DestinationsSouth AmericaBoliviaTop 20 Highest Cities in the World by Elevation – A Sky-High Adventure Awaits!
Top 20 Highest Cities in the World by Elevation – A Sky-High Adventure Awaits!

Top 20 Highest Cities in the World by Elevation – A Sky-High Adventure Awaits!

Embark on a breathtaking journey to the skies as we unveil the highest cities in the world by elevation. These remarkable urban landscapes offer more than just stunning views; they are a testament to human resilience and adaptability. From the dizzying heights of La Rinconada to the cultural haven of Lhasa, join us as we explore these sky-high cities that touch the clouds.

The Pinnacle of Urban Living: Life Above the Clouds

Nestled high above sea level, the highest cities in the world by elevation are not just marvels of nature but also bustling centers of culture and daily life. These cities offer unique experiences that are unparalleled anywhere else on Earth.

Below is a list of the 20 highest cities in the world by elevation, without considering the population factor. I have used the World Atlas as my source of information, and I have sorted the cities by their average elevation.

1. La Rinconada, Peru: The Gold-Clad Summit

Elevation: 5,100 meters.

La Rinconada is the highest inhabited place in the world
Without the factor of population, La Rinconada is the highest inhabited place in the world.

At an elevation that defies the imagination, La Rinconada stands as the highest city in the world. This Peruvian marvel, sitting at 5,100 meters, is a testament to human endurance. The city’s economy revolves around the gold mines, which draw prospectors from all corners of the globe. Despite the harsh conditions, the spirit of the community shines as brightly as the precious metal they seek.

Things to Do in La Rinconada:

  • Explore the Mines: Discover the life of miners in the highest gold mines on Earth.
  • Local Culture: Immerse yourself in the community’s unique way of life and visit the bustling markets.
  • Andean Adventures: Venture into the surrounding Andes for breathtaking natural beauty.

2. Wenquan, China: The Hot Springs Haven

Elevation: 4,980 meters.

Wenquan meaning "Hot Springs" in Qinghai province China
Wenquan, meaning “Hot Springs”, in Qinghai province, China. Image credit to

Introduction: Wenquan, which translates to “Hot Springs,” is a city that truly lives up to its name. Located at an impressive elevation of 4,980 meters, it is one of the highest cities in the world. This remote city in China is famed for its therapeutic hot springs that have attracted visitors seeking wellness and relaxation for centuries.

Things to Do in Wenquan:

  • Hot Springs Relaxation: Indulge in the natural hot springs and experience their healing properties.
  • Scenic Hikes: Explore the surrounding mountains with guided treks.
  • Cultural Immersion: Learn about the local Tibetan culture and traditions.

3. El Alto, Bolivia: The Cultural High Ground

Elevation: 4,150 meters.

a view of El Alto Bolivia highest city in the world by elevation
A view of El Alto, Bolivia. Image source: barrio flores on Flickr.

El Alto’s elevation of 4,150 meters makes it a city among the clouds. It is a place where traditional Bolivian culture meets the challenges of altitude. The city is known for its vibrant markets, where one can find a kaleidoscope of colors in the form of textiles and crafts. El Alto is not just a city; it’s a celebration of life at high altitude.

Things to Do in El Alto:

  • Market Wonders: Dive into the El Alto market, a treasure trove of Bolivian crafts and textiles.
  • Architectural Marvels: Admire the vibrant and unique ‘cholets’ by Freddy Mamani Silvestre.
  • Panoramic Views: Gaze upon the Andes from various vantage points around the city.

4. Potosí, Bolivia: The Silver City with a Golden Past

Elevation: 4,090 meters.

Potosí and its silver mines Cerro Rico
Potosí and its silver mines – Cerro Rico.

Potosí carries its history with pride. At 4,090 meters, it was once the source of Spain’s immense wealth during the colonial era. The city’s historical significance is palpable in its architecture and museums. Visitors can delve into the past while experiencing the present-day charm of this Bolivian gem.

Things to Do in Potosí:

  • Historic Mines: Tour the Cerro Rico mines that once fueled an empire.
  • Museum Visits: The Casa de la Moneda offers a glimpse into Potosí’s rich history.
  • Colonial Architecture: Wander the city’s streets to see its well-preserved colonial buildings.

5. Namche Bazaar, Nepal: The Sherpa Capital

Elevation: 3,440 meters.

namche bazaar view
A Namche Bazaar view.

Introduction: Namche Bazaar, nestled at 3,440 meters, is known as the gateway to the high Himalayas, including Mount Everest. This vibrant town is not only a crucial acclimatization stop for trekkers but also the cultural center for the Sherpa community, offering a mix of natural beauty and local hospitality.

Things to Do in Namche Bazaar:

  • Acclimatization Hikes: Prepare for higher treks with short hikes around Namche.
  • Sherpa Culture Museum: Gain insights into the history and lifestyle of the Sherpa people.
  • Local Market: Browse the weekly market for unique souvenirs and supplies.

6. Lhasa, China: The Roof of the World’s Spiritual Oasis

Elevation: 3,365 meters.

On the street of Lhasa one of the highest cities in the world by elevation
On the street of Lhasa, one of the highest cities in the world by elevation.

Lhasa is more than a city; it’s a spiritual journey. At 3,365 meters, it is the heart of Tibetan Buddhism and home to the awe-inspiring Potala Palace. Pilgrims and travelers alike are drawn to its serene monasteries and vibrant streets, seeking enlightenment and adventure.

Things to Do in Lhasa:

  • Potala Palace: Visit the historic home of the Dalai Lama.
  • Sacred Sites: Experience the spirituality of Jokhang Temple and other monasteries.
  • Local Life: Shop and dine along Barkhor Street, the heart of Lhasa’s old town.

7. Cusco, Peru: The Incan Empire’s Living Legacy

Elevation: 3,399 meters.

one of Cusco cathedral photos in the city center
One of Cusco cathedral photos in the city center.

Cusco is a city etched in the annals of history. Once the heart of the Incan Empire, it now beats at 3,399 meters with a rhythm that blends the ancient with the modern. The city is a gateway to the wonders of Machu Picchu and a center for Andean culture that captivates all who visit.

Things to Do in Cusco:

  • Incan Ruins: Explore Sacsayhuamán and other nearby archaeological wonders.
  • San Blas District: Discover the artistic neighborhood known for its narrow streets and artisan shops.
  • Culinary Delights: Enjoy the local cuisine and vibrant nightlife that Cusco has to offer.

8. Juliaca, Peru: The Bustling Crossroads of the Altiplano

Elevation: 3,825 meters.

Train 653 runs through Juliaca market
Train 653 runs through Juliaca market.

Juliaca, known as the “Wind City,” is a lively commercial hub sitting at 3,825 meters above sea level. It’s a city where the winds of tradition and modernity converge, creating a dynamic atmosphere that’s as invigorating as the Andean air. Juliaca’s proximity to Lake Titicaca and its role as a transportation nexus makes it a vital part of the region’s cultural and economic landscape.

Things to Do in Juliaca:

  • Cultural Festivals: Experience the vibrant festivals that showcase Juliaca’s rich heritage.
  • Lake Titicaca: Take a trip to the nearby majestic lake and explore its floating islands.
  • Archaeological Sites: Visit the ancient burial grounds of Sillustani.

9. Shigatse, China: The Tenzin’s Land

Elevation: 3,840 meters.

an image of Shigatse Dzong and Shigatse city
An image of Shigatse Dzong and Shigatse City.

At 3,840 meters, Shigatse is the second-largest city in Tibet and an essential stop for those venturing to Mount Everest. It’s a place where spirituality and nature coexist harmoniously, offering visitors a chance to connect with both the divine and the earth. The city’s rich history and religious significance are embodied in the grandeur of the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama.

Things to Do in Shigatse:

  • Tashilhunpo Monastery: Explore the seat of the Panchen Lama.
  • Mount Everest Base Camp: Embark on a journey to the base of the world’s highest peak.
  • Local Markets: Shop for traditional Tibetan crafts and textiles.

10. Leh, India: The Deserted Himalayan Kingdom

Elevation: 3,500 meters.

best time to visit Leh Ladakh for the beautiful natural landscape of the Himalayas
It’s best time to visit Leh, Ladakh for the beautiful natural landscape of the Himalayas.

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, stands at an elevation of 3,500 meters, amidst the stark beauty of the Himalayas. This high-desert city is a haven for adventurers and culture enthusiasts alike. With its stunning landscapes, ancient monasteries, and vibrant local markets, Leh is a city that captures the essence of the Himalayan spirit.

Things to Do in Leh:

  • Leh Palace: Visit the former royal palace and enjoy panoramic views of the town.
  • Monasteries: Discover the serenity of Thiksey and Hemis monasteries.
  • Trekking: Take on the challenging trails that offer stunning vistas of the Himalayas.

11. La Paz, Bolivia: The City Above the Clouds

Elevation: 3,650 meters.

view to Illimani the guardian of La Paz city
A view to Illimani, the guardian of La Paz city.

La Paz is a city that defies gravity, sprawling from 3,200 to 4,100 meters above sea level. As the de facto capital of Bolivia, it’s a city where politics, culture, and breathtaking landscapes come together. The city’s unique topography offers an urban experience unlike any other, with cable cars gliding above the streets, providing a bird’s-eye view of this Andean metropolis.

Things to Do in La Paz:

  • Moon Valley: Wander through the lunar landscapes just outside the city.
  • Witches’ Market: Delve into the mystical side of Bolivian culture.
  • Cable Car Rides: Enjoy the best views of the city from above.

12. Huancayo, Peru: The Cultural Capital of the Central Highlands

Elevation: 3,271 meters.

Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Huancayo Peru
Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Huancayo, Peru.

Nestled in the Mantaro Valley at 3,271 meters, Huancayo is a city that pulses with the heart of the Andes. It’s a center for folk art, music, and traditional festivals, reflecting the rich tapestry of Peruvian highland culture. The city’s vibrant markets and friendly locals welcome visitors to explore and discover the soul of the Andes.

Things to Do in Huancayo:

  • Torre Torre: Explore the natural rock formations just outside the city.
  • Artisan Workshops: Learn about traditional Andean crafts and techniques.
  • Local Cuisine: Sample the unique flavors of the high Andes.

13. Srinagar, India: The Summer City of Lakes and Gardens

Elevation: 3,000 meters.

srinagar houseboat dal lake
Srinagar’s houseboat in Dal Lake.

Srinagar, located at 3,000 meters, is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It’s a city of tranquil lakes, lush gardens, and historic wooden architecture. The city’s charm lies in its ability to blend the natural beauty of the Kashmir Valley with the warmth of its people and the depth of its cultural heritage.

Things to Do in Srinagar:

  • Dal Lake: Enjoy a shikara ride on the iconic lake.
  • Mughal Gardens: Visit the beautifully landscaped gardens that date back to the Mughal era.
  • Handicraft Shopping: Purchase authentic Kashmiri handicrafts and textiles.

14. Quito, Ecuador: The Capital at the Equator

Elevation: 2,850 meters.

Quito old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Quito old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, stands at 2,850 meters and is the closest capital city to the equator. It’s a city where colonial history meets the majesty of the Andes. Quito’s well-preserved historic center, vibrant indigenous culture, and stunning volcanic surroundings make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a blend of history and natural wonders. Indeed, Quito is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world.

Things to Do in Quito:

  • Mitad del Mundo: Stand at the equatorial line and straddle both hemispheres.
  • Historic Center: Explore one of the best-preserved historic centers in the Americas.
  • TelefériQo: Take a cable car to the top of Pichincha Volcano for breathtaking views.

15. Bogotá, Colombia: The High-Altitude Heart of Colombia

Elevation: 2,640 meters.

Bogotá is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation
Bogotá is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation.

At 2,640 meters, Bogotá is Colombia’s sprawling capital and its cultural, political, and economic center. The city’s diverse neighborhoods, world-class museums, and vibrant street art scene reflect its dynamic character. Bogotá is a city that invites exploration, from the historic La Candelaria district to the panoramic views atop Cerro de Monserrate.

Things to Do in Bogotá:

  • Museo del Oro: Discover the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts.
  • Cerro de Monserrate: Hike or take the funicular to this mountain-top sanctuary.
  • La Candelaria: Stroll through the city’s historic district with its colorful colonial buildings.

16. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The New Flower of Africa

Elevation: 2,355 meters.

an aerial view of Addis Ababa at night
An aerial view of Addis Ababa at night.

Addis Ababa, which means “New Flower” in Amharic, sits at 2,355 meters and is the diplomatic capital of Africa. The city is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions, offering a unique glimpse into Ethiopia’s rich history and promising future. From its bustling markets to its historical landmarks, Addis Ababa is a city that’s blooming with potential.

Things to Do in Addis Ababa:

  • National Museum: See the famous fossil “Lucy” and learn about human origins.
  • Entoto Hills: Enjoy panoramic views of the city and visit the historical churches.
  • Mercato: Experience one of the largest open-air markets in Africa.

17. Kathmandu, Nepal: The Valley of Gods

Elevation: 1,400 meters.

Boudhanath stupa Kathmandu hidden gem Nepal
A picture of the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is nestled in a valley at 1,400 meters. It’s a city where ancient temples stand alongside bustling bazaars, and the scent of incense fills the air. Kathmandu is a gateway to the Himalayas, but it’s also a destination in its own right, with a cultural heritage that’s as deep as the mountains are high.

Things to Do in Kathmandu:

  • Durbar Square: Explore the historical heart of Kathmandu with its temples and palaces.
  • Swayambhunath: Visit the Monkey Temple for spiritual vibes and city views.
  • Thamel: Dive into the bustling tourist district known for shopping and dining.

18. Mexico City, Mexico: The Aztec Heartbeat

Elevation: 2,240 meters.

Mexico City is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation
Mexico City is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation.

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is situated at 2,240 meters and is a vibrant metropolis built upon the ruins of the Aztec empire. The city’s rich history, diverse culture, and culinary delights make it a pulsating center of life where the past and present dance together in a colorful fiesta of experiences.

Things to Do in Mexico City:

  • Templo Mayor: Discover the ruins of the main temple of the Aztecs.
  • Chapultepec Park: Enjoy this vast urban park with museums, a zoo, and cultural activities.
  • Frida Kahlo Museum: Visit the iconic artist’s home and studio.

19. Nairobi, Kenya: The Green City in the Sun

Elevation: 1,795 meters.

Nairobi National Park Safari is just next to the capital's city center
Nairobi National Park Safari is just next to the capital’s city center.

Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, rises 1,795 meters above sea level and is known as the “Green City in the Sun.” It’s a city where wildlife roams free on the outskirts, and urban energy thrives within. Nairobi’s unique blend of nature and city life offers an unforgettable experience for those who seek adventure and cultural richness.

Things to Do in Nairobi:

  • Nairobi National Park: Experience a safari with the city skyline in the background.
  • Karen Blixen Museum: Learn about the “Out of Africa” author’s life.
  • Giraffe Centre: Get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

20. Johannesburg, South Africa: The Gold Mine of Opportunities

Elevation: 1,753 meters.

the city of johannesburg
A view of the city of Johannesburg.

Johannesburg, affectionately known as Jo’burg, stands at 1,753 meters and is the economic powerhouse of South Africa. The city’s history is deeply intertwined with the gold mines that once shaped its destiny. Today, Johannesburg is a city of reinvention, where art, culture, and innovation shine as brightly as the gold that once defined it.

Things to Do in Johannesburg:

  • Apartheid Museum: Gain insight into South Africa’s history of apartheid.
  • Gold Reef City: Enjoy this amusement park that offers a glimpse into the gold mining era.
  • Soweto: Visit the historic township and the Mandela House.

High-Altitude Travel: Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Journey

Visiting the highest cities in the world by elevation can be an exhilarating experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, here are some tips for travelers:

Acclimatize Properly:

  • Take it slow and give your body time to adjust to the altitude. It’s recommended to ascend gradually and have rest days to prevent altitude sickness.

Stay Hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The air is thinner and dryer at high altitudes, which can lead to dehydration.

Protect Yourself from the Sun:

  • The sun’s rays are stronger at higher elevations. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect your skin and eyes.

Dress in Layers:

  • Weather can change rapidly in high-altitude cities. Dress in layers to adapt to varying temperatures throughout the day.

Know the Symptoms of Altitude Sickness:

  • Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, which can include headaches, nausea, and dizziness. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.

Eat Light and Nutritious Meals:

  • Opt for meals that are easy to digest and rich in carbohydrates. Avoid heavy and fatty foods that can exacerbate altitude sickness.

Respect Local Customs:

  • High-altitude cities often have unique cultures and traditions. Show respect by learning about local customs and following them during your visit.

Carry Essential Medication:

  • Bring any personal medication and consider carrying altitude sickness pills as a precaution.

Stay Active, But Don’t Overexert:

  • Engage in light to moderate physical activities to keep your body active without overexerting yourself.

Enjoy the Experience:

  • Embrace the adventure and the unique opportunity to explore these remarkable cities. Take plenty of photos and create lasting memories.

Make sure you can make the most of your high-altitude adventure while staying safe and healthy. Remember, the key is to listen to your body and enjoy the journey at your own pace.

A Summit of Civilization: Embracing the Heights

As our expedition to the highest cities in the world by elevation concludes, we are left with a profound appreciation for the communities that thrive in these extraordinary altitudes. These cities are not just geographical wonders but also hubs of rich culture, history, and innovation. May the spirit of adventure and discovery continue to inspire us all to reach new heights, both literally and metaphorically.

The Broad Life introduces to you great, inspirational books for your wanderlust. They aren’t just simple travel, each book recounts the author’s journey to discover and learn many awesome things from new civilizations and places.



20 world's highest cities by elevation - the broad life pinterest board
20 highest cities in the world by elevation - the broad life pinterest board

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.


  • Renata Feyen

    Never been to any of those destinations. The highest I visited was The snowfall in Wales.

  • Bryan

    The highest city in the United States is Leadville, Colorado, at 3,096 meters above sea level. It’s a small city, so that is likely why it didn’t make your countdown.

  • Isabellita Pabalan

    Embarking on a high-altitude adventure! Lhasa’s spirituality is mesmerizing.

  • Ntensibe Edgar

    Oohhhh….I didn’t know this about nairobi. i never get tired of being in nairobi. it so much reminds me of home – uganda!

  • Sonia Seivwright

    I never knew there were so many high-altitude cities in the world, and learning about them has been a fascinating journey. The tips for travelling to high-altitude cities are incredibly helpful, and I appreciate the emphasis on safety and respect for local customs. It’s inspiring to see the resilience and adaptability of the communities that live in these cities, and I hope to one day experience their unique cultures and breathtaking views for myself. Thank you for sharing this incredible adventure with us!

  • Monidipa Dutta

    Your portrayal of Nairobi as “The Green City in the Sun” is captivating. The vivid description captures the essence beautifully. However, a bit more detail on specific green initiatives or attractions could enhance the reader’s connection. Overall, a delightful read!

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