The Most Colorful Destinations In The World

There are many ways a place can delight the senses. The majestic height of a mountain. The power of a waterfall. The overpowering silence in the serenity of the wilderness. The raucous sounds of the jungle or an outdoor opera in a Roman amphitheater in Provence. But perhaps because it’s the most easily reproduced in the mind, the most indelible memories of all are the color of privileged moments in impossibly beautiful places. Waves crashing on shores sound the same everywhere. But the pristine blue and white of a beach on the Maldives shine forever. The fields of Lavender in Grasse do not need a photo to produce a fond recollection. Nor does the flaming orange sun melting into the Andaman Sea. It is not only natural phenomena that can take your breath away. The brilliant hues of the Sistine Chapel or the calliope of colors in the famous bazaars of Morocco never fade however old they become. No less a brand than the Smithsonian has diversified into a number of different revenue streams, including travel. Their stable of experts has designed tours on many different themes, one of which is The Most Colorful Destinations. None of the above are included, which, if nothing else, goes to show the Smithsonian experts don’t know everything. Doubtless, many of you will have other sites of color lodged in your hippocampus. No one is saying there are the only colorful places on Earth. But they make for a pretty good start.

10. Northern Lights, Thingvellir, Iceland

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The ghostly glow of the elusive aurora borealis have fascinated people for millennia. The celestial light show is caused by the collision of gas particles in the atmosphere. Named for the Roman Goddess of the Dawn, they can be best seen in remote northern locales, the renowned travel writer Bill Bryson chose Hammerfest Norway to see them recounts being bored stiff for days before he did. The Smithsonian picks Thingvellir, with its UNESCO World Heritage site National Park and ION Hotel with its neo-Scandinavian cuisine and more importantly, floor to ceiling windows in case of a sudden outburst in the sky. Seekers are at the mercy of weather not even all the Smithsonian experts in the world can control but prime time is said to be March-September.

9. Keukhenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Holland

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The lovely myth about the origin of tulips is that they sprang from the Turkish steppes watered by the tears of a jilted lover. They originated there, were imported by the Danish Ambassador to Constantinople, and were the subject of the world’s first speculation bubble. The Dutch have raised them to an art form and Keukenhoff’s seven million, multi-hued blooms are rightly called The Greatest Flower Show on Earth.” New strains are bred every year and there are orchids, roses, lilies, and other blooms on display in the idyllic 79-acre park complete with ponds, streams, and landscaped pathways. It dates from the 15th-century herb garden tended by a countess in a nearby castle. A truly intoxicating experience for memorable sights and scents. A feast for the eyes and nose sounded a little clunky, don’t you think?

8. Cinque Terre, Italy

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Imagine a Friendly Italian Giant with a basket of gelato colored houses sprinkled the perch impossibly on the sheer cliffs of an ancient blue sea. That would be Cinque Terre (CHINK-way TERE-ah) or Five Lands, 5 fishing villages really dating from the 7th century until modern times linked only by the sea and a narrow footpath which makes a lovely hike for the many tourists who seek the place’s colorful charm and quiet. There is a train but no cars. High up the thigh of the Italian boot in the west coast region of Liguria which also gave the world pesto. Monterosso is the oldest and biggest, Vernazza the prettiest. The trail isn’t climbing Everest but it’s no walk in the park either with lots of ups and downs. A short boat ride south lies Portovenere with the same style of colorful building but a few stories higher than those of Cinque Terre.

7. Ngorongoro, Tanzania 

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The size and diversity of the herds who make the Great migration to this conservation area are staggering. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and Cape buffalo with lions, leopards, and cheetahs on the heels move to summer feeding grounds in the Tanzanian grasslands. The Ngorongoro (Masaai “Gift of Life”) Crater is a sanctuary for a wide variety of animals, birds of all kinds of sport, stripes, and hues, set with the rich colorful flora of the savannah and forests 2000 feet below the plain. Watch for the rare black rhinoceros and witness the splash of pink of flamingos, the golden straw-colored bristles on crowned cranes, the ostrich feathers that were once the height of fashion for European women. Even the traditional clothing of the Maasi appear to be in full bloom. An entire ecosystem like no other.

6. Monteverde, Costa Rica

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Another stunning, stellar ecotourism destination. Pound for pound acre for acre, few places offer more exotic biodiversity and natural beauty than Cost Rica. The Biological Reserve is a gorgeous cloud forest. A rich green canopy itself covered in mist sheltering a pristine paradise for birders and floraphiles. The Smithsonian itinerary says to expect to me “100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds (including 30 kinds of hummingbirds), and 2,500 species of plants (including 420 kinds of orchids), including the fascinating transparent Glasswing butterfly and the almost mythical brilliantly plumed resplendent quetzal. The quetzal was considered sacred in some Central American cultures. Though it sings and flies poorly, Mayan legend holds that the bird once sang with aching beauty but went silent at the brutal Spanish conquest of the 16th century. It prophesied the singing would resume when the land and people regain their complete freedom.

5. Forbidden City, Beijing

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Though it may seem overmatched by transparent butterflies and Dutch tulips, the Forbidden City’s distinctive yellow roof tiles and iconic architecture are a fac9nating study in the historical and cultural significance of color. It lives on in one of the most relentlessly urbanizing cities anywhere, the largest surviving enclave of ancient wooden structures in the world a miracle that it still stands. Forbidden because no one was allowed to come or go without the express permission of the Emperor. The Yellow is in fact the color reserved for the Emperors’ buildings and clothes dating back to the Tang Dynasty of the 7th century. Red is the symbol of good fortune and despite the unspeakable horrors leaders have inflicted on their people, no other colorful setting is so deeply entrenched in a peoples’ ethos.

4. Machu Picchu, Peru

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There may be no more compelling sight to be had in this lifetime than dawn over the long-abandoned, still mysterious Incan site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes with a foreboding grey sky and the Andean peaks as background. The United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization calls it “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.” Built by 1450, abandoned a century later, and undiscovered by Europeans in 1911The green of the land with the color of ancient stone set in an altitude in which hotels offer complimentary oxygen is like a Sistine Chapel in the sky.

3. Jatiluwih, Indonesia

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The color green is most often associated with Ireland. But that is with respect to a Eurocentric view. There may be no greener place on earth than the spectacular terraced rice fields of Bali. In Bali rice is not just another carb. It is a gift from the Gods and treated with great reverence. The Jatiluiwih fields are unforgettable, faultlessly manicured, bursting tropical green irrigated by the water by a lake so sacred, that even thinking, swimming or boating is sacrilegious.

2. Strasbourg, France

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Actually this lovely old city, now the capital of the European Union is the culmination of a cruise along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers which includes Christmas markets in beautiful historic towns such as Koblenz and Bernkastel. Strasbourg’s city center is yet another UNESCO Heritage Site and home to “Christkindelsmärik”, France’s oldest and Europe’s largest holiday market, dating from 1570. The decorated late Renaissance-era buildings are unforgettable with the backdrop of Notre Dame Cathedral recalling centuries-old celebrations. Stalls offer locally crafted Christmas artifacts as well as delicious food and wine from one of the great culinary capitals of the world. A splendid colorful gourmet Christmas with legendary Alsatian wines without the December deepfreeze. Strasbourg’s average temperature at that time of year is 37 Fahrenheit. A feast for the eyes and palate of any faith.

1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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A teeming self-contained ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world. Home to a kaleidoscope of the brilliantly colored underwater life of fish, turtles, and the coral of the Reef itself.  Especially worthy of the top spot here because it sadly ranks highly as one of the most threatened by climate change. An incredible 1600 miles of coral, it is a staggering thought that this is the largest structure in the world created and inhabited by living organisms. From the smallest tropically colored fish the whales and dolphins, it could very well be Mother Nature’s most sublimely rendered palette of color. It has been compared to a rainforest of the sea.

13 Places to See While Single

Travelling single for the first time can be downright scary but if you have courage to take the plunge it’s something you won’t regret. To travel single is to indulge one’s self. Whether you want to party hard in a hot sunny destination where the drinks keep flowing and the bars never close, or whether you want to find inner peace in a tranquil setting where reading a book on the beach all day is encouraged; there is a place for every single traveler in this world. From the beaches of Costa Rica to the mountains of New Zealand, these destinations are full of adventure, relaxation and friendly locals and fellow travelers that will make you feel at home. When you need some time alone; pack your bags, hop on a plane and explore the twelve best places to travel when single.

13. Cali, Colombia

As Colombia’s third largest city; Cali parties more than any other city in this country. Known as The Salsa capital of the World, you can dance from dusk until dawn; no questions asked. If you are looking to relax after a big night of salsa dancing, why not head to the Cali Zoo. The focus here is on Colombian wildlife and education. Stroll through the lush city park and and grab a bite of the seafood chowder or lobster that is always offered. Boasting some of the most beautiful women in the world, professional salsa dancers at every turn and a warm sultry temperature all year long; this city is a must visit when single.

Cali Colombia

12. Iceland

With a country built on tourism and not the most romantic place you think of when you think vacation, Iceland is the perfect destination for the single traveler. Most locals speak impeccable English and English signs and menus are offered throughout the country putting single travelers at ease. Home of the excursion day trips, Iceland offers a chance to meet fellow travelers while whale watching, hiking or relaxing in the hot springs. Catch the northern lights from September to April or choose to travel from mid-May to August where midnight sun keeps it light 24/7. Don’t be fooled by the serenity of this country, the locals also know how to throw a party and keep it going all night long; especially during the summer months.

Reykjavik Iceland

11. Australia

Home to thousands of solo travelers a year, you certainly won’t stick out here if you are alone. Besides the irresistible accents and the sense of welcoming from the locals; you will find a never ending supply of hostels that are begging to be stayed in. From snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to climbing The Blue Mountains in Sydney to exploring the Outback; Australia is a perfect place to check off some of those things on your bucket list. Make new friends, fall in love with the countryside and explore some fantastic beaches. From Sydney to Perth; Australia as a whole is considered incredibly safe for international travelers.

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com
Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com

10. Panama

With solo travel being a norm and English widely spoken throughout the city, Panama City has much to see and do. With its lively and diverse culture coupled with the famous Panama Canal and being one of the friendliest Central American destinations, this country can’t be missed. For the single adventure traveler this country is packed with zip lining, white water rafting and surfing opportunities. For a more laid back vacation one must not miss travelling to the San Blas Islands where tourism has not yet taken over. The native Kuna’s control this land and you will find untouched nature and beauty. Sail the islands, sleep in eco-friendly accommodations and embrace your soul here. Make sure to give yourself time to really enjoy all this country has to offer.

San Blas Islands, Panama

9. Maui, Hawaii

Pristine white sand beaches, friendly local people and a currency that won’t have you scratching your head in confusion, Maui is the perfect Hawaiian Island to visit as a single traveler. If adults-only resorts are something that you’re looking for, Lahaina in West Maui has no shortage of them. Five star hotels line the ocean with private beach access, pools and spas. If a condo rental is more your style there are plenty to rent steps from the ocean. Renting a car from the airport is faster than claiming your luggage and driving the Island is just one way to see the beauty. Stand up paddle board with the sea turtles, kayak with the whales and attend a beach/ohana party.

Maui, Hawaii

8. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Although not the safest of cities on our list; Rio deserves to be one of the top twelve places to see when single. Where else boasts gorgeous mountains, pristine beaches and a party like Carnaval? Besides having one of the best hotel bars in the world (check out the Fasano Hotel), Rio is known for its beaches. Take a walk around and mingle with the locals on the beach and we promise you an invite to a party. Make sure to hook up with some fellow travelers and explore the beautiful downtown area lined with churches and museums. If you are going to visit during the biggest carnival in the world, be sure to book early and prepare yourself for a lot of dancing and little sleep.

Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com
Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com

7. New York City

It is hard to feel alone when you are immersed in a city that’s home to more than 18 million people. This concrete jungle is packed with so much to do you won’t have time to even remember that you’re travelling single. Now is the time to spoil your single self and dine out at a world renowned restaurant (If you feel overwhelmed by dining single, make reservations at non-peak times) or catch that Broadway Show you have always wanted to see. Climb up The Empire State Building, take a boat to see The Statue of Liberty or stroll through Central Park. There isn’t a better place in the world to check out the nightlife than in the “city that never sleeps”.

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

6. Costa Rica

For the backpacker adventurer Costa Rica is a must visit when solo. With two major airports to fly into and endless stretches of beach and jungle; there is something for everyone. Relatively safe and reasonably priced makes Costa Rica desirable to travelers. While there why not join a surf camp and learn to surf while meeting fellow travelers. Take a ride into the rainforest where you can discover sloths, monkeys and a variety of lizards, snakes and frogs. Immerse yourself in the culture and eat locally or try your hand at the nightlife that often lasts until dawn. Whatever it is you do here, we promise you will enjoy it. The locals are friendly, the beer is cheap and the weather is warm, what else does a single traveler need?

Pura Vida Costa Rica

5. Bali, Indonesia

Yoga on the beach. Lodging on the beach. Temples and Ruins. Beautiful beaches and clear water. Must we say more? Packed with spiritual seekers, backpackers and international travelers; Bali is the perfect get away for the single soul seeking traveler. The Balinese people are known to be friendly, welcoming and make you feel right at home. Rent a motorbike, take a stroll through town or raft down the Ayung River for a little adventure. If you are looking to explore a less remote place, hop on a plane to a smaller island; we suggest Lombok. Filled with local markets, celebrations and temples like none other; Bali is the perfect place to relax, unwind and really find your inner zen.

Bali, Indonesia

4. Miami, Florida

For the single traveler who is ready to party, look no further than Miami. With beautiful weather, beautiful beaches and beautiful people; Miami is a hot destination for single travelers. Head to South Beach where you will find no shortage of velvet rope lined nightclubs with the hippest DJ’s. Bask in the sun on Miami Beach where countless events and activities run year round. Be prepared to open your wallet in this town; this is not for the backpacker. Hotels will be a major expense but if you want the royal treatment, book yourself into one that offers a spa and bask in the glory. Make sure to dine out at one of Miami’s waterfront restaurants and enjoy a sunset view.

Miami club

3.  New Zealand

With a landscape of rolling hills to jagged mountaintops, New Zealand is not only beautiful but one of the safest countries to visit. Friendly, open-minded locals make this destination a favorite for single travelers. Meet fellow adventures while you are bungee jumping or jet boating the rivers. Find friends in The Lord of The Rings tour; where you can tour actual filming locations. Relax in thermal hot springs after a day of wine touring or take in a Rugby game with the famous Maori players. With New Zealand being one of the best hiking (or “tramping” as the locals call it) destinations in the world, don’t miss out on partaking in one of the nine epic hikes through the countryside. “Wow” just won’t sum up this vacation destination.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

2. Ireland

A country filled with friendly people, beautiful historic bed and breakfasts and a whole lot of pubs; Ireland rounds off our top twelve destinations to travel to when single. Locals are more than happy to share directions, stories and a pint of Guinness with any traveler that crosses their path. Countless castles, shamrock tours and a pub at every corner means lots of fellow solo travelers to meet. Take a trip to Dingle beach and meet the local dolphin or join one of many guided tours around Ireland. If you don’t mind driving on the left hand side of the road, rent a car and explore the monuments of prehistoric Ireland at Bru na Boinne or the Titanic Museum at Cobh. Ireland will make any solo traveler feel welcome, as that is the way of the Irish.

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

1. Ibiza, Spain

Though recent tourism efforts are trying to steer this city towards a more family friendly vibe, Ibiza is still one of the most notorious party destinations on the planet making it ideal for the single traveler. It’s filled with colorful clubs that run till the sun comes up, booming house and trance music and people who want nothing more than to party all night long surrounded by beautiful people. Big name DJ’s are always coming through hosting mega parties that’ll keep you dancing all night long. This little island’s nightlife is centered on 2 areas: Ibiza Town on the southern shore and Sant Antoni to the west. No matter which spot you choose as your base you’re guaranteed an outrageous and unforgettable vacation.

Beach party Ibiza, Spain