Written by Tamara Sheward

Europe's most colourful destinations

Got a bad case of the travel blues? Join us on a rainbow ride through some of Europe’s most luminous locales.

Burano, Venice

A swift gondola ride away from the elegant decay of Venice, Burano pops out of the lagoon with its collection of colourful buildings, all of which were awarded their hues by a government decree.

Island dwellers first began painting their homes in bright colours so fishermen could see them in foggy conditions.

Zalipie, Poland

Zalipie is arguably the most adorable village in Europe. Everything here – barns, bridges, exteriors, interiors and chicken coops – has been plastered in floral folk art.

The custom dates back more than a century, and legend has it that the practice began with women painting flowers on cottage walls to cover up soot marks from wood burning stoves.

Costa Nova, Portugal

Built in the 19th century to accommodate an influx of fishermen, these shelters were used for sardine salting and stashing fishing equipment.

Known as palheiros, the warehouses were decorated with bright red exterior planks. They gradually lost their fish-centric functionality, with owners transforming them into accommodations.

Čičmany, Slovakia

This Slovakian village is the world’s first folk architecture reserve. Čičmany’s 136 black timber homes pop with seemingly sugar-dusted decoration.

About 200 years ago, the women of Čičmany used lime to adorn the cottages with patterns in an attempt to protect the timber. After a fire in 1921, locals covered the cottages in intricate designs.

Júzcar, Spain

Formerly one of the pueblos blancos (white villages) of Andalucia, Júzcar was slathered in 4000 litres of bright blue paint in 2011 to promote the global release of the Smurfs 3D movie.

The company behind the marketing ploy offered to repaint the village after the premiere, but residents voted to keep the hue: pre-paint job, Júzcar averaged 300 tourists a year. After? 80,000.

Ciocănești, Romania

Carpathian Mountains. The very name conjures up images of vampires, werewolves and bewitched forests. But in the historic Bucovina region, Ciocănești busts every spooky cliché.

Ornate egg decoration has been a tradition here for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that residents started painting the same elaborate designs on their homes.

Longyearbyen, Norway

Located on the only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago, the world’s northernmost settlement is in darkness for four months a year.

But its rows of multicoloured homes – in place thanks to Longyearbyen’s official building code – keep the gloom at bay.

Oberammergau, Germany

Oberammergau, an ancient artists’ hamlet, is filled with baroque buildings that don’t just have a storybook feel: they are storybooks.

The village’s fanciful frescoes – called Lüftlmalerei – depict scenes from classics including Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, as well as religious murals.

Kinsale, Ireland

Originally a medieval fishing port, Kinsale was a trading and military hub for centuries; after its fortunes fell in the 1900s, residents banded together to give it a motley makeover.

The bayside beauty is also a favourite with foodies, thanks to a glut of top-notch restaurants and the Kinsale Gourmet Festival, held every October.

Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

This village’s Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) is framed by dozens of ancient buildings plastered in murals depicting themes from wine to warfare.

Originally commissioned in the 1500s, today the frescoes come with a heavy dose of civic duty: every building’s owner must commit to keeping their facade’s artworks in a pristine state.

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