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Explorer’s Guide: Greenland Travel Advice

4 min read

Greenland is the world's largest island and it's a landmass rich in both cultural and natural history. From the time it was first inhabited by Inuit tribes to the arrival of the Vikings, European explorers, and the modern era, Greenland has captivated the imaginations of polar adventurers eager to experience all that the island has to offer.

A traveler enjoys a relaxing mountain bike ride in South Greenland.

A traveler enjoys a relaxing mountain bike ride in South Greenland. Photo: Ben Haggar

Due to its location in the northern Atlantic Ocean and on the cusp of the Arctic Circle itself, adventurers are encouraged to heed any Greenland travel advice they can come upon before embarking on a journey to the island. The Greenland terrain is rugged and beautiful, presenting adventurers with raw, undiscovered sights to see, and requires seasoned guides who know where and how to navigate depending on where you visit and at what time of year.

Why travel to Greenland

So why would you want to travel to Greenland? For one thing, the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Northeast Greenland National Park are two of the most striking preserved natural wonders that you'll ever come across in a polar environment. These are two of the best places to visit in Greenland that always provide explorers with ample opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime.

If you're a history buff, you'll also appreciate the landmarks and memorials that pay tribute to the development of Greenland over the ages. One of the most interesting preservation sites is where the Vikings led by Erik the Red first arrived on Greenland and erected the first known European settlement on the island. The influence of the Vikings can still be felt in communities along the coastline so you'll have the chance to learn more about their involvement in how Greenland became the land it is today.

The Hvalsey Church ruins in southwest Greenland is considered the best preserved Norse ruin in Greenland.

The Hvalsey Church ruins in southwest Greenland is considered the best preserved Norse ruin in Greenland.
Photo: Aningaaq R. Carlsen/Visit Greenland

Best time to travel to Greenland

Since Greenland is situated due east of northern Canada and directly south of the north pole, it shouldn't be a surprise that the island is accessible only at certain times of the year. During the winter, the density of icebergs near the island increases as the water temperature drops. Strong, powerful winds also increase the size and power of waves that crash up against the island, making it necessary to travel with an expedition team who know how to safely navigate near the shoreline.

Kong Oscar Fjord (also called King Oscar Fjord) is surrounded by glacier-formed landscapes seldom seen in other parts of the world.

Quark Expeditions guests explore along King Oscar Fjord in East Greenland. Photo: Quark Expeditions

For that reason, the best time to travel to Greenland is during the summer when the water is warmer, the ice is thinner, and the winds are less of an obstacle to polar vessels. Your adventure guides will provide Greenland travel advice along the way, and they'll even point out why the elements make it challenging to visit Greenland during colder times of the year.

Greenland travel advice

Now, what are some examples of Greenland travel advice that you should be aware of while preparing for your adventure? Make sure your plans include advice on how to protect yourself so that you can enjoy the voyage of your lifetime.

What to pack

Even during the summer months, Greenland's northern proximity means the weather will be cooler than what you may experience in other parts of the world. Plus, since you'll likely join excursions that involve going in or near the water, you'll need extra layers to stay warm during your adventures. Thankfully, we've put together a detailed packing list guide to help you pack the right gear for a trip to climates like Greenland.

Travel insurance

Protecting yourself by purchasing the appropriate travel insurance can be one of your best decisions. Travel insurance can protect your financial interests in the event you are unable to take your scheduled trip for health or other reasons.

Greenland money

If you have the option to convert some money into local Greenland currency, it could make shopping and pay for souvenirs and crafts in local communities a bit easier. As part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland uses the Danish krone (DKK) as its official currency.

Best way to travel to Greenland

As an island, there are only two ways you can physically travel to Greenland: by air or by sea. Regardless of how you reach Greenland, once you're there you can and should visit Greenland aboard a polar vessel built to circumnavigate the island. Not only will you see how incredible the island looks on approach from the water, but you may also have a chance to see local wildlife in the waters offshore of the island, including rarely seen mammals like the Narwhal whales.

Greenland expedition cruise

If there is one piece of Greenland travel advice you should take to heart, it's that you'll want to book a spot aboard a trusted Greenland expedition cruise. We recommend a spot aboard the Greenland Adventure: Explore by Sea, Land, and Air expedition that promises 9 days of fun-filled adventures that include a visit to the expansive Greenland Ice Sheet.

Quark Expeditions guests can camp overnight along the Tasermiut Fjord in South Greenland.

Quark Expeditions' guests have the option of a comfortable overnight camping experience along the Tasermiut Fjord in South Greenland.
Photo: Peter Lindstrom, Visit Greenland

This voyage is accessible to all ages, levels of fitness, and skill sets. It's a journey that allows you to be as active as you like. Conversely, you can simply relax by the 70-km Tasermiut fjord and soak up the stunning scenery of South Greenland. You also have the option to book kayak or mountain bike excursions that allow you to roam the island and see up close some of Greenland's incredible landscape. But you can also sit back in our helicopter for a flightseeing journey to the Greenland Ice Sheet; also, every guest gets to experience a few helicopter outings, which are built right into the price of the adventure.

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