The most remote small towns in the world



Slide 1 of 31: From tiny hamlets clinging to cliff faces to dinky island villages cut off by oceans, the world's most remote small towns are often as breathtaking as they are isolated. Here, we take a virtual tour of the remote reaches of the Earth, so you can dream of life at a different pace.
Slide 2 of 31: A hodgepodge of rainbow houses make up Ittoqqortoormiit, a remote settlement often tipped as “the edge of the world”. This little village sits on Greenland’s eastern coast, hugged by snow-crowned mountains and surrounded by sea ice (which the some 350 residents use for hunting). Helicopter is the only route in or out of this Arctic outpost for most of the year, though a ship comes bi-annually to drop off supplies.
Slide 3 of 31: The Road to Hana – a white-knuckle route with hairpin bends, tight one-lane tracts and ocean views – has become more famous than little Hana itself. The teensy town, in the remote eastern corner of Maui, holds its own, though. Life moves at a slow pace here, with stellar beaches, shops selling Hawaiian crafts and green as far as the eye can see. See more of the world's most dangerous roads here.
Slide 4 of 31: Scotland isn’t short on far-away idylls, but Applecross – a rugged peninsula with a teensy village – is up there among the most remote. It’s reached via the infamous Bealach na Ba (or Pass of the Cattle), a cloud-skimming route that’s all heart-pumping bends and switchbacks. The village itself – known to locals as “The Street” – is just a string of whitewashed houses on the waterside, plus lauded local bar The Applecross Inn.

Slide 5 of 31: This desert hideaway lies in the distant South Australia outback, and miners have long flocked here to dig for opal. Coober Pedy is still known as the opal capital of Oz, and today most people live in homes known as “dugouts”: cool underground boltholes built into the sunbaked earth. It’s not easy to reach – Coober Pedy is a flight, or about eight hours along the Stuart Highway, from Adelaide – but an arid golf course and a handful of galleries means locals have plenty of ways to spend their downtime. Mars-like Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park is right on the doorstep too.
Slide 6 of 31: In many ways, Whittier is exactly what you’d expect of a remote town in Alaska: bobbing sail boats, buildings hugged by spruce trees and peaks capped with snow. But there’s one key difference. Whittier is known as “the town under one roof” since nearly all of its roughly 200 residents live in Begich Towers, an army barracks turned residential tower block. The complex has a shop, church and even a health center, so people needn’t always brave the galeforce winds the settlement is famed for. Best of all, the bolthole – 60 miles (97km) from Anchorage and reached via a mountain tunnel or by sea – is a gateway to the glorious Prince William Sound.
Slide 7 of 31: Spreading out at the edge of Hudson Bay, in the wilds of northern Manitoba, is Churchill – the self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. From July through to November, Churchill’s 900-strong population lives alongside these snowy bears, as well as the beluga whales who migrate into the bay in summer. The isolated Canadian bolthole, reached only via train or plane (no roads), has also become an unlikely hub for street art.
Slide 8 of 31: A narrow gravel road carved into a mountainside leads to Iruya, a lofty village that peers out from the peaks. It’s set at around 9,000 feet (more than 2,700m) in the Altiplano region and it’s known for its pastel buildings, its hiking trails, its historic church and, of course, the heart-stopping mountain panoramas.
Slide 9 of 31: It doesn’t get much more remote than this: a remote settlement on what’s tipped as “the world’s remotest island”. Just 245 people live on this distant isle, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, and outsiders need special permission to visit. There’s no landing strip here, either, so there’s also the small matter of a six-day boat journey from Cape Town, South Africa. Peaks teeming with wildlife form the town’s backdrop and craggy shores and black sand meet the sea: the town itself is sweet as can be with a pair of churches and a museum in a thatched cottage.

Slide 10 of 31: One of the remotest spots in the windswept Outer Banks, the island community of Ocracoke can only be reached by ferry or small plane. The most distinctive feature is the 65-foot (20m) whitewashed lighthouse which watches over the quaint clapboard houses and the waters of Ocracoke Inlet and the Pamlico Sound. Beyond the village proper, there are wild ponies and birdlife, plus beaches galore.
Slide 11 of 31: This breathtaking mountain town sits at an elevation of 9,052 feet (2,759m) with soaring peaks rising all around. It’s within kissing distance of Kinnaur Kailash, a colossal mountain that’s believed to be a sacred home of the Hindu deity Shiva. Another head-turner is the seven-story Sapni Fort and temple with its intricate wood carvings.
Slide 12 of 31: It’s not uncommon to see the Northern Lights dancing overhead in Iqaluit, the capital and sole little city in Nunavut. It occupies a stomach-flipping spot on the waterside on Baffin Island, hemmed in by a trio of parks, filled with forests, waterfalls and archaeological wonders. Iqaluit is also known for its Inuit culture, with a thriving arts and crafts scene and typically two popular festivals. See more stunning images of the Northern Lights here.
Slide 13 of 31: Take a pocket of the Arctic and add in a scattering of brightly colored houses, art galleries, plenty of reindeer and a brewery (yes, a brewery) and you’ve got Longyearbyen – a pocket-sized metropolis in Svalbard surrounded by peaks. This is the world’s northernmost settlement with a steady population of 1,000-plus and the hardy residents share their surroundings with polar bears, and the waters of the Adventfjord with whales.
Slide 14 of 31: Home to the Havasupai Tribe, this breathtaking village is situated within the Havasu Canyon, just beyond Grand Canyon National Park. The settlement is best known for Havasu Falls, a cascade rushing over rusty red rock and collecting in an eye-popping turquoise pool. Some 200 people live alongside the natural wonders here, which are only accessible via hiking, helicopter or mule train. Note that the Havasupai Reservation is currently off-limits to visitors due to COVID-19.

Slide 15 of 31: Only 120 people live on the remote Knoydart Peninsula, in the Scottish Highlands, and most of them have settled in the teeny village of Inverie. It’s a smattering of quaint buildings – a tearoom, a snug pub, a few guesthouses and homes – clustered at the edge of Loch Nevis and backed by peaks and forest. Since it’s not connected with the road network, it’s only accessible by hiking or by boat and it made headlines back in 2017 when Chicago Town delivered a chest of frozen pizza to residents.
Slide 16 of 31: The Shirakawa-go and Gokyama regions of Japan are famous for their historic villages filled with Gassho-style farmhouses – and these picture-perfect homes look like they’re made from gingerbread with their pitched, thatched roofs and neat windows. The biggest of the villages in Shirakawa-go is Ogimachi, which now has museums and restaurants tucked away in its traditional buildings. They sit amid forested mountains and manicured farmland, set out like a patchwork quilt.
Slide 17 of 31: Oland is one of Germany’s Halligen Islands, a smattering of super low-lying islets at the mercy of the tides. Mostly mudflats and marsh, it’s also home to a pint-sized hamlet that’s only accessible via a rickety narrow-gauge railway that routes over the sea, connecting its 16 residents to the mainland. It’s the proud home of the tiniest lighthouse in the country too. Take a look at the world's most remote oceans.
Slide 18 of 31: Another mining town Down Under, Broken Hill is plonked in the New South Wales Outback. The community dates back to the 1880s and its compact main street could be plucked straight from a Wild West movie. Beyond the downtown, the settlement is a picture of burnt orange, with striking sights such as the Line of Lode Miners Memorial (pictured) – a sculpture remembering the hundreds of workers who died in the mines – breaking up the apricot expanse. Check out Australia's most eerie abandoned towns and villages.
Slide 19 of 31: Green mountains rise up all around this valley bolthole in the Caucasus, accessible via a rural road that beats its way through the peaks. The town itself spills out along the Terek River and is mostly made up of little guesthouses and restaurants geared towards the tourists who usually come to hike in the peaks. The whole scene is presided over by Tsminda Sameba Church, a 14th-century stone monument on a soaring hilltop.
Slide 20 of 31: Big Sky Country has plenty of remote wonders and tiny towns that seem to pop up in the middle of nowhere. Scobey, a little settlement deserted in cattle country, is one of them. In fact, The Washington Post tipped it as one of the most remote towns in the contiguous United States. Nosing up to the Canadian border in rural Daniels County, it’s home to Daniels County Museum and Pioneer Town (pictured), with its antique cars and restored buildings from a bygone era.
Slide 21 of 31: In the remote western reaches of Egypt, in the sprawling Western Desert, is Siwa – a fertile oasis flecked with olive trees and springs. It’s estimated that a community of around 30,000 live here, and the Siwi people typically dwell in the mud-brick villages that dot the region. The sprawling ruins of Shali fortress (pictured) dominate the desert pocket.
Slide 22 of 31: Just 20 people live in Telegraph Cove, a tiny settlement in the north of Vancouver Island wrapped around an inlet. The village once relied upon its fishing and canning industry, but today – and despite its relatively remote location – its population typically swells in the summer with visitors seeking BC's wilderness. Orcas and bears make a home of Telegraph Cove’s surroundings and the waters are usually dotted with kayaks and lined with fisherfolk.
Slide 23 of 31: This mellow beach town sits right at the tip of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, a remote headland covered with rainforest and home to lush Parque Nacional Corcovado. Matapalo itself, reached via a rugged road, is swallowed by forest and fringed by ocean and home to surfers who catch waves at the secluded beaches here. Colorful macaws are revered village residents too.
Slide 24 of 31: Despite its wayout location in the Texan desert, Marfa has built something of a reputation for itself. The town is in the far western reaches of the Lonestar State and is known as a kooky, quirky art hub with creatives moving to these dry, dusty parts from all over the States. Galleries spring up in all sorts of buildings – from a 1920s ballroom to disused army quarters – and the most famous installation is the lone Prada storefront that winks at drivers from the roadside. See more secret wonders hidden in the world's largest deserts.
Slide 25 of 31: Pitcairn Island, one of a four-strong archipelago, is a dreamy isle and British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. It’s best known for its natural treasures – waters teeming with tropical fish and coral, and a bounty of birdlife in forested hills – but it’s also home to the little village of Adamstown. It’s the sole settlement here, home to some 50 people, and it's every bit the sleepy island village – it has a handful of shops and restaurants along its leafy streets, sweeping views of the ocean, and little else.
Slide 26 of 31: This English market town is as quaint as can be. It’s folded away in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with its sweeping heather moors and forest-edged rivers, and is hailed as one of the highest towns in England (sitting at an elevation of about 1,000 feet; 305m). From its lofty perch, it boasts historic stone buildings filled with trinket shops, restaurants and pubs. Here are more of the UK's prettiest small towns and villages.
Slide 27 of 31: Little Fort Simpson, in the Dehcho Region, proudly touts itself as the only village in the Northwest Territories. Its 1,250 residents live on a small island right where the Mackenzie and Liard rivers meet, and the little settlement opens out into the Nahanni National Park Reserve with its peaks, rushing rivers and indigenous heritage. Back in town, Fort Simpson’s history is written into its 19th-century buildings. This sunset snap shows floatplanes used to access the settlement.
Slide 28 of 31: Hanga Roa is the biggest settlement on Easter Island, an isolated Chilean isle known for its gigantic stone statues called moai. Around 3,000 people live in Hanga Roa, a tangle of palm-lined streets scattered with shops, restaurants and bed and breakfasts. Its rugged shores typically attract divers too.
Slide 29 of 31: Another outlying bolthole in The Last Frontier, Homer is right at the finish of Sterling Highway, which wriggles through the Alaskan wilderness – hence the town’s common nickname, “the End of the Road”. The scenic town, with its colorful stilt houses and mountain views, extends along the Homer Spit and juts right into peak-fringed Kachemak Bay.
Slide 30 of 31: Studding the North Atlantic between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are remote in and of themselves – and Gásadalur, a little village enveloped by mountains, breathes a whole new meaning into the word. It teeters on the edge of westerly Vágar island and, until 2004, it was only linked to the rest of the Faroes via a lofty mountain track. Today a tunnel routes through to the little hamlet, with its pint-sized guesthouses, café and waterfall crashing into the sea. 
Slide 31 of 31: If asked to imagine a remote Icelandic settlement, you’d probably come up with something like Eskifjörður. This petite fishing town in Iceland’s far east has all the usual charms: colorful buildings reflected in still waters (the Eskifjörður fjord, in this case), a necklace of rugged peaks, and a handful of cute seafood spots. It’s reached via road, with stark, volcanic scenery opening out on either side and views of towering Hólmatindur mountain.

Far-flung boltholes around the globe

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA

The Road to Hana – a white-knuckle route with hairpin bends, tight one-lane tracts and ocean views – has become more famous than little Hana itself. The teensy town, in the remote eastern corner of Maui, holds its own, though. Life moves at a slow pace here, with stellar beaches, shops selling Hawaiian crafts and green as far as the eye can see. See more of the world’s most dangerous roads here.

Applecross, the Highlands, Scotland, UK

Coober Pedy, South Australia, Australia

This desert hideaway lies in the distant South Australia outback, and miners have long flocked here to dig for opal. Coober Pedy is still known as the opal capital of Oz, and today most people live in homes known as “dugouts”: cool underground boltholes built into the sunbaked earth. It’s not easy to reach – Coober Pedy is a flight, or about eight hours along the Stuart Highway, from Adelaide – but an arid golf course and a handful of galleries means locals have plenty of ways to spend their downtime. Mars-like Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park is right on the doorstep too.

Whittier, Alaska, USA

In many ways, Whittier is exactly what you’d expect of a remote town in Alaska: bobbing sail boats, buildings hugged by spruce trees and peaks capped with snow. But there’s one key difference. Whittier is known as “the town under one roof” since nearly all of its roughly 200 residents live in Begich Towers, an army barracks turned residential tower block. The complex has a shop, church and even a health center, so people needn’t always brave the galeforce winds the settlement is famed for. Best of all, the bolthole – 60 miles (97km) from Anchorage and reached via a mountain tunnel or by sea – is a gateway to the glorious Prince William Sound.

Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Spreading out at the edge of Hudson Bay, in the wilds of northern Manitoba, is Churchill – the self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. From July through to November, Churchill’s 900-strong population lives alongside these snowy bears, as well as the beluga whales who migrate into the bay in summer. The isolated Canadian bolthole, reached only via train or plane (no roads), has also become an unlikely hub for street art.

Iruya, Argentina

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha, Saint Helena

It doesn’t get much more remote than this: a remote settlement on what’s tipped as “the world’s remotest island”. Just 245 people live on this distant isle, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, and outsiders need special permission to visit. There’s no landing strip here, either, so there’s also the small matter of a six-day boat journey from Cape Town, South Africa. Peaks teeming with wildlife form the town’s backdrop and craggy shores and black sand meet the sea: the town itself is sweet as can be with a pair of churches and a museum in a thatched cottage.

Ocracoke, North Carolina, USA

Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, India

Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

It’s not uncommon to see the Northern Lights dancing overhead in Iqaluit, the capital and sole little city in Nunavut. It occupies a stomach-flipping spot on the waterside on Baffin Island, hemmed in by a trio of parks, filled with forests, waterfalls and archaeological wonders. Iqaluit is also known for its Inuit culture, with a thriving arts and crafts scene and typically two popular festivals. See more stunning images of the Northern Lights here.

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Supai Village, Arizona, USA

Home to the Havasupai Tribe, this breathtaking village is situated within the Havasu Canyon, just beyond Grand Canyon National Park. The settlement is best known for Havasu Falls, a cascade rushing over rusty red rock and collecting in an eye-popping turquoise pool. Some 200 people live alongside the natural wonders here, which are only accessible via hiking, helicopter or mule train. Note that the Havasupai Reservation is currently off-limits to visitors due to COVID-19.

Inverie, Knoydart Peninsula, Scotland

Only 120 people live on the remote Knoydart Peninsula, in the Scottish Highlands, and most of them have settled in the teeny village of Inverie. It’s a smattering of quaint buildings – a tearoom, a snug pub, a few guesthouses and homes – clustered at the edge of Loch Nevis and backed by peaks and forest. Since it’s not connected with the road network, it’s only accessible by hiking or by boat and it made headlines back in 2017 when Chicago Town delivered a chest of frozen pizza to residents.

Ogimachi, Shirakawa-go, Japan

Oland, Germany

Oland is one of Germany’s Halligen Islands, a smattering of super low-lying islets at the mercy of the tides. Mostly mudflats and marsh, it’s also home to a pint-sized hamlet that’s only accessible via a rickety narrow-gauge railway that routes over the sea, connecting its 16 residents to the mainland. It’s the proud home of the tiniest lighthouse in the country too. Take a look at the world’s most remote oceans.

Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Another mining town Down Under, Broken Hill is plonked in the New South Wales Outback. The community dates back to the 1880s and its compact main street could be plucked straight from a Wild West movie. Beyond the downtown, the settlement is a picture of burnt orange, with striking sights such as the Line of Lode Miners Memorial (pictured) – a sculpture remembering the hundreds of workers who died in the mines – breaking up the apricot expanse. Check out Australia’s most eerie abandoned towns and villages.

Stepantsminda, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Georgia

Scobey, Montana, USA

Big Sky Country has plenty of remote wonders and tiny towns that seem to pop up in the middle of nowhere. Scobey, a little settlement deserted in cattle country, is one of them. In fact, The Washington Post tipped it as one of the most remote towns in the contiguous United States. Nosing up to the Canadian border in rural Daniels County, it’s home to Daniels County Museum and Pioneer Town (pictured), with its antique cars and restored buildings from a bygone era.

Siwa Oasis hamlets, Egypt

Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, Canada

Matapalo, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Marfa, Texas, USA

Despite its wayout location in the Texan desert, Marfa has built something of a reputation for itself. The town is in the far western reaches of the Lonestar State and is known as a kooky, quirky art hub with creatives moving to these dry, dusty parts from all over the States. Galleries spring up in all sorts of buildings – from a 1920s ballroom to disused army quarters – and the most famous installation is the lone Prada storefront that winks at drivers from the roadside. See more secret wonders hidden in the world’s largest deserts.

Adamstown, Pitcairn Island, Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Island, one of a four-strong archipelago, is a dreamy isle and British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. It’s best known for its natural treasures – waters teeming with tropical fish and coral, and a bounty of birdlife in forested hills – but it’s also home to the little village of Adamstown. It’s the sole settlement here, home to some 50 people, and it’s every bit the sleepy island village – it has a handful of shops and restaurants along its leafy streets, sweeping views of the ocean, and little else.

Alston, Cumbria, England, UK

This English market town is as quaint as can be. It’s folded away in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with its sweeping heather moors and forest-edged rivers, and is hailed as one of the highest towns in England (sitting at an elevation of about 1,000 feet; 305m). From its lofty perch, it boasts historic stone buildings filled with trinket shops, restaurants and pubs. Here are more of the UK’s prettiest small towns and villages.

Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, Canada

Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

Homer, Alaska, USA

Gásadalur, Faroe Islands

Studding the North Atlantic between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are remote in and of themselves – and Gásadalur, a little village enveloped by mountains, breathes a whole new meaning into the word. It teeters on the edge of westerly Vágar island and, until 2004, it was only linked to the rest of the Faroes via a lofty mountain track. Today a tunnel routes through to the little hamlet, with its pint-sized guesthouses, café and waterfall crashing into the sea. 

Eskifjörður, Iceland

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