Greenland is the world's largest island, and it's a land that's rich in both human and natural history to captivate the imaginations of brave explorers. The best way to visit Greenland has always been by sea, dating back to when Inuit people first inhabited the island following the Ice Age to when the Vikings sailed ashore from lands to the east. Of course, your options to travel by sea have vastly improved over the last thousand years.
Wildlife, icebergs, alpine mountains, remote communities and endless fjords attract visitors to Greenland. Photo: Acacia Johnson
Why visit Greenland
Despite the island's remoteness and the ruggedness of Greenland, it is very straightforward for travelers to arrive at their destination. There are helpful explorer guides you can use to plan out your adventure ahead of time so that you know what to make time for during your exploration of scenic Greenland.
Greenland is home to the world's second-largest ice sheet, after Antarctica, and this majesty of glistening natural beauty is one of the best reasons to visit the island. While sailing around the coast, you'll see boundless kilometers of shimmering ice glistening under the sun as a beautiful piece of artwork. Make sure you have your cameras ready when sailing towards the Greenland Ice Sheet as you'll want to capture those photographic moments for lifetime memories.
Interesting facts about Greenland
Don't let the size and scale of the Greenland Ice Sheet derail your intentions if you'd like opportunities to explore the island by land. There are a number of interesting facts about Greenland that make it an ideal journey for all explorers. The coastal climate is surprisingly warm, providing ample opportunities to go ashore and hike across the wilderness. As the seasons change, especially from summer into fall, the flowers are strewn about the tundra landscape change into much brighter colors, creating more picturesque moments to document.
Setting foot on the mammoth Greenland Ice Sheet is a dream come true for many visitors to Greenland. Photo: Hugo Perrin
Greenland is also home to several visually stunning fjords that you can navigate by kayak or Zodiac cruise. You'll find yourself immersed in the clear blue water against a backdrop of sandstone cliffs and rugged mountains. King Oscar Fjord in East Greenland is one of the most famous fjords in the country, providing breathtaking views of the coastline that will stick in your memory for life.
Best way to visit Greenland
As an island, there are only two ways to visit Greenland: by sea or by air. You can fly into Nuuk, or approach by ship. Regardless of how you travel to Greenland, once you're there you'll want to explore by ship as it's the coastal areas and fjords that you will navigate. There are barely any interior roads within Greenland connecting one community to another.
Quark Expeditions guests photograph a polar bear from the deck of their vessel in East Greenland. Photo: Acacia Johnson
For instance, you could join an itinerary such as Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts and Disko Bay. This 15-day adventure begins in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik before you sail across the Denmark Strait towards southeastern Greenland. Once you approach the shoreline, you'll see the Greenland Ice Sheet and stop in various ports along the coast. During your time on the island itself, your adventure guides will take you on hiking excursions across the tundra to see some of the most remote sites that Greenland has to offer.
Best time to visit Greenland
Since Greenland is located on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, the best time to visit Greenland is largely dictated by the time of year. During the winter months, the conditions in the ocean become harder to navigate and the ice sheets are thicker along the shoreline. It makes it difficult for any vessel to safely approach the island in these conditions.
For that reason, the summer months from June through September are the best times to visit Greenland. Both the water and the wind are calmer during these times of the year, and the conditions on the island itself are more inviting to adventurers.
Aerial views from a helicopter in South Greenland. Photo: Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland
What to keep in mind when visiting Greenland
Greenland is vast and because there are few paved roads on the island, most travel is done by water, which is why a polar voyage is the best way to visit Greenland. You're probably not going to visit the entire country so you need to make a choice: do you want to explore the south, east, or west.
Remember that Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark; however, you aren't close to Denmark. Greenland is over 3,000 kilometers from the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Many Greenlanders speak English, especially those you're likely to encounter on voyages to Greenland.
Despite the ruggedness of Greenland, it's not only for the extreme adventurer. Not at all. The activities you can do on the various voyages with Quark Expeditions are accessible to everyone, of all levels of fitness, age, and skill set. You'll very likely encounter Inuit communities during your adventure who have a rich history on the island that is represented in the clothing, housing, and lifestyles reflected in each of the villages.
Greenland expedition cruise
All in all, the best way to visit Greenland is on an expedition cruise, and there's no better way to travel than aboard our Greenland Adventure: Explore By Sea, Land, and Air adventure. This is a 9-day voyage that's accessible to travelers of all ages and all levels of experience.
While it can be an adrenaline-packed adventure, you get to choose what kind of voyage you wish to embark on. You can be as active as you like or you can simply relax by the 70-km Tasermiut fjord and soak up the stunning scenery of South Greenland for a more leisurely time on the island. You can also sit back in our helicopter for a flightseeing journey to the Greenland Ice Sheet. On the other hand, if you'd prefer a more active adventure, you can kayak or mountain bike across the tundra for a more on-the-ground adventure to remember!