A Musical Tour Through Europe

October 29, 2019

What do Mozart, David Bowie, French chansons and flamenco have in common? All are types of music that were cultivated in Europe. Visiting the birthplaces, inspirational sites and traditional areas that have influenced these musical greats is a brilliant way to see the continent. And with regular ferries to Europe, it’s never been easier to take a musical tour across the channel and further afield. For some of the greatest musical cities to visit in Europe, read on.



For classical music and musical theatre fans, the Austrian city of Salzburg is the ideal place to visit. Surrounded by the breathtaking Alps, the medieval city is proud of its most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the souvenir shops lining the streets are filled with merchandise bearing his face, and several visitor attractions across the city pay homage to the composer, including his birthplace and his residence from 1773 – 1787, both of which are now museums. Concerts of his works take place regularly across the city, too.

If musical theatre is more your bag, the 1960s musical, The Sound of Music was filmed here. Bus tours take place daily, taking fans through the streets of Salzburg and up into the famous hills which Maria sings and dances upon during the opening of the film. Expect sing-alongs on the bus, stunning Alpine scenery and childhood nostalgia as you step into the world of the classic musical.

Ten hours’ drive from Calais in France or IJmuiden in Holland, the route to Salzburg passes through Germany which is a great start to a European road trip. To break your trip up you could stop in Cologne, Frankfurt or Munich and discover the musical delights of those cities.

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A musical trip around Europe wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Eurovision Song Contest.

The campest collection of European songs and performances takes place every year, and in 2020 it will be held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Less than an hour’s drive from our port in IJmuiden and just an hour by train from Amsterdam, it’s the perfect trip for a music lover. The Eurovision Song Contest will take place on 16th May 2020 at Rotterdam Ahoy arena. Get the date in your diary and your sequins at the ready! Start your trip in style on our overnight crossing from Newcastle to Amsterdam, enjoying some live music onboard to warm you up for the main event.

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Germany’s capital has always been a centre for musical performance, from the cabaret shows of the 1920s, brought to life in the musical Cabaret, to a hub for techno music now, with Tresor and Berghain being some of the best clubs in Europe. David Bowie set up home in Berlin in the 1970s and the city has also drawn in artists such as Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode and German punk bands like Die Toten Hosen – you can even take guided tours of the sites where these artists lived and partied.

For souvenirs to take home, there’s nothing better for music lovers than vinyl, and Berlin’s record stores will keep you busy for days. Space Hall in Kreuzberg stocks treasures spanning the musical spectrum and you’re sure to find something you love.

For classical fans, there are seven symphony orchestras in the city including the Berlin Philharmonic and the State Opera. For jazz lovers, Jazzfest Berlin takes place each year from 31 October – 3 November and brings the city to life with improvised music.

You can get to Berlin in about seven hours by car from our port at IJmuiden, the route taking you through the stunning countryside of Holland and Germany.

Berlin 1900x500



If you’re ready for a European road trip and don’t mind driving, heading west to Seville in Spain will be sure to be a musical delight. Taking about 20 hours driving from our ports in Calais and Dunkirk, you can break the drive up with a visit to San Sebastian, sampling Spanish cuisine, immersing yourself in the Basque culture and visiting the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in late July.

But back to Seville. The setting of two of the most famous operas, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Seville has been the heart of musical culture for centuries. As well as classical opera, the city boasts a long tradition of flamenco, a touchstone of Spanish identity. During the popular music festival, Bienal de Flamenco, the greatest flamenco performers bring to life traditional and original works, creating sensory delights in some of the most beautiful buildings in Seville. See performances in venues including a 9th century palace, ancient Roman ruins and in Seville’s nightclub district Tablao El Arenal.



The Belgian city of Ghent is abundant in culture, art and music – it’s even been formally recognised by UNESCO as a ‘Creative City of Music’ and it’s easy to see why. There are two universities in the city that teach opera and musicianship and its annual music festival draws in crowds of over 30,000.

Each year, Gentse Feesten (The Festivities of Ghent) see the entire city become a series of stages for all kinds of music and entertainment. During the festivities, hundreds of performers from around the world offer a wide range of jazz, classical, contemporary and world music. Ghent’s waterways and walkways come alive with music, housed in some of the most beautiful venues, some of which date back to the medieval period.

Music Centre De Bijloke, which served as Ghent’s city hospital from 1228 until 1980, was subsequently converted into a stunning concert hall. Another grand venue is the nineteenth century building which houses The Flemish Opera, regarded as one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe.



France has a certain “je ne sais quoi” when it comes to music. Whether thinking about the classic songs of Jacques Brel that make you fantasise about romantic Paris, the high-kicking tunes of the Moulin Rouge or the contemporary hits of David Guetta, there’s no doubt that France is a melting pot of music.

Paris in the summer is a music lover’s dream, with street performances on every corner, several festivals and an annual Fête de la Musique every June 21st. Various jazz festivals take place in Paris across the spring and summer and have previously welcomed greats such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Alternatively, the Rock en Seine festival plays a range of rock, indie and hip-hop music across three days. You can even camp there.

If you’re not after a festival but perhaps some live music for the evening, The Trois Baudets is well worth a visit as it regularly plays live music of all genres. Or why not step back into the Belle Epoque with a visit to the famous Moulin Rouge or hear some world class performances at the Paris Philharmonic – its panoramic, rooftop terrace is a real treat too!


To book your crossing and start your musical tour of Europe, visit dfds.co.uk.

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