The Most Extreme Cities in the World

Launch Map
The locations on this map represent the rudest, hottest, coldest, most congested and most expensive on the planet. Surprisingly, this list also includes some of the world's most beloved destinations. Scroll through to find out which cities boast these bad characteristics. The one that made the list three times might (or might not) surprise you!
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    ••• Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images
    According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the hottest city on the planet — not because of any particularly impressive peak temperatures, but because it is consistently hot all year round. The city boasts a mean annual temperature of 84.5ºF/ 29ºC, coupled with high humidity and an average of 128 rainy days per year; while the highest temperature on record is 104.5ºF/ 40ºC.
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    ••• Ayse Topbas/Getty Images
    Located on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the African city of Timbuktu is synonymous with everything remote. It's also one of the hottest cities in the world, with a hot, dry climate offering record highs of 120ºF/ 49ºC. Throughout April, May and June, average maximum temperatures exceed 104ºF/ 40ºC. Modern-day Timbuktu is slowly being reclaimed by the desert and is undeniably a shadow of the trade hub that it once was.
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    ••• Ninara/CC/Flickr.com
    Built on the banks of the Karun River, Ahvaz is an industrial city with average highs of around 115ºF/ 46ºC during July, its warmest month. The city's record high is a fever-inducing 129ºF/ 54ºC, making it one of the world's hottest cities during the summer. Frequent sand and dust storms and an absence of rain from July to September compound its sky-high temperatures.
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    ••• Emad Aljumah/Getty Images
    This wealthy Arab metropolis is the capital of Kuwait and another contender for the title of the world's hottest summertime city with average highs of over 113ºF/ 45ºC from June to August. Nightfall brings little respite, with after-dark low temperatures often exceeding 86°F/ 30°C during the summer months. Kuwait City's record high is 126ºF/ 52ºC, while it rains on an average of just 19 days per year.
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    ••• Issam Madkouk/Getty Images
    Famous as the birthplace of Muhammad, Mecca is Islam's holiest city. It's also another scorchingly hot destination, with around 22 rainy days per year and average annual highs of 100.5ºF/ 38ºC. The highest temperature recorded in the city is 121.6ºF/ 49.8ºC, but even in winter, average temperatures hover at a balmy 77ºF/ 25ºC. Of course, the majority of Mecca's visitors aren't there for the weather - instead, millions of Muslim pilgrims arrive each year to perform the Hajj.
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    ••• Manuel Bischof/Getty Images
    An intoxicating riot of noise and color, semi-arid Marrakesh boasts a record high of 120ºF/ 49ºC. The city's hottest months are July and August, with average highs exceeding 97ºF/ 36ºC. Although sub-freezing temperatures have been recorded in the winter months, Marrakesh nevertheless manages to maintain a warm mean annual temperature of 67ºF/ 19.5ºC. A wider temperature spectrum means that visitors can choose to visit during the season that suits them best.
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    ••• Amit Basu Photography/Getty Images
    Although Miami has the highest mean annual temperature of any U.S. city, the Arizona capital claims the hottest average highs in summer. Between 1981 and 2010, Phoenix boasted an average of 107 days per year with a high of at least 100°F/ 38°C, while the city's record high is a staggering 122ºF/ 50ºC. With approximately 300 days of sunshine every year, the weather alone is a good reason to visit Phoenix, but the Southwest city also has its fair share of theaters, galleries and sports stadiums.
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    ••• Ken and Nyetta/CC/Flickr
    Although the summer months are warm, winters in Astana are long, dry, and exceptionally cold. Extreme lows of -61°F/ -51.5°C have been recorded, although the monthly average for January is 6.4°F/ -14.2°C. Most years, the city's river remains frozen over from mid-November to early April. With plenty of indoor attractions in which to escape from the weather, winter visitors do not need to fear the cold.
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  • 09 of 39
    ••• Steve Burns/Getty Images
    This northern Minnesotan city calls itself The Icebox of the Nation, and with record lows of -55°F/ -48°C and an average seasonal snowfall of 71.6 inches, that claim is well-justified. International Falls has the most days per year with high temperatures below freezing of any incorporated city in the contiguous U.S.—not to mention some spectacular night skies.
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    ••• Pixabay
    Perched 4,430 feet above sea level on the edge of the Mongolian steppes, Ulaanbaatar is the world's coldest national capital. The city experiences extreme seasons with recorded summer highs of 102°F/ 39°C; however, plunging lows of -44°F/ -42°C during the long winter months give Ulaanbaatar an average annual mean temperature that hovers just below freezing.
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    ••• Danita Delimont/Getty Images
    Located above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States. It has the lowest average temperature of all Alaskan cities, exacerbated by frequent cloud cover and extreme winds of up to 60 miles/ hour. The sun remains below the horizon for 65 days each year, while on average, only 120 days of the year experience high temperatures that are above freezing.
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    ••• Dave Prichard/Getty Images
    The capital of Canada's Northwest Territories lies 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and is a city of superlatives according to a survey by Environment Canada. Of 100 Canadian cities, Yellowknife is the coldest year round, has the coldest winter, the most extreme windchill and the longest snow cover season. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -60°F/ -51°C, and yet ironically, it also boasts the sunniest Canadian summer.
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  • 13 of 39
    ••• Pal Hermansen/Getty Images
    Norilsk is the world's most northerly city with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and one of only three major cities located in the continuous permafrost zone. At 14ºF/ -10ºC it has the coldest mean annual temperature of any big city, while winter lows reach extremes of -63ºF/ -53ºC. With museums, an art gallery and one of the world's northernmost mosques, Norilsk has its own unique culture; however, it's unlikely to become a tourist destination anytime soon.
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    ••• Amos Chapple/Getty Images
    The capital city of Russia's Sakha Republic, Yakutsk is located approximately 280 miles south of the Arctic Circle and has the thermometer readings to match. With average January temperatures of of -41ºF/ -40ºC, Yakutsk is thought to be the coldest major city in the world — certainly, it has the lowest average winter temperatures. Sights like the Permafrost Kingdom ice museum, the Christian Market (pictured) and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Sakha, however, make this city a worthwhile destination for those that don't mind the chill, while average temperatures of 67ºF/ 19.5ºC in July make it a summertime possibility for fair-weather travelers.
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    ••• Amos Chapple/Getty Images
    For each country, TomTom creates a congestion level percentage, which represents the amount of extra travel time drivers endure because of traffic. Mexico City is the worst offender on the 2016 list, with drivers spending 59 percent more time behind the wheel on any given journey. During peak times, this figure increases to as much as 97 percent, meaning that commuters waste up to 219 hours on extra travel time each year.
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    ••• lynhdan/CC/Flickr.com
    Coming in second overall, Bangkok has the worst evening rush hour traffic in the world. At its peak, drivers can expect a 114 percent increase in travel times, while the morning rush hour is slightly better with an increase of 85 percent. In total, these statistics translate to approximately 61 extra minutes in the car every day. For visitors, Bangkok's traffic is arguably part of the city's frenetic charm, with local tuk-tuks providing high-adrenaline transport between the city's street markets, temples and shopping districts.
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    ••• Sami Sert/Getty Images
    The Turkish capital is also at its most congested in the evening, with traffic increasing after-work travel times by up to 94 percent. Overall, TomTom estimates that the city's traffic is responsible for increasing average annual travel times by as much as 178 hours per person. Istanbul's overall congestion level percentage shows an 8 percent improvement from last year. The city is also planning a new monorail network, which will reduce traffic even further and enable visitors to enjoy highlights like the Grand Bazaar and the 6th Century Hagia Sophia in relative peace.
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    ••• Sami Sert/Getty Images
    The only country with more than one city on the top-ten list, Brazil's 200 million-plus population is a big part of its congestion problem. Rio tops the national leaderboard with an overall congestion level percentage of 47 percent, translating to an additional daily travel time of approximately 43 minutes. Rio, nonetheless, is a spectacular city, with golden stretches of beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, and the outstretched hands of the monumental Christ the Redeemer statue.
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    ••• Sami Sert/Getty Images
    The Russian capital may be fifth on the list, but its congestion level percentage has seen a 6 percent improvement in the last year. Nevertheless, drivers can add a 44 percent increase to all travel times, with a 91 percent increase during evening rush hour. Still, it's well worth braving Moscow's grid-locked roads to experience the unique flavor of a city caught between the Communist past and its cosmopolitan present.
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    Bucharest is more congested today than it was last year, with a 2 percent increase in its overall congestion level percentage. Morning and evening rush hours see an almost equal amount of traffic, with an increase in travel time of 83 percent and 87 percent respectively. The capital's poor traffic ranking could explain why visitors to the country tend not to linger there, but there are unexpected treasures to be found by those willing to look for them.
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  • 21 of 39
    ••• Slow Images/Getty Images
    The second most congested Brazilian city on the list, Salvador drivers spend up to 74 percent longer in the car than necessary during peak evening travel times. Over the course of the year, that amounts to an extra 160 hours spent behind the wheel. Those statistics shouldn't act as too much of a deterrent for travelers, however, as the beauty of Salvador's rainbow-colored colonial architecture more than makes up for its congested roads.
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    ••• Americo Nunes/Getty Images
    Recife's statistics are very similar to Salvador's, with both cities recording an overall congestion level percentage of 43 percent. Like Salvador, Recife's travel times increase significantly during the evening rush hour, with journeys taking 75 percent longer than if there were no traffic. The similarities between the two cities end there, however, as modernized Recife is better known for its nightlife than its architecture.
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    ••• Haitong Yu/Getty Images
    The Chinese city of Chengdu is the top-ten's worst performer in terms of improving its traffic situation, thanks to a 5 percent increase on last year's overall congestion percentage of 36 percent. Heavy traffic, an uninspiring skyline of high-rises and a record number of overcast days combine to make Chengdu an unlikely tourist destination. However, those that do make the trip will find plenty to love about the city, including its atmospheric teahouses, its mouthwatering regional cuisine, and the furry residents of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
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    ••• Predrag Vuckovic/Getty Images
    No surprise here: Los Angeles is the worst city for traffic in the U.S., with congestion causing a 41 percent increase in overall travel time. On average, Angeleno drivers can expect to waste 43 minutes sitting in traffic every day, adding up to a total of 164 hours each year. Despite its terrible traffic record, Los Angeles continues to be one of the most popular destinations in the country. It's a city of icons, from the film industry heartland of Hollywood, to the world-famous entertainment venues that populate Downtown.
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    ••• Santa Monica palm trees on beach
    The strengthening of the U.S. dollar has seen L.A. climb international rankings to become the tenth most expensive city in the world. In the City of Angels, alcohol is especially pricey, with the average 750ml bottle of table wine costing $23.53, compared with a $12.47 price-tag in New York.
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    ••• Seongjoon Cho/Getty Images
    Ranked 36th in 2011, Seoul is now the ninth most expensive city in the world, thanks in large part to the hugely inflated cost of basic food and drink. With the average 1kg loaf of bread priced at $12.44, grocery shopping in Seoul is 33 percent more expensive than in New York.
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    ••• Yoann JEZEQUEL Photography/Getty Images
    According to Copenhagen's official tourism site, one can expect to fork out $5 for a cup of coffee and $7 for a sandwich in the Danish capital. Gas prices are more than double those of New York, while public transport is amongst the world's most expensive.
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    ••• Merten Snijders/Getty Images
    New York is one of the most expensive cities on the list for luxury items like alcohol and cigarettes, while the Broadway shows and upmarket shopping opportunities for which the city is famous help to make the Big Apple a costly destination.
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    ••• Laurie Noble/Getty Images
    London is notorious for its pricey public transport, with a one-stop journey costing approximately $6.50. It's the second dearest top-ten city when it comes to gas, too, so car rental is no more affordable; while mid-range restaurants, bars and hotels also carry top-level prices.
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    ••• Bruno De Hogues/Getty Images
    Despite the weakening Euro, Paris can be incredibly expensive. Perhaps it's the designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels for which the city is famous, or perhaps it's the fact that most must-see sights (including The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre) charge admission.
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    Together with Zürich, Geneva is the costliest city in the world for entertainment and recreation, while a 2015 survey by Hotels.com also ranked the city as the world's most expensive for hotel dining. Costs are exacerbated by the recently increased value of the Swiss Franc.
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    Sharing the title of the world's second most expensive city with Zürich, Hong Kong is known for costly accommodation. Groceries are 28% more expensive than in New York., while a 2016 report by consulting firm Mercer puts the average price of a cup of coffee at almost $8.
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    panoramic skyline and cityscape of city hongkong
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    Also ranked as the third most expensive city for expatriates by Mercer's 2016 Cost of Living Survey, a double room in a three-star Zürich hotel costs around $220/night. Dining out is costly, while top attractions like Kunsthaus Zürich and the Zürich Opera House carry hefty ticket prices.
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    ••• Martin Puddy/Getty Images
    Singapore retains its 2015 ranking as the world's most expensive city. Although its status as the costliest place in the world to buy a car may not affect visitors, public transport is also 2.7 times pricier than in New York. Shopping, dining and accommodation can also carry sky-high price-tags.
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    ••• Tanatat pongphibool/Getty Images
    Dating back to the city's formation in 1340 A.D., Moscow has seen a great deal of change over time. Perhaps the most notable is the rise of the Soviet Union after World War II, just to collapse at the end of 1991. Today, Moscow remains very cold towards visitors, and not just for the freezing temperatures year-round. In addition to having incredibly strict visa requirements, which require a letter of invitation from a hotel or tour guide, travelers are often subjected to notoriously terrible traffic and poor attitudes towards the locals.
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    In a survey of 46,000 travelers by Condé Nast Traveler, those who had the pleasure of commuting through the city claimed their only reason was to travel through the airport - and nothing else. In addition to political problems, Newark has also experienced an increased number of crimes over the years: In 2013, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted Newark had the third highest murder rate in the United States.
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    ••• Amos Chapple/Creative RF/Getty Images
    Although Moscow may be considered the most unfriendly city in the world, coming in just behind them is another historic Russian stronghold, known more for their association with the Czars than welcoming guests. St. Petersburg — also known throughout history as Petrograd and Leningrad — ranked as the third most unfriendly city in the world by Travel and Leisure.
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    ••• Steve Lorillere/Getty Images
    Despite being named the 2013 European Capital of Culture and the 2017 European Capital of Sport, there are many travelers who would rather not add Marseilles as a top-tier destination. Visitors to the city told Travel and Leisure they found the city to be gritty and unkempt, following their tradition as a high-volume trading port throughout history. Although the city was found to have unfriendly denizens, those who made the trip to the second largest city in France noted that it still had a much more relaxed vibe than the capital of Paris, which lies seven hours north by car.
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    Traffic jam at rush hour on Harbor Freeway, Downtown L.A., Los Angeles, Kalifornien, USA
    ••• Hendrik Holler / LOOK-foto
    Finally, travelers who spent time in Southern California were ultimately not impressed by their visit, and did not have positive things to say about their time in America's second biggest city. Those who ended up in Los Angeles told Travel and Leisure the people are "rude [and] unhelpful, with...people trying to scam you for everything."

The Most Extreme Cities in the World