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The Most Colourful Cities in the World

Colourful Houses in Burano welcome the Fishermen Home

In these dark times when we’re all stuck indoors, I thought we would all appreciate some colour in our lives!  As well as reminiscing about the most colourful places I’ve been to, I asked some of my fellow travel bloggers to contribute suggestions for the most colourful cities and towns around the world.  Although there are hundreds of beautiful colourful towns and cities these are just a few of my favourites.  Check these out and bring the rainbow of the world into your own home!

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The Most Colourful Cities in the Americas

Havana Cuba

Cuba’s capital is stunning.  Although the painted buildings are faded, it is still one of the most colourful cities in the world.  Years of communist rule and US embargos have taken the shine off the paintwork, but the colours are still there.

1950s cars add to the charm, with many of them having a recent refurbishment, their bright colours stand out against the pastel walls.  There is something very special about Havana; even if you can’t quite put your finger on it you certainly feel a buzz in the air.  Colour is everywhere in Havana, and as the sound of a band playing fills the streets it will lift your spirits and your heart. 

Most of the cities in Cuba are just as colourful; I loved the colours in Trinidad too.  

Havana Cuba - The Most Colourful Cities on Earth
Havana Cuba – The Most Colourful Cities on Earth

Antigua, Guatemala

One of my favourite cities in Central America, Antigua Guatemala is a gem.  Yellow is a common colour for buildings here, including the Iglesia de la Merced church and the famous Santa Catalina Arch.  Other buildings are painted dark red, pale purple and orange, all the colours of the rainbow are present here among the cobbled streets. 

Although there aren’t as many indigenous people here in Antigua as there are in smaller Guatemalan villages, those who wear traditional clothes have beautifully weaved blouses and skirts. Purple is a popular choice for patterns, although you can see materials and patterns of all colours on display at the outdoor markets and weaving stores. 

El Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua Guatemala
El Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua Guatemala

Guatapé, Colombia

Guatapé is a small town in Colombia, more famous for a large rock known as El Peñol.  However, for those who visit the town itself will find it a most colourful place.  All of the houses are painted different colours, and if that wasn’t enough, they are also decorated with paintings too. 

Different patterns, animals and people are all painted around the bottom of the walls, adding yet more colour to this pretty town.  Flower baskets and brightly coloured tuk-tuk taxis add another layer vibrance to the town.  Stroll around the cobbled streets and soak it all up!

If you like Guatapé, the towns of Salento and Jardin also have beautifully painted buildings.

Colourful Streets in Guatape Colombia
Colourful Streets in Guatape Colombia

Cartagena Colombia

Colonial architecture in Latin America is often colourful, and Cartagena is a wonderful example.  The Cathedral walls are bright yellow, as are many of the buildings in the Old Town.  Wooden balconies are painted different colours, and plants and flowers hang from window boxes.

As well as the colourful buildings, Cartagena’s residents are full of colour too, with ladies in brightly coloured dresses pose for photographs with the tourists.  Artists display their work against the walls of churches and the handmade Wayuu bags sold on every corner add some more rainbow colours to the streets.

For a more modern twist of colour, check out the neighbourhood of Getsamani, famous for its street art murals.

Merida, Mexico

The Yucatan is one of the most colourful regions of Mexico.  The city of Mérida is another example of colonial architecture at its best, with colourful houses lining the streets.  Mosaic tiles with bright patterns are also common on walls and floors.

Colour is in the traditional Mayan dress too, with the women wearing beautiful blouses and dresses embroidered with flowers.  There is a high proportion of indigenous people here, so Merida is a wonderful place to explore Mexico away from the clubs and pubs of Cancún. 

Nearby Izamal is known as the yellow city, where all of the buildings are painted the same yellow colour, whereas Valladolid is another colourful city much like Mérida.

Colourful Houses in Merida Mexico
Colourful Houses in Merida Mexico

La Boca – Buenos Aires, Argentina

When people think of Buenos Aires, the colourful La Boca neighbourhood is the first thing to come to mind. La Boca is home to one of the city’s main ports and received the city’s largest waves of immigration at the turn of the 20th century. La Boca actually translates to “the mouth”, referring to the port that welcomed all of these new citizens. 

Legend has it that this rainbow mosaic of colours is due to leftover cans of paint on all of the ships that docked in its port. The struggling immigrants setting up makeshift tenement homes in La Boca would use these scraps of paint, resulting in the colourful patchwork we still see today.

When in La Boca, visit the art museums (the Proa has an amazing rooftop cafe), eat the best steak in El Gran Paraiso and take tons of photos of the most photogenic area in Buenos Aires. 

By Erin, Sol Salute

La Boca Buenos Aires | Credit Sol Salute
La Boca Buenos Aires | Credit Sol Salute

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

When looking for the most colourful cities and towns in the world you can’t forget about Brazil. After spending the last few years travelling to South America, when I think of Brazil, all I see is colourful moments.

For example, Salvador de Bahia is a city that is not afraid to show its colourful side. I found Salvador the perfect place to come for lovers of arts and culture. Being a cultural hub for some of the deepest African roots in South America, here you can learn untold history by visiting museums, cultural centres and, art galleries.

On Barra beach, you can also find the Farol da Barra, which is the oldest lighthouse in Latin America which is a certified UNESCO site.

By Daniel, Layer Culture

Salvador de Bahia Brazil - The Most Colourful Cities in the World
Salvador de Bahia Brazil – The Most Colourful Cities in the World

Wynwood Arts District – Miami, USA

Once a disused and neglected manufacturing neighbourhood, Wynwood Arts District in Miami is now the colourful heart of the city’s art scene. Only a few years ago, local graffiti artists started using the abandoned warehouse walls as a canvas, and gradually the area has transformed into a world-renowned vibrant outdoor art gallery. 

Today, it’s one of the most eclectic and lively areas in Miami, with more than 70 indoor and outdoor art galleries and museums, and plenty of places to eat and drink. The walls in Wynwood are an ever-changing tapestry of striking street art and murals, creating an outdoor exhibit like no other.

In fact, Wynwood Walls, at the heart of the district changes every December ahead of Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the world’s foremost art shows, with fresh murals and new designs. 

By Claire, Stoked to Travel

Wynwood Arts District - Miami, USA | Credit Stoked to Travel
Wynwood Arts District – Miami, USA | Credit Stoked to Travel

Charleston – South Carolina, USA

Charleston, South Carolina is not only quaint but it is one of the most colourful and vibrant places you will ever explore in the United States. Founded in 1670, Charleston is known for its historic architecture. A single walk around this town will truly take you back in time, showcasing a mixture of differing architecture on offer, from Colonial to Gothic Revival to Art Deco and more.

Most notably, the Charleston single house is a style of house found on many streets in Charleston. The structures of these houses run perpendicular to the street – which is iconic in itself, they are narrow and in many cases full of different colours. They have large porches which make them look even prettier. Here is where much of the vibrancy of Charleston can be found. 

A walking tour of Charleston will take you to so many stunning places to photograph. The many alleyways are a must including Philadelphia Alley; as well as the famed “Rainbow Row” at 79-107 East Bay Street. Here sit 13 pastel coloured and historic houses, which showcase the Georgian style of architecture. It is also the largest grouping of such architectural houses in the United States.

By Toni, Enchanted Serendipity

Charleston South Carolina USA - The Most Colourful Cities in the World
Charleston South Carolina USA – The Most Colourful Cities in the World

The Most Colourful Cities in Europe

Burano – Venice, Italy

Burano is an island close to Venice, and it is a world away from the city.  Burano was a traditional fishing village, and it is said that the sailors painted their houses bright colours so they could see them from the boat when they returned home. 

Burano makes an excellent day trip from Venice, coupled with the glass-making island of Murano.  Stroll around the streets, visit the lace museum and take photographs from the bridges.

Don’t miss trying one of the traditional dishes from Burano, an uncharacteristic colourless black spaghetti made with squid ink.

Colourful Houses in Burano
Colourful Houses in Burano

Notting Hill – London, England

The most colourful district in London, Notting Hill’s streets are filled with beautifully painted houses.  Pink, blue and yellow walls make Notting Hill a perfect place for Instagram photos.

Portobello Road Market has yet more colourful buildings, and the shops here have eye-catching displays in their windows which often spill out onto the streets.  Notting Hill is one of my favourite places to explore.

Not only are the houses colourful, but every year the Notting Hill Carnival hits the streets in another riot of colour.  Similar to carnivals in Brazil, dancers parade in the streets wearing rainbow costumes while music booms from the floats.   

Notting Hill London - The Most Colourful Cities in the World
Notting Hill London – The Most Colourful Cities in the World

Barcelona, Spain

I adore Barcelona, a city which was my home for more than 4 years.  Modernist architecture in Barcelona adds shocks of colour to the city, with intricate designs and frankly bonkers patterns. 

Gaudí is the most famous Modernist architect who left his mark on the city.  Casa Batlló is my favourite Gaudí building, with a shimmering multi-coloured façade.  Park Güell is another splendid example of Gaudí’s work, high on the hills overlooking the city.  The famous mosaic terrace area and iconic dragon statue are absolute must-sees for anyone visiting Barcelona.

However, Gaudí isn’t the only architect to leave a colourful legacy in the city.  Lluís Domenech i Muntaner’s masterpiece El Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall is breathtaking, and the stained-glass window above the hall casts rainbows of coloured light below.

Gaudi's Casa Batllo in Barcelona - The Most Colourful Cities in Europe
Gaudi’s Casa Batllo in Barcelona – The Most Colourful Cities in Europe

Colmar, France

Colmar is one of the most picturesque towns in all of Europe, known for its preserved old town with Rhenish architecture where some of the houses are over 500 years old. The town is located along the Alsatian Wine Route and is often cited as the capital of Alsatian wine. Colmar has an abundance of colourful houses and it gets even more special around Christmas time when the annual Christmas market is held and all of the town is decorated in the most spectacular way.

The best time to visit besides to enhance your Christmas spirit in November/December is obviously during the warmer months, when you can stroll along the canals and admire the beautiful houses or simply sit down at a cute and lively square with cafes, surrounded by colourful Rhenish houses.

By Alexander, Gourmand Trotter

Colmar France - The Most Colourful Places in the World | Credit Gourmand Trotter
Colmar France – The Most Colourful Places in the World | Credit Gourmand Trotter

Júzcar, Spain

Before 2011, Júzcar was just another sleepy white village in Andalucía in southern Spain. But in spring of that year, the entire town was painted blue to celebrate the worldwide premiere of the Smurf movie, which was held in little old Júzcar.

The joy of Júzcar is that – despite its blue exterior – it manages to retain a peaceful Spanish village vibe. Large statues of Smurfs and colourful red mushrooms dot the town; murals and cartoons cover blue walls, and cute Smurf-based road signs direct visitors through town. The best views are from the main road into Júzcar as blue houses nestled in the foothills of the undulating Spanish countryside, reveal a whimsical side Andalucía. 

Júzcar is one of the most colourful towns in the world and the perfect place to bring out your inner child.

By Paul, Anywhere We Roam

Juzcar Spain | Credit Anywhere We Roam
Juzcar Spain | Credit Anywhere We Roam

Sighișoara, Romania

Sighișoara, a place with a history as colourful as it’s buildings, is a small medieval town in the heart of Transylvania. The gorgeous historic centre, lined with a huge array of pastel-painted buildings, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s also famous for being the birthplace of Vlad Tepes Dracul. If you didn’t put two and two together yet – yep, the inspiration for Dracula comes from colourful Sighișoara. You can even go for dinner within the premises in which he was allegedly born, at Casa Vlad Dracul.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the citadel, Clock Tower, the Church of the Dominican Monastery and Church on the Hill. Strolling down the steep cobbled streets is a memorable way to enjoy a truly vibrant Romanian town.

By Cassie, Cassie the Hag

Sighișoara, Romania | Credit Cassie The Hag
Sighișoara, Romania | Credit Cassie The Hag

Colourful Cities in Africa & the Middle East

Chefchaouen, Morocco

I was due to visit Morocco this spring, but with those plans on hold, I have to be satisfied with admiring photos of the blue city. Perched on a mountainside beneath the peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen’s pretty blue streets are an Instagrammer’s dream. 

There are several theories as to why the walls are painted blue, one popular theory being that it keeps mosquitoes away. Some people say that Jews who settled here after escaping from Hitler in the 30s introduced the blue colour, which is said to symbolize the sky and heaven.  However, others maintain that it was simply an idea from the 70s to attract tourists.

No matter what the reason, there is no denying the attraction of losing yourself amid a maze of blue.  I look forward to being able to see it for myself soon!

Chefchaouen Morocco - Colorful Cities
Chefchaouen Morocco – Colorful Cities

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia 

Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia may not be as famous as some of the other places on this list, but it’s no less eye-catching. The entire town is painted gleaming white with accents of vivid blue on all the doors, windows, balconies and woodwork.  And with its charming cobbled streets sloping down to an azure sea, and lush pink and purple bougainvillea on every corner, it really is a photographer’s dream.

The blue and white theme is said to have been introduced by the town’s most famous resident, the French artist and musicologist Baron Rodolph d’Erlanger, who lived there in the early part of the 20th century.

His house, the gorgeous Ennejma Ezzahra palace, is opulently decorated inside with stunning tiling and carved stucco, and ornate furniture, and also contains the Centre for Arabic and Mediterranean Music museum. It’s the town’s number one attraction and definitely worth a visit if you can tear yourself away from the views.

By Bella, Passport & Pixels

Sidi Bou Said Tunisia | Credit Passport & Pixels
Sidi Bou Said Tunisia | Credit Passport & Pixels

Isfahan (Esfahan), Iran

The city of Esfahan or Isfahan in Iran is called the blue city, thanks to the millions of blue tiles that adorn the many historical buildings dotted around the city. The blue tiles stem from the Safavid dynasty, in which Esfahan was the capital of Persia and a thriving stop on the famous Silk Route.

Esfahan houses the second largest square in the World, Naqsh-e Jahan square on which you will find all the most picturesque buildings of the city. Keep your camera ready, because you will want to capture every inch of this beautiful square.

Be sure not to miss the Shah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and the astonishing Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque which was a little private gem built specially for the harem of the Shah. The square is beautiful for sunrise but equally fantastic to visit at night as it is buzzing with locals and tourists alike.

By Caroline, Veggie Wayfarer

Esfahan Mosque Iran | Credit Veggie Wayfarer
Esfahan Mosque Iran | Credit Veggie Wayfarer

Shiraz, Iran

The city of Shiraz is located in the south of Iran, and it is known as the pink city with its very own pink mosque. The city is dubbed the pink city thanks to the many pink and floral tiles. These tiles are remnants from the Qajar dynasty who had a particular affinity with all things floral.

The pink mosque, officially called the Nasir-Ol Mosque is a beautiful piece of 19th century Persian architecture and an absolute must-see when visiting Shiraz. It has the most fantastic stained-glass windows intricate stuccos and carvings that will simply take your breath away.

The best time to visit the mosque is early in the morning, before the crowds come. Try and get there at 07.00, before the crowds come. As a woman you will need to ensure you are very modestly dressed as this is still an active place of worship.

By Caroline, Veggie Wayfarer

Shiraz - Nasir Ol Mosque | Credit Veggie Wayfarer
Shiraz – Nasir Ol Mosque | Credit Veggie Wayfarer

Bo-Kaap – Cape Town, South Africa

The colourful Bo-Kaap is a must-visit place in Cape Town for every tourist. Bo-Kaap is also known as the Malay Quarter. It’s one of the oldest Cape Town neighbourhoods. The history of the district dates back to 1783 when Jan de Waal built a couple of small houses in the area that he was planning to lease.

The first inhabitants of Bo Kaap were slaves brought from Malaysia that’s where the original name comes from. The neighbourhood grew rapidly in the 19th century as the city population increased.

It’s believed that the tradition of painting houses in bright colours started as an expression of liberation after slavery was abolished. Originally all houses in the area were on lease for slaves and they all were painted in white colour.

Today Bo-Kaap is one of the most popular Instagram spots in the city. Its narrow cobblestone streets with rows of small colourful houses are made for taking amazing photos. There are several walking and cycling tours through Bo-Kaap as well as cooking classes where tourists can learn how to make popular Malay dishes.

By Campbell & Alya, Stingy Nomads

Bo Kaap Cape Town - Colourful Towns
Bo Kaap Cape Town – Colourful Towns

Colourful Towns & Cities in Asia

La Trinidad – Benguet, Philippines

The Colours of StoBoSa is a paintwork designed by the Tam-awan Village group in La Trinidad, Benguet. It is officially named as StoBoSa Hillside Homes Artwork, involving around 200 houses and 2,800 gallons of eco-friendly paint to create a single artwork. “StoBoSa” is actually a portmanteau of the sitios covered by the paintwork namely Stonehill, Botiwtiw, and Sadjap, all within Barangay Balili.

What used to be an urban eyesore was turned into a community-wide mural, with sunflower as its main motif. Many sunflowers once bloomed in the area where the community is situated. Strawberry paintings are also present since the town is famous for its strawberry products. The aim of the artwork is to restore the beauty the area once had.

It is now one of the main tourist attractions just a short drive from Baguio City, Benguet. People make a stop here to take photos as part of their Baguio tour. A hanging bridge connects the village to the highway, and also serves as the main photo spot for tourists. The place is situated along Halsema Highway and there are no admission fees required.

By Dea, How She Wanders

La Trinidad - Benguet, Philippines
La Trinidad – Benguet, Philippines

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan and a feast for the eyes with exciting colourful attractions and heaps of quirky art pieces. The top place to visit is the gorgeous Lotus Lake, which is surrounded by huge bright statues and religious shrines that you may have seen on your Instagram feed. 

Another unmissable sight is the light show at the beautiful Dome of Light inside Formosa Boulevard MRT Station. It is the ‘world’s largest domed underground station’ and the 4,000 multicoloured glass piece design took over four years to complete and install. 

If you like modern art then do not miss Pier 2 Art Center – spread over several old industrial warehouses and home to a collection of creative murals, bold modern sculptures and some fun pop up exhibitions. And finally, just a 5-minute ferry ride away from the city is Cijin Island where you will find some quirky and colourful sculptures dotted along the coastline.

By Caroline, C K Travels

Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Credit C K Travels
Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Credit C K Travels

Rainbow Village in Taichung, Taiwan

Rainbow Village in Taichung, Taiwan is undoubtedly one of the most colourful places you’ve ever seen, but it’s also much more than that. It’s an inspiring story of determination, hope and happy endings. At 86 years old, Huang Yung-Fu was the last person left in the military dependents’ village that he had called home for decades. The “village” was built for Kuomingtang soldiers and their families and was once inhabited by 1200 households.

When Huang received a letter ordering him to vacate so that what was left of the village could be demolished, he didn’t leave. Instead, he started painting. First he painted a bird on his bedroom wall, and soon he expanded his colourful figures to the outside walls of his house and the abandoned houses surrounding it. In response to a petition created by local university students, the government agreed not to demolish the village and to instead protect it as cultural property.

By Wendy, The Nomadic Vegan

Rainbow village Taiwan | Credit The Nomadic Vegan
Rainbow village Taiwan | Credit The Nomadic Vegan

Gamcheon Culture Village – Busan, South Korea

Situated in the heart of Busan in South Korea, Gamcheon Culture Village is a colourful neighbourhood full of street art, hip stores, and with a youthful vibe. It was built in the 1950s by Korean War Refugees but recently it has been renovated by the government in an attempt to attract tourists.

Local artists were commissioned to create stunning pieces of art that are displayed all around Gamcheon. The village bursts with colour and exploring it is an adventure!

You can go to the local Tourism Office and get a treasure hunt map. It’s fun and the route will take you to the most beautiful places inside Gamcheon.

By Aurelia, Daily Travel Pill

Gamcheon Culture Village | Credit Daily Travel Pill
Gamcheon Culture Village | Credit Daily Travel Pill

Jodhpur, India

In a country awash with colour the blue city of Jodhpur still manages to shine. Located on the edge of the Thar desert in the state of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is famous for the cornflower blue houses that dominate the old city.

The narrow lanes and alleyways are lined with houses all painted the same beautiful shade of blue. Quite why the colour blue was chosen, however, is unclear.

Some say that the colour is associated with the Brahmins, India’s priestly caste and that the blue houses of the old city belonged to those families. Others argue that the colour blue was used because of its association with Lord Shiva.

A third theory claims that blue was used as a deterrent for the termites that damaged many of the historic buildings and structures in the city. Although no-one can quite agree on why the city is the colour it is, the blue cityscape is beautiful and very photogenic.

By Katja, Globe Totting

Jodhpur India - The Most Colourful Cities in the World
Jodhpur India – The Most Colourful Cities in the World

Little India, Singapore 

Little India is probably one of the most vibrant areas in Singapore. The busy streets are filled with colours and aromas coming from fruits, vegetables and spices vendors. Further down, you’ll find shops selling beautiful saris and countless places selling gold jewellery. The main street called Seragoon Road is a home for numerous excellent curry houses serving mouth-watering vegetarian staples of Indian cuisine. 

The whole area is bustling with colours but the most iconic is the House of Tan Teng Niah. Its colourful, rainbow-like façade has become Instagram famous and attracts many visitors and photography enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the building itself is closed to visitors so the best way to enjoy it is from a nearby café. 

Other interesting places to explore while you in Little India are a few Hindu temples including Sri- Veerama Kaliamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, which is the oldest in Singapore. 

By Mal, Raw Mal Roams

Little India Singapore - Colourful Places Around the World
Little India Singapore – Colourful Places Around the World

I hope this post has given you some colourful ideas for where to plan a trip – even though we can’t travel now we can still dream!


If you want more inspiration for colourful destinations around the world, check out The Rainbow Atlas, a colourful book from fellow blogger Taylor Fuller.  Due for release on 5th May, her book has 500 of the most colourful places around the world, so is a must for rainbow hunters and colour-lovers everywhere!

 

BUY IT NOW

 

Have you been to any of the most colourful cities in the world?  I’d love to hear about your experiences, please leave your comments below.

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Last updated: April 14, 2020

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