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32 of the Quirkiest, Most Colorful Cities in the World

There’s nothing I like more than traveling around colorful cities and neighborhoods teeming with bright hues. I’m usually already wide-eyed and thrilled to be traveling somewhere new. Add bursts of color in unexpected places and I suddenly find myself inspired and dare I say, even a little giddy?pin

Since I’m always adding to my ridiculously never-ending list of places I want to travel, I figured the best people to ask were travel bloggers. The enthusiastic response surprised even me – they contributed 30 different colorful cities and neighborhoods around the world, from Ireland to South Africa to the US to Argentina. Here they are below – followed by two of my personal favorites, including one that’s sure to surprise you!

Penang, Malaysia

colorful city of Penang

Ria of Life in Big Tent

Penang Island (Malaysia) and especially George Town is rich with history, colorful details, and inspiring places. It’s a place where your walk around can be turned into never-ending discovery trail. For example, this colorful buildings complex I found by accident in Jalan Kek Chuan. I was just walking around and searching for the murals (Penang is also famous for the street art projects). There is not much story behind these buildings, only that the street name was given after Lim Kek Chuan, the co-founder and first President of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, who owned 17 shop houses along this road in the 20th century. And the new picturesque look is a result of building restoration. Now in this place known as Kau Keng Choo, you can find cozy restaurants, coffee shops, and other stores. Inspired? Check out how to get to Penang Island.

Strasbourg, France


Paula McInerney of Contented Traveller

Strasbourg is in the breathtaking Alsace region of France and its ties with Germany are palpable. This city is both medieval and modern in some very interesting ways. The houses are your typical fairy tale houses of many different colors. Strasbourg is a series of twisting and turning cobble-stoned alleys with crooked half-timbered houses, with geraniums cascading from the window boxes. It is hard to go past the magnificence of the Gothic cathedral that dominates the city. Here in the Cathedral Square, The Notre Dame reins supreme, surrounded by more stunning houses and an amazing old gothic house that is now the restaurant, Maison Kammerzell. You will see street artists and performers and tourists aplenty. People come here for a reason – the city is beautiful.

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa


Erika of Erika’s Travels

Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the brightly colored neighborhood of Bo Kaap is home the majority of Cape Town’s Malayan population. Many of the residents of Bo Kaap are descendants of slaves from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. These slaves were brought to the Cape by the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s and have established a community that is as culturally diverse as it is colorful. The population of Bo Kaap is predominantly Muslim, which is reflected in the many minarets scattered throughout the neighborhood. 

The bright colors of Bo Kaap were introduced to the neighborhood after Apartheid in the 1990s. The vibrant hues intended to bring joy to the residents of the neighborhood during the celebration of Eid and have since evolved into a cornerstone of the area’s identity. The Bo Kaap neighborhood sits at the foot of Signal Hill. The town’s mountainous backdrop creates a dramatic backdrop to the beautiful rows of multi-colored houses.

Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa


Natasha of The World Pursuit

Many people see the bright buildings that make up Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, but just right down the street is another vibrant neighborhood – Woodstock! Woodstock was known for its high crime and drugs a few years back, but is now going through a bit of urban revival and gentrification. Everywhere you look there are bright buildings, street art, fantastic coffee shops, and trendy restaurants. A day tour around Woodstock should definitely not be missed while in Cape Town.

Annecy, France


Janet of Journalist on the Run

When planning my current trip across Europe, there was only one destination I knew I had to pass through. Annecy, a small town in France right next to the Swiss border, has always fascinated me. To be found on every European bucket list out there, this picturesque town is one of the most colorful you will ever visit. There are hanging baskets and flowers lining every street, all the buildings are painted in a variety of pastel colors, and the town’s location on the beautiful Lake Annecy simply adds to its charm.

Notting Hill, London, England


Natasha of World Inside My Pocket

In West London, you can find the adorable little district of Notting Hill. Notting Hill is quite a famous neighborhood, known for being the setting of the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts blockbuster and also the location of the crazy, annual Notting Hill Carnival. Notting Hill Carnival originated from race riots in the 1960s, when the district was far from the affluent area that it is now (an apartment in Notting Hill nowadays will set you back £3,246 per month on average).
In the center of Notting Hill you can find Portobello Road, home to Portobello Market, which just celebrated its 150th birthday! Portobello Road is undeniably one of the most photogenic spots in London, boasting long miles of beautiful terraced streets of pastel-colored houses. At the market, which open each and every day of the week, you can buy all sorts of things: from antique trinkets and furniture to edgy vintage clothes and accessories that will have all your friends back home jealous. I love visiting the market and buying a whole load homemade jewelry before kicking back and relaxing at one of the many old traditional London pubs that are dotted down the street. My favorite thing about Notting Hill, though, is just how damned pretty it is!

Chefchaouen, Morocco


Jon of Jon is Travelling
The historic medina of Chefchaouen, with its hashish hustlers and sea of blue lanes and houses, is unlike anywhere else in the world. This little city set among the rocky Rif Mountains has had a history almost as colorful as its buildings. Chefchaouen was founded in the 15th century as a fort designed to thwart Portuguese invaders and was also ruled over by the Spanish for half a century in the 1900s. Today it’s a popular tourist spot, largely thanks to its proximity to Tangier (and therefore Europe) as well as its unique monochromatic color scheme.

Burano, Italy


Mia of Travel with Mia

Burano, Italy is a small, charming island located in the Venetian Lagoon just 40 minutes by ferry from Venice. The houses in this colorful fishing town are almost identical on the interior, but the exteriors set them apart with their unique hues. According to legend, fishermen painted their houses in vibrant colors so they could find them in the early morning fog. However, some say it was to help the men find their way home after a drunken night at the pub! Which do you believe?

Legends withstanding or not, the color scheme in Burano is so carefully planned that if anyone wants to change the color of their home they have to ask the government for permission. Once permission is granted, the homeowner will be given a list of  acceptable colors to choose from. No matter how the colors are chosen, Burano is stunning and no trip to Venice, or Northern Italy for that matter, would be complete with popping by for a visit.

Havana, Cuba


Laura of Savored Journeys

The brightly-colored colonial architecture that can be found all over