkable 9.95/10 ‘music lovers score’. True music fans will already be aware of the rich music history that London retains. For example, London’s Denmark Street has seen huge names including David Bowie, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, record music at its studios.
With over 4,000 upcoming music events, including Harry Styles at Wembley stadium and Iggy Pop at Crystal Palace Park, London is certainly not short of live music action. From stadiums to academies, London is host to some of the coolest music venues in the world, with over 130 playing host to music events in 2023.
In addition, the city is preparing for 27 upcoming music festivals, including the All Points East festival, which is being headlined by Stormzy this year.
2. Berlin, Germany - 9.34 / 10
The second best city for music lovers is Berlin. Germany’s capital is set to host 16 music festivals in 2023, as well as 1,707 music events, at 46 live music venues. This year Berlin will play host to huge names in music, such as the Arctic Monkeys, Lewis Capaldi, and Snoop Dogg.
Berlin is perhaps most known for its impressive techno scene, with popular techno venues including the Techno Temple and the Berghain Club. However, with 46 different venues to choose from, including Berlin State Opera, this city will be sure to satisfy your music needs whatever your taste.
Out of the cities studied, Berlin is home to the most record stores (56), including the Hard Wax and Oye Records stores.
3. New York City, The United States - 8.52 / 10
New York City ranks as the third greatest city for music lovers in 2023. There are a whopping 2,391 upcoming music events this year alongside 14 music festivals. While host to two of the biggest names in pop this year, with Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran performing at the MetLife Stadium, New York City is the home of true rock 'n' roll.
If you’re on the hunt for live music in New York, then Cafe Wha? should be your first port of call. Credited with jumpstarting the music careers of both Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, Cafe Wha? continues to host local bands and events today. Why not also consider a visit to Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous music venues in the world? Or, Radio City Music Hall, where you can take a Stage Door Tour to see the history of one of New York's most instrumental venues.
The city also offers a respectable selection of record shops (46) tailoring to the growing demand for old-school vinyl.
4. Chicago, United States - 8.42 / 10
Ranking in fourth place is Chicago. The US city is home to 45 record stores, including the legendary Reckless Records, Audio Archaeology, and Chicago Music Exchange.
For 2023 so far, Chicago has 1,335 upcoming music events and 9 music festivals, dotted around Chicago’s 30 music venues. Chicago is set to host some must-attend festivals this year, including the internationally premier Lollapalooza, the electronic-focused North Coast Music Festival, and the indie rock-centered Pitchfork Music Festival.
If you’re thinking of visiting Chicago, be sure to drop by the ultra-famous Miller’s Pub. The Pub was a favorite for an ensemble of stars including Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, Marilyn Monroe, and Jay Leno, to name just a few. Afterward, make your way to Green Mill, Chicago’s most historic jazz club. Green Mill is possibly one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world, having seen every great musician imaginable.
5. Paris, France - 8.01 / 10
Completing the top five is Paris. The city has an outstanding 2,547 upcoming music events alongside 6 festivals for 2023. Paris is also home to 49 record stores. The city of love houses a diverse range of 40 music venues, so you can be sure to find the right live music to suit you. Paris will see performances from Bruce Springsteen, Macklemore, and Elton John this year, alongside playing host to festivals such as We Love Green and Rock en Seine.
One of Paris’ most legendary music bars is Caveau de la Huchette, an underground jazz venue. Featuring in the successful musical La La Land, Caveau de la Huchette welcomes performers of all jazz genres alongside a large dance floor for music fans.
Be sure to also consider Le Pop In, the city’s indie and pop rock center. The center became a crucial hub for emerging artists, going on to create its own record label. This place is certainly worth a visit if you’re after the latest trends in live music.
The number of upcoming music festivals and upcoming music events in each city was taken from Songkick*.
The number of music venues with upcoming events in 2023 for each city was taken from Stereoboard.com*.
The number of record stores in each city was recorded from Vinyl World.
Data from all 4 factors were combined to give a normalized rank for each city, and an overall ‘music lover score’ out of 10, to reveal the best city breaks for music lovers in 2023.
*Data is correct as of 03/01/23 - additional music events may have since been added.