Grey skyscrapers are nice and all...if you’re in New York City. But sometimes, it’s nice to see something a little bit more colourful. That’s the greatest part of traveling: discovering the endless different landscapes throughout the world. We tend to think of factors like peacefulness, cleanliness, architectural style and people when they define the beauty of a city. The colors also play a huge role in making a city look beautiful. Is there seriously anything better than rainbow-colored architecture?
There’s just something about bright colors that bring us to life. When we’re around drab, dull buildings, our mood becomes a reflection of that. Yet strokes of turquoise, crimson and golden yellows can make even a winter’s day feel sunny. And there are plenty of places around the world awash with such beautiful bright colors.
We’ve found 25 of the most colourful cities on the planet that you may even be able to visit. If you’re looking to leave the gloomy gray buildings of your home town behind for something a little more vibrant, these locations are totally worth a visit. In fact, these places should be a prescription, because they make you feel alive. Let’s take a look.
25 Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa - Impossible to take a bad photo
Bo-Kaap, a neighbourhood in Cape Town, is known for its array of colourful buildings. The houses are a mix of Georgian and Cape Dutch architecture in monumental multi-colored rows on slender, cobbled streets. You will find buildings in a dazzling plethora of lilac, turquoise, neon green and magenta. If you’re looking to take some gram-worthy snaps, this place will definitely brighten up your feed.
In fact, it would be impossible even for an amateur to not take amazing pictures here. This stunning backdrop of vibrant little houses will make all your photos shine. There’s certainly nothing drab about this city.
24 Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina - Somewhere, over the rainbow row...
There’s a street in Charleston where a row of enchanting Georgian homes awash with pastel pinks and purples sit looking pretty 24/7. Rainbow Row is its name.
It is a unique part of Charleston and attracts a number of visitors from around the world. They come literally just to see the buildings, which actually possess a rich history. See, these houses were not always colourful. First constructed in 1740, they were originally used by merchants so they could run their business on the ground floor and reside on the top floor.
From the late 1800's, this area was actually considered a slum. But this all changed when Dorothy Porcher Legge bought the row of houses on East Bay Street in 1931.
23 Old Town, Cartagena, Colombia - Why not get married too?
Cartagena’s old city is the main attraction amongst tourists and it isn’t hard to see why. If you take a stroll down the inner walled town, you will find the most stunning colonial architecture in every color under the sun. There has always been something romantic about Cartagena. The inner walled town is especially beautiful with all that color. You really feel like you’re away from everything and it’s certainly a mood-booster.
It’s no surprise so many couples get married in Cartagena. It’s a truly beautiful and romantic place. Plus, all those brightly colored buildings are bound to put you in the best mood.
22 Burano, Italy - a multihued heaven
Burano is known for being a photo-lover’s paradise. With all those brightly-painted buildings and flower pots, Burano is a multihued heaven. It’s also a fisherman’s island.
Although there are touristy parts of Burano, it is still very much a working island. Fishing boats still come in at the end of the day with whatever they’ve caught that day.
Unfortunately this is changing and the island is getting harder to live in because the island suffers from yearly flooding in the winter. Still, it is a great place to visit in the summer, spring or autumn if you want to take some amazing photos.
21 Chefchaouen, Morocco - It blue us away
Known as Morocco’s Blue City, Chefchaouen is a magical place perched amid the Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen actually means ‘’blue pearl’’ and it is indeed as blue as a city comes with all those powder-blue buildings scattered around the city. Structurally, you could compare it to Santorini or other Greek villages.
In addition to its calming blue hues, the arched Moroccan architecture also adds another level of charm to this city. When people go to Morocco, they usually head to Marrakech. If you want the less touristy and calmer alternative, choose Chefchaouen. You will adore admiring the buildings and colors here.
20 Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada - Stroll down Jellybean row
Situated in the beautiful bay of Fund, Saint John city is actually the oldest city in Canada. It is most famous for its rainbow-colored row houses, which is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. You will find these houses, also known as ‘’Jellybean Row’’ in the downtown area of Saint John. The nickname is used mostly by natives when they talk about the colourful buildings.
It is believed that the locals of Saint John used to paint their houses in vibrant shades to hold on to beauty in bright weather. Each house is painted its own unique color and they look fabulous.
19 Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil
If you ever take a trip to Salvador, don’t miss spending time in the old city of cobblestoned streets, culture, and brightly colored colonial buildings: Pelourinho.
Pelo, as it’s nicknamed by locals, is a beautiful place home to churches, restaurants, cafes, shops and a plethora of pastel-hued buildings. Anyone wanting to take some striking pictures will have their wish come true in this city. There are endless opportunities to take photographs here.
It is now a popular tourist location for people wanting to admire the city’s stunning architecture and the hues that make them pop. You will love it here.
18 Havana, Cuba - Tiffany coloured buildings
Cuba’s capital is a must-visit for those wanting to add a splash of color into their travel.
Brimming with cobbled plazas, churches, mansions, and a throng of restaurants, galleries and museums, one can only admire Havana. Its Tiffany-colored buildings only add to this city’s charm and splendour. In fact, that’s one of the reasons people flock to Havana – they long to witness its colourful architecture as well as its fascinating history.
It’s advised if you can explore it all on foot because that way, you get to see the sights better. Alternatively, you can rent a bike. It’s just good if you can be outdoors to appreciate everything this city has to offer.
17 La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In the capital city of Argentina, you will find a neighbourhood called La Boca that really is the brightest place you will ever see.
La Boca is famous for its colourful wooden houses as well as for its pedestrian friendly paths. In other words, it’s a great place to wander around and admire the sights. La Boca is home to many artist colonies, so you could say it is a pretty arty kind of place. The artist colonies often utilize the colourful houses as a part of a backdrop for art performances.
Another well known attraction is the Tango dance and you’ll see tango dancers everywhere here in La Boca.
16 Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India - over 100 blue houses
Another blue city of the world is Jodhpur, Rajasthan’s second largest city. It is named this because of the bright blue-washed houses nestled within the old town. This old colourful city is home to over 100 bright blue houses that are enclosed by a wall in Jodhpur.
In addition to the blue hues, there is amazing architecture to admire in this city as well as little shops and bazaars selling temple decorations, saris, and trumpets. They sell pretty much everything here, so it’s a great shopping experience and you’ll be able to find some unique souvenirs. Plus, you can take some awesome photos.
15 Procida, Italy
Italy is full of picturesque islands. It’s the reason so many Americans travel miles to come and witness Italy’s beauty. But if you’re looking for colourful buildings and sparkling waters, Procida is the best choice of the Italian islands.
Procida is the best explored on foot because of its narrow streets and array of sherbet-colored buildings that are better seen in natural daylight than through a car window. The most beautiful areas are Marina di Chiaiolella, Marina Grande and Marina Corricella.
Unlike other islands, there aren’t so many tourists taking up the beach in Procida so it shouldn’t be a problem finding a space.
14 Tokyo, Japan - neon-lit streetscapes
We can’t leave Tokyo out now, can we? When you think of colourful cities, it’s hard not to think of Japan’s bustling capital. With all those blinking bright advertisements spread across dozens of high rise buildings, Tokyo definitely ranks high as far as colourful cities go.
Those neon-lit streetscapes look like something from the future. Then again, they do say that Tokyo has a passion for the new and is always constantly on the move. Nobody could ever get bored in this city. It is so vibrant and ever-changing; you are guaranteed to be constantly entertained and intrigued by this futuristic city.
13 Neal’s Yard, London - Pushing against the stereotype
When you think of colourful cities throughout the world, London probably wasn’t your first thought. London gets a bad reputation for being this rainy, gloomy place, but that isn’t the case at all. Maybe it is sometimes, but it also has its fair share of colourful areas, like Neal’s Yard for instance.
This small alley in Covent Garden boasts brightly painted bricked buildings along with orange and blue shutters. It really is a pretty place that totally contradicts London’s tendency to be characterized by the color grey. We’re not saying London’s a total rainbow of colors, but there are vibrant parts of course.
12 Moscow, Russia - endless colourful hidden gems
St Basil’s Cathedral obviously comes to mind when we think about Moscow landmarks. It’s definitely a colourful building and its architecture is just exceptional. Color, however, seems to be all around in Russia’s capital.
At nearly every turn in the city, you will see golden domes peeking over rooftops. And don’t forget the 600 churches that have undergone renovations to look the way they do now. There are endless colourful hidden gems that you can discover in this mezmerizing city.
Make sure you bring your camera if you decide to take a trip to this city. You’ll want pictures for sure.
11 Rainbow Village, Taiwan - the name says it all
It used to be a residential area for former members of the military. Today, Rainbow Village in Taichung, Taiwan is a colourful display of public art. Tourists come here to witness its bright beauty and we can see why they do. The pictures we’ve seen of Rainbow Village are certainly stunning to say the least. This village actually attracts over 1 million tourists every year. Naturally, people want to see the bright buildings that make the village look almost magical.
It really does seem like a lot of love has gone into this place because it looks beautiful, mystical and unbelievable.
10 Copenhagen, Denmark - the cheer of the city
Looking to spot crooked, colourful houses? There is no better place to do that than in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many of the streets in Copenhagen boast pretty painted buildings that just cheer up the whole city.
You could conjure up a house of any color in your mind and we bet you would find that same house somewhere in Copenhagen.
Some of the best streets to spot colourful houses include: Larslejsstraede, Sankt Hans Gade, Sofiegade, Nybrdogade, Nyhavn, and Olufsvej. On these streets, you will find the most adorable houses that may even inspire you to paint your home lemon yellow or baby blue.
9 Izamal, Mexico - If you're searching for Oz's Yellow brick road, it's probably here
Izamal is one of the most colourful cities in Mexico and Mexico is generally known to be a colourful place. It’s not shy of being bold.
Izamal, also known as the ‘’City of three cultures’’ gets most of its influence from colonial and contemporary Mexico. This yellow town is bound to put you in good spirits because that’s what colours do. Bright colours seem to make us feel good, so we expect we’ll feel the same if we arrive in Mexico’s yellow city. This is definitely a go-to spot to capture some amazing pictures. Who would not want a backdrop of bright yellow houses?
8 Little India, Singapore - buildings in every shade
Singapore conjures up exotic, colourful images but until we saw this snap of Little India, we didn’t realize just how colourful it is.
Little India wins the prize for Singapore’s most colourful city. You can find patterned buildings in every shade here in Little India. And then there are the colourful little statues that stand on the exteriors of holy temples. On the subject of temples, you’ll find more color at the Sri Veeramkaliamman Hindu temple and at the Chinese House of Tan Teng Niah. You certainly won’t find many drab grey buildings here.
7 Balat, Istanbul - colour and tradition
In Istanbul, it’s easy to get caught up in all the tourist attractions that most people who visit check out. Get off the beaten track and you will discover so much more.
One thing you won’t be able to miss as you get off the beaten track of Istanbul is Fener Balat’s line of colourful houses. This bohemian neighbourhood is perfect for art-lovers. Anyone with a keen eye for art and color will fall in love with these brightly colored homes. The visible laundry hanging across the small streets adds a touch of tradition to the neighbourhood as a whole.
6 Juzcar, Spain - Say hello to the smurfs
Most people know it as Spain’s Blue Smurfs Village. That’s because the Spanish hamlet changed its look in 2011 to promote the new official Smurfs movie. They must be big Smurfs fans is all we can guess. Anyway, this once traditional white village loved the look so much, locals voted to let it stay this way. To be fair they had a point.
This blue village looks so cool and picturesque. It’s also a great location for food, culture, hiking trails, culinary tours and outdoor adventures. In short, it is a must-see if you are looking for some vibrancy. You won’t be disappointed.
5 Menton, France - the pearl of France
Menton is only a small town of around 30,000 people. Situated on the French Riviera, the city center of Menton is where you will discover a stack of salmon, gold and cherry colored buildings that are absolutely stunning. You will never want to leave once you visit this place. There’s something quite surreal about the array of brightly painted houses that make you feel positive about the day. Even when it’s not so sunny, the colors still manage to make us feel better.
No wonder it’s been nicknamed the "pearl of France." It really is a beautiful hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
4 Curacao, Carribbean - a pastel-colored oasis
The Carribbean is generally known for being a pastel-colored oasis, but nothing quite compares to Curacao, a gorgeous island in the Lesser Antilles. The island boasts over 750 pastel-colored structures.
We’re surprised the island’s inhabitants aren’t struck down with regular headaches what with the sun and the bright houses.
However, nobody can deny that the buildings look spectacular. There is absolutely nothing dull, drab or gloomy about Curacao. You will radiate sunshine during your visit to the island and you’ll never want to leave. But maybe it’s not an ideal location for those who don’t favour bright pastels so much.
3 Santorini, Greece - Whitewash everywhere
Santorini is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands. Comprising of 15 picturesque villages, nearly all of the houses you see are whitewashed on cobblestone narrow streets.
It is said that the local people of Santorini Island used to whitewash their homes for decoration back in the 19th century. At the time, whitewash was cheap and durable so it made perfect sense to use it. But the trend never left.
Today, Santorini is famous for its white coloration. In fact, it has become a trend of the island. That’s part of why people come here. There’s just something breathtakingly beautiful about Santorini.
2 Sighisoara, Romania - stepping back in time
It may not have been the biggest or the richest of cities in Romania, but today it has become one of the most popular. With its hilly streets, medieval architecture and enchanting houses of rainbow colors, it’s hard not to love it in Sighisoara.
It feels like you’re stepping back in time in this city. Maybe that has something to do with the original medieval architecture. These days, so many cities are spoiled by tourists or at least tourist-driven facilities and goings ons. That’s what makes this Romanian city so special. You feel like you’re experiencing the culture completely here and those colourful buildings will make you crave cupcakes.
1 Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - every shade under the sun
Even the old cobble-stoned streets are blue in Old San Juan. Is there anything that isn’t colourful in this city of Puerto Rico? We’re not complaining. It’s not every day you’re surrounded by bright bold colors – visible on the streets, the houses and probably in many other places too. The historic architecture only adds to the exquisiteness of this city.
It’s not surprising the area was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, is it? You will find every shade under the sun here in Old San Juan. From blues to pinks to yellows to purples, no color has been missed out. Except maybe black and grey perhaps.
References: lonelyplanet, tripadvisor, tripsavvy, independent.co.uk, theculturetrip, sensationalcolor.com