15 of the World's Most Colorful Destinations

Spot rainbows in mountains, flowerbeds, rivers, and even a U.S. airport.

Blue, green, yellow, orange red body of water with steam
Photo: Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

Somewhere over the rainbow is your next dream vacation.

You don't always have to wait for a spring or summer rain to get a spectacular view of a rainbow. At some of the most colorful places in the world, visitors are treated to a kaleidoscope of different hues year-round.

These worldwide, multicolored attractions might occur naturally, like in striped mountains, technicolor geysers, or bright rivers. Rainbows are also painted on city roads, or they're incorporated into a city's architecture or lighting schemes. Then there are houses and entire neighborhoods that are covered in vivid colors, bringing smiles to residents and visitors alike.

Here's a look at some rainbow-filled destinations in the world's most colorful places.

Vinicunca (Montaña de Siete Colores) in Cusco, Peru

Vinicunca, or Montaña de Siete Colores, Cusco, Peru
Carmen Gabriela / Getty Images

These famous rainbow-colored mountains are located in the Andes mountains of the Cusco region of Peru. The rainbow-like stripes and colors formed because of water that mixed with minerals in the ground. The trailhead to reach Vinicunca is around a three-hour drive from Cusco, but it's well worth it simply for the view.

Caño Cristales River in La Macarena, Colombia

Caño Cristales River, La Macarena, Colombia
Juergen Ritterbach / Getty Images

This colorful river is known as the "River of Five Colors" and "Liquid Rainbow" because of the bright greens, yellows, reds, and purples that seem to be flowing under the water, depending on the light and water conditions. It's not magic, though. The colors come from the Macarenia clavigera plant, which can appear in different colors depending on the water's depth.

McNamara Terminal in Detroit, Michigan

McNamara Terminal, Detroit, Michigan
Katie Dobies / Getty Images

While this Detroit airport terminal may seem ordinary, if you end up walking through its passenger tunnel — which connects concourses B and C — you'll experience a light show that you won't soon forget. LED lights illuminate the walls of the tunnel in a fabulous artistic display that celebrates all the colors of the rainbow.

Palais des Congres in Montreal, Canada

Palais des Congres, Montreal, Canada
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Built in 1983, this Montreal convention center is used for conferences, meetings, galas, and exhibitions, but it also happens to be covered in multicolored glass window panels that create a brilliant display for all who pass by. The beautiful colors are particularly at home in this vibrant city that's filled with art, culture, and history.

Bo-kaap Neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa

Green, magenta, yellow, lavender, orange buildings with white trim in a row

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Situated at the base of Signal Hill and formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap neighborhood was home to 18th-century enslaved people, who were forcibly brought to Cape Town by Dutch colonists from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Africa. It's said that when enslaved people lived in the rental houses their exterior had to be white, but when slavery was abolished in 1834 and residents could purchase the homes, the newly freed people painted their houses in colorful hues. The tradition has withstood time, and visitors can stroll the cobblestone streets to see modern homes decked out in bright green, robin's-egg blue, buttercup yellow, and other cheery colors.

Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple in Tamil Nadu, India

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Martin Harvey / Getty Images

This ornate and historic temple in India welcomes 15,000 devotees daily. But tourists flock to the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple to capture the beauty and brilliance of the multicolored gopurams (towers), which are covered in sculptures of Hindu deities and mythical creatures. The tallest gopuram reaches 170 feet.

Rainbow Stairs in Istanbul, Turkey

Rainbow Stairs, Istanbul, Turkey
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Created by a retired forestry engineer, Huseyin Cetinel, these steps can be found in the rather artsy neighborhoods of Findikli and Cihangir. Cetinel spent four days and his own funds on the project. While many groups have interpreted the colorful staircase as a political statement for LGBTQ rights, Cetinel said he simply "did it to make people smile," according to Al-Monitor.

Colmar in Alsace, France

Colorful houses line a canal in Colmar, Alsace, France
Wilatlak Villette / Getty Images

The colorfully painted houses in Colmar aren't the only reason to visit the Alsace region of France, but they certainly make a good travel photo. The two-story homes on the cobblestoned streets and canals are painted yellow, green, pink, blue, and purple, but there's no specific reason why the residents decided on such a brilliant color scheme. Perhaps, the French just love to make things beautiful.

Rainbow Crossing in Sydney, Australia

Rainbow Crossing, Sydney Australia
Natalie Board / Getty Images

The original rainbow-colored crosswalk was located on Oxford Street in Sydney, but was removed by the local government over "concern for public safety." After years of protests, including people creating their own, DIY rainbow crosswalks, the city officially unveiled a permanent rainbow-colored crossing in honor of the 2019 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The Sydney crosswalk at Bourke and Campbell streets is similar to one that can be found on Castro Street in San Francisco.

Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Rainbow over Victoria Falls at night with stars in the sky
Michi V / Getty Images

Victoria Falls in southern Africa along the Zambezi River is the largest waterfall in the world, measuring about twice the height of Niagara Falls on the U.S. and Canadian border. Rainbows are prevalent here during the day when the sun reflects off the mist of water as it flows over the ridge. But this spot is also one of the few in the world where visitors can see nighttime lunar rainbows, thanks to the bright light of a full moon.

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Blue, green, yellow, orange red body of water with steam
Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

Yellowstone National Park's largest spring is also one of its most photographed features. Grand Prismatic Spring gets its bright color from various species of bacteria that thrive in the heat; differently hued organisms group together in different temperatures, which can reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit around the rings. (The bright blue center can't sustain life at 189 degrees.) View this rainbow-colored spring from a boardwalk in the Midway Geyser Basin or take a short hike from the Fairy Falls Trailhead to an overlook.

Guatapé, Colombia

Colorful buildings painted in blue, yellow, green, purple, red line a cobblestone street
Barna Tanko / Getty Images

A two-hour drive east of Medellín, the lakeside town of Guatapé is filled with colorful buildings along its cobblestone streets. If you travel to this charming spot in Colombia, be sure to take in the varied three-dimensional images (zocalos) painted on the lower portion of the houses; some are simple designs, while others are more intricate depictions of the history and culture of the area.

Zhangye Danxia National Geopark in Gansu Province, China

Multi-colored striped mountains at sunset in China
Kanawa Studio / Getty Images

The mountains in Zhangye Danxia National Geopark in the Gansu province of China developed their varied colors from the different amounts and types of minerals present when they evolved from tectonic plate movement hundreds of millions of years ago. Wind and water erosion further sculpted gorges, pillars, and other rock formations that can be viewed from observation platforms in this park that's just west of the city of Zhangye.

Burano, Italy

Pink, orange, red, blue, green buildings lining a canal in Venice, Italy.
visionandimagination.com / Getty Images

The island of Burano, a 45-minute water-taxi ride from Venice, may be known for its intricate needle lace, but its brightly tinted buildings lining the islands' canals are also a draw for tourists. Some say the colorful tradition began so fishermen could more easily spot their homes while at work on boats in the distant sea.

Keukenhof in Lisse, Netherlands

Rows of red, yellow, pink, purple tulips with green grass and a fountain in Keukenhof Gardens, Holland
Jacob H. / Getty Images

The countryside around Amsterdam is ablaze in color with rows of flowering tulip fields every spring. One convenient way to enjoy an intense dose of color is by visiting Keukenhof, one of the world's largest flower gardens, where more than 7 million tulips bloom. From mid-March to mid-May, stroll through the park dotted with ponds and winding canals, as well as indoor exhibits of different varieties of tulips. Also consider a boat tour of the next-door flower fields.

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