Greenland is one of the most remote destinations in the world. Despite being the largest island in the world, three quarters of Greenland is covered by an immense ice-sheet. Furthermore, the country has a population of less than 60,000. Much like Siberia and the Canadian Northern Territories, traveling to Greenland will provide you with an otherworldly experience. The sites and adventures you will experience here are like nothing else.
For those who love intrepid adventure and excitement, Greenland is an absolute must. This snow and ice covered wilderness will simply take your breath away. Furthermore, the inhabitants of Greenland are fascinating; it is a true pleasure to see how they survive at the edge of the earth. If you are considering traveling to Greenland then you are in luck! We have provided a list of 10 things to help you prepare for this once in a lifetime expedition!
1. Traveling to Greenland will involve a flight from Iceland or a cruise
Iceland is the closest inhabited land that provides air travel to Greenland. The flight from Iceland to Greenland takes approximately 2 hours depending on which coast you fly to. The main Greenland airports are at Ilulissat, Nuuk, and Ittoqqortoormiit. All three of these airports are serviced by Air Greenland or Iceland Air and have flights to Reykjavik (Keflavik). Aside from flying, the other main mode of traveling to Greenland is by a cruise. A Greenland cruise will often involve a visit to Iceland and even the remote island of Svalbard.
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2. The seasons will dictate what activities you can enjoy
Nowhere in the world (except maybe Antarctica) are the seasons so varied as in Greenland. Due to this high variance, you may find what to do in Greenland will vary too. The below is a breakdown of the seasons in Greenland:
– Summer: Long, warm & bright days (June to August)
– Winter: Short, cold and frosts days with little sunlight (December to March)
– Spring: Transition from winter to summer (May)
– Autumn: Transition from summer to winter (September to November)
During the summer there are plenty of hiking opportunities. During winter, dog sledding is an absolute must. Finally, spring and autumn can be varied as the weather will shift quickly.
3. You will stay in a small village with a population of mere thousands
The largest settlement in Greenland is Nuuk with a population of just 16,400. After that, villages such as Sisimiut and Ilulissat have populations of 6,000 or less. When you travel to Greenland the experience will be like nothing else. There are no huge modern cities or sprawling metropolises. This wilderness is made up of small populations inhabiting coastal towns. It is simply wondrous and a welcome break from the busy rush of city life.
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4. Weather extremes could potentially disrupt your sleeping pattern
If you are a light sleeper you may struggle when traveling to Greenland. We have touched upon the weather already – summer brings near constant daylight, whereas winter brings almost perpetual darkness. The midnight sun can disrupt people’s sleeping pattern and keep them awake. Alternatively, the winter darkness can cause tiredness. During summer consider taking a sleeping mask to cover your eyes. In winter, consider taking some Vitamin D supplements in absence of sunshine.
5. To make the most of your trip, you should be physically fit
Greenland is a remote destination. The inhabitants of the epic wilderness are hardy and can resist the elements. This is a totally different experience than relaxing on a beach in Spain for example. When traveling to Greenland you will undoubtedly do some hiking and plenty of walking. Furthermore, you may even embark upon a Glacier walk or other outdoor ventures. In short, to get the most from this expedition you should be physically fit. You don’t have to be an ultra-athlete, but it will help if you are stable on your feet.
6. Food and drink are generally expensive so bring plenty of cash!
It is widely known that most Scandinavian countries are expensive for tourists. Greenland is no exception. Much of Greenland’s supplies such as food and commodities are imported – this is obviously not cheap. Due to this fact, you can expect to pay a premium for meals and alcohol. The tour packages themselves and flights from Iceland to Greenland aren’t too bad; however, you should try and bring plenty of Danish Kroner for eating out and buying souvenirs etc. One positive however is that most day trips will include a packed lunch and refreshments.
7. The wildlife and landscapes are truly magnificent so bring a camera
What do you picture when imagining Greenland? A never-ending ice-sheet perhaps? Or Eskimos? This is so far from the truth, but the truth is so much more exciting! The coastal areas of Greenland are rugged and beautiful. You will experience huge ice fjords packed with colossal bergs. You will sail through pack ice and watch the midnight sun glisten on the water. You may even see Humpback Whales surfacing in pods and gorgeous husky dogs preparing for long sled journeys. A camera is an absolute must when visiting this part of the world as the shots you can get can be magnificent. To help you take those magnificent shots, check our 10 amazing travel photography hacks!
8. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark so prepare accordingly
Many people believe that Greenland is a country in its own right. Greenland is actually a constituent country; it is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. When traveling to Greenland, you will need Danish Kroner – this is the main accepted currency. Furthermore, it is advisable to touch up on your Danish. Learn some simple phrases such as hello, yes, thank you and goodbye. The locals will appreciate the effort although English is widely spoken too.
Read more: Best Cities in Europe for English Speakers
9. Expect long days and plenty of boat travel
Most of you will travel to Greenland during the summer. Due to this fact, in most cases, you will experience virtually constant daylight. During the height of the summer, there can be up to 20 hours of daylight. Furthermore, the sun may never fully dip past the horizon. Witnessing the midnight sun in Greenland is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
During this everlasting daylight, you will undoubtedly experience many boat rides. Some of Greenland’s most exciting sites are only accessible via boat. It is important that you are comfortable with sea travel. You do not want to miss sites such as the mighty Eqip Sermia Glacier, or the Ilulissat Icefjord for example.
10. Warm clothing may not be a necessity, but prepare for the worst regardless
As mentioned, Greenland winters are bitter and cold. Temperatures fall rapidly and there is little daylight. If you visit during winter, warm clothing as an absolute must. Ensure you have a full thermal layer and a protective Parka coat. Furthermore, ensure you have thick gloves and a hat that covers your ears. Alternatively, in summer, the weather is not as unforgiving. If you are hiking in the mainland, you could even strip down to trousers and a shit as it can get warm. If you are sailing, however, the open waters will be cold no matter the season so always wrap up when at sea!
Traveling to Greenland really can be the adventure of a lifetime. This remarkable wilderness will truly open your eyes. You will see a part of the world that few seldom have the chance to witness. Furthermore, you will get the chance to test yourself against the elements and isolation. The only question now is what you want to do whilst in Greenland, and when you want your expedition to begin!