Europe’s 5 Most Colourful Cities

Copenhagen denmark

We all need colours in our lives – they influence our mood, make us happy, give us energy and inspire our imagination. For travellers, painted pockets of colour can be found everywhere in Europe. Spying these in an otherwise grey landscape can lift a traveller’s weary spirit immediately, so when you’re in need of a boost, head to these delightfully colourful cities throughout Europe.

1. Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre

Our first stop will take us to Italy, where the five tiny villages that make up the Cinque Terre are strung along the steep and rocky Ligurian coast like bright beads of a necklace. While the fishing villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore were once accessible only by foot or boat, today they are connected by an impressive railway that winds through hundreds of tunnels, revealing indescribable views of the Mediterranean Sea along the way. In the villages, houses perch atop rocks and are often separated only by narrow alleyways. In 1997 the Cinque Terre gained the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensuring the villages will remain in their original state.

2. Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw poland

The next colourful pocket can be found in picturesque Wroclaw, Poland’s fourth largest city. In the middle of the Breslauer Altstadt, aristocrats and wealthy merchants built their homes around the medieval Plac Solny (‘Salt Square’) to display their status. The houses’ pastel Renaissance facades are decorated with beautiful embellishments and ornaments. This play of colours is continued in the flower market that takes place in the square, where blooms are sold and bartered over all day and late into the night – the negotiations are presided over by the beautiful old classical-style Stock Exchange building along the south side of the square.

3. Burano, Italy

Burano italy

We’ll go again to Italy, this time to the Venetian Lagoon, and the fishing island of Burano. According to legend, the fishermen of Burano painted their homes to contrast with their neighbours, so they could find their own more easily when returning at night. Approaching the island on the half-hour boat ride from Venice, it’s possible to see the houses of the fishermen in the distance, looking as though they have just been freshly painted. Like Venice, Burano is separated by several canals, and in bright sunshine the houses are reflected in the water, creating a magnificent play of colours and a true paradise for photographers and painters.

4. Júzcar, Spain

Júzcar spain

Now to the most bizarre place on our journey, the Spanish village of Júzcar. In Andalusia, in a region known as the Pueblos Blancos (“white villages”), all the houses of Júzcar’s 250 inhabitants shine in an intense smurf-blue. And it really is smurf-blue. Sony Pictures arranged for the whole village to be painted blue for the premier of “The Smurfs 3D” movie. 9000 litres of blue paint were used to transform Júzcar into smurf village – even the town hall and the church got a paint of coat. Although Sony Pictures offered to transform the village back to its original state afterwards, the inhabitants decided against it. The village has become a tourist magnet: a smurf-supermarket has been built and some of the villagers even like to walk around the streets in smurf costumes.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen denmark

Lastly, but not to be missed: the row of houses along Copenhagen’s Nyhavn, which are resplendent in their hues of red, yellow, blue, ochre and green. It’s not only the houses that are colourful here; historic ships tied up in the harbour (now mostly used as museums) complete the maritime picture. You’ll find a restaurant, bar or café in almost every one of the old houses dotted along Nyhavn, but they can come at a pretty price, so you might choose instead to bring your own beer along and sit on the quay wall to take in the atmosphere. Or, enjoy the view during a boat trip around the harbour and along some of Copenhagen’s many canals.