When you think of Greece, you think of blue and white – right? The colours of the Greek flag, of the sea and sky, of icy ouzo and whitewashed Cycladic houses.
But there are plenty of places to get your colour fix. Many towns in Greece are blessed with gorgeous Neoclassical buildings, often painted in chalky pastels and draped with foliage for good measure. Woodwork and windows are often painted in bright accents. Harbours are a riot of colours with their brightly painted fishing boats and equipment.
Here are some of the best places in Greece to visit for a pop of colour.
It’s no surprise that Oia in Santorini tops this list. Although you might associate it most with bright white volcanic architecture, in fact, many of the buildings are painted in pastel hues. This is particularly so in honeymooner’s capital Oia. Underneath Oia, in the waterfront village of Ammoudi at the bottom of the cliffs, you’ll find earthy reds, oranges and yellows that echo the colours of the volcanic soil.
Parga is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Greece, and a shining star of the Greek mainland. As well as picturesque and colourful streets, Parga also has beautiful natural surroundings and great beaches.
Situated not far from Corfu, it’s popular with day trippers as well as in its own right – proving that you don’t necessarily have to go to the islands for the best beach vacation destinations in Greece.
Where do Athenians go when they want a romantic city break? The beautiful city of Nafplio, that’s where. Just 2 hours along the coast from Athens, elegant Nafplio has bags of charm – pastel-hued neoclassical buildings, chic streets with balconies and boutique shops, shrouded with bougainvillaea. As if that wasn’t enough, it has great beaches and a castle to top it all off.
In a similar vein is the beautiful city of Rethymno on the island of Crete. A former Venetian stronghold, the streets and alleys of the waterfront old town hide are full of character and colour. Bright fishing boats bob in the harbour. These days you’ll also find boutique hotels, painted steps and charming cafes to tempt the tourists.
The volcanic island of Milos in the Cyclades is home to some of the most striking and unique fishing villages in all the Mediterranean. Here you’ll find syrmata – boat garages close to the water with brightly painted doors, carved into the rocks of a natural harbour. You can find more syrmata at the villages Firopotamos and Klima.
LITTLE VENICE, MYKONOS
The colourfully painted balconies of Little Venice are one of the most iconic symbols of Mykonos – and indeed of Greece. These famous balconies hang over the water – so close you could dangle a fishing line for your dinner – hence the reference to Venice. It’s a dream for romantics and photographers. The reds and blues are echoed in the tables, chairs and cushions of surrounding tavernas.
Less well known is the little island of Chalki, a hidden gem close to Rhodes. The main harbour town Emborio is a tangle of fishing boats and neoclassical mansions, in all the colours of the rainbow – red roofs, yellow walls, blue boats and a teal green sea. It’s one of the prettiest harbour towns in Greece (in fact if you google ‘Rhodes’ some of the photos that commonly appear are in fact of Emborio).
Another hidden gem that you can visit from Rhodes is the tiny island of Kastellorizo. You have to go out of your way to visit Kastellorizo, which at just 2 miles from the Turkish coast is closer to Turkey than the nearest Greek island. But it’s worth it to spend some time on this pint-sized settlement. Its colourful harbour town was once strategic trading point and wealthy merchants left a legacy of fine mansions. Today it has a quiet, arty vibe and a few wonderful small hotels.
The picture-perfect village of Assos on the Ionian island of Kefalonia surely wins the award for the most photogenic setting – on a peninsula with beaches on either side and a Venetian castle at the end. The good condition of the pink-tinged houses is thanks to the French who helped restore the village after the great earthquake of 1953 which destroyed so much of Kefalonia’s historic architecture.
Crete’s superstar city Chania has become very popular over the last decade for its wonderful waterfront old town. Venetian, Ottoman and Jewish elements are all present – alongside charming sunflower-yellow backstreets filled with plant pots, and bright boho cafes and bars.
- The streets of Plaka in Athens are filled with pinks and yellows and flowers in spring
- The colours of Assos on Kefalonia are echoed in nearby Fiskardo as well as similar coastal villages on Paxos
- Many of the whitewashed Cycladic villages sport brightly painted windows and doors to discover as you wander their alleys – try Folegandros and Amorgos
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