icecap from above

Greenland geography | Facts about Greenland geography

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Facts about Greenland's Geography

Greenland is the largest island in the world and therefore a vast area with many interesting contrasts. Approximately 80% of Greenland is covered by the Ice Cap but ice-free regions still make up a huge area in which you can hike, ride a dogsled, sail and get close to glaciers and lush valleys.

Greenland spreads both south and north of the Arctic Circle. The southernmost region is fertile while the northernmost region is very close to the North Pole. Greenland differs from most other places by having a highly unusual infrastructure. No towns are connected by roads, and at the same time, the country is almost inconceivably vast – in fact, Greenland measures 2,670 kilometres from south to north. Therefore, all transportation between towns and villages happens by air, by sea or on foot, skis, a dogsled or a snow scooter. 

Due to the size of the country, we recommend that you choose destinations that are not located too far from each other. Where to go depend on what you want to experience, which you can read more about here.

Russel Glacier in Kangerlussuaq in Greenland
Photo: Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland

Northern Greenland – dog sledding, northern lights and midnight sun

Northern Greenland is able to provide midnight sun, dogsleds, northern lights and ice. Here, you will find an abundance of Arctic experiences with giant icebergs, some of the world’s fastest glaciers and the impressive Ilulissat Icefjord, which has been honourably listed as UNESCO world heritage. Northern Greenland is also home to the Disco Bay, Ilulissat and the Eqi glacier, which is why most tourists choose to visit this particular region.

Ilulissat Icefiord in Greenland
Photo: Uri Golman - Visit Greenland

Western Greenland – central Greenland

Western Greenland – which locally is also known as Central Greenland – stretches from Nuuk in the south to slightly north of Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq. Western Greenland is home to the two largest towns in Greenland, Nuuk and Sisimiut, which are very different and definitely worth a visit. Kangerlussuaq is also located in Western Greenland, and this is where most people arrive to Greenland. Many choose to spend a few days here before moving on (often northward) as Kangerlussuaq offers the best access to the Ice Cap.

Katuaq in Nuuk in Greenland
Photo: Daniel Gurrola - Visit Greenland

Southern Greenland – green meadows, rugged rocks and warm springs

Southern Greenland differs from the north with its rugged rocks, warm springs and green meadows. This place is extravagantly colourful in summer, and although there are no dogsleds here, Southern Greenland offers many other types of experiences. Here, you will find smaller icebergs in distinct blue and white nuances that have floated all the way down from the north, loads of sheep and great hiking trails. Moreover, this was where Erik the Red chose to drop the anchor because he was so impressed by the green hillsides he saw all over the area. 

Nanortalik in Southgreenland
Photo: Anders Peter Amsnæs

East Greenland – steep mountains, deep fjords and myths and legends

Eastern Greenland is markedly different from Greenland’s west coast both in terms of the number of inhabitants, number of visitors and nature itself. In Eastern Greenland you will find rugged and steep mountains encircling deep fjords and impressive glaciers and, not least, the Ice Cap itself. Up until 120 years ago, the people of Eastern Greenland lived in isolation from the rest of the world, which has left distinct traces on the region. The language is different and the culture is deeply rooted in myths and legends, which is very evident in Eastern Greenlandic art.

King Oscar Fiord in Eastgreenland
Photo: Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland

Guide to Greenland holidays

In guide to Greenland holidays you find an overall introduction of Greenland as travel destination, when, where and how to find your dream Greenland holiday.

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