They say ‘Colors speak louder than words’. Scientists, doctors and physiatrists have been studying the correlation between color and mood for years – believing that colors cannot only cause emotional reactions amongst people, but can also correct our moods and subsequent wellbeing. A few recent studies also show that we don’t actually see color, but “feel” it instead – as individuals ‘feel’ color in their heart, and not their head. Fascinating isn’t it?
As you travel more around the world – you will realize that colors often have different meanings in different cultures and many places around the world are painted in an array of colors for various reasons. While some towns/cities have put in a lot of logic to their color stories, others are painted vibrantly for the simple reason of visual happiness. Bringing in all that color in one single post – here is our list of the 25 most colorful towns in the world contributed by a mix of absolutely awesome travelers who were no less fascinated than us…
#1 – Reykjavik, Iceland
Designated as the northernmost capital of the world – Reykjavik is the heart of Iceland – known to be the first permanent settlement of the island. Also believed to be one of the safest cities in the world with a zero violent crime rate, almost 2/3rd of Iceland total population lives in Reykjavik making it the center of everything – from national centre of commerce, population, to governmental activities.
While Iceland can be extremely gloomy in the winters – the colorful houses and the vibrant street art of this city makes it ever so fun to visit and walk around all throughout the year. The houses are clad in corrugated iron, and locals lovingly paint them with colors that lighten up any given day – be it day or night.
#2 – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan is the oldest settlement of Puerto Rico, defined by its narrow, blue cobblestone streets, and flat roofed brick and stone buildings which date back to the 16th and 17th century – when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. San Juan’s colorful buildings, and street art with a point of view makes this town alive and contemporary even today while retaining its history and colonial style of architecture. Today, Puerto Rico is a possession of USA, but has retained all of its culture and historic vibe.
#3 – Flores, Guatemala
Flores, a town built on a small island on Lake Petén Itzá, is full of brightly painted colonial buildings and stylish bars and restaurants with stunning lake views. Most people pass through quickly en route to the pyramids of Tikal, but Flores’ laid-back nature makes it the perfect place to relax for a few days. The town itself is tiny and most of the action happens near the edge of the lake. Sunsets light up the sky and there are often stalls selling all sorts of cheap local food. There isn’t much to do in Flores, except for admiring the colorful buildings and lake views, but there are enough options in the surrounding area to keep you busy (or you could just relax in one of the many bars, cafes or restaurants). – JONISTRAVELLING
#4 – Bruges, Europe
Bruges is one of the most romantic and colorful towns in Europe. This Belgian medieval town, whose old town was declared UNESCO World Heritage site, really looks like a place that came out directly from a fairy tale. Bruges was one of the most important places of commerce between the 12th and 15th century due to its strategic location. That’s the golden era of the city when most of the beautiful, mostly gothic style buildings of the city were built. Although it’s a relatively small town, there are so many things to do in Bruges, so you will need a full day or a weekend to visit. The most colorful part of the town is the Market Square, especially the corner on the North side, where you will see these beautiful colorful brick houses that transfer you to the middle ages. – SURFING THE PLANET
#5 – Zamosc, Poland
Whenever someone mentions a colorful city or town my mind will always thinks of Zamosc, a small town in South East Poland. The old town is a UNESCO site because it still has the original street layout, including the fort around it. Ok, it has been rebuilt but with the purpose of keeping it looking like it did in the 16th century. Within the beautiful town square there are a row of colorful houses that are nothing like I have ever seen before. – THE CURIOUS EXPLORERS
#6 – Colmar, France
#7 – Dinan, Brittany, France
#8 – Jaipur, India
#9 – Guanajuato, Mexico
Nestled in a steep ravine in Central Mexico, Guanajuato exhibits the epitome of vivid Mexican color. An enchanting city where most of the traffic is underground and the houses dribble down the hillside at impossible angles. From the moment you arrive in Guanajuato you see and feel a rainbow of colors. Opulent colonial buildings, stunning tree-filled plazas and brightly colored houses painted in hues of baby pink, lime green, Mexican orange, purple, red and bright yellow – grace the ancient cobblestone streets.
Bold, vivid and very alive, Guanajuato’s color jumps at you around every corner. Begging to be discovered, it’s hard not to get completely immersed in the secret and colorful alleyways and underground streets – lost deep in the magic of discovery. If getting lost in the maze of color is all too much, then head up the Funicular to the Pipila Monument for a birds eye view of Guanajuato. The Pipila Monument itself is nothing special, but the panoramic view shows the city from an incomparable perspective. – WorldWideAdventurers
#10 – Trinidad, Cuba
#11 – Granada, Nicaragua
#12 – Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Nyhavn used to be a busy port in the heart of Copenhagen. Constructed in the late 1600s and lined by beautiful buildings and houses some of which once housed famous artists and writers such as Hans Christian Anderson. Today the brightly colored buildings which line the canal are home to many bars and restaurants where visitors can stop and enjoy a drink or a meal and soak in the atmosphere of this famous canal. – TRACY’S TRAVELS IN TIME
#13 – Havana, Cuba
#14 – Hoi An, Vietnam
With its rows of bright yellow stained buildings and colorful lanterns strung across the narrow alleyways, Hoi An is certainly a city full of color. As darkness falls the city is lit up with a sea of color from the colorful lanterns and candles throughout. Over the course of an evening the river quickly fills up with colorful lanterns as tourists purchase them from local vendors, make a wish and set them free.
Once a famous port for Japanese and Chinese traders, Hoi An is now one of the most visited cities in all of Vietnam. Tourists come from across the globe to see this city’s colorful mish-mash or architecture influenced by the Chinese, Japanese, French and the Vietnamese. Thankfully the ancient city of Hoi An is now protected by having UNESCO World Heritage Site status and so can be enjoyed by many more people for many years to come. – THRIFTY FAMILY TRAVELS
#15 – Porvoo, Finland
Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland that sweeps you away with its own world charm and the colorful wooden houses. Located 50 kms away from Helsinki, Porvoo officially became a town in 1380. Historically, Porvoo has been an important centre of trade for centuries. Situated on the bank of Porvoo River, the red shore houses are the prominent landmarks of this small town.
If you turn the pages of history, you will find that the houses were painted red in honor of the arrival of the king of Sweden called Gustav III. Though these red houses were earlier used to store goods, they have now become the residences of local Finnish people. Walk down the colouful alleys of Porvoo to appreciate alluring surroundings and also relish some of the best delicacies in their famous restaurants and cafes. – TRAVEL DIARY PARNASHREE
#16 – Chefchaouan, Morocco
Chefchaouan, also known as the “Blue City” in northern Morocco has recently gained popular as a tourist destination. There are a few stories about why the city is painted blue. One is that the color repels mosquitos. Another is that the city was settled by Jewish refugees from Andalucia in 1492 and they were the ones who painted the city blue to mimic the sky and as a reminder of God. Today, the real reason it’s blue is lost but villagers continue the tradition. If you want to visit, Fez and Tangier are the closest big cities. Two days in this small village is enough time to experience it and nearby areas. – MAROC MAMA
#17 – Caminito, Buenos Aires
Caminito in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires is one colorful, unique yet petite area. ‘Camino’ means walkway in English and the ‘ito’ ending means little or small so you can see why Caminito is a small, vibrant walkway. The neighborhood of La Boca was settled mainly by Italians and Spaniard immigrants. Unfortunately, by the 1950’s due to the lack of money, the immigrants had the Caminito area of La Boca became run down and an eye sore.
However, the Argentine painter Quinquela Martin decided to recover and restore the area turning it into a colorful outdoor museum. Funnily enough, the artist was also good friends of a tango composer Juan de Dios Filiberto, who created a well-known song called Caminito helping Quinquela Martin to rename the small area. – #LJOJLO
#18 – Almería, Spain
In the early years, Muslims reined over Andalusia (Spain). In 912 Abd Al-Rahman III inherited the thrown from his grandfather and ruled over “Al-Andalus” for 50 years. It was a time of many wars against other Muslim tribes and Christian rulers. He built the citadel (Alcazaba) of Almería, lived in the towers and controlled his army from there. He also expanded the seaport of Almería so to make it its most important harbor of his Mediterranean kingdom. In the old part of Almería, where the Alcazaba is located, you can clearly see the Muslim influences. There are tea houses on every corner, and the streets are very colorful. – DIGITAL NOMAD WITH KIDS
#19 – Camogli, Italy
Without a doubt, my favorite colorful spot to explore is Camogli, Italy. This small fishing village in Northern Italy is often overlooked as the more famous Cinque Terre and Portofino sit nearby. The great news however is that means you can sneak off here and escape the tourist to enjoy a Spritz and some pasta without the crowds.
With its striking dark beach and colorful house around the port, it’s a must visit when you travel to Italy and can be easily reached by train from Cinque Terre or by flying into Genoa. The whole Liguria coastline is packed with rugged coastline and color explosions, but don’t miss Camogli for a more traditional experience. – DAN FLYING SOLO
#20 – Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
One of the most colorful cities I have ever visited is Cape Town, South Africa especially the Bo-Kaap area. Bo-Kaap is a multicultural area of Cape Town which is also known as the Malay Quarter. The streets are lined with beautiful, colorful houses. This is a new addition to the area as the residents wanted to celebrate the diversity found here as immigrants of Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia. This part of Cape Town is full of history and culture. The Bo-Kaap area is also home to the oldest mosque in the country. – TRAVELGAL NICOLE
#21 – Burano Island (Venice), Italy
Burano lies a little bit off the beaten path, one of the many islands in the lagoon that is home to the famous city Venice. The island is a photographer’s dream come true: for centuries the island inhabitants have been painting their houses in all colors of the rainbow. A cheerful and friendly place, free of traffic and the worst of the tourist crowds. It’s a pleasure to just walk around and take in the sights.
The pattern of the houses’ paint is regulated by the council – any renovations or change of color need to be approved before the home owner can purchase even a single can of paint. The result is a carefully orchestrated patchwork of colors, from mint green to purple to a sunny yellow to a deep ox-blood red. Burano island can be easily reached from Fondamente Nove. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes. – HAPPINESS & THINGS
#22 – Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is an iconic colorful town with its brightly painted houses. According to our boat tour guide, the houses were painted in different colors so the fishermen could see their homes from afar as they went out into the sea, but I later learned that the homes were not painted until the 1970s. Cinque Terre is a group of five towns situated on the coast of Italy and has become a popular tourist destination.
While some of the towns can be quite busy during the day when cruise ships come in, you can avoid the majority of crowds by heading to Manarola or Riomaggiore. Make sure you enjoy some fresh seafood while you are there and take the time to hike between some of the towns. – HONEYMOON ALWAYS
#23 – Strasbourg, France
With its half-timbered, multi-colored houses and their overflowing flower boxes, Strasbourg in France is known as one of the most beautiful fairy tale cities in the world. With the meandering canals, and old bridges, adorned with flowers; its fabulous cafes and patisseries with windows full of the regional foods, it would be hard not to fall for this city. Strasbourg is the capital city of the Alsace region of France. Its proximity to Germany is also evident.
La Petite France or Quartier des Tanneurs is the old town and exemplifies the beauty of the city. It is located on a large island, called Grande-Île, in the middle of the River Ill. Add to that is that the towering Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg in the midst of the city, which turns from terracotta to dazzling gold during the day, and therein lies the reason that Strasbourg being such an appealing and visually stunning city. – BEST OF TRAVEL BLOGUER
#24 – La Candelaria, Bogota, Colombia
La Candelaria is Bogota’s colorful historical center with narrow cobblestone streets leading to student filled plazas and plenty of monuments, shops, homes, museums, universities, churches, and theaters. It is certainly still one of Latin America’s best preserved colonial centers with many artists, musicians, and academics flocking to the plentiful theaters, libraries, and universities. It’s a pleasure to walk around today with colorful colonial homes and red tiled roofs.
Taking a peak above the homes you will find a scatter of lifelike statues on roofs performing varying actions. The epicenter of it all is Chorro de Quevedo which historians believe was the spot Bogota was founded in 1538. Today, its bohemian vibe attracts students and tourists staying at the nearby hostels, university bars, and cafes. You can expect Colombian students drinking beer in the street, playing guitar, or even drinking homemade chicha. – ASPIRING GENTLEMAN
#25 – Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem
Jerusalem may not be the most colorful city in the world. In fact, most of the buildings there are white – either made of white stone or bricks. Yet, I find that the city overall deserves to be mentioned among the most colorful ones in the world. In fact, there are various places around town that are bursting with color – either because of flowery balconies and gardens; or because of some art installations. But in particular, I found the Mahane Yehuda market to be the most colorful place in Jerusalem: it was bursting with noise; people went around for their daily shopping; tourists were snapping pictures of the incredibly colorful stalls and shops selling fresh fruits, vegetables, teas, nuts and what not. It was a lot of fun to experience – a colorful day of a different kind! – MY ADVENTURES ACROSS THE WORLD