The World’s Most Colorful Cities

We're tickled pink at our colorful planet.


Exploring new cities is always a pleasure, but when those destinations are Crayola-colored and candy-striped, it’s even more of a treat. Countries around the world—from Chile to South Africa to the picturesque colonial town of Trinidad in Cuba—are home to cities that have done away with the practical in favor of the fun, whether due to a city-wide artistic streak, a cultural love of color, or a Hollywood payout.

Curaçao’s anything-but-white city of Willemstad, for example, is a visual tonic. Rumor has it the governor demanded the vibrant hues to soothe his migraines. And the jewel-like homes that fill Burano, Italy, are also the result of a government decree. A formal request to paint a home must be submitted to local officials who decides which colors may be used according to a 16th-century coloring system.

Other cities on this list have only recently been washed in colors, thanks to social art projects and surprising film promotions (you have the Smurfs 3D movie to thank for the striking blue city of Júzcar, Spain).

Consider this an afternoon mood booster—or an Instagram bucket list. After all, it's hard to take a bad shot of these colorful coastal towns and hillside cities. Read on for our always-expanding list of the most radiant cities in the world.

Burano, Italy

It’s easy to spot the Venetian Island of Burano from the sea. The jewel-colored homes act like a beacon, which is what they were intended to be. According to island lore, local fisherman started painting their homes in bright colors—hues of orange, red, yellow, and purple—so they could see them while out fishing in the fog and could follow their colors back home. Now, the practice has become law, and if you live on the island and want to paint your home, you must ask for permission from the government, who will assign your home a color. For visitors, the homes are just a welcome dose of cheerfulness.