There’s nothing I find more inspiring than exploring a new neighborhood, city, or natural setting bursting with brightly colored hues.
It’s no secret that all around the world children and adults alike feel uplifted, electrified even, in colorful surroundings. That’s because colors connect us, they breathe life into the world around us, and they have the power to fill just about anything with energy and character.
Typically, when people go about planning for their next adventure, things like food, architecture, and activities are the main focus for choosing a destination, but one fundamental piece of the puzzle is often neglected: color.
Here is a list of 11 chromatic destinations that will leave you and your little ones feeling giddy and inspired together.
1. Juzcar, Spain – Smurf Village
Distinguishable by a cluster of electric-blue painted houses nestled in the sleepy green hills of rural Andalusia is Juzcar: the first and only Smurf village in the world.
Originally a creative campaign idea by Sony Pictures to promote their Smurfs movie, the village was painted a sleek coat of bright blue in 2011. The blue color was intended to be temporary, but ended up attracting hoards of intrigued tourists to the region. As the locals watched their economy grow as a result, the village voted to keep the blue hue. The Smurfs village is wonderfully located in a lush and natural setting of Andalusia, teeming with culture, food, and outdoor possibilities.
2. Jaipur, India – Pink city
Remnants of a majestic past coat the capital city of Rajasthan in a soothing shade of terra-cotta pink, bringing balance to the modern-day mayhem of Juipur.
The city was painted pink by the ruler of Jaipur in a frenzied attempt to impress Prince Albert during his tour around India in 1876. The earthy-rose shade was chosen to symbolize warmth and hospitality, and covers every street and building in the city’s historic center. Even after Prince Albert’s departure, the ruler’s favorite wife convinced him to keep the city painted pink because she fancied the way it looked.
3. Chefchaouen, Morocco – The Blue Pearl
Tucked away in the northern Rif mountains of Morocco, the magic of this ethereal blue city is undeniably charming. Never-ending dreamy hues of blue coat the labyrinth and its maze-like streets and alleyways— even the taxi’s are blue!
Exactly why Chefchaouen is painted entirely blue will forever remain a bit of a mystery, although the locals have quite a few theories, depending on who you ask. Some say the blue paint was originally used to repel mosquitos away. Others insist that the Jews introduced the color in the late 1400’s as a symbol of peace when they took refuge in the city during the Spanish inquisition. However, most claim that the blue color is simply meant to represent harmony, to serve as a constant reminder of the tranquil sky and heavens.
4. Guanajuato, Mexico – Magical City
A vivid patchwork display of brightly colored buildings and houses in the hills of central Mexico form Guanajuato, one of the most picturesque cities in Central America.
The city was once a silver mining town but is now a recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Considering it’s highly colorful appeal, perhaps the most peculiar and alluring attribute of the town is the lack of tourists and crowds, which makes it endlessly more enjoyable to wander.
From narrow cobblestone alleyways to neon-colored houses that ascend high into the hills, and stunning Baroque-style architecture— there are endless possibilities to be discovered in this unspoiled gem.
5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Favela Paintings
The Santa Marta slum in Rio de Janeiro used to look like a lot like all the other favelas in the city— dismal and run-down with a reputation for being feared and dangerous.
But thanks to the inspiring vision of two Dutch artists, the 34 buildings which form the Santa Marta slum have been miraculously transformed into a multi-colored work of art. The Dutch duo gathered residents to help with the majority of the paint work, giving them the opportunity to personally partake in this pivotal upgrade. The Favela Painting Project has made a tremendously positive impact on the community and the well-being of its residents.
6. Sardinia, Italy – Spiaggia Rosa – Cotton Candy Beach
Speckled with candy-colored villages, impressive street art, and translucent waters, the Island of Sardinia is home to some of Italy’s most stunning destinations. Wandering the cobblestone alleyways lined with stacked rainbow houses in hilly Bosa village is an absolute must (not to mention, a prime photo opportunity!)
Just off the coast, Budelli Island is blessed with some of the most dazzling colored beaches in the world. The pink sands of Spiaggia Rosa beach are formed from crushed pieces of red coral, staining the shoreline a glistening hue of raspberry. Pristine azure waters lining the coast are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or just cooling off.
Unfortunately, at some point in recent years past, the beach began to lose much of its unique pink color as a result of tourists taking bottles and jars of the sand home as souvenirs. Luckily, much of the color has been recovered thanks to efforts taken by park officials.
7. Gansu Province, China Zhangye Danxia - Rainbow Mountain
This celestial, mountainous rainbowscape found in northwestern China is one of planet earth’s most striking geological gems. Vivid bands of white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple undulate across these massive sandstone formations.
Over time, water, weather, and oxidization are responsible for staining these rocks and causing the multi-colored effect. The oxidization of different minerals produces different colors, for example, iron oxide causes red pigmentation and the oxidization of iron sulfide will result in a metallic yellow color.
8. Bonn, Germany – Cherry Blossom Avenue
With a bit of planning, you can arrange to see the cobblestone streets of Cherry Blossom Avenue bursting with bubble-gum pink blossoms. The peak of the magic occurs every spring, normally in April. The trees were planted sometime in the 1980’s and attract a growing number of spectators with each new bloom.
The street is located in the city center, just five minutes away from Beethoven’s house, in the Nordstadt neighborhood.
9. Kitakyushu, Japan - Kawachi Fuji Gardens
An exquisite explosion of pink, purple and white wisteria blossoms fill the canopy of several large tunnels and domes bi-yearly in the Kawachi Wisteria Gardens. The blossoms peak every spring and fall and this fairytale walkway is only open to visitors during that time. Wistoria flowers hold great cultural significance in Japan, dating back to the Nara Period, and play a large role in various historical legends and beliefs.
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina — La Boca
A surge of European immigrants in the 1800’s transformed the barrio of La Boca into a zesty, tango-whirlin’ work of art. The stacked, kaleidoscopic houses acquired their patchwork-patterned colors from immigrant residents who were too poor to afford to buy paint, and were left with no other choice but to use left-over paint they scoured off the streets and dumpsters— except they never found enough of the same color to cover an entire house. Some of the houses have up to six colors each!
11. San Francisco— Painted ladies
A list of the most colorful places in the world would be incomplete without super groovy San Francisco and its iconic Painted Ladies.
The row of six Victorian houses located on Alamo Square were originally painted gray after they were constructed in the late 1800’s. As a result of the colorful hippie movement in the 1960’s, these homes, along with many others in San Francisco, were transformed into a multi-colored palette of pastel hues and continue to attract an abundance of tourists year round.