Do you long to travel in warm, serene oases overflowing with hot-weather activities and travelers in chic clothing? Or do you hope to do the opposite? Venture to locations so cold they make world-record lists for the most brutal winters? Countries and cities with freezing temperatures that delight visitors and may destroy property with their natural brutality? From research stations in the middle of the Antarctic to villages in Russia, we explore the top frigid locations that intrigue travelers.
Cold Weather Travel – The World's Coldest Places to Visit
If warm and balmy aren't your thing, here are some ideas for frigid places to visit.
1. Oymyakon, Russia
Oymyakon, Russia, continues as the “coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth,” according to USA Today. Upon formation, the Russian village existed for reindeer herders to bring their animals to the hot spring for a bath. Today, about 500 residents call this world-record-holding village their home. Inhabitants expect the average high temperatures in January to range between -44 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low temperatures to hit -58. This January, the village bundles up under an average of -55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter activities in Oymyakon lean on the cold weather to push the fun. For example, reindeer-led carriages plot through the snow, hauling human guests to their chosen destination. Not something offered anywhere. Another activity for cold enthusiasts is a dive into the Indigirka River. Depending on when you visit, springs under the river might elevate the temperatures, making for a warmer swim than a walk in the wind. After finishing your cold plunge, throw some water in the air and watch it freeze in real time!
2. Vostok Station, Antarctica
Visiting Vostok Station supplies interested voyagers with complications due to its location. The Russian research station, categorized as the coldest place on Earth for average daily temperatures breaching -65 degrees, sits way above sea level at 11,444 feet. The high elevation rate, matched with Vostok's closeness to the South Pole (a mere 800 miles away), makes for a glacial location. Right now, Vostok welcomes an average low of -34 degrees Fahrenheit before migrating toward a colder -50 in the middle of the month. The average high fizzles out at -18 degrees Fahrenheit but will soon inch toward -30.
3. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia remains the coldest capital city in the world, with an average winter temperature of -12.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This month, the low appears to stagnate around -14 degrees Fahrenheit, and the high reaches a whopping 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
To spend time in the icy conditions, locals and visitors alike can explore the Gandantegchenling Monastery, or Mongolia's center of Buddhism, for accounts of local religion and culture. Architecture admirers will adore the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, which features an enormous equestrian illustration of Genghis Khan atop a horse. Dirt pathways carry onlookers up to the tower supported by a sturdy, off-white spherical building. Outdoor jaunters take to Hustai National Park for a chance to spot a takhi wild horse (Przewalski's horse), a caramel-coated endangered horse native to Mongolia. Other species trotting through the national park include manul (Pallas's cat), a grumpy-faced grey and black striped feline with stubby ears enhancing their camouflage capabilities, and Siberian (tarbagan), a stocky rodent with identifiable vermin features like beady eyes and prolonged nails.
4. Denali, Alaska
Denali Alaska holds the record for the highest mountain peak in North America, measuring in at 20,310 feet above sea level. With peaks jutting into the sky, capped by glistening snow, the winter weather plummets well into the negative temperatures. The coldest winters reach around -40 degrees Fahrenheit, while warmer winters remain around zero to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Denali National Park tends to close many roads and lodges leading to main entry points or paths in the park when snowfall becomes too egregious to maintain, yet other activities remain open for visitors. Guests enjoy strapping on snowshoes and weaving through the packed powder, while others hop on snow bikes and tour the park. Nothing beats watching the northern lights during a cross-country ski trek through Denali.
5. Svalbard, Norway
Between Norway's northern coast and the North Pole lies a freezing archipelago called Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard's climate reaches -4 degrees Fahrenheit during its coldest months, inviting arctic explorers to engage in the archipelago's beauty. Be it a straight sight of the northern lights, bucking up for a dog sledding tour through the wintry wonderland, snowmobiling among polar bears and other arctic wildlife prowling through their homes (walrus or whales), or cruising up to one of the natural wonders of the world: a monstrous frozen water receptacle aptly titled a glacier.
For a break away from the freezing climate, Svalbard provides a few museums to delight visitors. The Svalbard Museum showcases the territory's history from its establishment to today, and The North Pole Expedition Museum highlights the various explorers who journeyed to the North Pole. Svalbard delights those brave enough to brace the bitter cold with The Polar Night, a phenomenon where darkness enraptures the land for 24 hours, lasting from November to February.
About Gabrielle Reeder
Gabrielle Reeder is a travel enthusiast from St. Petersburg Florida. She boarded her first plane at six months old and blamed her love for jet-setting on her mom’s background as a travel agent. She’s been to 41 states and six countries, hoping to up that number to 50 states and 10 countries by her 26th birthday. She loves to find the best vegetarian food, desserts, and music venues during her trips.