Winter is here, and for those of us living in the northern hemisphere — the days have already begun to get shorter and darker, with nothing but the grey and cold to look forward to, for the next few months. And, if you are someone who has been obsessively daydreaming about exotic destinations, clear blue skies and sunshine, here is a respite.
Booking.com, a digital travel company, has handpicked six of the world’s most colourful places to encourage travellers to recharge their batteries. With rainbow-hued architecture, fragrantly-spiced food and plenty of Vitamin D, leave the winter skies behind for these unique and colourful getaways.
With thousands of houses in every imaginable shade of blue, Jodhpur, on first glance, may seem like an unlikely candidate to escape the ‘blues’. But with a pleasant winter temperature, historically-rich architecture and spicy street food, it makes for a brilliant getaway. The sand-coloured Mehrangarh Fort is one of India’s largest forts. Other interesting experiences include a peaceful stroll through the Mandore Gardens — to admire its many temples and manicured landscapes — and the sampling of local delicacies, such as mirchi bada and pyaaz ki kachori.
Popularly referred to as the ‘Blue City’ of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a bright and cheerful feast for the eyes, with its myriad houses and shops, all painted in brilliant shades of azure, iris and indigo. Warmed by the North African sun and buffeted by the sounds and scents of the city’s vibrant souks, Chefchaouen entices with the smell of freshly-ground spices, and with the exuberant haggling of bargain hunters bidding on hand-crafted treasures. With an average temperature of 16 °C during the winter months, it’s ideal for travellers. If you really want to turn up the heat though, you can spend time sweating it out in the city’s many hammams (traditional Turkish baths).
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
While it is winter for the northern half of the planet, it is summer in Cape Town! If you are seeking colour, sunshine and spice, spend a day exploring the historic Bo-Kaap neighborhood with its vivid jewel-toned houses and cobblestone streets. Meaning ‘above the Cape’ in Afrikaans, Bo-Kaap is also known as the Cape Malay Quarter and the epicenter of Cape Malay culture in the city. A mix of Indonesian and European influences dating back to the Dutch colonial period, Bo-Kaap promises an intoxicating mix of restaurants and markets to enjoy. Musts include sampling the sweet and spicy traditional Cape Malay curry, and a visit to the Bo-Kaap Museum, housed in a renovated building from the 1760s.
Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico
One of the top emerging travel destinations for 2020, San Juan is popular for its rich history, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife and colourful Spanish architecture in its traditional center, known as Viejo San Juan, literally meaning ‘Old San Juan’. The best way to explore this cobble-stoned beauty is on foot. Whether wandering around the beautiful plazas and soaking up some sun during the day or dancing the night away with some friendly locals to the sounds of Salsa, Flamenco, Cha-Cha and Jazz at an impromptu street party, a visit to San Juan is a surefire cure to the winter blues.
Willemstad, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
With traditional Dutch architecture in vivid hues of orange, pink and yellow, the vibrant capital of the Caribbean island of Curaçao provides a tropical dose of colour therapy for anyone struggling with the winter blues. A truly photogenic UNESCO World Heritage site, Willemstad overflows with inspiring opportunities to brighten your mood (and your social media feed): from shopping for fresh fruit at the famous floating market to strolling along the cobblestone streets of the historic waterfront, and clicking the perfect shot of the harbour from Queen Emma Bridge.
Highly endorsed for its beaches, relaxation, snorkeling and sunny weather, Willemstad truly has something for everyone. With over 20 beaches to explore in a relatively compact area, renting a car is one of the best ways to discover the island’s stunning natural beauty.
George Town, Penang
Combining the old with the new, the capital of the Malaysian island of Penang is a lively destination steeped in history and full of contemporary and traditional artwork. Perfect for ‘snowbirds’, George Town knows no real winter. With an abundance of sunshine from December to April and pleasant weather throughout the year, this UNESCO World Heritage city is best explored on foot. Travellers can admire the stunning street art, old houses, ancient Chinese shops, beautiful temples, mosques and churches.
Hailed as the foodie capital of Malaysia, the city has fully embraced food trucks, offering an incredible array of dining options, including everything from Indian, Cantonese and Malay to Hokkien Chinese cuisine. Coffee lovers will also find many trendy cafes during their time in the city.