An overview of some of the many physically colourful European towns in such countries as Greece, Italy, France, Portugal, the Czech Republic, the UK and Poland.
For colourful towns in the literal sense Europe has plenty to spare
Europe can boast plenty of ‘colourful’ cities in the metaphorical sense of the word, but how about actual colour as in a variety of shades and hues? Well, there are many – and some in places you might not think of as particularly colourful. Poland or Romania anyone?
Here are some towns that have had the benefit of some hobbyist and commercial painters wielding paint brushes in a vast array of paint colours at various times:
You’d get pretty short odds on Italy containing some colourful towns. Some of the colour looks even more spectacular when seen on buildings stacked one behind the other such as in the Cinque Terre region on the Amalfi Coast; five colourful towns sitting spectacularly on the cliff edge.
Away from the tourist magnet that is Venice, the vivid coloured buildings on the nearby island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon make for a spectacular sight. Buildings sit side by side in all sorts of bright colours from reds, greens, yellows and most others in between.
Naples – especially when viewed from an elevated position – offers an arresting selection of predominantly ambers and oranges set against the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.
While the country spends long hours in darkness during the winter months, it’s more than made up for in daylight hours when you can feast your eyes on spectacular colours in parts of the capital, Reykjavik.
It can look like a child’s toytown from above; not only do many properties feature bright vertical surfaces but some of the roofs are spectacularly painted, too – reds, deep blues and rich greens are commonplace.
Perhaps not the first country you’d think of when it comes to colourful towns, but the superb architecture of places such as Wroclaw is enhanced with some tastefully contrasting colours such as deep pinks and yellows to make a stroll along cobbled, tree lined streets a genuine pleasure.
Poznan combines beauty with colour and almost a sense of fun with brightly coloured, elegant buildings and – with some properties – interesting and jaunty painted designs for good measure.
More colour from Eastern Europe, and perhaps unexpectedly bearing in mind its association with Dracula and nocturnal matters, is Transylvania; the town of Sighisoara to be precise.
Somewhat incongruously in view of its location, the town is actually quite funky with its multitude of different coloured buildings including terracotta, lemon yellow, vivid lime green, mid blue and mustard amongst others.
Many think of Greek holiday islands as mainly white painted dwellings with terracotta roofs thanks to a multitude of travel brochures and websites, but the main town – Fira – in the popular destination of Santorini, bucks this trend. A smattering of mustard, pale yellow and salmon pink adds to the ‘white and terracota’ look beautifully set against the backdrop of the blue Aegean Sea.
Much photographed and much visited Prague is a popular destination for a quick break, and its multitude of green domes and spires set against elegant pastel shaded architecture keeps phone cameras working overtime.
Along with its world famous healing springs, the town of Karlovy Vary offers a true photo opportunity with its tastefully painted buildings set into the hillside.
Like Greece, one tends to perhaps think of much of Portugal as ‘white and terracota’ largely as a result of the typical colour schemes used in the main holiday hotspot, the Algarve.
Elsewhere though, the two well known towns of Porto and the capital Lisbon offer riots of colour to rival the best Europe can offer. In Porto the pale blue Portuguese tile features in many colour schemes as does vibrant yellows and oranges in some of the more elegant, rustic buildings.
Lisbon, with its hilly terrain, offers areas of vibrant colour especially with the liberal use of deep red on many rooftops.
The capital Berlin is seen as a progressive, arty city and there’s certainly colour to be found albeit in a more understated fashion. For example, apartment blocks may have flourishes of colour such as balconies in different shades to one another.
You’d expect France to feature when it comes to colour, and sure enough the French-Apline town of Colmar is so vividly coloured with hunched up, pretty buildings it looks almost like an animation.
A stroll along the pretty stream running through the centre reveals various coloured buildings next to one another in shades as diverse as red, yellow, blue, green and sky blue.
The UK and Ireland
Closer to home, the paintbrush has seen some innovative use in some towns.
In Ireland, if you nip down cobbled streets in Galway on the west coast, you’ll be rewarded with characterful buildings sitting cheek by jowl in various shades; mauves, oranges and yellows to name just three.
London may not immediately conjure up spectacular colours, but a trip to Notting Hill in the prestigious borough of Kensington and Chelsea throws up several pockets of colour with some of the townhouses painted in vivid pinks, dark and powder blues.
Bristol underscores its reputation for being a magnet for the younger generation with streets of townhouses painted in various shades ranging from deep greens, reds, blues and more.
A tour of colour
It wouldn’t be difficult to put together a themed European trip of ‘colour destinations’ which would keep you on the road for some weeks at least and fill your computer hard drive with many spectacular photos.