Cities, especially large cities, have a reputation for being nothing but gray concrete, steel, and glass but there are quite a few exceptions to this rule. Around the world, there are cities bright enough to rival the world's most colorful landscapes. From Cartagena's vibrant historical quarter to Jaipur's pink walls, these are the world's most colorful cities.
The reasons for the blue color of the Moroccan town of Chefchaouen vary, depending upon who you ask. Some people say it's due to Jewish mysticism, while others say the blue hues are a natural repellent of the mosquitos that hang out in the hills where the town is built. No matter why Chefchaouen is blue, one thing is for sure: It's one of the world's most colorful towns.
Busan, South Korea
The second city of South Korea almost always plays second fiddle to Seoul, but if there's one reason to put Busan at the top of your Korea bucket list, it's the Gamcheon Cultural Village. A hillside covered in colorful houses people often compare to stacked legos, it's one of the most Instagrammable places on the Korean peninsula, and maybe in the whole world.
Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town frequently tops lists of the world's most beautiful cities, so it shouldn't come as a shock that the city is attraction. It's also not hugely surprising that Cape Town is colorful, located on the lush Cape peninsula and surrounded on three sides by the blue Atlantic. But if you're looking for a specific reason that Cape Town is one of the world's most colorful cities, look no further than the houses of Bo Kaap, a district that's also home to Cape Town's Malay Muslim community.
The jewel of Colombia's Caribbean coast, Cartagena has it all for travelers, from a charming old town, to world-class beaches, and from a vibrant cultural scene to delicious fresh seafood. "Vibrant" is an apt adjective to describe Cartagena's buildings, which exist in an entire rainbow throughout the walled portion of its historical quarter. Adding to this explosion of color are vendors selling fresh fruit, bright Colombian flags and blazing bougainvillea vines.
Like many of the cities on this list, Copenhagen would be an amazing place to visit even if it weren't for the colorful buildings it boasts. On the other hand, no trip to Copenhagen is complete without a stroll through Nyhavn, a harbour whose buildings are painting in a dazzling array of bright colors.
TIP: If you happen to visit Copenhagen during summer, Nyhavn is a great place to enjoy the famous midnight sun, a phenomenon that sees the sun rise only a short while after it sets.
Although the Indian city of Jaipur is colloquially known as the "pink city," its buildings and walls are actually more of a smoky, terra cotta color. On the other hand, much of the other paraphernalia you find in Jaipur reinforces its pink street cred, from the bright pink taxis you can hire to show you its sights, to the wide variety of pink souvenirs and even the contrast of the city against the muted tones of the Thar Desert, whose brown sands make Jaipur's cityscape seem almost hot pink by comparison.
Another advantage of visiting Jaipur is that it's just a few hours by train from Jodhpur, India's very own blue city. It's a nice way to kill two bright birds with one stone, and a nice substitution for Chefchaouen if a trip to Morocco isn't in your near future, but you still want to see as many of the world's most colorful cities as possible.
When you think of the Greek island of Santorini, it's likely that two colors come to mind: White, which is the color of many buildings' walls, and blue, which is not only the color of the roofs, but of the sparkling Ionian sea the laps at the island's shore. In fact, the building facades of the city of Oia feature a number of other colors, but the blues and whites are so dazzling it's easy to simply fixate on them. Another surefire way to appreciate the vibrant rainbow of Oia is to take your shots at sunset on a clear day, when the prismatic sky casts its colorful light on the darkened cityscape.
Notting Hill, London, UK
Rain and gloom are the images most closely associated with London, albeit not as much due to the climactic changes global warming has caused in the British Isles. On the other hand, a good portion of London's cityscape is grey and colorless, with only a few exceptions, the most obvious being the kitschy red phone boots you can find almost anywhere. Another important exception is the Notting Hill neighborhood, in particular Portobello Road, which is where you should head if you want to see first-hand why London, perhaps surprisingly, is among the most colorful cities in the world.
Venice is a city that needs no introduction, but unfortunately visiting it sometimes requires a break, on account of the sheer number of tourists that wander its streets. A great place to do this is Burano, an island that's an easy boat trip from St. Mark's Basilica, but feels world's away. To be sure, Burano boasts similar canals to the main part of Venice, but has buildings that are much more colorful than those you find near the Rialto Bridge.
The Nepalese capital of Kathmandu doesn't get nearly enough love, from the tendency of tourists to shirk it for the supposedly more beautiful city of Pokhara, or to simply use it as a jumping off point for treks into the nearby Himalayas. If you take your time in Kathmandu, however, you'll find that its cultural treasures make the congestion more bearable. Cultural treasures and architectural ones: Kathmandu's cityscape is among the most colorful in the world, a fact you'll notice as your plane lands at Kathmandu airport, one you can best appreciate from the viewpoint at Swayambhunath, a.k.a. the "Monkey Temple."