Coldest Cities in the World: Exploring Extreme Winter Climates

Coldest cities in the world

Exploring the 10 Coldest Cities in the World

From the frozen landscapes of the Arctic to the remote reaches of Siberia, the world is home to some of the coldest cities on Earth. In this article, we delve into the top 10 coldest cities in the world based on average temperatures, exploring their unique climates, challenges, and the resilience of their inhabitants.

What is the coldest city in the world?

Oymyakon holds the record for the lowest recorded temperature in a permanently inhabited location: -89°C (-128°F).

Verkhoyansk also holds a record for the lowest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -69.8°C (-93.6°F).

Yakutsk is the world’s coldest major city, with a population of over 300,000 people.

The coldest city in the world is generally considered to be Yakutsk, Russia. With average January temperatures plunging to around -41.5°C (-42.7°F), Yakutsk holds the title of the coldest major city on Earth. Its extreme cold temperatures are due to its location in the Siberian region of Russia, where winters are long and harsh.

Top 10 coldest cities chart

Note: This list is based on average January temperatures. Actual temperatures can vary greatly, and these cities can experience much colder extremes.

CityAverage January Temperature (°C)Average January Temperature (°F)
1. Oymyakon, Russia-89-128
2. Verkhoyansk, Russia-35-49
3. Yakutsk, Russia-41-42
4. Dudinka, Russia-33-27
5. Norilsk, Russia-28-18
6. Yellowknife, Canada-27-17
7. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia-24-11
8. Harbin, China-20-4
9. Fairbanks, Alaska-20-4
10. Winnipeg, Canada-180

Chilling Chronicles: Unveiling the Top 10 Coldest Cities Worldwide and Their Frosty Realities

The bitter cold of winter is a harsh reality for residents of the coldest cities in the world. These coldest cities in the world endure extreme temperatures that plunge well below freezing for much of the year, testing the limits of human endurance and infrastructure. Despite the challenges posed by their frigid climates, these cities boast rich histories, vibrant cultures, and communities that have adapted to thrive in the face of adversity.

List of Top 10 Coldest Cities in the World

Braving bone-chilling temperatures and embracing icy landscapes is an adventure for some. If you’re considering a trip to a truly frigid destination, here are the top 10 coldest cities in the world, where winter reigns supreme:

1. Oymyakon, Eastern Russia

This remote Siberian town holds the official title of coldest inhabited place on Earth, with record lows dipping to a bone-numbing -89°C (-128°F). Life here revolves around thick fur clothing, heated homes, and quick dashes outdoors.

Oymyakon - 190228 DSC 5642
Oymyakon, Sakha Republic, Russia. Ilya Varlamov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes planet Mars is warmer than Oymyakon, Russia. The average temperature on Mars is about -63°C (-81°F). During the day, it can get as warm as 20°C (68°F) at the equator, but at the poles, it can drop to -153°C (-243°F).

Oymyakon - 190228 DSC 5855
A man adorned in the attire of Chyskhaan, the embodiment of cold in Yakut folklore, exudes an aura of mystique and ancient reverence. Ilya Varlamov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brace yourself for the title of “coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth”! Yet, Oymyakon’s residents celebrate winter with the “Festival of the Pole of Cold,” complete with reindeer racing and ice sculptures. 🇷🇺

2. Verkhoyansk, Russia

Another Siberian contender, Verkhoyansk boasts an average January temperature of -45°C (-49°F) and has recorded lows of -67°C (-90°F). With limited sunlight and permafrost dominating the landscape, this town is not for the faint of heart.

Werchojansk Kältepoldenkmal II
Polyus Kholoda, also known as the Pole of Cold in the northern hemisphere, is marked by a monument located at the entrance of Verkhoyansk, Russia. Becker0804, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Step back in time with Verkhoyansk’s historic wooden houses and museums. Don’t miss the chance to witness the dazzling Northern Lights paint the night sky with vibrant colors. 🇷🇺

3. Yakutsk, Russia

The capital of the Sakha Republic in Siberia, Yakutsk experiences brutally cold winters with average January temperatures of -41°C (-42°F). Despite the harsh conditions, the city thrives with a vibrant cultural scene, traditional Yakut festivals and economic hub in the Siberian wilderness.

Коллаж города Якутска
A vibrant collage showcasing the city of Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic in Russia, captures the essence of this unique urban landscape. From its colorful buildings nestled against a backdrop of snow-covered expanses to the bustling streets filled with life and activity, Yakutsk offers a fascinating blend of modernity and tradition. With landmarks like the Lena Pillars, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Yakutsk Cathedral towering over the cityscape, visitors are treated to a visual feast that celebrates the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of this remote yet captivating city in Siberia. FGhoust, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Immerse yourself in Yakut culture at the Ysyakh festival, a vibrant celebration of spring. Marvel at the frozen Lena River transformed into a natural ice highway, perfect for winter adventures. 🇷🇺

4. Dudinka, Russia

Located above the Arctic Circle in Siberia, Dudinka experiences long, harsh winters with average January temperatures of -33°C (-27°F). Despite the cold, the town plays a vital role in the region’s oil and gas industry.

Dudinka 04
Veyernaya (hand fan) Street in Dudinka (railway crossing). On the left, the reverse side of the stele “Port Dudinka”. Ninaras, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This port city on the Yenisei River offers a glimpse into Siberia’s industrial heart. Experience the thrill of dog sledding across the vast snowy plains, a truly unforgettable winter activity. 🇷🇺

5. Norilsk, Russia

Another Siberian city on the list, Norilsk endures extreme winters with average January temperatures of -28°C (-18°F). The city’s industrial mining activities contribute to its harsh environment, but it also holds the distinction of being the world’s northernmost major city.

A car under snow in Norilsk
Norilsk’s winters are characterized by their extended duration, bitter cold temperatures, prolonged darkness, and heavy snowfall, creating a stark and challenging environment. Андрей Романенко, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let the industrial facade fool you! Norilsk boasts unique museums like the Norilsk Polar Dawn Art Museum and breathtaking views of the frozen Lake Lama. 🇷🇺

6. Yellowknife, Canada

As the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories and nicknamed “Diamond City” for its mining history, Yellowknife faces bone-chilling winters with average January temperatures of -27°C (-17°F). The Aurora Borealis (northern lights) however, makes for a dazzling spectacle in the long, dark nights.

Snow removal in yellowknife
Winter in Yellowknife, Canada, is a spectacle of frozen beauty, where the landscape transforms into a sparkling wonderland under blankets of snow. George Lessard [1], CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights dance across the sky in Yellowknife, aptly nicknamed “Diamond City.” Explore ice castles and frozen waterfalls, or try your hand at ice fishing, a local tradition. 🇨🇦

7. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Mongolia’s capital sits at a high altitude, contributing to its frigid climate. Average January temperatures hover around -24°C (-11°F), and the city often experiences strong winds that intensify the chill. Their residents bundle up to endure the long and frigid months.

Chingisiin Talbai 2014-7-11
The collage showcases the vibrant essence of Chingis Square (Sükhbaatar Square) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, capturing the bustling energy, cultural richness, and architectural beauty of this iconic urban space. Orgio89, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mongolia, bordered by China and Russia, is renowned for its vast landscapes and nomadic traditions. Ulaanbaatar, the capital, features Chinggis Khaan Square, named after the famed leader of the Mongol Empire. The city also houses the National Museum of Mongolia, exhibiting historical artifacts, and the restored Gandantegchinlen Monastery, dating to 1830.

The poster vividly advertises the Mongolian New Year festivities at Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume in Elista, Kalmykia, Russia, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural celebrations filled with traditional music, dance, and rituals. Rartat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get a taste of nomadic life at the Tsagaan Sar festival in Ulaanbaatar, celebrating the Mongolian New Year. Explore historic Buddhist monasteries and witness the awe-inspiring Gobi Desert, transformed into a winter wonderland. 🇲🇳

8. Harbin, China

This northern Chinese city is renowned for its annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, showcasing awe-inspiring ice creations amidst average January temperatures of -20°C (-4°F).

Despite the cold, this vibrant city in northeast China celebrates winter with enthusiasm and creativity.

Harbin Montage
Montage of Harbin. Clockwise from top: Hongbo Plaza, St.Sofia Orthodox Church, Songpu Bridge, Harbin ice and snow world, Central Avenue, Flood memorial tower. Montage by Caliva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Immerse yourself in the dazzling Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, featuring magnificent ice creations that defy imagination. Sample delicious local cuisine and explore the city’s charming Russian architecture. 🇨🇳

9. Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks is the second-largest city in Alaska and is known for its harsh winters.

Nicknamed the “Golden Heart of Alaska,” Fairbanks experiences long, cold winters with average January temperatures of -20°C (-4°F). However, the city also boasts stunning Northern Lights displays and outdoor winter activities like ice fishing and dog sledding.

Aerial view of Fairbanks Alaska skyline (Quintin Soloviev)
Aerial view of Fairbanks, AK skyline. Quintin Soloviev, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gaze at the aurora borealis shimmer above Fairbanks, known as the “Golden Heart of Alaska.” Go dog mushing on the Chena River, visit the Santa Claus House, or pan for gold – a true Alaskan adventure awaits. 🇺🇸

10. Winnipeg, Canada

The capital of Manitoba in Canada, Winnipeg is known for its harsh winters with average January temperatures of -18°C (-0°F). The city embraces its wintery identity with festivals like the Festival du Voyageur, celebrating French-Canadian heritage.

Winnipeg skyline from the forks. 1ajs at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember, these are just average temperatures, and actual readings can be much colder, especially during windchills. If you’re planning a trip to any of these destinations, be sure to pack accordingly and prepare for the extreme cold!

Embrace the “Friendly City” spirit at the Festival du Voyageur, celebrating French-Canadian heritage with lively music, traditional food, and winter activities. Skate on the world’s longest naturally frozen river, the Red River, for an unforgettable experience. 🇨🇦

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The 10 coldest cities in the world offer a glimpse into the resilience of human communities in the face of extreme weather conditions. From the frozen tundra of Siberia to the icy landscapes of Alaska, these cities stand as testaments to the adaptability and perseverance of mankind in some of the harshest environments on Earth.

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