10 of the most colourful towns on Earth

9 July 2015

If you need to brighten your day, take a look at these beautiful, vibrant, colourful towns. There's something optimistic about colour – these are places of warmth, vitality, artistic spirit and hopefulness. They'll make you want to go home and convince all your neighbours to paint their houses.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

In the Rif Mountains in the north of Morocco sits the small town of Chefchaouen. The buildings of the town have been doused in blue – this single colour palette washing across the whole city. Things to do here? Walk in the surrounding mountains looking down on the blue town, explore the confusing web of narrow laneways, haggle for handcrafts in the medina and sample the great restaurants – this is a truly beautiful, truly blue city.

Balat, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul's traditional Jewish quarter is a maze of cobbled alleys with washing lines strung between cheerfully painted buildings. Historically, this area was a cultural melting pot and one of the poorer areas of the city. But the neighborhood is reinventing itself as the creativity and design hub of the city and is becoming the centre of urban cool. Wander the laneways to visit the artisan workshops, contemporary galleries, exhibition spaces and cool eateries.

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Clinging to the cliff tops and almost hanging over the water, the five towns of the Cinque Terre are spectacular. Manarola is perhaps the most photogenic (or maybe just has the perfect viewpoint for taking photos), with its colourful orange, yellow and red buildings clustered together in contrast to the cool blue of the water. The dramatic coastal scenery, the colourful buildings, the delicious local food and wine and the beautiful beaches make this one magic holiday hot spot.


Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn is the river port area of Copenhagen and brightly coloured 17th and 18th century buildings line the waterfront. Many of them have been converted to bars, cafes, restaurants and shops, making this a prime entertainment district of the city. It's the perfect place to end a walking tour of the city – take a seat by the canal, order a local microbrewery beer and watch the people and the boats go by.

Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad is the colourful capital of Curacao, a beautiful island in the Caribbean. The historic area of Willemstad is listed as a World Heritage site for its well-preserved European colonial concepts and style.

Jodhpur, India

Pretty much officially named 'the Blue City of Jodhpur' in travel writing, the old city of Jodhpur is really, really blue – even more blue than Chefchaouen. Locally, though, it's known as the 'sun city' because of the glorious year-round sunny weather. If the beautiful buildings don't get you there, maybe the promise of eternal sunshine will.


La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, La Boca is a working class barrio, poor but proud. As the home of the shipyards at the mouth of the Riachuelo River it was traditionally the home of the shipyard workers. These days, the area has two big tourist attractions – Caminito, the outrageously colourful street celebrating arts and tango. And La Bombonera, the football stadium that is home to the incredibly popular Boca Juniors – Diego Maradona's old home club.

Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano is an island in the Venetian lagoon, just north of the islands of Venice proper. The houses were brightly painted in Burano's hey-day and now the government keeps firm control of the colourful-ness of the town. There is a system governing what colours each house may be painted and if you wish to change your house colour, you need to put in a formal request for government approval. Which kind of takes some of the fun out of it, but it sure keeps the place looking absolutely stunning.

Longyearbyen, Norway

Longyearbyen is the world's northern-most town. It's 12 degrees north of the Arctic Circle and, as you can imagine, it's pretty cold and snowy. Reindeers walk freely through town. Dogsledding is a real form of transport. The sun is down for four dark months a year. But its buildings are cheerfully painted in bright colours, in stark contrast to the dark and the snow. Because, of course, when it's not dark, it's light – the midnight sun shines down on this colourful town and brings it to life, 24 hours a day.

Juzcar, Spain

So, get this. Juzcar used to be one of the classic white-washed Andalusian towns of the Spanish countryside. Beautiful. But then the good people of Sony Pictures came on the scene in 2011 and asked the town if they would be prepared to paint their buildings blue to celebrate the premiere of the Smurfs movie. So they did. And they opted to keep the buildings blue as tourism absolutely skyrocketed. Just what the world needed – an official Smurf town.