Few things are more effective at uplifting the spirit than color. And luckily for us, our planet is filled with places that are so vibrant, Pantone should be taking notes. Between sprawling fields of flora and buildings awash in vivid paints, rich visual opportunities abound in these must-see spots. We’ve chosen the ten most colorful destinations in the world - places so stunning; you’ll be pinching yourself to see if they’re real.
Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand
This “thermal wonderland” is located at southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre, just north of the Reporoa caldera, in New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone. Due to dramatic geothermal conditions beneath the earth, this area is full of natural wonders. One of the most unique is known as the “Devil’s Bathtub”. This deep crater was created from an underground eruption. The iridescent lime hue is the result of high amounts of sulphur floating on the surface.
Lake Retba, Senegal
This bubblegum-colored lake gets its otherworldy hue from a human-friendly bacteria that thrives in the salty waters. Popularly referred to as Lac Rose by locals, the lake is situated on the Cap Vert peninsula. It is less than an hour’s drive from Dakar and is separated by narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean. And yes, adventurous tourists can swim in the salty lake as long as they rub a generous quantity of shea butter on their skin before jumping in.
Rainbow Mountains, Peru
Photo by Katie Pirillo
Vinicunca, also called Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors), is located in the Andes in the Cusco region of Peru. While the sight is certainly worth it, the trip is fairly challenging, so it’s not recommended for beginner hikers. The trailhead is a three-hour drive from Cusco, and to get to the lookout, you’ll need to hike about six miles. These magnificent colors formed as a result of ice that once covered the area. When the ice began to melt, the water mixed with minerals in the ground, creating a natural rainbow effect.
Procida Island, Italy
Photo by Erwin Doorn
Procida is one of the Flegrean Islands off the coast of Naples in southern Italy. The tiny island is stacked with charming candy-colored homes set against the dazzling blue backdrop of the Mediterranean. The colorful homes, located in the village of Corricella, offer a breathtaking view, and the area gets so much sunshine that it’s possible to enjoy the island’s many delicacies outdoors, even in the winter months. Plus, since vehicles are banned in the village, traffic is never an issue, and you can easily walk off all that pasta.
This vibrant Mexican city was founded in 1548 to provide shelter to the silver miners and reached the height of its prosperity in the 16th and 17th centuries. The city is built on the slopes of a slender valley with narrow streets climbing steep hillsides. The old center contains an array of colorful buildings, most of them from the 18th century, including the beautiful Cathedral and the Church of Santo Domingo, which has a richly sculpted facade.
Tulip Fields, The Netherlands
If you don’t have anything on your calendar for April, head to the Netherlands to feast your eyes on a sea of red, orange, yellow, purple and pink tulips. Throughout spring's prime months, the immaculately manicured fields bloom into a stunning and precise array of colors. There are several different bulb-growing regions, but we recommend you head to Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower park, to see more than seven million blooms.
Cano Cristales River, Colombia
Located east of the Andes in Colombia, the Cano Cristales river, also referred to as "the river of five colors," bursts into vibrant shades of red and orange for a few weeks between September and November. This biological marvel is due to an aquatic plant called macarenia clavier that flourishes on the river’s sandy floor. The area is not accessible by road, but tourists can fly into the nearby town of La Macarena followed by a short trip to Serrania de la Macarena, the national park in which Caño Cristales is located.
Valley of Flowers National Park, India
This World Heritage Site, set against the wilderness of the Himalayas, is covered in vibrant flowers. Add a sunset, and you have one unbeatable view. Located around 400 miles from Delhi, this area has an altitude that varies from 10,500 feet to 21,900 feet above sea level. The best time to visit is from mid-July to mid-August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain.
Acadia National Park, Maine
If you’re into foliage, this is the destination for you. This 47,000-acre recreation area is located on the Atlantic coast, primarily on Maine's Mount Desert Island. The breathtaking landscape is marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. Among the wildlife are moose, bear, whales and seabirds. And from early September through mid-October, the cottonwoods, aspens, willows and shrubs are alive with color.
Fly Geyser, Nevada
The result of a drilling error in the 1960s, Fly Geyser is a geologic curiosity located in Washoe County, Nevada –approximately 20 miles north of Gerlach. Because of its thermophilic algae, which flourishes in moist, hot environments, beautiful tones of red and green make it an amazing sight to see. The geyser is technically located on private land, but in June 2016, it was purchased by the Burning Man Project and is available for guided tours.
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