Our beautiful world is lined with colour. From bright toucans in the Amazon Rainforest to the shimmering green, blue and purple Aurora Borealis over the Arctic Circle - we crave it. Nothing stokes our wonder like colour overwhelming our senses and brightening our world.
A bit of colour can inject life into even the dullest of places, and in this article we look at some of the world’s most colourful cities, ready and waiting if you are looking for a last minute cruise deal to add some colour into your life.
First on our list is the iconic Santorini. This seaside haven has long been the destination of choice for romantic honeymooners and those chasing perfect sunsets. The whitewashed buildings that line the hillside down to the clear waters below are a common feature of holiday snaps and well accustomed to visitors.
The white walls keep the temperature down indoors, and the blue roofs and windows complement the Aegean Sea. When you arrive in Santorini you’ll be hard pressed not to be overwhelmed by its beauty.
You’ll find octopus hung by the shore, drying out ready for dinner, and some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever try. Wash this down with some local ouzo and enjoy the sunshine beating down on you. If you are lucky to stay late enough to watch the sunset, a bucket list item for many, get yourself a good spot and take it in, as you’ll remember that moment forever.
Our next stop is Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan in India. Known as the Pink City for an obvious reason, its towering architecture is crafted beautifully from local sandstone.
The history behind Jaipur’s pink façade actually lies a lot closer to home. In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. It was then that Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the whole city pink, a colour denoting hospitality, to welcome the guests. The practice was made tradition by its residents and it is now required that the colour is maintained.
The chaotic streets of Jaipur are the perfect place to enjoy the fusion of old and new in India. Rickshaws and buses weave around camels through the busy streets which are lined with these majestic buildings, and amidst the chaos there are places of reflection, for a moment of peace.
We spoke to Rachel, known online as the Hippie in Heels, who recently visited Jaipur. We first asked her what drew her to the city: “I visited as a backpacker 5 years ago and now that I travel in a new style, looking more for boutique hotels and experiences over sightseeing, I wanted to go back. The shopping, food, and beautiful architecture drew me there.”
Rachel told us how the pink architecture affects the mood of the city: “The buildings definitely make it seem very royal and magical which is what travellers are looking for here. The main Hawa Mahal was built in that way with many windows so the royal ladies could sit there and watch festivals and parades below.”
Finally, we asked Rachel if she would recommend Jaipur to others: “Yes, it's one of my favourite cities in the world! If you have a little extra budget, you can have a seriously unforgettable luxury time here as well!”
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires combines European influence with Latin passion to create a bustling city full of adventure and excitement. As you venture through the barrios you’ll explore varied design and architecture, with the more traditional neighbourhoods being laden with colour, in the form of murals and painted buildings.
One of the best places in the city to experience this iconic splash of colourful architecture is Caminito in the La Boca district. Caminito translates to little path and is one of the most traditional alleys in the city. A popular destination for tourists and walking tours thanks to its brightly coloured buildings, and lively energy. La Boca is a fantastic place to experience traditional tango dancers, Caminito was actually named after a 1926 tango song by La Boca artist Benito Quinquela Martin.
We spoke to Kalina Kheirolomoom, a travel blogger at Hello Kalina who credits her adoration for travel to her multicultural upbringing. As a return visitor to Buenos Aires, we wanted to get her take on this colourful city: “I have been to Buenos Aires several times now, but I was first drawn to the city for its contrasts. It's often referred to as the Paris of South America, but I have found that it's more than that. Buenos Aires blends European grandeur with Latin spirit. A mix of grit and glamour, bright colours butting up against concrete greys, greenscapes and hardscapes, old and new, Buenos Aires is a city full of character where its unique energy and passion are palpable.”
Kalina told us more about her impressions of the city: “What is unique about Buenos Aires is that each neighbourhood has its own vibe - in the architecture, the atmosphere, and even the people who live there. As you explore the city, you can see the history of the city through the changing architecture and get a sense of what drew people to the different areas. Collectively these distinct neighbourhoods join to create an incredibly diverse and colourful city that its inhabitants are proud of.”
Finally, we asked Kalina whether she would recommend Buenos Aires to another traveller: “I would most definitely recommend Buenos Aires to other travellers as it offers something for everyone - there is architecture, food, culture, and a vibrancy to the city as a whole that makes exploring truly enjoyable. It's also a good starting point to explore more of Argentina, which is incredibly diverse and beautiful.”
Copenhagen is known for its unapologetic embodiment of culture. From being one of the best examples of modern day design, to being the home of many important historical locations, the waterfront city holds something for every type of traveller.
For the most colourful, and most iconic part of the city, head to Nyhavn. This old port was once home to fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen and is now the most popular area of the city. Walk along the waterside past colourful buildings, slip into a coffee shop for a drink and a traditional Danish open sandwich or grab a beer and sit on the water’s edge.
As you walk through the cobbled streets of the city you’ll feel the Scandinavian culture around you. Laid back and welcoming locals will embrace you into their city, and you’ll want to be absorbed in the sheer beauty of Copenhagen.
We spoke to Paulina on the Road to get her take on her time in Copenhagen. We asked what first drew her to the city: “I came for an Erasmus organised trip while I was living in Skövde, Sweden. Copenhagen was, and still is, one of the top 5 destinations when you are living or travelling in Scandinavia. The capital of Denmark is a very attractive city, because of its location on an island. On top the city boasts an incredibly vast Viking heritage and is famous for its alternative neighbourhood of Christiania, and the colourful houses of the city.”
Paulina told us about more about the vivid colours in Copenhagen: “Copenhagen has vibrant architecture, with many soft pastel coloured colourful houses. It reminds me other bright cities as Amsterdam, The Hague, Cadiz...I think the colourful buildings of Copenhagen have a very positive effect on the mood of the town. The colours add more energy, a better-looking panorama, and help the inhabitants and visitors to appreciate a contrast between the houses when the city suffers winter’s conditions!
Burano is often overlooked in favour of its close neighbour, Venice, although it is a marvel in itself. This small island is located in the Venetian Lagoon and is most famous for its rainbow of fishermen’s cottages lining its typical canals.
The island is densely built up, and as well as being beautiful is regarded highly for its intricate lacework. So, as well as strolling through its sunny streets you can also pay a visit to the Museo del Merletto to learn more about lacemaking.
Sample fresh seafood and Italian fare whilst in Burano. Thanks to its colourful fishermen, it is home to some fabulous seafood fresh from the lagoon, perfect for an authentic and unforgettable dish. Just as with the rest of Italy, the wine isn’t bad either and will perfectly accompany your time in this romantic wonderland.
We spoke to Nina from Nina’s Travels, who has written about why everyone should make sure they don’t miss out on Burano when visiting Venice. We asked her if she would recommend Burano after travelling there: “Oh yes, I'd recommend everyone to put Burano on their bucket list. The island is absolutely amazing, and it should definitely get the attention like more known Venice. After all, it is smaller than Venice, what makes it much cuter to wander around.”
She told us what first drew her to the island: “We are based in Slovenia, meaning Burano is just about 3 hours’ drive by car. Seeing all the amazing and colourful photos on social media about Burano, it was about time to check it from our travel bucket list too.”
Nina also spoke about the impact the brightly coloured fishermen’s houses have on the island: “I the love colours because seeing everything so bright and colourful, sure makes you feel happier. I do believe this also reflects to locals, living on Burano. Not to mention everything looks like from a fairytale.”
We also spoke to Clare Thomson of Suitcases and Sandcastles whose adoration for Burano came when she finally visited the island, she told us more: “It wasn’t until my fourth visit to Venice that I finally made it over to the island of Burano. I always found the palaces, gondolas and grandeur of Venice too enchanting to want to leave - even for half a day. But I’ve always been drawn to colourful places and I kept seeing these incredible pictures of an island of brightly coloured houses in the Venetian lagoon and I knew I had to visit.”
“Burano is often called one of the most beautiful places in the world - and with good reason. Brightly painted fishermen’s houses line the banks of the canals, each a different colour. Walk down any street and you’ll see a kaleidoscope of colours reflecting into the dark green waters of the canal.
Clare spoke to us about the colour of the island, and the beauty it offers to its visitors: “This shock of colour is good for the soul. There’s something so cheerful about a place this brash and this bright. It’s hard to walk around without a big smile on your face.”
“Even the 45-minute boat ride across to the island is beautiful. The lagoon is often shrouded with mist which makes it look like an Impressionist painting.”
“Burano is a photographer’s dream, so it can get very busy. But you can escape the crowds by heading down the side streets. You’ll find little boats moored up at the sides of the canals and mint green houses with candy cane-striped awnings.”
“And you’re guaranteed to leave the island with a bigger smile on your face.”
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
Known for its colourful culture and electric style, it is no surprise Cape Town has made this list. Bo-Kaap is only a short walk from the cruise port and holds a lot of history. Originally designated a Muslim only area under apartheid, Bo-Kaap now embraces everyone and that is perfectly reflected in its beautiful buildings.
The bright colours are a perfect tribute to the harrowing history of Cape Town, whilst showing a brighter future and the progression that has been made in the South African capital. Not only will you experience warm welcomes and warm colours when you arrive in Bo-Kaap, but you will also experience the history of the district and its cultural past.
The rich Eastern culture in Bo-Kaap means as you walk down the streets you’ll be greeted with mouth-watering smells you’d expect in the streets of Malaysia and India wafting from restaurants and spice shops. The cultural history in Bo-Kaap means it’s important to respect the locals, who still live in these brightly coloured houses, as you walk through these colourful streets.
Our final destination is the electric Havana in Cuba. Known for good rum and good cigars, it is no wonder Cuba is also home to good parties. Havana is the capital of the island and is in the midst of a tourism boom. It’s layers, and complexity makes is a fascinating place to visit for any, and one you won’t forget in a lifetime.
As well as the bright architecture and culture bringing colour to this city, the love of automotives cannot be overlooked. After just minutes in the city you’ll be faced with the beautiful classic cars Havana loves. Cuba itself is seen as a rolling car museum, and the 1950’s design makes you feel like you are stepping back in time. Castro placed a ban on foreign vehicle imports, which means these old school American cars were held on to and preserved. Even though the ban has now been lifted, import taxes mean there is a hefty price on any modern vehicles and the retro cars have held on.
The Spanish grandeur of the city is everywhere, and this cultural hotpot has created its own unique style. You cannot visit Havana without trying some rum, so how will you have it? We suggest the daquiri, invented on the island in the early 20th century and even though it’s travelled around the world it’ll never be done better than it is right here, at home.
We spoke to Sher, from travel blog Sher she Goes, who has travelled to Havana before and she gave us her account of the Cuban capital: “The chance to visit Cuba, a destination long closed off to Americans, was irresistible! As someone who loves urban areas and photographing architecture, I was really eager to capture the spirit of Havana. The buildings are run down but beautiful, the cars are colourful and vintage. Not only do they immediately identify Havana, the buildings and cars are a visual symbol of Cuba's long history and tangled politics. I would absolutely recommend Havana and greater Cuba to anyone looking to travel to somewhere beautiful.”
We also spoke to BRB Travel Blog about their day trip to Havana, and they had a lot to say about the colourful metropolis: “Under the Caribbean sun and the sea breeze, the buzzing streets of the Old Havana almost feel like a movie set of an old Hollywood classic. The streets are filled with bright pink and purple retro cars of the 50s with the colonial buildings painted in yellow, blue, pink and orange in the background. All these will make you feel like you got lost in a time machine. These colourful elements and the communist revolution are what have made us romanticise the island for more than 50 years.
“As a traveller, I wanted to visit the country before the Americans flood the island with McDonalds and Starbucks. The country that is yet again reinventing itself and trying to look towards the future in the post-embargo era, Cuba will certainly not stop to be an interesting and colourful destination to visit, as a new era draws itself. Who knows if, in 15 years, we will still have the feeling of being in an old Hollywood movie driving through the city in a 1954 pink Buick?”
Now, if you are ready to get some colour into your life take a look at some of our last-minute cruises and escape to somewhere brighter.