36 of the Most Colorful Places in the World

Sarah Lempa

Chicago, USA

Curiously crimson landscapes that are (somehow) natural and Gatorade-level hues of blue are found in droves across our travel rainbow—along with every other eclectic shade in between. Mother Nature formed and human-made alike, these destinations provide a hearty dose of monochromatic magnificence that’ll have you reconsidering your favorite color left and right. Toss out everything you knew about Roy G. Biv: there’s a new rainbow in town (and you’re gonna blow all your air miles on it). Take a gander at 36 of the most colorful places in the world.

Daigo-ji, Japan

Daigoji, Kyoto
Benten Pond, Daigo-ji, Kyoto, Japan.

Just southeast of Kyoto sits Daigo-ji: a Shingon buddhist temple and UNESCO world heritage site. Visit during autumn to see the colorful Benten Pond set ablaze with vibrant red leaves. Within the fiery foliage, you’ll find a five storied pagoda that dates back to the 9th century. It’s the epitome of Kyoto’s historical charm.

Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan

Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka
Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan.

Hitachi Seaside Park is located in Ibaraki Prefecture, the northeast of Kanto region. The park is best known for its bright red “pom pom” plants — or Kochia— that turn from green to crimson each fall. Stop by during Kochia Carnival to quietly stroll through the park’s 32,000(!) Kochia balls.

Red Beach, China

Red Beach National Landscape Gallery, Panjin Shi
Red Beach, Panjin, Liaoning, China.

When you think of the beach, you probably think of white sand and blue seas. Pretty standard, eh? Not always. That isn’t the case for Panjin Red Beach in China, which is bright red, and actually not covered in any sand at all. Red Beach is located in the biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world. Look out for the famous red Sueda plants that turn vividly red each fall.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park, Overton
Valley of Fire State Park, Clark County, Nevada, US.

Just 55 miles south of Las Vegas and 150 miles from the Grand Canyon lies Valley of Fire State Park: A 46,000-acre wonderland known for its stunning red sandstone formations. These cartoon-like rocks illuminate the valley, especially at sunset, making it look as though it’s on fire. We liken it to a trippy Dr. Seuss book.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope Canyon, Canyon
Antelope Canyon, Arizona, US.

Antelope is the most visited slot canyon in the Southwest, partly because it is easily accessible, but also because it’s extremely beautiful with just the right combination of depth, width, length, ambient light, and orangey-red rock color. With two separate canyon sections — upper and lower — you’ve got some exploration cut out for you.

Erg Chebbi, Morocco

Erg Chebbi, Chebbi
Erg Chebbi, Morocco.

Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s several ergs – large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. Take a tour during sunset to spot the dunes’ stunning red and orange hues, or sweat your way across the serpentine ridges during the daytime. Hell, hop on a camel if you’re into that. It’s mind numbingly vast and monochromatic; you simply have to see it to comprehend the enormity.

Maple Leaves, Vermont, USA

Stowe, Stowe
Stowe, Vermont, US.

Folks are always asking when to visit Vermont. And the answer is beyond simple — it’s leaf peeping season. This short window of time between mid-September and mid-October reveals a stunning version of New England painted yellow, red and orange. Your best chances for spotting color in one of the most colorful places on Earth are to “get high” (elevations with panoramic views) or “get low” (valleys near marshy waters where trees are their most vibrant).

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, California

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve, Lancaster
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Northern Los Angeles County, California, US.

Each spring, get ready for an eye-popping show at Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. In the remote hills west of Lancaster, you can experience a technicolor display of California poppies: The state’s official flower with countless bright orange petals glowing in the sunlight. It’s only about an hour and a half out of downtown Los Angeles (depending on traffic) making it easy for a quick nature escape. 

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Ratchasima
Rai Maneesorn, Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

If you envision running through a sunflower field without a care in the world, we’ve got some surprising news for you. This is the place to be! Specifically, Rai Meneesorn: A sprawling sunflower field that you’d sooner expect in the Sound of Music over a country in Southeast Asia. Bring your camera. It’s by far one of the best things to do in Thailand. ‘Nuff said.

Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue, Japan

Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue, Minato City
Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue, Tokyo, Japan

With 300-meters of bright yellow ginko tree glory, it’s safe to say Ginko Avenue is one of those colorful places that deserves a spot in our rainbow. This famed fall walkway offers a tranquil oasis in the middle of bustling Tokyo, an unsuspecting escape from the concrete jungle sprawl. When fall rolls around, it draws even more crowds to take in the colors.

Luoping, China

Luoping County, Qujing
Luoping, China

Deep in China’s eastern Yunnan province exists an untouched, off-the-beaten path landscape that looks like its centuries in the past. Each spring, the vast fields turn a stunning shade of yellow thanks to the golden seed of canola. Who knew cooking oil had such an awe-inspiring aesthetic before it hits the shelves.

Dallol, Ethiopia

Dallol, Dallol
Danakil Depression, Dallol, Ethiopia

You’re looking at one of the world’s harshest landscapes. Pretty to look at but semi-terrifying to touch, Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, located in Dallol, is quite literally the hottest place on Earth (and one of the Earth’s most colorful places!). Crusty salt lakes and multicolor hydrothermal pools might distract you from the fact that the average yearly temperature is nearly 94 degrees fahrenheit.

Devil’s Bath, Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand

Waiotapu, Rotorua
Devil’s Bath, Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand

Despite how it looks, Devil’s Bath isn’t a radioactive wasteland. It’s actually a completely natural sulphur lake, and boy — believe us when we say that neon green smells funky. New Zealand’s Wai-O-Tapu landscape is replete with geysers and other volcanic elements, so there’s plenty of whimsical sights to see beyond Devil’s Bath.

Longji Rice Terrace, China

Longji Rice Terrace Scenic Spot, Guilin
Longji Rice Terrace, China

China’s Longsheng County is something out of a surrealist painting, with free-flowing slopes and hues of green that make broccoli jealous. Construction of the rice terraces began way back in the fine year of 1271, during the Yuan Dynasty. Nowadays, the Zhuang and Yao nationalities live here, and you can get a unique glimpse into their culture during a visit. Pro tip: splurge for a bird’s eye view.

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

Tunnel of Love, Klevan'
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

It sounds like a poorly written romance novel from your local resale bookstore, but in fact, Tunnel of Love is an abandoned section of industrial railway just outside of Klevan, Ukraine. Legend has it that this natural train tunnel is a good luck charm for couples. Hell, take your lover and give it a try… Or roll solo. Whatever floats your boat.

Bamboo Forest, Japan

Bamboo Forest, 京都市
Bamboo Forest, Japan

Nestled at the base of Kyoto’s Arashiyama Mountains, there’s a bamboo forest that happens to be one of the best things to do in Japan. It takes about 30 minutes to reach from central Kyoto, but you’ll feel like you’re hours away from the action. While it certainly draws significant crowds, there are plenty of quiet, leafy corners to enjoy on your own.

Marble Caves, Chile

Marble Caves, Chile Chico
Marble Caves, Chile

Jump back into high school chemistry class with these sprawling calcium carbonate formations that have resulted in a one-of-a-kind cave system: Marble Caves. Azure rock walls mimic the waters below, resulting in an overall view that is truly out of the ordinary. You can’t swim through ‘em (the water is beyond icy) but you can explore this colorful destination via kayak or a boat tour.

Waipu Cave, New Zealand

Waitomo, Waitomo
Waipu Cave, New Zealand

Remember those glow in the dark stars that everyone put on their ceilings as a kid? Yeah, Waipu Cave is basically the grown up (and bug-filled) version of that. Here, bioluminescent glow worms illuminate the caverns of Waipu — creating a twinkling canopy that rivals Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan

Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka
Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan

The word “park” is definitely an understatement when it comes to Hitachi Seaside Park — an iconic, hilly hangout near Mito in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture. Blue nemophila flowers blanket the landscape from late April to mid May, and you can catch views of the Pacific Ocean from the park’s highest points.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chefchaouen, Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chefchaouen, affectionately known as Morocco’s “blue city”, is well-known for its all-blue splendor from corner to corner. Powdery blue hues of buildings are met with bright works of authentic Moroccan art, plenty of fragrant couscous, and plenty of winding cobblestone streets to keep your days full of exploration (and probably a handful of wrong turns).

Kawachi Wisteria Garden, Japan

Kawachi Wisteria Garden, Kitakyushu
Kawachi Wisteria Garden, Japan

Taking a leisure stroll under a canvas of electric violet is the norm at Kawachi Wisteria Garden, one of Japan’s (many) gorgeous botanical attractions. We hadn’t heard of a “flower tunnel” until we came across this place, and we gotta say, bright purple is quite the shade for it — especially when it’s 100 meters in length.

Jacaranda Trees, South Africa

Jacaranda Trees, South Africa

Once a year, the city of Johannesburg turns purple. Between September and October, the city’s 70,000+ Jacaranda trees blossom into stunning shades of purple all over the city — lining streets, shading parks, and dazzling every onlooker. We’d tell you a specific vantage point if there was one, but honestly, color is quite literally all over the place.

 Lavender Fields, Provence, France

 Lavender Fields, Provence, France

Lavender season in Provence generally kicks on between mid June and mid July, and wow, you don’t want to miss it! This larger-than-life aromatherapeutic treat is delighting for all the senses — offering an unreal visual experience as well as a wonderful fragrance. Harvests begin from mid-July onward, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Field of Light At Sensorio, Paso Robles, California

Field of Light At Sensorio, Paso Robles, California

Like a bizarre futuristic cartoon, the Field of Light at Sensorio is a 15-acre light show on rolling hills, comprised of over 58,800  fiber-optic stemmed spheres that change colors. The gently illuminated landscape was designed by Bruce Munro, an English & Australian artist known for his larger than life installations. We’re impressed!

City Palace, Jaipur, India

City Palace, Jaipur, India. manjik / Shutterstock.com

As a compound overflowing with lush gardens, sprawling courtyards, and buildings — Jaipur’s City Palace is quite literally an (Instagram) oasis in the middle of the Pink City. A mix of Rajasthani and Mughal over the centuries, there are seemingly endless photos to be taken here — from the shimmering palace doors displaying the seasons to the rainbow Peacock Gate, the pink Diwan-I-Khas room, and the famously blue Chhavi Nivas. If you want to snap photos that look like you have the palace to yourself, head here first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. 

Hutt Lagoon, Gregory, Australia

Hutt Lagoon, Gregory, Australia.

The charming town of Port Gregory was once a small fishing village, but now is a holiday hotspot for fishing and diving (and one of the world’s most colorful places!). Depending on the time of year and weather, the algae in Hutt Lagoon causes the water to transform from a red to pink to purple. Since the colors transform over the course of the day, the best time of day to visit this famous pink travel destination is typically mid-morning or sunset (when the colors really pop).

Cherry blossoms, Mt. Fuji, Japan

Cherry Blossoms, Mt. Fuji, Japan.

The Sakura (cherry blossoms) of Japan draw visitors from around the globe for their yearly springtime blossom, and the surrounding landscape of Mt. Fuji is one of the best places to take it all in. The pastel-pink flowers around the Fuji Five Lakes typically bloom around mid April. For the best view, head to the Chureito Pagoda or Ubuyagasaki Peninsula during Japan’s cherry blossom festival where you’ll have the staggering mountain peak as your backdrop.

Tangsi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Tangsi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia 

On the eastern shore of Lombok, Indonesia, you’ll find Tangsi: just one of ten beaches in the world with sand that’s entirely pink. How? Over time, water washed millions of red coral fragments up from the seabed. When mixed with normal sand, the beach turned a delicious shade of pink — one that travelers have been dying to since their toes into ever since. It’s both comical and breathtaking, one of our favorite combinations.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Park, New Mexico.

Rising from the heart of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, White Sands National Park has earned the title of the world’s largest gypsum dune field.  Visitors can hike around the pristine dunes, partake in education ranger-led programs, and even try their skills at sandboarding in a few designated places around the park.  With trails that range from easy to extremely difficult, it’s a perfect jumping off point for every-level of experience.

Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun, Myanmar

Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun, Myanmar.

Ever since its construction in 1816, the Hsinbyume Pagoda has captivated its visitors year after year. Starkly contrasting the blue skies above, this all white temple is both an architectural and cultural point of interest. There are countless incredible temples to see all over Southeast Asia, but the monochromatic boldness of Hsinbyume makes it stand out even more in our book.

Uyuni Salar, Andes, Bolivia

Uyuni Salt Flat, Andes, Bolivia.

Stretching across 10,582 square kilometres of the Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, and seeing it in person is the only way to properly comprehend that fact. Despite the desert dryness, freezing night temperatures, and fierce desert sun — this landscape is not devoid of life! Pink flamingos, ancient cacti, and rare hummingbirds all live in the Salar de Uyuni, adding a dramatic splash of life in an otherwise desolate landscape and making it one of the best things to do in Bolivia. Spoiler alert: Pink flamingos look pretty damn unreal against an all-white landscape.

Wat Rong Khun, Pa O Don Chai,Thailand

Wat Rong Khun, Pa O Don Chai, Thailand.

Consider this spot the twin sibling of #30 with a Thai twist. Wat Rong Khun, AKA the White Temple, is a privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. With its location in Thailand’s northern province, it draws plenty of visitors from the nearby city of Chiang Rai.  We would believe you if you told us it was built centuries ago, but turns out it was constructed in 1997. Either way, it’s an awesome place to take a stroll.

Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Black Sand Beach, Iceland.

Moody as can be, Reynisfjara black sand beach is the most famous shoreline on the South Coast of Iceland. It sits right beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal, a remote town perched in the shadow of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. What we’re trying to say is, it’s Icelandic as f%$@k. With beautiful black sand, powerful waves, and the nearby Reynisdrangar sea stacks — a visit to Reynisfjara is a truly one of the most special things to do in Iceland.

Stokksnes cape, Iceland

Stokksnes, Iceland.

Stokksnes—also known as Vestrahorn— is one of the most stunning locations in all of Iceland, which is a pretty tough title to earn. The backdrop of Vestrahorn, the massive mountain onsite, makes this place a landscape photographer’s dream. With rigid black peaks, strikingly dark sand, and a contrastingly blue lagoon, Stokksnes is a must for every Iceland bucket list.

Black Sands Beach, California

Black Sands Beach, Lost Coast, Humboldt County, California.

Misty, salted air meets seriously Icelandic vibes at Black Sands Beach, a large stretch of black sand and reefs on California’s Lost Coast. With no major roads or access points, this spot is perfect for backpackers and foot explorers who want to get off the beaten path. The coastline is walkable, so get ready to ditch your shoes at the top and go for a long stroll. You deserve it.

Búðir Church, Iceland

Búðir Church, Iceland

Find Iceland’s famous black church, Búðir, in the Búðahraun Lava Field: a barren stretch of rocks and grass in Iceland’s Snaefellsnes peninsula. The church’s striking black exterior is painted with pitch to protect against the weather — and it’s everything you could possibly dream of in a moody Icelandic landscape. At roughly 2 hours north of Reyjkavik, the country’s capital, it’s pretty easy to escape up here for a day trip to take in the views.