Guide to Greenland
We have made this guide to Greenland to help you choose your dream tour and get the most out of visiting this arctic paradise
We’ve picked the best for you
In this guide to Greenland, we introduce you to the best of Greenland and give you some useful practical tips on choosing a tour. Read about:
How to get to Greenland and around when you’re there
Popular places in Greenland
The most popular experiences in Greenland
Choice of season
How to travel to Greenland and get around
Greenland is the largest island in the world, and more than 80% of it is covered in ice! Here, you do not travel on a road between towns and villages, as we are accustomed to. Planes, helicopters and ships are used to travel the long distances from town to town. For shorter, local trips, the Greenlanders sail during the summer. In winter, they also use dog sleds and snowmobiles.
Fly from Copenhagen or Reykjavik directly
There are two major airports in Greenland, the largest of which is located in Kangerlussuaq, just north of the Arctic Circle. All flights from Copenhagen, Denmark, land here. The onward journey continues on board smaller domestic flights. The direct route from Copenhagen takes 4½ hours, whether you are flying to Kangerlussuaq or Narsarsuaq in the South.
Flights from Iceland depart from Reykjavik. From there, you can fly to Ilulissat or Nuuk on the west coast, Narsarsuaq in the South or Kulusuk in the East. If you are visiting Iceland, it is a unique opportunity for you to visit Greenland as part of your trip with a 2 to 3 hours flight.
Air Greenland is Greenlands national airline. They operate the routes from Copenhagen and Reykjavik, as well as almost all domestic routes. When you fly with Air Greenland from Copenhagen (non-stop), you will receive service with full catering, baggage included and in-flight entertainment. Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavik.
Read more about Air Greenland on their homepage.
Popular places in Greenland
If you’ve never been to Greenland before, choosing where to go may seem a little daunting. The size of the country does, of course, rule out experiencing the entire island in one trip. We guarantee you, however, that you will find plenty to experience – and have something to come back to!
For the sake of simplicity, we have divided the country into four areas, according to the most popular areas to visit.
We generally recommend that you focus on one area, as there is simply too much to see and do. Trying to get around the entire country, incurs too much travelling and makes the trip rather pricey.
North Greenland – dog sleds and huge icebergs
North Greenland is the most visited place in Greenland. It covers a lot the country, when you look at a map. North Greenland begins by the Disco Bay. Ilulissat in North Greenland is also a very popular place. Here you can see gigantic icebergs.
North Greenland is the best place for experiencing the midnight sun and dog sleds. A horn of plenty with arctic experiences. Huge icebergs, some of the world’s fastest glaciers calving into the Ilulissat Icefjord, which have been honored with a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Here you will find the huge icebergs you saw on TV and pictures.
Are you wanting to see huge icebergs, glaciers and small settlements north of the polar circle? If this is the first time you are traveling to Greenland, the Disco Bay is your certain choice. If you travel during winter, you can also watch the Northern lights and get a feeling of how the dog sled is used as a means of transportation in Greenland.
Because the Disco Bay at the same time is one of the most popular places in Greenland, there are many good excursion opportunities all year round. Note, that even if there are most visitors in this area, it is far from “touristy”. We recommend that you book your excursions in advance. In that way, we can make sure that the tours and excursions are carried out.
You can combine a trip to this area with a visit further south, e.g. to Sisimiut, Kangerlussuaq and/or Nuuk. All these places are located by the west coast.
South Greenland – the northern people’s lush fields and blue ice
South Greenland is generally a great place to hike and, opposite to what many people believe, has steep mountains, lots of icy fjords and, not least, hot springs. Getting around in South Greenland is easy as the distances from town to town are relatively short. You can really enjoy a varied holiday in South Greenland, visiting a multitude of towns and settlements.
East Greenland – unspoiled and full of contrasts
East Greenland is stunningly beautiful and off the main tourist path, but still relatively well-organized when it comes to good accommodation and excursions. East Greenland is raw, unspoiled and wonderfully filled with contrasts, with gentle flower valleys, towering mountains, huge icebergs and a culture that is more isolated than the rest of Greenland.
East Greenland is one of the most sparsely populated areas in Greenland, apart from the National Park and northern Greenland near Thule. The population of East Greenland lives a relatively isolated existence compared to the rest of Greenland and the culture is not as affected by modern trends as in other parts of Greenland.
West Greenland – the entrance to Greenland
Kangerlussuaq is the largest airport in Greenland, making it a natural place to start – and what’s more, it is close to the ice sheet.
The biggest Greenlandic towns are located in the west. The capitol, Nuuk, with about 18.000 inhabitants and the second largest town, Sisimiut, with about 5.500 citizens. Nuuk as well as Sisimut are suitable for active holidays, especially during the winter, where there are a number of possibilities for skiing and snowboarding.
Experience guaranteed – whatever you choose
No matter what you choose, you are promised an unforgettable experience. You can choose whether you want to see a lot of different places in one trip, or concentrate on fewer places and really get to know them.
Popular experiences in Greenland
Your guide to Greenland
Dog sledding, the Northern Lights, the ice, the whales and the Inuit people – and many more await you in summer or winter in Greenland. Whether you’re exploring the ice, marvelling at the Northern Lights, sailing among the whales on the fjords or meeting the Greenlanders on land, sea or in the air, you are promised an adventure only few get to try.
Dog sledding is offered north of the Arctic Circle. The season starts in January and continues until April. Dog sledding is an experience of a lifetime and one not to be missed when visiting Greenland in the winter. You will be dressed in warm clothes and ride with a Greenlandic driver out into the endless, snow-covered mountain landscapes. There are tours from one hour up to several days, sleeping in primitive cabins and tents (polar equipment is available to rent). Whether you choose a short tour or a long one, the experience is the same. As soon as the sled starts to glide over the crackling snow, you are filled with the special feeling of gliding through the landscape. Nothing compares to this!
Read more about dogsledding.
When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights can be experienced in most parts of Greenland and is best viewed on a clear, dark night from September until the end of March.
The undulating, mythical and magical Northern Lights will surprise and amaze you. Greenland is the perfect place to experience the phenomenon – in the midst of the great outdoors. The mountains and the snow are lit up by the light show of reds and greens.
Greenland is one of the best places in the world to experience the Northern Lights. There is very little artificial light and the skies are often clear, creating the best conditions for seeing them.
Read more about northern lights.
The Greenlandic ice sheet
Walk on the ice sheet through untouched landscapes and sail among giant icebergs – all year round. You will be fascinated by the sheer scale and the power and beauty of the Greenlandic ice sheet. The icebergs are calved from the glaciers before heading off on their long ocean voyages – unique, magnificent works of nature. You can walk on the ice close to Kangerlussuaq and sail to see glaciers almost all year round. Ilulissat Icefjord is world-famous thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Read more about the greenlandic ice sheet.
When is the best time to go whale watching?
Experience the giants of the ocean at close range on boat trips on the icy fjords. There are a lot of whales in the summer in particular, but even in winter, you can sometimes be lucky enough to encounter wintering whales. May is a great time to experience the Greenland right whale near Disco Island in Disco Bay.
Sailing in Greenland is a wonderful experience in itself, but a whale popping up close to the boat is the icing on the cake. Humpback, finback and minke whales can be seen along most stretches of coastline, often swimming quite close to towns and settlements.
Read more about the whales in Greenland.
The Pioneering People
Meet the Greenlanders, in a country steeped in the pioneering spirit of the past and present.
Greenlanders are a welcoming, dynamic people, who for generations have lived from nature and in the heart of it. The scale and grandeur of nature instills the local people with a sense of calm and an admirable respect for the elements. Greenland attracts adventurers from all corners of the globe, and they are welcomed by a nation of pioneers who show them the way, building bridges from tradition to modern life.
The seasons in Greenland
Each season is wonderful in its own way, but some experiences are seasonal. Summer in Greenland from mid-June to late August is short and intense. Spring and autumn are also intense, and it is fascinating how quickly nature changes from winter to summer. Winter, on the other hand, lasts a little longer, depending on where you are.
It is difficult to recommend one season over another, but we generally recommend that you distinguish between winter experiences and the rest of the year.
Read more about the seasons in Greenland.
What to experience in winter and late autumn
In winter, you can see the Northern Lights and ride on a dog sled in a landscape covered in snow and ice. Contrary to popular belief, there is no snow in Greenland in the summer. So if you want to experience Greenland dressed in its winter clothing with sled dogs running across the crackling snow and frosty days, winter is the time to visit.
Late autumn would be October and November and you stand a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights then. At this time of year, you can never be sure of how much snow will fall. We recommend that you travel in the winter months if you want to be certain of being able to go dog sledding.
What to experience in summer, spring and autumn in Greenland
Travelling at this time of year, you get long, light days with temperatures that are far higher than in the winter. If you enjoy rambling, the summer months and to some extent September are a good time to visit. Spring may be too wet for longer hikes due to melting snow.
Generally speaking, more outdoor activities are possible during the warm months, and it is also now, that you can experience the whales, sail along the coast and simply spend more time outdoors.
There are 2,670 km from north to south, so there is also great variation in the seasons. For example, winter lasts nine months in Qaanaaq (Thule) in the far north, and just three months in the south.
We hope that this guide to Greenland could answer some of your questions.
If you want to know more about this arctic paradise go to our inspirational universe.