8 of the Coldest Places on Earth – And Why You Should Visit
The cold’s not so bad, is it? A fresh, biting breeze. An evening spent in front of a warm fire. Snow hanging white and clear on the branches. A crisp mist rising in front of your face as you breathe.
Oh yes, the cold can be a grand thing, even for those who dread the end of summer’s warmth. Put on your parka and take a look at our list of the coldest places on earth that you can visit. Ready to get chilly?
8. Liawenee, Tasmania
Okay, starting off small here. Liawenee isn’t going to break any global temperature records, but it does hold the distinguished position of being one of the coldest places on the entire continent of Australia. Luckily for Liawenee, that isn’t a particularly difficult feat to achieve, as Australia is one of the driest and hottest continents in the world.
Still, Liawenee can get seriously chilly. Canadians and Russians may scoff derisively at its record low temperature of -10.4 ° C, but any of Australia’s 23 million countrymen would be shivering at the thought. A relatively high humidity adds to the cold. The same temperature in a humid climate can be far more uncomfortable than in a dry climate, due to the chilling effects of the damp air. Regardless, Liawenee makes this list for being a notable exception to the general view of Australia as nothing but summer and desert all year round.
7. Sutherland – South Africa
The ironically named town of Sutherland is located in the Northern Cape province of the country, but despite having a more northerly latitude than Cape Town, this little village still boasts the coldest temperatures in South Africa.
Sutherland isn’t just a great place to visit if your hobbies include antarctic blasts and wearing ungodly amounts of clothing. Its arid climate, lack of industrialization and high altitude give it some of the clearest skies on the planet, making it a mecca for stargazers from all over.
6. International Falls, Minnesota
The town’s motto “icebox of the nation” should give you some sort of clue as to what this place is all about. The town certainly lives up to these words, being one of, if not the, coldest places in the lower 48 states of the US. If you wanted to find a colder town with an American flag next to its name, you’d have to head on up to Alaska or at least into the remote and relatively uninhabited regions of the Rocky Mountains.
International Falls is fiercely protective of it’s status as one of the coldest towns in the lower 48. It’s had a long running battle with the Colorado town of Fraser for the title “icebox of the nation”. In 2008, the federal court finally ruled in International Falls’ favour. The poor folks of Fraser must be just gutted.
5. Murmansk, Russia
This Russian port city doesn’t break any records in terms of temperature, but it is notable for another, arguably even bigger reason – it is, by far, the largest city within the Arctic Circle. With a population of almost 300, 000 people (though declining), Murmansk is comparable in size and stature to many cities at much lower latitudes.
Though not record-breaking in the cold department, Murmansk is still a very, very cool place to live. How could it be anything else when it’s within the Arctic Circle, after all? With a record low of very nearly -40 °C, this is the sort of city you head to when you just don’t want to bother about a fridge any more.
4. Yellowknife, Canada
Heading back the Americas, our next entry is this excellently named city. Tell people you’re from Yellowknife and you just know they won’t be messing with you anytime soon.
Yellowknife swelters through summer days of up to 35 °C, but that doesn’t stop it from dipping into the other extreme entirely. In the depths of winter, the temperature regularly drops below -30 and -40 °C, with an all-time record low of -51 °C. This extremely large gulf between the city’s extreme highs and extreme lows must get exhausting for the people who have to endure it all year round.
Officially the coldest major city in the world, this Russian municipality is a major port and supplier to the world’s diamond market. However, all those sparkling rocks certainly don’t make it any warmer. In fact, the coldest temperatures ever recorded on the planet outside of Antarctica have occurred just outside this city in the basin of the Yana River.
Apart from it’s startlingly cold climate, Yakutsk is also the largest city built on permafrost. This can be a problem when building because large structures can cause the ice to melt and shift. For this reason, most of the buildings in the city are constructed on concrete piles driven deep into the earth.
We’re going up in terms of importance here – from the coldest major city in the world to the coldest national capital city in the world! Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia and is home to over 1.3 million people.
Given how tough the conditions of this capital are, it’s no wonder that the country bred a people tough enough to conquer most of the known world. Ulaanbaatar has an ancient and extremely varied history. It began as a Buddhist monastic centre in the 17th century, changing location a staggering 28 times during the next one hundred years. Once it settled in it’s current location it began to grow into an economic hub, and when Mongolia achieved independence from the Qing dynasty and later Russia, it was a quick choice as capital.
Yet another Russian entry, Oymyakon makes this list for one very simple reason: it is the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth. With a record low of -67 °C, it’s almost impossible to survive outside during the bitterest parts of winter. Residents flee from building to building, cars are left idling rather that turned off, lest they not start again, and the ground is forever frozen.
In summer, temperatures can actually leap surprisingly high, even into the 30s. However, summers are all too brief whereas winters last most of the year. With an all time low of negative 67 ° and an all time high of 34.6 °, Oymyakon has the highest temperature range in the world at 102 °.
If the sorts of temperatures we’ve covered in this list just aren’t enough to sate your lust for frostbike, then there are even colder places you could get to with a little bit of application. Vostok Station in Antarctica, for example, is home to the world’s lowest recorded temperature of all time. But, since our list is about places you can actually visit, it and other remote places didn’t make the cut.
Share your favourite chilly destination with us in the comments below!
Latest posts by Julian Roben (see all)
- 8 of the Coldest Places on Earth – And Why You Should Visit - August 9, 2016
- The Roads Most Travelled - June 28, 2016