Let's See Those Places That Can Only be Seen by Braving the Cold

During the winter months, the weather can become outright brutal in certain parts of the world. Stepping outside here in NYC can often feel like venturing out for an Arctic expedition. However, across the globe exist wondrous and extravagant places that you’ll only get to experience by braving the cold.

(Image: Jonatan Pie/ Public Domain)

Each year less than 100 miles from the Arctic Circle, in the Kemi region of Finland, a castle that appears to be plucked from the pages of a fantasy novel is created. Every January, various artists and designers craft a massive snow castle, complete with a 12-foot high wall, hotel, and chapel for guests who want a wintery wedding. For an even grander display of ice artistry and a shivering good time, look no further than the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival that takes place in Harbin, China. One of the world’s largest ice and snow festivals, the event has been ongoing since 1963 and features teams from across the globe competing in design and sculpting competitions. If you happen to be in Juneau, Alaska and are feeling adventurous, then kayak over to the Mendenhall Ice Caves. Inside the 12-mile long Mendenhall Glacier is a gorgeous, fluorescent blue ice cave that feels as though you’ve entered another realm drenched in beauty. These are just a few of the amazing places around the world that require a couple of layers to enjoy, but are nonetheless marvelous. Now we’d like to see more!

In the thread below, tell us about some of your favorite places that require dealing with frigid temperatures. Where is it located and what’s its history? What did you find most intriguing and what prompted you to take this visit? From glacier parks and ice museums, to places that can only survive under frigid temperatures, such as the Svalbard Seed Bank, any of these chilly locations are fair game. Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response and photo may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!


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Recently Ice Castles have become a very popular winter activity and the one in Midway, Utah is one of my favorites. Ice Castles starting building them in 2011 and there are several locations throughout North America. The one in Midway is great because it is a short drive from Park City and Salt Lake City. It sits on land at the Homestead Resort. You can spend the evening walking through the castle, watching light shows,warming upy the fire pits inside, riding down slides, or crawling into caves. They also offer a hot chocolate stand to warm yourself up after all the ice exploration.



The Christmas market of Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the only European Christmas market I’ve been in, but I’d say it’s still quite unique thanks to the city’s geography.

The market is located on Princes Street Gardens, which were set up on the drained land occupied by a loch at the base of the extinct volcano atop which the city’s Castle and Old Town sit.

What this translates to is a bunch of twinkling lights in a small valley, with panoramic views available by walking just a few steps uphill.

With the average temperature for December in the city at around 5°C, plus wind and the famous Scottish damp, some might say that is not “braving” cold, but others (like me) would say it is.


I have shared this photo before (most surreal locations), but I echo the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska as one of my favorite cold places. We hiked up to the glacier rather than kayaked, and it was a pretty strenuous hike (4 miles each way if memory serves me correctly). Definitely worth seeing!


This is such an amazing picture! Thanks for sharing :beers:

This certainly counts as braving the cold, anything where wearing multiple layers is a must lol.

As mentioned in the opening to this thread, Svalbard is renown for its freezing temperatures and the Global Seed Vault. I visited in March and September of last year, when the aforementioned seed vault was undergoing refurbishment due to the permafrost that protects its contents thawing. Besides the natural beauty and otherworldliness of Svalbard, it is a fascinating place rich in industrial history.