The World's Coldest Cities

  • 01 of 08

    The World's Coldest Cities

    Aurora borealis,northern lights, boreal forest, Yellowknife environs, NWT, Canada Aurora borealis,northern lights, boreal forest, Yellowknife environs, NWT, Canada
    Wayne Lynch/Getty Images

    For most of us, cold means having to turn up the heat or bundling up in extra layers. There are a few places on Earth, however, that take our understanding of cold to a whole new level. According to Guinness World Records, the coldest permanently lived-in human settlement is the remote village of Oymyakon in Russian Siberia, where temperatures dropped to a bone-chilling -90ºF/ -68ºC in 1933. This article takes a look at some of the coldest cities on earth, ranked from warmest to coldest, based on average January temperatures.

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  • 02 of 08

    Astana, Kazakhstan

    Main Astana, Kazakhstan mosque in the winter
    Ken and Nyetta/CC/Flickr

     Average January temperature: 6.4 °F/ -14.2°C

    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. Astana is a modern city defined by futuristic architecture, glittering mosques and a wealth of shopping and entertainment centers. But it's also one of the coldest cities on Earth.

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  • 03 of 08

    International Falls, Minnesota, United States

    The winter night sky as seen near International Falls, Minnesota
    Steve Burns/Getty Images

    Average January temperature: 4.4°F/-15°C

    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. It is best known for its Canadian border crossing, and as the gateway to nearby Voyageurs National Park, in addition to being one of the world's coldest cities. The park is popular for kayaking and hiking in summer, and for cross-country skiing and ice-fishing in winter. 

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  • 04 of 08

    Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

    A suburb of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

     Average January temperature:  -11.2ºF/-24.6ºC

    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. The capital’s chaotic weather shouldn’t deter potential visitors, however. As well as being the international gateway to Mongolia’s spectacular wilderness areas, Ulaanbaatar boasts a bevy of rich cultural sights ranging from Tibetan-style Buddhist temples to fascinating modern art galleries.


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  • 05 of 08

    Barrow, United States

    Chukchi Sea, Off shore, Scenic landscape of spring break of sea ice, Barrow, Alaska, USA
    Danita Delimont/Getty Images

     Average January temperature: -13ºF/-25ºC

    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. However, despite record lows of -56ºF/ -49ºC, there are plenty of reasons to visit Barrow. These include its rich Iñupiat culture, the beauty of the surrounding tundra and the opportunity to witness the northern lights.

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  • 06 of 08

    Yellowknife, Canada

    Dogsledding in Yellowknife, Canada
    Dave Prichard/Getty Images

    Average January temperature:-18.2°F/-27.9°C

    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. Rich in gold-rush history, Yellowknife is a mecca for adventurers, offering activities ranging from hiking beneath the midnight sun to dog-sledding, snowmobiling and spotting the northern lights. 

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  • 07 of 08

    Norilsk, Russia

    Russia, Siberia, near Norilsk, mountains of Putorana Plateau
    Pal Hermansen/Getty Images

    Average January temperature: -22ºF/-30ºC

    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. Apart from the fact that Norilsk’s mining and smelting industry has made it one of the most polluted places on Earth, the city has been closed to foreigners since 2001. This city definitely lives up to the stereotype of the coldest places in Siberia being the coldest ones on Earth.

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  • 08 of 08

    Yakutsk, Russia

    A fish seller in Christian market in Yakutsk, Russia
    Amos Chapple/Getty Images

    Average January temperature: -41ºF/ -40ºC

    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. In addition to being the coldest city in Siberbia, Yakutsk is the coldest city in the world.