By Jessamy Baldwin
From candy tinted neighbourhoods to rolling purple fields, if it’s colour you’re after, I’ve got you covered. In this post I’m counting down the top 20 most vibrant destinations to travel to this year. So get browsing, booking and packing for your technicolour dream trip.
While Venice is beautiful, romantic and scenic, the tiny island of Burano has some seriously photogenic, colourful treasures. Also visit postcard perfect Vernazza. Pastel pink, lemon yellow and sea green shades dot the coastline of this small town and the five other scenic waterfront villages that make up Cinque Terre. The island of Procida is also full of candy-coloured houses that stand out from the azure Mediterranean.
Modelled on an Italian village, the bright facades and lush green surroundings of quaint Portmeirion in Wales are well worth a peruse. Colourful Tobermory, on the island of Mull in the inner Hebrides, is one of the prettiest ports in Scotland. Legend has it one of the Spanish Armada ships sank there in 1588 carrying gold bullion. The colourful Georgian terraced houses and hip harbourside area in Bristol are a feast for the eyes.
You’ll want to get a bird’s eye view to take full advantage of all the colourful roofs of Reykjavik. Head to the top of Hallgrímskirkja church to glimpse the vibrant urban landscape or try the Esjan hike to get a panoramic look at the city.
In springtime, the fields at the base of Mount Fuji erupt with hundreds of thousands of moss blooms, or “shibazakura”, in varying shades of pink. Catching the blossom period in Japan should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The town of Trinidad is a Unesco World Heritage site – and for good reason. Vast, lime green mountains are the backdrop for terracotta roofs, warm yellow walls and winding lanes. Don’t miss out on Havana’s bright vintage cars, opulent hotels, crumbling colonial buildings and rainbow houses.
The vibrant and dynamic city of Stockholm is a collage of citrus orange buildings shining between clear blue water and bluer skies in the warmer months. In winter, fairy lights galore, powdery snow and warmly lit restaurants and bars make the city glow.
The remote and magical Chefchaouen – known as the Blue City – is full of aqua coloured buildings. The vibrant paint is said to ward off hungry mosquitoes but the effect is more magical than medicinal.
From June-August, the rolling lavender fields of Provence teem with bright purple blooms as far as the eye can see. With the herbal scent of lavender in the air, quaint streets and spectacular coastlines, it’s easy to see why the bewitching region of Provence has charmed visitors for so long. In Autumn, the hills come alive with orange and gold hues.
Curacao is the jewel in the Caribbean Sea. While most Caribbean islands exude colour, Curacao stands out from the palette. The lively and cosmopolitan capital of Willemstad is picturesque and quirky thanks to the abundance of pastel tone Dutch colonial buildings. A honeymoon couple’s paradise.
- South Africa
Head to the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood in Cape Town which overlooks the city centre from Signal Hill. Lime green, fuchsia pink, baby blue and rich red homes dapple the hillside and the view of commanding Table Mountain behind isn’t bad either. One of the original hubs of Malay culture, Bo-Kaap today is one of the trendiest and most expensive neighbourhoods in the city.
- United States
If you’ve always dreamed of living in an archetypally eccentric Victorian house, head to San Francisco. Donned the ‘Rainbow City’, homes, cafes and offices come in every shade and shape imaginable. Miami, with its chic art deco architecture and blue ribbon of water running along the bustling South Beach, certainly puts you in the holiday mood. For earthy greens, oranges and reds take a road trip through New England in Autumn.
The historic Nyhaven waterfront in Copenhagen is lined with colourful 17th and 18th century architecture. You may have glimpsed the cobbled streets, copper spires and chocolate-box waterside vistas in the movie The Danish Girl.
Artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn inject life into communities across the world by adding colour. In 2010, and with the help of the local youth community, they converted the homes of Favela Santa Maria in Rio De Janeiro into a rainbow neighbourhood. Head up to the Christ the Redeemer statue for unparalleled views across the city.
Whilst all of Instanbul has a vibrant, pulsating yet graceful charm with its East/West divide, but head to Balat or Fatih for a truly colourful treat. It’s easy to spend a few hours meandering through the old architecture, gazing at the dilapidated yellow and pink buildings.
The stunning little island of Santorini off Greece’s south east coast is famous for its blue-roofed, whitewashed architecture, killer sunset views and black sand beaches.
A long time ago, Brahmin families in Jodphur painted their homes blue, a royal colour, to distinguish themselves from the lower classes. Soon after, everyone else followed suit resulting in a majestic royal blue city. The Valley of the Flowers, a World Heritage Site set against the wilderness of the Himalayas, is covered in vibrant flowers. Add in a sunset and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better view, ever.
- New Zealand
New Zealand does amazing views, outstanding natural landscapes and vivacious cities like it invented the rule book on each. Take a boat trip in the Bay of Islands to see fluorescent green fields set against chalk white sand, walk through Waimangu or Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland to see geothermal wonders, swim in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Spring, drink coffee on Cuba Street in Wellington or take photos of the breath-taking Coromandel coastal area.
- Namib Desert
The 43 million year old Namib desert is an awe-inspiring sight. The 81,000 km² landscape includes high orange sand dunes, rocky mountainous areas, gravel plains, perennial river mouth wetlands, coastal pans, blue lagoons, riparian forests and isolated springs. Take a hot air balloon ride as dusk to see the majestic desert in all its glory.
The striped, technicolour mountains of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park are something to behold. The huge red, green and orange stripes come from layers of mineral and sandstone. The sprawling farmlands of Luoping, a dramatic, mountainous county in Eastern China become a golden sea of yellow when canola blooms are in season. The stunning Wuhua Hai, or Five-Flower Lake (one of the 118 lakes in the Jiuzhaigon Nature Reserve) is world famous for its blue-green water.
The east coast of this island paradise boasts an unbroken 3-mile stretch of flawless coast known as Pink Sand Beach. The sand is soft and powdery and has an unusual rose tinted hue from ground down coral and foraminifera (tiny marine creatures with red shells) mixing with the perfect white grains.
And on that note…. I’ll let you get planning!
This article appeared in the ‘vibrant’ June edition of GSYLife magazine.