The eye often wearies of red brick, gray steel and beige stone. For this, the solution is house paint. When an entire neighborhood assumes the colors of the rainbow, even the front gardens pale in comparison. Throughout the world, there are ten particularly stunning towns that resemble freshly opened packages of crayons – offering a respite from our dismal urban surroundings and reminding us that our personal environments need not be so bland.
1. Riomaggiore, Liguria, Italy
One of the most charming towns on earth, Riomaggiore is bursting with color. The pretty sandstone buildings, nestled into the lush green cliffs of Cinque Terre, overlook glossy turquoise harbors.
An unsurprisingly popular tourist destination, Riomaggiore’s toy town atmosphere is meant to be shared by all.
2. Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Developed in the mid 17th century, the stunning Dutch-inspired colonial architecture of the capital of the Netherlands Antilles reflects all the colors of a tropical ambiance.
Image: Jessica Bee
Willemstad’s harbor entrance is particularly vibrant, featuring commercial and residential properties across the color spectrum.
3. La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The most colorful barrio of Argentina’s capital, La Boca is a neighborhood settled by Italian immigrants and modeled after the seaside city of Genoa; its architecture, therefore, is strongly European.
La Boca, meaning “the mouth” in Spanish, sits on the mouth of a small river, adding blue to the yellows, reds and greens.
Image: Funky Tee
4. Wroclaw, Poland
Wroclaw, located in the south-west, is Poland’s most charming city. The town square dates back to the 12th century, and its 14th century brick Gothic architecture is particularly inspiring. Like most of the country, it has a strong Roman Catholic affiliation. Thus, cathedrals of celebratory hues line the streets.
5. Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
When a town is situated on an island in the icy white Arctic, a little color is much appreciated. The brightly painted homes of Longyearbyen are illuminated by a backdrop of snow-dotted imposing mountains. For an archipelago hostile to the growth of flowers and trees, a colorful town reminds visitors that life still thrives.
6. Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
This 17th century waterfront is situated on a picturesque canal; wooden ships sleeping lazily on its gentle waves.
Image: Arne List
The area’s colors are so much fun that Legoland features a replica of the town cast in the plastic toy. The real Nyhavn is always very active, serving as a popular spot for bars and restaurants.
Image: K Kendall
7. Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico
Founded in 1554, Guanajuato is a small city with a wealth of Spanish colonial architecture. Translated, its name means “Hill of Frogs,” because frog is the Mexican symbol of wisdom, but the green buildings inject a more obvious meaning.
The rainbow of structures in Guanajuato is located near a silver mine and both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
8. Lima, Peru
Unlike many of the tourist-driven towns on this list, Lima is very much a working city. Unique in its mixture of poverty, native and imported cultures and varied development, Lima is especially noted for its different architectural styles. Spanish baroque, French neoclassicism and art nouveau buildings make the city an arena of colors and art.
Image: Gerd A.T. Mueller
9. Bryggen, Bergen, Norway
The Bergen waterfront, which locals call Bryggen, meaning wharf or quay, dates back 900 years to the Middle Ages. During this time, Bryggen in Bergen was a thriving port for international trade. Today, the parallel wooden buildings lining the harbor are popular restaurants located adjacent to a fish market.
Image: Ahron de Leeuw
10. Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Though not multicolored, Jaipur explore shades of pink. Nicknamed the “pink city,” Jaipur, the capital city of the desert state of Rajasthan, features architecture of pink sandstone – from grand structures and forts to tiny markets. The town looks even more surreal with elephants, camels and cows strolling past the pink buildings.
Painting a building a vivid color contributes greatly to the beautification of a town. A colorful facade has the power to turn an ordinary town into one bucolic and charming. If not quite ready to throw a bucket of purple paint on your home, visit these pretty towns and brave seeing the world in brighter color.