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The 15 Most Colorful Cities in the World

From the whimsical, pastel-colored tenements of Zamosc, Poland to India's "blue city," these gorgeous colorful cities require no filter.

Scenic view of colorful houses in Cinque terre village Manarola
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Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands,” is the name given to not one but five stunning villages perched along the Italian Riviera. Each village has its own character, but they all boast an incredible array of pastel-colored houses. Cinque Terre is situated inside a national park near Tuscany, so cars are a rare sight! Most of the 2.4 million tourists who visit per year arrive by boat. Once they get there, they mainly walk, taking in the sights of the Riviera along the seven-and-a-half-mile hiking trail. If you’d rather see color out in nature, visit some of America’s most picturesque hiking spots.

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Kampung Pelangi, Indonesia

In Kampung Pelangi, it’s not just the houses that are rainbow-colored. Everything from the awnings to the fences in this village is bedecked with rainbow hues. In mid-2017, the town underwent a major makeover in hopes of drawing more tourists. According to Architectural Digest, every house in the village was required to have no fewer than three colors represented. The endeavor has paid off: tourists have been flocking to the village, and the town hopes to extend the color flood to even more houses in the coming months.

Colorful houses in Cape Town, South Africa
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Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town’s most colorful neighborhood is also one of its oldest, dating back to the 16th century. The primarily Muslim population recently began embellishing their houses as a celebration of the late summer holiday Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. The bright colors also symbolize the freedom of the post-Apartheid era in South Africa. The oldest still-intact house in the area, built in 1768, is now a museum celebrating the Islamic culture of the region. These are the most colorful natural wonders on earth.

Colorful houses in Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano, Venice, Italy

You might be seeing double on this spectacular island in the Venetian Lagoon, as the multicolored houses are reflected in the canals below. Burano is a fishing village, and legend has it that the residents painted their houses vibrant colors to help them find their way back from a night of fishing in the early-morning fog. The colors of the houses may appear random, but there is a method to the madness. If you move to this island, you can’t just pick your favorite paint color and go to town—you have to get permission from the government, and they choose a color for you. The whimsical look of the village might be carefully planned out, but that doesn’t take away from the city’s beauty.

White church with a colorful slum on a hill rising above it in Guayaquil, Ecuador
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Guayaquil, Ecuador

In this Ecuadorian city, the village of Las Peñas immediately stands out. It rises on the massive limestone hill that marks the city, above a white church that provides a stark and beautiful contrast to the vibrant houses. In addition to being the most colorful neighborhood in Guayaquil, Las Peñas is also the oldest. It’s endured its share of difficulty, including a catastrophic fire in 1896, but it’s come out stronger. In 1982 it became an Ecuadorian heritage site. Throughout the years, it’s been a haven for writers and creators, including Ernest Hemingway and the composer of the Ecuadorian National Anthem. Also, take a look at the most colorful animals in the world.

jodhpur blue city photos, Rajasthan, India

Jodhpur, India

A long time ago, when India adhered to a strict caste system, blue was a major status symbol, with the upper class painting their homes the “royal” color. Though caste restrictions have loosened significantly, the color has stood the test of time, and blue houses remain popular in India simply as a matter of tradition. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the “Blue City” of Jodhpur.

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Oranjestad, Aruba

The bustling capital of this popular Caribbean destination is packed with casinos, restaurants, and wonderfully decorative, colorful buildings. The cheery city center fits with Aruba’s oft-marketed slogan “One Happy Island.” Since Aruba is a Dutch territory, the architecture mimics a classic Dutch style while putting its own Aruban, pastel-colored spin on it.

Town Hall, Main Square (Rynek Wielki), Zamosc, Poland

Zamosc, Poland

These delightful, turreted buildings line the city square in this small Polish town. With their intricate white designs, different on every house, and their arched entranceways, these tenement houses look like something out of a fairy tale. Zamosc sits near the Ukrainian border, and its well-preserved “old neighborhood” has earned it the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are some more picturesque towns that could be straight out of a storybook.

Medina of Chefchaouen, Morocco. Chefchaouen or Chaouen is a city in northwest Morocco. It is the chief town of the province of the same name, and is noted for its buildings in shades of blue

Chefchaouen, Morocco

This stunning city of cobalt sits among the Rif mountains in northern Morocco. Established as a fort to keep invaders out, today Chefchaouen draws tourists in with its color scheme like no other. Aside from just being pretty and eye-catching, the color blue also has its share of practical purposes: many people believe that chemicals in blue paint deter hungry termites. Still, others maintain that the cool color helps keeps the temperature in the homes from getting too hot, especially in warm climates like Morocco’s and India’s. Whatever the reason, these all-blue cities sure are gorgeous. Take a look at these jaw-dropping photos of the world’s most beautiful countries.

Colorful Caminito street in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires
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La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

What started as a working-class neighborhood hidden in Argentina’s capital has become a vibrant tourist attraction known the world over. The best-known street, Caminito, was built from scrap wood from the local shipyard. The story goes that people just painted the houses with the available paint left over in the shipyard. What started as a haphazard mix of colors has turned into a gorgeous, lively hub of activity.

Brighton Beach Huts, Australia

Melbourne, Australia

It’s common knowledge that Australia is chock-full of beautiful beaches, but Brighton Beach in Melbourne might be the most unique of them all. It’s not the natural features that send tourists flocking to this beach—it’s the row of over 80 bathing boxes, each adorned with its own color and pattern. The boxes have been around since the early 1900s—almost as long as Australia has been called Australia. The city council fought to have them taken down, but today, Melbournians and tourists alike wouldn’t be able to imagine Brighton Beach without them. For more amazing beaches, take a look at these amazing photos of the beaches with the clearest water in the world.

St. Johns Antigua
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St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

The historic city of St. John’s is the capital and largest city of twin-island nation Antigua and Barbuda—and the most colorful. The city is built in a colorful grid pattern, which makes it both easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. The buildings are all traditional Caribbean buildings and made of wood. What sets them apart are their beautiful colors. Just imagine how beautiful the city must look in sunrise or sunset. St. John’s is definitely a romantic destination—here are some other romantic island destinations worth a look.

Waterfront of Willemstead, Curacao
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Willemstad, Curacao

This beautiful city is so rich in history and tradition that it’s considered a Unesco World Heritage site. The coloring tradition in the city goes back to a man named Albert Kikkert, who was governor during the 19th century. Kikkert suffered from painful migraines and believing the city’s then-white buildings to exacerbate his condition, he gave an order to paint all buildings in the downtown area of the city with bright colors. We don’t know if his migraines were better after that, but Willemstad definitely looked better than ever!

Copenhagen Nyhavn panorama city crowds enjoying sunshine restaurants bars Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

When you think of a colorful city, one of the first names that come to mind is Copenhagen. The capital city of Denmark looks like it’s straight out of a storybook with its colorful buildings. Especially the harbor district Nyhavn is a sight to behold,  with colorful houses overseeing the canal. Considering these picturesque houses were built in the 17th century, you can easily say that the city also boasts a rich history.

Summer Greece Santorini scenic view landscape punk flower border
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Santorini, Greece

This beautiful island in Southern Greece is famous for its beautiful white houses. While the white houses are a Santorini staple today, the local people of Santorini first started to use whitewash due to convenience. It was simply a cheap and durable option, and from the 19th century on, that’s what they used for decorating their houses. Who wouldn’t want to live here?  Next, check out these 20 arrestingly beautiful photos that stand the test of time.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.