Greenland travel guide

Discover the world’s largest island, a land of breathtaking icy landscapes, fascinating Inuit culture, and unparalleled adventure. This comprehensive guide provides all the essential information you need to plan an unforgettable journey to Greenland.

General Information

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. Located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, it is renowned for its vast ice sheet, dramatic fjords, and vibrant Inuit culture. With a population of approximately 56,000, Greenland offers a unique travel experience characterized by remote wilderness, breathtaking natural beauty, and a rich cultural heritage. The official languages are Greenlandic and Danish, although English is also spoken in major towns and tourist areas. The currency is the Danish krone (DKK). Greenland experiences a polar climate with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The best time to visit depends on your interests, with summer offering opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and exploring the fjords, while winter is ideal for dog sledding, witnessing the Northern Lights, and experiencing the Inuit way of life.

Planning Your Trip

Planning a trip to Greenland requires careful consideration due to its remote location, unique climate, and seasonal variations. Begin by determining the best time to visit based on your interests, whether it’s exploring the fjords under the midnight sun in summer or experiencing the magic of the Northern Lights in winter. Research and book flights and accommodation well in advance, as options can be limited and prices tend to fluctuate. Carefully consider your itinerary, factoring in travel times between destinations, which are often accessible only by boat or plane. Packing for all weather conditions is essential, with layers being key to staying comfortable in the unpredictable Arctic climate. Travel insurance is highly recommended to cover any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.

Getting To Greenland

Greenland is primarily accessible by air, with two major airlines, Air Greenland and Icelandair, offering scheduled flights from Denmark and Iceland. Kangerlussuaq Airport (SFJ) serves as the main international gateway, connecting to Copenhagen, Denmark. From there, domestic flights operated by Air Greenland connect to various towns and settlements across the country. Alternatively, Icelandair offers flights to Nuuk (GOH), Greenland’s capital, from Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s important to note that flight schedules can be limited and subject to weather conditions, particularly during the winter months. Booking flights well in advance is crucial, especially during peak season.

Getting Around Greenland

Navigating Greenland’s vast and rugged terrain presents unique challenges, as there are no roads connecting towns and settlements. Domestic air travel with Air Greenland is the most common mode of transportation between major destinations. The airline offers a network of flights connecting coastal towns and settlements, providing scenic views of the ice sheet, fjords, and glaciers. In addition to air travel, ferries operated by Arctic Umiaq Line and Disko Line provide passenger and vehicle transportation along the coastline, particularly during the summer months. For exploring local areas, options include taxis, car rentals in larger towns, and boat tours to nearby fjords and settlements.


Greenland offers a range of accommodation options, from modern hotels in larger towns to cozy guesthouses and campsites in more remote areas. In Nuuk, the capital, you’ll find a selection of international-standard hotels catering to business and leisure travelers alike. Other major towns such as Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Qaqortoq also offer comfortable hotels with modern amenities. For a more immersive experience, consider staying in a guesthouse or hostel, where you can interact with locals and learn more about Greenlandic culture. Camping is a popular option during the summer months, with designated campsites available near towns and settlements. It’s essential to book accommodation well in advance, especially if traveling during peak season, as availability can be limited.

Food and Drink

Greenlandic cuisine is a unique blend of traditional Inuit fare and Scandinavian influences, emphasizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Seafood features prominently, with highlights including Greenlandic halibut, Arctic char, and cold-water prawns. Traditional Inuit dishes such as suaasat (seal soup) and mattak (whale skin and blubber) offer a glimpse into the indigenous culinary heritage. Musk ox, reindeer, and lamb are also popular meat options. For a taste of local produce, sample Greenlandic blueberries, crowberries, and angelica. Imported goods can be found in larger supermarkets, while smaller settlements rely on hunting, fishing, and foraging for sustenance.

Things To Do

Greenland offers a wealth of unique and unforgettable experiences for travelers seeking adventure, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. Explore the breathtaking fjords by boat, kayak, or cruise, marveling at towering icebergs, cascading waterfalls, and diverse marine life. Embark on a dog sledding excursion for an authentic taste of Arctic exploration, or hike through pristine landscapes dotted with wildflowers and ancient ruins. Discover the vibrant Inuit culture in local museums, settlements, and cultural centers, where you can learn about traditional crafts, music, and storytelling. Witness the ethereal glow of the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky, a truly mesmerizing spectacle.

Top Tourist Attractions

Greenland boasts an array of awe-inspiring natural wonders and cultural gems that draw visitors from around the globe. The Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases the dramatic beauty of calving glaciers, where colossal icebergs break off and drift into the sea. Nuuk, the capital, offers a blend of modern and traditional, with its colorful harborfront, historical buildings, and the Greenland National Museum. The Greenland National Museum houses a fascinating collection of Inuit artifacts, art, and archaeological finds, providing insights into the island’s rich cultural heritage. For a glimpse into Inuit traditions, visit the settlements of Siorapaluk, the northernmost inhabited community in the world, and Ittoqqortoormiit, known for its dog sledding and polar bear sightings.

Ilulissat Icefjord

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ilulissat Icefjord is a breathtaking natural wonder located near the town of Ilulissat on Greenland’s west coast. This dramatic fjord is renowned for its awe-inspiring display of icebergs, constantly calving from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, one of the most active glaciers in the world. Witness the mesmerizing spectacle of colossal ice formations breaking off and crashing into the icy waters, creating a symphony of sights and sounds. Explore the fjord by boat tours, offering unparalleled views of the icebergs, or hike along the marked trails for different perspectives of this natural marvel.

Nuuk Cathedral

Standing prominently on a hilltop overlooking the city center, Nuuk Cathedral, also known as the Church of Our Saviour, is a distinctive landmark and a symbol of Greenland’s Christian heritage. This red-painted wooden church, built in 1849, features a simple yet elegant design, with its white trim and green steeple contrasting against the surrounding landscape. Step inside to admire the interior, adorned with a beautiful altarpiece and a model ship hanging from the ceiling, a common feature in Scandinavian churches. The cathedral serves as a place of worship for the local Inuit community and hosts regular services.

Greenland National Museum

Located in Nuuk, the Greenland National Museum offers a captivating journey through the island’s rich cultural heritage, spanning thousands of years. Explore a diverse collection of artifacts, including Inuit hunting tools, kayaks, traditional clothing, and archaeological finds from ancient settlements. Discover the history of Greenland’s indigenous people, from the early Saqqaq and Dorset cultures to the arrival of the Thule people, the ancestors of modern Inuit. The museum’s exhibits showcase the ingenuity and resilience of the Inuit in adapting to one of the harshest environments on Earth.

Eqi Glacier

Eqi Glacier, located on Greenland’s west coast, is a captivating spectacle of nature’s raw power and beauty. This active glacier is renowned for its thunderous calving events, where massive chunks of ice break off and crash into the fjord below, creating dramatic splashes and booming sounds that reverberate across the water. Witness this awe-inspiring display up close on boat tours that navigate the fjord, providing stunning views of the glacier’s face and the surrounding icebergs. The Eqi Glacier is a testament to the dynamic forces shaping Greenland’s icy landscapes.

Disko Bay

Situated on Greenland’s west coast, Disko Bay is a breathtaking expanse of water renowned for its stunning icebergs, abundant marine life, and charming coastal settlements. The bay’s most iconic feature is the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where colossal icebergs break off from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier and drift into the bay. Explore the bay by boat tours, kayaking excursions, or cruises, marveling at the towering ice formations, some reaching heights of several stories. Keep an eye out for whales, seals, and seabirds that frequent the bay’s rich waters.

Thule Region

Located in northwest Greenland, the Thule Region is a remote and sparsely populated area steeped in Inuit history and culture. This region is home to Thule Air Base, a United States Air Force base, and the settlement of Qaanaaq, one of the northernmost towns in the world. The Thule Region offers a glimpse into the traditional Inuit way of life, with hunting, fishing, and dog sledding still forming integral parts of the local culture. Explore the rugged landscapes, encounter unique wildlife such as musk oxen and Arctic foxes, and experience the stark beauty of the high Arctic.


Nestled on the rugged coast of northwest Greenland, Siorapaluk holds the distinction of being the northernmost inhabited settlement in the world. This remote village, home to a small Inuit community, offers a glimpse into a way of life intimately connected to the Arctic environment. Experience the traditional practices of hunting and fishing that have sustained the Inuit for centuries, and witness the resilience and adaptability of a culture thriving in one of the harshest climates on Earth. Siorapaluk provides a unique opportunity to connect with the Inuit people and gain a deeper understanding of their enduring traditions.

Culture and History

Greenland’s culture is deeply rooted in the traditions and resilience of the Inuit people, who have inhabited the island for centuries, adapting to its harsh Arctic environment. The Inuit have a rich history of hunting, fishing, and craftsmanship, evident in their intricate carvings, traditional clothing made from sealskin and caribou hide, and captivating storytelling traditions. Greenland’s history is intertwined with Norse exploration and colonization, with evidence of Viking settlements dating back to the 10th century. The island became a Danish colony in the 18th century and gained home rule in 1979. Today, Greenland is a modern society striving to balance its Inuit heritage with the influences of globalization.

Practical Information

When traveling to Greenland, it’s essential to be prepared with practical information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. The currency is the Danish krone (DKK), and credit cards are widely accepted in larger towns and settlements. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller establishments and remote areas. The electrical outlets are the standard European two-pin plugs, so pack an adapter if needed. Greenland has limited internet and mobile phone coverage, particularly in remote regions, so be prepared for limited connectivity. Tipping is not customary in Greenland, as service charges are typically included in bills.

Health and Safety

Greenland is generally a safe destination for travelers, but it’s important to be mindful of the unique challenges posed by its remote location and Arctic environment. Pack a comprehensive first-aid kit, including any necessary medications, as access to healthcare facilities can be limited outside of major towns. It’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider regarding vaccinations and necessary precautions before traveling. When exploring the outdoors, dress in layers appropriate for the unpredictable weather conditions, and be aware of the risks associated with hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. Pack plenty of water and snacks, and inform someone of your itinerary, especially if venturing into remote areas.

Money and Banking

The official currency of Greenland is the Danish krone (DKK), which is divided into 100 øre. Major credit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard, are widely accepted in larger towns and settlements, particularly for hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s essential to carry sufficient cash for smaller establishments, local markets, and remote areas where card facilities may be limited. ATMs are available in major towns, but it’s advisable to withdraw cash before venturing into remote regions. Currency exchange services can be found at banks and some hotels, although rates may vary.

Visa and Passport Requirements

Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has its own immigration regulations. Citizens of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland do not require a visa to enter Greenland. Citizens of other European Union and European Economic Area countries, as well as many other nationalities, are also exempt from visa requirements for short stays, typically up to 90 days. However, it’s essential to check the specific visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling. All visitors must possess a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining beyond their intended stay in Greenland.


The official languages of Greenland are Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) and Danish. Greenlandic is an Inuit language spoken by the majority of the population, while Danish is widely spoken in administrative and educational settings. English is also commonly spoken in major towns and tourist areas, particularly in hotels, restaurants, and touristic establishments. However, venturing into smaller settlements and remote regions may require some basic Greenlandic or Danish phrases, as English proficiency may be limited. Learning a few basic greetings and phrases can go a long way in enhancing your interactions with the locals.

Climate and Weather

Greenland experiences an Arctic climate characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The vast majority of the island is covered by a permanent ice sheet, resulting in frigid temperatures and significant variations in daylight hours throughout the year. Winter (November to April) brings freezing temperatures, often dropping below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), with limited daylight hours and frequent snowfall. Summer (May to October) offers milder temperatures, ranging from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (41 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit), with the phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun remains visible above the horizon for 24 hours a day.

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