Practical information for travellers in Greenland
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Greenland is the world’s largest island at 810,810 square miles (or app. 2,130,000 km2), which is the same as France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium put together. It boasts the Northern Hemisphere’s largest ice cap – 694,981 square miles, which covers 85 % of its total area.
The Greenland climate is arctic to sub-arctic and the distance between north and south means there are tremendous differences in temperature and climate. Due to very dry air, the cool summers feel surprisingly comfortable.
In summer, the inland temperatures are generally higher than along the coast. However, you will be surprised to know that warm + 70°F / 20°C days are not uncommon during summer months!
What to wear
It is better to be prepared by wearing ”layered” clothing. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof. Gloves and hats are recommended when sailing. We recommend wearing solid and waterproof boots or shoes with a solid sole both in summer and winter. Clothing tends to be casual in Greenland and is accepted in finer restaurants. Under each tour you will find a suggested packing list.
Danish Krone (DKK).
Accepted Credit / Debit Cards and ATM's
The following credit and debit cards are accepted in banks and ATM’s: VISA, VISA PLUS-card, VISA Electron, Euro cheque card, EuroCard/ MasterCard. Please note that carrying some cash is preferable, as not all shops accept foreign credit cards.
Entering the country
Greenland is a party to the Schengen Agreement, meaning that passport and visa regulations are similar to those applicable for Denmark. Valid travel ID or passport must be shown when entering and leaving Greenland. Please be aware of visa requirements. These can vary from country to country. Contact the Danish Embassy for further information. American citizens do not require a visa for trips shorter than 3 months.
Greenland is not considered a European Union country. Information on what you can bring into the country is available in airports – drugs, weapons, living animals including pets and birds are not allowed. Exceptions are made for dogs for the blind.
NB: From January 1, 2011 it is forbidden to bring any form of beer, wine, spirits or any other form of alcoholic drinks with you when you enter Greenland.
From this date, the regulations concerning tax-free import of goods to Greenland have been changed so that only the following may be imported tax-free:
Cigarettes (200 pcs) or Cigarillos (max. 3 g./pc., 100 pcs.) or Cigars (50 pcs.) or smoking tobacco (250 g.)
Cigarette rolling papers or cigarette tubes (200 pcs.)
1 litre of spirits over 22 % or 2 litres of fortified wine under 22%
2.25 litres of table wine not exceeding 15 %
2 litres of beer
2 litres of soft drinks containing carbonic acid
Perfume, 50 ml.
Eau de toilette, 250 ml.
Cosmetics and other toiletries amounting to max. DKK 1,000
Chocolates and sweets, 4 kg
Coffee or tea, 4 kg
Meat, meat products or poultry, 5 kg
***Allowances for tax-free tobacco products apply only to persons of 18 years of age or more.
It is illegal to import any art or artifact created from a marine mammal, including whalebone, walrus tusks (ivory) and narwhal tusks (also ivory) into the USA. For more information, contact a local tourist office.
220 voltages is standard (Standard European with the same pins as in Denmark). Do consider whether to bring an adapter.
Hospitals and dental clinics are found in most towns. Acute treatment is free. There is no hospital in Kangerlussuaq, but a nursing station is available. You are advised to bring your own prescription medicine on the trip. Travel health insurance is recommended. No vaccines are required for travelling in Greenland.
Where to stay
Greenland offers a wealth of accommodations – from hotels and youth hostels to seaman’s homes. Many of the hotels and seamen’s homes have been classified in accordance with international standards to make it easier to check their standards.
Greenland’s National Day is June 21 and is called “Ullortuneq”, which means the longest day of the year. It is also the official Flag Day, so in addition to festivities you will see the striking flag with the red half circle flying proudly everywhere.
Be prepared! In July and August, mosquitoes can be a plague in Greenland just as they are in all Arctic areas. You are advised to bring a mosquito net or insect spray or even medicine if you are allergic to insect bites.
Greenland has a modern telecommunications infrastructure, and it is possible to access the internet at most hotels and internet cafes. GSM 850/1900 can be used if you have an agreement with AT&T Wireless PCS, T Mobile and Singular Wireless.
There is a four-hour difference between Copenhagen and Greenland (Kangerlussuaq). When it is 10am in Greenland it is 2pm in Copenhagen. There is a two-hour difference between the American East Coast and Greenland. When it is 10am in Greenland it is 8am EST in Baltimore.
Midnight Sun and Northern Lights
Midnight Sun is present north of the Arctic Circle during summer, but even towns located further south tend to have light nights. Midnight Sun can be experienced over Disco Bay from the end of May to the end of July. Northern Lights can be observed all year round, but cannot be seen during the summer months in Greenland due to the Midnight Sun. Northern Lights are at its best from September to April.
The Greenland Church is part of the Danish Protestant Church. Churches are found in all towns, although smaller buildings may be used in smaller communities. The local Greenlandic language is used. You are welcome to visit the churches. If they are locked, ask the local tourist agency for help. Please note that taking photos is generally forbidden during mass.