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Feature photo by ky_olsen. Photo above by Steffe.

It’s possible to make some extra cash with a little talent. All you have to do is choose the right place.
What is Busking?

Busking is the time-honored practice of performing for spare change in public – generally on the street or in a park. Most buskers are musicians, but if you have any sort of talent, you can generally make some good money by putting on an honest performance in a high traffic and relatively affluent area.

If you’re looking to get a sense of the local culture, street performance is a great way to do it. Your status as a foreigner adds to the exoticism of your act, so it can help give you a leg up on the locals.

1. Washington Square Park, New York City, USA

During the warmer months, Washington Square Park is one of the most highly trafficked areas of the city – mostly by students and relatively well-to-do creative types. Music, magic and dance crews often pull in some significant change – and even if you’re not looking for that much money, you’re sure to at least find an appreciative audience.

2. Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Lacht International Street Theatre Festival is held a few times every year, showcasing talent from around the world on the streets of Berlin. This great city has a long, proud history of bohemian performance art.

Germans love American music – get out there and play some of your favorite hits. Don’t worry too much about keeping a tune – your accent sounds exotic enough that it doesn’t matter.

Photo by Cormac Mulhall.

3. Dublin, Ireland

Yes, the Irish may have a long-standing reputation for being dour – but at least once a year, during the summer Street Performance World Championship, Dublin becomes an absolute busking extravaganza.

Whether you want to go and perform yourself – and hopefully rake in some coin – or merely learn things from some of the best performers on the face of the earth, it’s worth checking out. The competition can get fierce. Magicians, mimes, daredevils, jugglers and musicians turn the street into an open circus.

4. Montmartre, Paris, France

The artistic center of Paris, Montmartre is where you are likely to find some of the finest mimes in the world. If you’re interested in getting more into miming – or just want to busk in an area where locals and tourists alike are accustomed to giving money to street performers – it’s certainly worth a visit.

Living statues are also popular there – if you’re planning on taking that route, make sure that you wear a colorful, unique costume to set yourself apart from the rest.

5. Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom

Covent Garden happens to be one of the most happening street performance centers in the world, with one of the longest standing histories of providing an outlet for public performance.

Unfortunately, it’s not entirely open to outsiders – the performers negotiate with one another to set schedules, and you need to pass an audition to get through. However, that should not be a significant hurdle for you to get over if you plan ahead of time, are confident in your artistic merit, and know how to charm artists.

Photo by house.

6. Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh is a city that is arguably still largely in the Middle Ages, from the architecture to the culture. It’s a prime site for beggars, street vendors and performers – mostly locals.

If you think you can pull it off and mesh well with your surroundings, the street traffic in the market squares can be totally overwhelming. If you can make it here in the old markets, you can make it anywhere.

7. The Old City, Jerusalem, Israel

The Old City is one of the most fascinating places on the planet. It’s sacred ground for three major religions, making it a year-round tourist destination.

The relatively warm weather – at least, when it’s not raining – also makes it a good place to get out some street performance, so long as it’s sufficiently respectful to pilgrims filing in and out of the various synagogues, temples and churches.

Photo by steph.

8. New Delhi, India

Indians are always moving from one place to another, either on the helter-skelter roads or the marginally unsafe train system. There’s a long-established tradition of buskers playing music and dancing near transportation hubs.

Get out your instruments at a high traffic train station and start playing – you might be surprised at how much change you’ll bring in from rushing commuters.

Community Connection:

Need some cash to keep you on the road? Give 25 Ways to Earn Money When You’re Broke on the Road a read, or check out the archive of Travel and Adventure Jobs at the Traveler’s Notebook.

About The Author

John Hewitt

John Hewitt is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He is currently a Contributing Editor at Bright Hub.

  • Mary

    As an Irish person having lived in Dublin and Galway, I have to say Galway beats Dublin hands down for busking. They can’t even compare. Galway even has a dedicated street performance festival every July, called Macnas. You are actually legally required to have a busking permit for Dublin. Galway is still living the hippy life. :)

  • Ciarán

    I just want to know since when have the Irish ever been considered ‘dour’?!?!? That’s a first for me.

  • Luke Webb

    The subways, and underground rail tunnels have good acoustics, however 99% of traffic is ‘in a hurry’, and does not stop to throw coins.

    Some ‘undiscovered’ areas in these cities, is – outside a supermarket, outside a bar or cafe, between the exit to a night-club and the taxi rank, local fruit market (street stalls). Places where people are spending money, (or jut spent money, or just about to), seem to be far more fruitful, than subways and train undergrounds….

  • Alan

    I’m so glad that San Diego, California, USA didn’t make this list. Those people are horrible to buskers!

  • Glenn

    Charleston, South Carolina has treated me very well as a busker…

  • telavivvacationapartment

    wow i
    like to have this trip,it is very cool.and someday i wish to travel in this
    place and i want to learn many things in this town. 

  • Zeech – da immigrant

    come on now…Amsterdam!! in the summer will zillions of annoyingly high and stupid tourists walking around, every summer my bass and I would make it there and jam and eat and drink well. Only in the summer, once summer is gone place is freezing and I go back to caribbean to handle the family ganja farm

  • Hfhdfuekide

    well that thing about Alexanderplatz is just not true. I live next to it, I can quite  say that’s nonsense.

  • Sarah

    I have to agree with Mary.We have a few people who actually make a living busking in Galway, Ireland. Also, “dour”? Thanks!

  • Dave O’Keeffe

    great article, but you clearly dont know a lot of irish people

  • jomteon

    Forget Covent Garden. Head over to Trafalgar and the London Eye. Get there early and be respectful (and wary) of the regular performers. Make friends with them if you can and you’ll find many opportunities open up to you.

  • Lila’Angelique

    I took your advice and tried busking in Marrakech with my husband a few years ago. We were in Athens and desperate to find a place to perform. Let me say it was a horrifying, yet amazing experience. We made no money, but we got pretty famous among the locals. We would walk through the streets singing and dancing and have huge crowds following us.

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