It is now scientifically proven that travel is the secret to happiness. And when you’re travelling to candy-coloured cities that seem straight out of a colouring book, extra happiness is guaranteed! From Africa to Latin America, we’ve scanned the world to put together a list of the world’s funkiest cities that love their colours. What’s better, these cities look even better in photos. So be ready to set your Instagram feed on fire!
1. Burano, Italy
The Venetian island of Burano is a riot of colours. With each house awash with bright colours, every street in Burano looks a rainbow! Local lore goes that the town’s colourful tradition was started by local fishermen who painted their homes in vibrant hues so that during foggy winters they could follow the bright colours back home. Today, this tradition has become a law that requires you to take a permit from the government before painting your home.
2. Chefchaouen, Morocco
It wouldn’t be unfair to proclaim Chefchaouen as Morocco’s most beautiful town. Tucked in the gorgeous Rif Mountains in North West Morocco, Chefchaouen is beautifully blue. Ask the locals why the town is blue, they’ll give you different reasons. Some say the blue acts as natural mosquito repellent while others claim it was due to Jewish mysticism. Whatever the reason, Chefchaouen’s pastel blues will make your blues go away!
3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
It’s easy to lose track of time in Cancun’s famed parties or beaches. But take a pause and head to Isla Mujeres, a tiny island couple of miles off Cancun. This island is a world apart from the cool and happening Cancun! With its vividly painted houses, laidback lifestyle, and white sand beaches, the island has a beautiful bohemian vibe.
4. Longyearbyen, Norway
There are few mining towns (perhaps none) as beautiful as Longyearbyen. This tiny town tucked in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, is surrounded by pristine, white glaciers. It is the world’s northmost settlement. Starkly standing out amidst its snowy surroundings are the town’s colourful houses. Despite the harsh wintery landscape and weather, Longyearbyen’s kaleidoscopic wooden houses give it a happy, cheery feel.
5. Antigua, Colombia
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Antigua is vibrantly painted in twelve pastel shades of yellow, pink, blue, and red. Surrounded by smoky volcanic mountains, this historic city and its colours stand out like a surreal painting.
6. Wroclaw, Poland
It’s rather rare for Wroclaw to leave someone unimpressed. This historic Polish city impresses with its colourful architecture, culture, history, and vibrant vibe. Its colourful buildings are some of the best examples of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture.
7. Vernazza, Italy
Of all the colourful Cinque Terre (five villages), Vernazza is undoubtedly the most beautiful. Perched on the slopes of a hill hugging the Mediterranean coast, vibrantly coloured Vernazza is a postcard come alive. An ancient castle overshadowing its pastel-coloured houses further add the fairytale appeal.
8. Cape Town, South Africa
That Cape Town is one of the prettiest cities in the world is a known fact. But the city boasts of two colourful pockets that add to its beauty – Bo Kaap and Muizenberg. Bo Kaap is home to an immigrant community of Malay Muslims. After the apartheid, the locals painted the neighbourhood in vibrant hues to celebrate Eid. Muizenberg, on the other hand, is a beautiful beach lined with colourful little houses. These wooden houses date back to the conservative time when women visited the beach in full clothes and need a shelter to change into beach clothes.
9. Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia’s most famous beach town, Cartagena’s vibrant culture matches its vibrantly painted houses. It’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical quarter is an explosion of colours with shades of yellow, orange, red, blue, and pink splashed on its buildings! No wonder, it is rightly called the ‘Jewel of the Caribbean Coast’.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
With its cobblestoned streets, historic palaces, and pastel townhouses, Copenhagen is an underrated beauty. Most of the city’s colourful townhouses are located alongside the picturesque Nyhavn Canal. These buildings were built in the 17th and 18th centuries for the city’s middle-class residents.
11. Santorini, Greece
White and blue – two colours that always come to mind when you think of Santorini. This Greek island’s twin colour scheme has become synonymous with it. In the evenings, as the sky dons a colourful carpet of pink, orange, yellow and purple, the island’s whitewashed houses radiantly pop-out creating an ethereal scene!
12. Colmar, France
Colmar is the kind of French town you’d imagine Belle, from the Beauty and Beast, to hail from. It’s a real-life medieval fairytale town complete with lazily flowing canals bordered with colourful little timber houses and cobblestone streets.
13. Havana, Cuba
Havana’s colourful colonial architecture is an integral part of the city’s identity. In fact, it takes Havana’s topical vibrancy up a notch! Even though the city is slowly though steadily shifting to modernity, it’s old school Art-Deco buildings continue to stand strong as a reminder of its past.
14. Menton, France
A postcard-worthy town in the French Riviera, Menton has been a favourite of many famous personalities, including Queen Victoria. With its bright colourful buildings, romantic landscapes, stunning beaches and year-round pleasant weather, it’s not hard to understand why Katherine Mansfield was inspired to pen her novels here or Winston Churchill took to painting landscapes in this cosy town. Some like Aubrey Beardsley, never bothered to leave at all.
15. Jodhpur, India
Jodhpur’s nickname, ‘the Blue City’ gives away it claims to fame. The city’s historic old town is dotted with little blue houses and towering above them on a hill in the city’s famed fort, Mehrangarh. Local legend goes that houses were painted blue to distinguish the high-caste Brahmin quarter from the rest of the city.
16. Portmeirion, Wales
At Portmeirion, you might be forgiven to think you’re in some colourful Italian village. After all, this teeny-weeny Welsh coastal town was modelled after Italian villages. Built-in 1925, the village is a brainchild of an eccentric architect called Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis. It’s quirky, vibrant architecture, surrounded by over 70-acres of woodlands and miles of coastal walks ensures that the village attracts its share of visitors.
17. Sighisoara, Romania
Sighisoara is not only Romania’s most colourful and beautiful town, but also the only one listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It’s dramatically painted houses are a fascinating mix of Saxon and Gothic architecture and have some rather quirky details. While some have peculiar vaulted entrances, others have intricate Baroque-style facades.
18. New Orleans
New Orleans is famous for its delicious Creole cuisine, jazz, and annual festivals and celebrations. With so much to see and do, one often misses out one of the city’s underrated attractions, its colourful architecture! These eye-catching vivid buildings are mostly found in the Marigny neighbourhood. Some say these colours are chosen in line with the colourful spirit of the city’s annual Mardi Gras parades.
19. San Juan, Puerto Rico
The old quarter of San Juan distinctly stands outs thanks to candy-coloured colonial buildings. In the 1940s, conquistador, Ponce de Leon had decided to demolish these colonial buildings and build swanky modern buildings in its place. Thankfully, anthropologist Ricardo Alegria convinced the government to preserve and restore these iconic buildings to their old glory. In 1983, this colourful historic area was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
20. Reykjavik, Iceland
Looking out of the window of your aeroplane as you land in Reykjavik, you’ll feel like you’re entering a colourful Lego Land. Its colourful buildings are neatly laid out in rows, unlike most other cities. The city hasn’t succumbed to its dreary, cold weather. It keeps up its spirit with these vibrant colours!