12 Songs That Will Make You Want to Travel Europe
Travel and music make the perfect companions. Whether you’re planning a new trip, reflecting on a past one, or mid-way through a life-changing journey, some songs have the ability to instantly whisk you away and solidify memories. Here are 12 tracks that will make you want to explore Europe.
Songs to add to your playlist
1. Lykke Li – I Know Places
Swedish pop icon Lykke Li’s I Know Places isn’t destination-specific. But there’s a subdued magic to the track that will have you turning up the volume and imagining yourself staring over a stunning Scandinavian backdrop. Or pushing your way down a bustling street in Stockholm. Although she wrote the track in Los Angeles, Lykke Li has been particularly cagey about its inspiration. This leaves the interpretation of the song up to your own wanderlust-fuelled imagination.
2. Beirut – Bratislava
Beirut may hail from the United States, but this band has at least one foot firmly rooted in Europe. Their debut album Gulag Orkestar is packed full of whimsical tales about Europe, making it an ideal travel companion. You’ll find songs about Italy, Amsterdam, and Germany. But the track Bratislava stands out for its instrumental focus, which instantly transports you to a dimly lit bar in the Slovakian capital.
3. Fauve – Blizzard
French collective Fauve’s Blizzard is less destination travel song and more a track about love, friendship, and a journey of self-discovery. But isn’t that what travel is all about? The angsty song is the perfect companion to any European trip. And just one viewing of the beautiful music video will have you fantasizing about your own impromptu journey through France.
4. George Ezra – Budapest
Budapest may just be the most infectious travel song named after a city of recent times. Which is surprising, given that artist George Ezra claims it’s actually a love song with little to do about being in Budapest. Rather, according to Ezra, it’s about missing the train to Budapest due to a few too many glasses of rum the night before. It’s the perfect song about the many missed connections you’re sure to have on a lengthy journey. It’s also a surprisingly good match for the city. Save this one for a skip along the banks of the sparkling Danube and you’ll see why.
5. Kraftwerk – Europe Endless
German electronic band Kraftwerk has created several songs about Europe, but few are as iconic as those found on Trans-Europe Express. The album title is enough to earn this a place on your travel inspiration playlist. It comes from the former railway service that ran between Western and Eastern Europe between 1957 and 1995. It’s as much a celebration of Europe as it is an exploration of the continent’s complexities at the time, many of which remain to this day. Europe Endless sets the perfect upbeat tone for any rail trip across the continent.
6. Paul Kalkbrenner – Train
The eclectic city of Berlin has influenced dozens of artists throughout the years. The most famous (and perhaps nauseating) may well be U2’s Zoo Station. Skip the external examination of the city and dive deep into Berlin’s complex train system with this fascinating track by Paul Kalkbrenner. It was made using samples recorded at stations and aboard several of the city’s commuter trains. Train will instantly transport you to Berlin. You’ll be listening intently to the otherwise innocuous sounds that surround you.
7. Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945
Neutral Milk Hotel had an uncanny ability to create almost accidentally anthemic tracks which served as the perfect inspiration to just pack it all up and take the trip. The most accessible and mournful of these may well be In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. With lines like “But for now we are young, Let us lay in the sun, And count every beautiful thing we can see”, I challenge you not to look up and take in the beauty of the moment, regardless of your destination. But there’s something about Holland, 1945, which contains several intriguing European references. It has the ability to kick your travel plans into high gear, or if you’re already on the road, transform your surroundings into a captivating real-life music video.
8. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong – April in Paris
There are enough songs about Paris for an entire article, or perhaps even a book. But the sedate pace of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s version of April in Paris perfectly captures the magic of the city. Though recorded back in 1956, this version remains timeless and thoroughly captivating. It works whether you’re planning your first trip or making the inevitable return.
9. Dean Martin – On an Evening in Roma
Dean Martin’s On an Evening in Roma is more likely to be at the top of your grandparents’ dusty stack of vinyls than at the top of your Spotify playlist. But Dean Martin, the very essence of cool back in his day, manages to walk you through the Italian capital in a way that’ll have you yearning to visit. Michael Bublé released a version of this song in 2016, but make sure you go with the original version recorded back in 1959.
10. David Bowie – Warszawa
David Bowie was no stranger to songs about Europe. But there’s a dark and enthralling undertone to his track Warszawa, recorded with Brian Eno in 1977, that’s still has the ability to spike intrigue about the Polish capital. It’s a largely instrumental track that takes inspiration from Polish folk music. Bowie allegedly wrote it after a visit in the 70s. It’s probably best for listening to late at night, while scrolling through historical images of the fascinating city.
11. Bastille – Pompeii
A band from London called Bastille and singing about Pompeii is a somewhat confusing mix. But this song about the Italian town that was decimated by a volcano in 79 AD is the perfect anthem to crank up while finishing off your last-minute packing. Or, better yet, when pulling into the humble Pompeii train station while looking out at the omnipresent Mount Vesuvius in the distance.
12. Modest Mouse – The World At Large
Modest Mouse’s The World At Large captures that feeling you’ll have while walking through a bustling European old town with a heavily laden backpack en-route to the station where you’ll catch a train to an unknown destination. It’s also the track you’ll listen to when you return home to remind you of those moments. And then, after a few more listens, it’ll have you pulling out the laptop and planning another epic European rail trip with a Eurail Global Pass.