Welcome to our ultimate Greenland travel guide! Get ready to embark on a virtual expedition to the captivating land of ice and adventure.
As you explore this remote Arctic wonderland, you’ll discover a land of contrasts. From the vibrant colors of the Northern Lights dancing across the sky to the serene beauty of massive icebergs floating in pristine Arctic waters, Greenland is a destination like no other.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of Greenland’s must-visit destinations, provide insights into its unique culture and history, and offer practical tips to make your journey a memorable one.
Fast Facts About Greenland
- Climate: Greenland has a polar climate, characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Average winter temperatures range from -8°C to -20°C (17°F to -4°F), while summer temperatures range from 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F).
- Local Currency: The official currency of Greenland is the Danish Krone (DKK). It is advisable to carry some cash as not all places accept credit cards. ATMs are available in major towns and cities.
- Power Voltage: Greenland operates on 220-240 volts AC, 50 Hz. Type C/F power outlets are commonly used, so it’s recommended to bring a universal adapter.
- Language: The official languages of Greenland are Greenlandic and Danish. However, English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas and hotels.
- Religion: The majority of the population in Greenland adheres to Christianity, with the Lutheran Church being the dominant denomination.
- Safety: Greenland is generally a safe destination for travelers. However, it’s essential to take precautions when engaging in outdoor activities and be aware of potential risks associated with extreme weather conditions and wildlife encounters.
- Cultural Etiquette: When visiting local communities or engaging with the Inuit population, it’s important to show respect for their traditions and customs. Ask for permission before taking photographs and be mindful of their way of life.
- Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Greenland. However, if you receive exceptional service, a small tip as a token of appreciation is welcome.
Best Time to Visit Greenland: Seasons and Festivals
Greenland experiences distinct seasons, each offering unique experiences for visitors. The best time to visit depends on your interests and preferred activities:
- Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season when the days are long, and the weather is milder. It’s an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife spotting, and boat tours. July is particularly popular for witnessing the Midnight Sun phenomenon.
- Winter (December to February): If you’re seeking the mesmerizing beauty of the Northern Lights, winter is the best time to visit Greenland. It’s also an opportunity to enjoy dog sledding, snowmobiling, and skiing in the Arctic wilderness.
- Festivals: Greenland hosts several vibrant festivals throughout the year. The National Day on June 21st celebrates Greenland’s autonomy, while the Nuuk Snow Festival in February showcases traditional Inuit culture and winter sports. The Kaffemik, a traditional coffee gathering, provides a glimpse into Greenlandic hospitality.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Greenland
- Ilulissat Icefjord: Marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of massive icebergs calving from the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier into the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a boat tour or hike along the designated paths to witness this natural wonder up close.
- Disko Island: Explore the rugged beauty of Disko Island, known for its towering basalt cliffs, stunning fjords, and vibrant wildlife. Take a guided hike to see Arctic flora and fauna, visit charming fishing villages, and immerse yourself in the island’s rich cultural heritage.
- Qaqortoq: Discover the picturesque town of Qaqortoq, with its colorful houses and stunning views of the fjord. Explore the outdoor sculpture park, showcasing unique artworks by local artists, and delve into Greenlandic history at the Qaqortoq Museum.
- Nuuk: Visit the capital city of Greenland, Nuuk, and experience the blend of modern amenities and traditional Inuit culture. Explore the Greenland National Museum, hike the mountain trails for panoramic views, and indulge in local cuisine at cozy restaurants.
- East Greenland: Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to East Greenland, renowned for its remote wilderness and majestic landscapes. Discover the towering icebergs of Scoresby Sund, go kayaking amidst breathtaking glaciers, and encounter Arctic wildlife, including polar bears and whales.
The Best Ways To Get Around Greenland
- Air Travel: Domestic flights are the most efficient way to travel between major towns and regions in Greenland. Air Greenland operates regular flights, providing convenient access to different parts of the country.
- Boat and Ferry: With its extensive coastline and numerous fjords, traveling by boat or ferry is an excellent way to explore Greenland. You can enjoy scenic cruises, hop on a local ferry to reach remote settlements, or embark on a thrilling expedition cruise to the uncharted areas.
- Dog Sledding: In winter, dog sledding is not only a traditional mode of transportation but also a unique and adventurous way to traverse the Arctic landscapes. Join guided tours and experience the thrill of gliding through the snow with a team of eager sled dogs.
- Hiking and Trekking: Greenland offers exceptional opportunities for hiking and trekking enthusiasts. Explore the well-marked trails that meander through stunning landscapes, ranging from coastal areas to mountain passes. Make sure to check weather conditions and follow safety guidelines.
- Local Transportation: In towns and cities, local transportation options include taxis and buses. While taxis are readily available, buses operate on fixed routes and schedules, connecting various neighborhoods and attractions.
Accommodation Tips: Greenland
When planning your trip to Greenland, finding the right accommodation can greatly enhance your travel experience. Here are some essential tips to help you choose the perfect place to stay:
- Types of Accommodation: Greenland offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and traditional Inuit lodges. Hotels provide modern amenities and comfort, while guesthouses offer a more intimate and cozy atmosphere. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, consider staying in an Inuit lodge, where you can learn about local traditions and enjoy a unique cultural immersion.
- Booking in Advance: Due to the limited availability of accommodations in Greenland, it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during the peak travel seasons. This ensures you have a place to stay and can choose from a wider range of options.
- Location Considerations: Consider the location of your accommodation based on your interests and activities. If you’re into outdoor adventures, choosing a hotel or lodge near national parks or hiking trails can save you commuting time and offer easy access to nature. If you prefer city life and cultural attractions, opt for accommodations in larger towns like Nuuk or Ilulissat.
- Amenities and Services: Check the amenities and services offered by your chosen accommodation. Look for facilities such as Wi-Fi, restaurants, laundry services, and tour arrangements. Keep in mind that some remote locations might have limited amenities, so be prepared for a more rustic experience.
- Budget-Friendly Options: If you’re on a tight budget, consider staying in hostels or guesthouses, which often offer more affordable rates compared to hotels. Another option is to look for self-catering accommodations that allow you to prepare your own meals, helping you save on dining expenses.
Greenland Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Exploring Greenland doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some valuable money-saving tips to make your travel budget go further:
- Off-Peak Travel: Consider visiting Greenland during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) when prices for accommodations, flights, and tours are often lower. Not only will you enjoy more affordable rates, but you’ll also experience fewer crowds, allowing for a more peaceful and immersive journey.
- Pack Accordingly: Greenland’s weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to pack versatile clothing suitable for layering. This way, you can adapt to changing conditions without needing to purchase additional gear or clothing items on your trip.
- Self-Catering: Eating out in Greenland can be pricey, especially in remote areas. To save money, opt for self-catering accommodations with kitchen facilities, allowing you to prepare your own meals using locally sourced ingredients. This can be a fun way to explore Greenlandic cuisine and save on dining expenses.
- Public Transportation: Utilize public transportation options, such as buses or ferries, to get around within towns and cities. These are often more cost-effective than taking taxis or renting a car. Plus, using public transportation allows you to interact with locals and get a taste of everyday life in Greenland.
- Free Activities and Events: Take advantage of the many free activities and events available in Greenland. Attend local festivals, explore hiking trails, or simply soak in the stunning natural beauty that surrounds you. Check local event calendars to find out about cultural performances, exhibitions, and other free attractions.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Greenland
Greenlandic cuisine offers a unique blend of traditional flavors and locally sourced ingredients. Here are some culinary delights to try during your visit:
- Kalaallit Kaagiat (Greenlandic Feast): Indulge in a traditional Greenlandic feast, which typically includes dishes like Mattak (whale skin and blubber), dried fish, reindeer, muskox, and seafood. It’s a fantastic opportunity to taste a variety of local delicacies and experience the richness of Greenlandic culture.
- Suaasat (Seal Soup): Suaasat is a traditional Greenlandic soup made with seal meat, herbs, and root vegetables. This hearty and flavorful dish is a staple of Greenlandic cuisine, offering a taste of the Arctic.
- Arctic Char: Sample the fresh and succulent Arctic char, a popular fish found in Greenland’s pristine waters. Whether grilled, smoked, or served in traditional dishes, such as Kalaallit Kaagiat, Arctic char delights the taste buds with its delicate flavor.
- Greenlandic Coffee: Warm up with a cup of Greenlandic coffee, a unique blend of strong coffee, whiskey, Kahlua, whipped cream, and Grand Marnier. This potent and aromatic beverage is perfect for chilly Arctic evenings and is often enjoyed during social gatherings.
- Foraged Ingredients: Greenland’s natural landscape offers an abundance of edible plants and berries. Look for dishes featuring foraged ingredients like crowberries, angelica, Arctic thyme, and sea buckthorn. These ingredients add distinct flavors and showcase the connection between the Greenlandic people and their environment.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Greenland Home
When you return from your Greenland adventure, take a piece of this captivating destination with you through these unique souvenir ideas:
- Qiviut Products: Qiviut, the soft and luxurious undercoat of the muskox, is highly prized for its warmth and softness. Consider purchasing qiviut gloves, hats, scarves, or blankets as a cozy reminder of your time in Greenland.
- Inuit Art: Greenland is home to talented Inuit artists who create intricate carvings, sculptures, and prints. Look for pieces that capture the spirit of Greenlandic wildlife, mythology, or everyday life. Inuit art is a meaningful way to support local artisans and bring home a piece of Greenland’s cultural heritage.
- Traditional Crafts: Greenlandic handicrafts reflect the skills and traditions passed down through generations. Consider purchasing hand-knit woolens, sealskin products, bone carvings, or woven baskets. These items showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of the Inuit people.
- Local Food Products: Bring a taste of Greenland home by purchasing local food products like dried fish, Greenlandic coffee, or artisanal jams made from Arctic berries. These culinary delights allow you to savor the flavors of Greenland even after your trip.
- Photographic Prints: If you captured breathtaking moments during your journey, consider printing and framing your favorite photographs as a way to preserve the memories and showcase the beauty of Greenland in your home.