Wild, remote, and untouched within the Arctic circle. There are few places that rival the mystique of Greenland.
While you may think of Greenland as a fascinating wonderland of enchanting Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), thrilling whale watching, natural hot springs, breathtaking scenery awaiting to be discovered, and, of course, polar bears, you may be surprised to learn just how many sites of historic significance it boasts.
Beyond the staggering natural landmarks, such as the Ilulissat Icefjord, which runs from the Greenland Ice Sheet to Disko bay, there are many remnants of ancient Inuit and Norse civilizations to consider on a trip to Greenland.
Here’s a list of the top attractions and landmarks of Greenland to look forward to, from a historical perspective, on your next Arctic expedition.
They're an excellent way to learn more about the country between trips hiking the Arctic circle trail, kayaking in glacial waters, and searching for Arctic wildlife.
Exploring Greenland's Landmarks
1. The Tomb at Qilakitsoq in the Greenland National Museum
In 1972, two brothers made a ghoulish discovery beneath a rock outcrop while grouse hunting – the bodies of eight mummies, approximately 500 years old. The mummies, which have since taught us much about Inuit customs, are now on display at the Greenland National Museum in Nuuk.
2. Deltaterrasserne Archeological Site
At the entrance of Greenland National Park lies the fascinating Deltaterrasserne, a pre-Inuit archaeological site located near the head of Jørgen Brønlund Fjord, Peary Land peninsula. Constructed of large, terraced stones, it is one of the largest archaeological sites of the area.
Hundreds of artifacts were discovered in the area, including tools made and used around 2000 to 1700 B.C.
3. Qoornoq Fishing Village
Previously inhabited by the pre-Inuit, Paleo-Eskimo people of the Saqqaq culture, this abandoned fishing town in Southwestern Greenland is a well-known archaeological site that dates back as far as 2200 B.C.
It contains ruins of ancient Inuit and Norse buildings, including an old Norse farm. Several ancient tools were found on the site, which was occupied by locals up until the 1970s.
Viking enthusiasts will appreciate Brattahlio, where Erik the Red and his descendants lived until late in the 15th century. There is also a replica of a Norse longhouse and a reconstruction of what many consider to be the first European church of the New World.
The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is preserved as an example of ancient Norse and Inuit farming practices.
You’ll travel back in time when you visit Skoldungen, a small island settlement in Greenland's coastal waters that became a ghost town around 1961 as its population eventually moved to larger cities.
A short boat ride from the coast of East Greenland, a visit to the island holds its own charms and reminds us of a simpler past.
Nuuk was founded in 1728 as the very first town in Greenland, and is its charming capital. Along with enjoying spectacular natural beauty, history-lovers can explore the historic “Old Nuuk”, the National Museum, Nuuk Cathedral, the Nuuk Art Museum, and the Greenland Cultural Centre.
7. Hvalsey Fjord Church
Built in the early 14th century, the ruins of Hvalsey Fjord Church lie at the southern tip of Greenland. The church is one of the early examples of Christianity being brought to Greenland, and is thought to be built on land that was once claimed by a relative of Erik the Red.
Several ways to discover mysterious Greenland
For more information on what to see and do in Greenland, take a look at our numerous Greenland expeditions, such as our Greenland Adventure: Explore by Sea, Land and Air expedition.
Many include convenient fly/cruises and Arctic Icebreaker Expeditions for once-in-a-lifetime voyages on Quark’s legendary icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov. You'll venture through Arctic waters (keep an eye out for bowhead and beluga whales) and through the air on one of the ship's private helicopters.
Visiting Greenland offers travelers the opportunity to experience the natural wonder and fascinating history of the country.