If you already follow me on Instagram (@leahshoup), you’ll know that I love bright colors. Whether it be in the form of murals, street art, or pastel-colored houses, vibrant cities are the perfect photo inspiration. If you’re a color seeker like myself, this list is for you.
Valparaíso, Chile, is a street art lover’s dream come true. Additionally, this city is budget-friendly for backpackers and easy to access from Santiago. A quick 2-hour bus ride (costs around USD 5) will take you from the sprawling metropolis of Santiago to its more laid back sister, Valparaíso.
The city, often referred to as “Valpo”, was originally an extremely wealthy seaport. After the opening of the Panama Canal, the port experienced a considerable decrease in traffic. The remnants of this time in the city’s history are still left in the form of antique architecture.
Nowadays, this “Jewel of the Pacific” is better known for its vibrant colors. Some of the most famous street artists from all over the world visit Valpo to leave their mark.
Salvador da Bahia is one of America’s oldest cities, founded by the Portuguese in 1549. It also served as Brazil’s first capital and maintained this position until 1763. Located in the northern part of the country, this city is mainly known for its Afro-Brazilian culture. These African cultural influences can be seen in the religious practices, dances, food, and languages of the region.
The Pelourinho district (pictured above) was the city center during colonial times. Furthermore, it is particularly famous for its pastel-hued buildings and historical sites. Salvador is quite the picturesque city, located on top of a peninsula that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. With its typically warm temperatures and gorgeous beaches, Salvador makes the perfect destination for anyone looking to mix a cultural experience with a tropical destination.
Cartagena is the most visited city in Colombia, and it’s easy to see why. From its colonial-style homes, beautiful islands, and even vibrantly dressed “fruit ladies”, this place is popping with color. During Colombia’s time under Spanish rule, Cartagena formed one of the main ports for exporting gold. For this reason, wealth in the city began to rise rapidly. As a result, many pirates began to target Cartagena as a plunder site! To this day, the town is surrounded by forts that have withstood the passing of centuries.
Fun fact: The Carnaval de Cartagena is one of the city’s leading festivals. This is actually when the Miss Colombia beauty pageant takes place!
Quito was colorful in a way that I honestly hadn’t been expecting. Sitting in the middle of a river basin, this capital city is surrounded by green, rolling hills and a bright blue sky. Apart from the beautiful landscape, Quito has one of the best-preserved historic centers in Spanish America (source). Additionally, the weather is warm and sunny, the food is delicious, and the people couldn’t be more welcoming. If you need further convincing, it’s one of the cheapest capitals I’ve ever visited!