From Europe to Africa and Asia to South America, if you look, you’ll find some of the most colorful destinations in the world — a kaleidoscope of vibrant shades and dazzling hues in some incredible locations. Some are natural and some are man-made, but all are beautiful!
Studies have shown that colors can have a real psychological impact on our minds. They can make us feel happier, calmer, or even more alert: blue and green can create calm, orange and yellow can stimulate appetite, red and pink can inspire energy and passion, and purple can boost creativity and productivity.
Ready to discover this for yourself? Let’s have a look at some of the world’s most rainbow-colored places and see which of these destinations appeals to you the most.
Cape Town, South Africa
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap neighborhood is located on the lower slope of Cape Town’s Signal Hill, on the fringe of the city. Bo-Kaap dates back to the 1760s when huurhuisjes — “rental houses” with Georgian and Cape Dutch architecture — were built and leased to slaves from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other African countries. Brought to work in the Cape by Dutch colonists, when enslaved people lived in the rental houses, their exteriors had to be white. But when slavery was abolished in 1834 and residents could purchase the homes, their owners painted them bright colors as an expression of their freedom and individuality. This tradition has endured and visitors can stroll the cobblestone streets to see old and new homes painted bright green, robin’s-egg blue, buttercup yellow, and other cheery colors.
2. La Boca
Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Boca is a working-class suburb in Buenos Aires famous for two things: La Bombonera, the home ground of the Boca Juniors football team (one of the most popular football teams in Argentina); and Caminito Street, a narrow alley flanked by bright zinc shacks, colorful buildings, restaurants, and beautiful street art. In 1960, local artist Benito Quinquela Martin painted the walls of an abandoned street of houses in bright colors and erected a makeshift stage. He encouraged artists and performers to showcase their work and the area quickly became a haven for artists, tango dancers, and performers.
La Boca attracts visitors from all over the world and the bright, vibrant colors of this neighborhood are a reminder of the district’s early immigrant days, when a splash of paint was the only way to show pride in your humble dwelling.
Pro Tip: Visit the excellent modern art museum, Fundación Proa, housed inside a refurbished 19th-century home with high ceilings, white walls, large display halls, and a stylish rooftop terrace café. Only the most cutting-edge national and international artists are invited to show at this gallery.
3. Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls in southern Africa, along the Zambezi River, is the largest waterfall in the world, measuring about twice the height of Niagara Falls. Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the planet, but its beauty isn’t limited to the views of the falls themselves. Endless rainbows seem to be everywhere you look at the falls, somehow adding an extra layer of magic to an already mesmerizing destination. While daytime rainbows are a common sight at Victoria Falls, lunar rainbows are a much rarer occurrence. Also known as “moonbows,” lunar rainbows are rainbows formed by the light of the moon rather than the sun. This creates a much fainter and more elusive rainbow; one that can only be seen under very specific conditions. Victoria Falls is the only place in Africa, and one of only a handful of places in the world, where the incredible natural phenomenon can be seen — something surprisingly few people who visit Victoria Falls seem to know! Whether you’re a nature lover, a photographer, or simply someone who appreciates nature’s beauty, seeing the rainbows at Vic Falls is a definite for your bucket list.
Venice Lagoon, Italy
Made up of four islands and separated by three canals, Burano sits in the Venice Lagoon, a 45-minute water taxi ride from Venice. Burano is known for the intricate lace that’s made here, but the brightly painted buildings that line the islands’ canals are another big draw for tourists and have been home to numerous artists.
The main activity on which the inhabitants based their economy used to be fishing. Legend has it that the residents painted their houses vibrant colors to help them find their way back home in the early morning fog after a night at sea. There are plenty of bars and restaurants for visitors, but this is still very much a working town, with fishermen selling their catch straight from their boats and old nonnas sitting on their verandas making the needle lace.
Pro Tip: 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 color and get to work — you have to get permission from the government and they’ll choose a color for you.
Every spring, the countryside around Amsterdam is ablaze with the colors of rows and rows of flowering tulip fields. Between March and May every year, the fields around Keukenhof — one of the world’s largest flower gardens — are transformed into a kaleidoscope of color as more than seven million tulips bloom. And they’re not just for show; these tulips will be picked and sold all around the world. That doesn’t make it any less spectacular though, especially when seen with one of the country’s famous windmills in the background. Stroll through the park, which is dotted with ponds and winding canals, or head indoors to see the exhibits of different varieties of tulips.
Often described as the “Little Venice of France,” Colmar is one of the medieval jewels of Alsace. Its streets twist and meander into tiny alleys before opening up into small squares used by traders and merchants centuries ago. Forget about painting the town red! The houses of Colmar are every shade of the rainbow. The colorfully painted houses in Colmar aren’t the only reason to visit the Alsace region of France, but they certainly make for good photos. The two-story, half-timbered houses on the cobblestoned streets and picturesque canals are painted yellow, green, pink, blue, and purple — like they are straight out of a fairytale. If you’re lucky, you might even see a stork nesting on a rooftop.
Buildings in Colmar were once painted specific colors based on the type of shop or business. Nowadays, there’s no real reason why residents decide on a color scheme. While a traditional half-timbered house is painted black and white, in Colmar, they are painted every color of the rainbow, with the shutters of the old-fashioned windows having yet another color. And all this is surrounded by all kinds of flowers. There is no escape from color in Colmar!
7. Cinque Terre
The five tiny villages of the Cinque Terre are a riot of pastel-colored houses hugging the rugged coastline and seeming to tumble down the hills towards the Ligurian Sea. Walking the jagged coastal path between these villages is one of Italy’s most famous treks and has spectacular views, especially when you round a bend and catch sight of a village like Manarola. With its brightly painted houses set against a deep blue sea, the ancient village of Manarola is not only one of the most colorful places in the world, but it is also the subject of many online searches. The Cinque Terre boasts as many as 2.6 million hashtags on Instagram and is the subject of an average of 718,000 Google searches every day!
Pro Tip: According to the stories, just like in Burano above, fishermen painted their homes different colors to be able to easily spot them from the water as they returned home from a night fishing at sea.
8. Kampung Warna-Warni
Kampung, also known as “Rainbow Village,” is an explosion of color in what was once a drab corner of Indonesia. This small town, just south of Malang on the island of Java, was once an impoverished slum area before eight students from a nearby university came up with the idea of painting the houses as part of a social responsibility project. They collaborated with a local paint distributor, who donated over 6,000 pounds of paint and, together with 30 painters and local artists, turned the town into a place of rainbows. The initiative brought an influx of tourists and selfie-seeking visitors, boosting the local economy. It also inspired locals to clean up their rubbish-strewn river, so there has been a positive environmental impact, too.
Pro Tip: The Kampung Warna-Warni Jodipan project has inspired other similar projects, like nearby Kampung Tridi and Kampung Pelangi in Randusari.
9. Meenakshi Amman Temple
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
The ancient city of Madurai, on the Vaigai River in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dominated by the 14 colorful gopurams (“towers”) of the Meenakshi Amman Temple. This ornate and historic temple in India welcomes 15,000 devotees daily, and tourists flock here to see the beauty of the multi-colored gopurams, which are covered with thousands of rainbow-colored sculptures of Hindu deities and mythical creatures. The temple is also home to colorful celebrations, like the Chithirai Festival, held every April to celebrate Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu.
Pro Tip: The tallest gopuram at the temple is 170 feet high.
A bumpy 2-hour drive from Medellin is the tiny traditional lakeside pueblo of Guatepé, full of brightly colored colonial-era homes along cobblestone streets. The historic center of the town is a feast for the eyes, with twisting streets and buildings painted bright colors with three-dimensional images (zocalos) on the lower portion of the houses. The images portray llamas, sunflowers, parrots, guitars, and other artworks that are more intricate depictions of the history and culture of the area
Pro Tip: The rainbow-colored Plaza de Zocalos is in the heart of it all. It’s the perfect place to have a drink and people watch, and it is definitely one of the most fantastic parts of one of the most gorgeous little towns in Colombia.
Color permeates all of our lives. It can bring us happiness, make us healthier, comfort us, make us smile, calm our nerves, and energize us. What better idea can there be than traveling the world, seeking out these colorful gems, and taking advantage of the benefits a colorful life can bring? Somewhere over, under, or inside the rainbow is your next dream vacation.