As the world's largest island, Greenland offers a broad spectrum of natural attractions for the adventurous explorer. Located inside the Arctic Circle between neighboring Canada and Iceland, Greenland's natural landscapes bost a mixture of lush green terrain with a thick ice sheet that illuminates brightly in the sun.
Much of the island remains uninhabited by humans, including the northeast Greenland National Park that encompasses over 972,000 square kilometers. It is the largest national park and designation of preserved land and wildlife in the world.
Most Greenlanders live right on the coast, or at least in close proximity. Many still live off the land. Photo: Acacia
Floating icebergs and deep fjords dominate the landscape along the shores of the island. Rolling fields and imposing mountains line the landscape, giving the entire island an aura of wonder and mystery. These amazing sights are highlights for adventurers traveling by both sea and air, offering photo opportunities for explorers eager to create a catalog based on their Greenland Arctic adventure.
But what are some of the top reasons to visit Greenland, and what can you expect during your time on the island? Let's look at Greenland tourism, and provide some helpful answers to these questions.
Why visit Greenland?
Greenland tourism offers visitors everything from wildlife (polar bears, muskoxen, whales), culture (Inuit traditions are strong, especially in smaller communities), physical activity (hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, camping…), history (plenty of ruins and remains of ruins from the ancient Thule, who were ancestors of the Inuit), and bird-watching, among other activities.
One of the most amazing attractions for Greenland adventurers is the Prins Christian Sund. This is a 105km fjord named after a former king of Denmark, and it boasts an incredible collection of navigable rivers, rugged cliffs, and calving glaciers. If you're lucky, your Polar TravelAdvisor guide will you in advance of your voyage so you can book special excursions, like kayaking. Quark Expeditions offers both paid and unpaid activities. When you travel with Quark Expeditions, you can join daily Zodiac excursions and shore landings free, as part of your trip.
Greenland is home to huge populations of muskoxen. Photo: Courtesy Quark Expeditions
Greenland tourism: Top 10 things to do
Since the island is so vast and largely untouched by humans, there are many natural wonders for explorers to see during a visit to Greenland. Our team has created a guide on the 10 reasons to visit Greenland to help you plan an adventure to remember.
In addition to spotting fjords and kayaking through the waterways, there are special landmarks to visit. One of the most popular is the Ilulissat Icefjord, which puts most other ice glaciers to shame with its imposing size. This fjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it will be ecologically protected and preserved so that others who are eager to see the landmark will have the opportunity to do so.
If you're someone who likes to immerse themselves in local cultures, you can also visit remote communities to witness life for Inuit residents on the island. The community of Thune is one of the northernmost settlements on Earth, and it's a region that is proud of its rich tapestry of Qaanaaq history to explore.
Icebergs abound in the many fjords throughout Greenland. Photo: Aningaaq R. Carlsen/VisitGreenland
Best time of year to visit Greenland
Since Greenland lies within the Arctic Circle, you want to pick the appropriate time of year to visit the island so that you can get the most out of the experience. During the winter months, much of the ice is so thick and conditions near the shoreline are so unpredictable that it's hard for vessels to safely navigate the waters around the island.
On the other hand, the summer months allow cruises to arrive at Greenland quite easily so that you can have the full island experience. That's why Quark Expeditions has scheduled Greenland Adventure: Explore By Sea, Land, and Air itinerary during the North American summer so that travelers and the expedition team can take advantage of warmer weather conditions in late July.
Greenland Adventure: Explore By Sea, Land, and Air is a 9-day experience that takes you along the southern shore of Greenland to explore the famous Greenland Ice Sheet. The southern part of the island is home to the greatest variety of landscapes, paired with the most serene, sheltered waterways and eye-catching snow-capped mountains. Greenland is an adventure seeker's paradise, and you can explore more of the land on your own terms by exploring by foot or by kayak, and even by camping overnight along the 70-km Tasermiut Fjord.
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, is known for its colourful buildings. Photo: Sam Edmonds
Best way to visit Greenland
As an island, the only ways to arrive at Greenland are by air or by sea. Most travelers arrive by plane or by boat during a warmer time of year when the elements across the island are more welcoming to eager travelers.
Greenland expedition cruise
Sometimes, the best adventures offer delightful experiences both onshore and on the cruise ship itself. You can satisfy your adventurous spirit by experiencing all that the island has to offer during the day and then return to your boat at the end of the day for an excellent meal after a long day of exploration.
Our groundbreaking Tundra to Table: Inuit Culinary Experience adventure is a unique on-ship opportunity to learn about the food and customs of the Inuit of Greenland and, respectively, Nunavut for voyages that travel into the Canadian High Arctic. The meals are prepared by local chefs who are experts in Inuit culinary traditions.
The tastings are all enjoyed in Ultramarine's main restaurant, Balena. All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, such as freshly caught Arctic seafood, and free-roaming games that eat only grass and plant-based vegetation. Examples of popular dishes you may experience include:
- Muskox is braised in beer, served with berry jam, mushroom sauce, and Greenlandic mashed potatoes.
- Lamb from the south of Greenland with pomme Anna (thinly sliced layers of potatoes). pickled angelica, sweet turnip ragu, and wild gravy.
- Ptarmigan that is glazed with honey and served with a turnip purée.
- Halibut is pickled and served with a lumpfish dip and fresh bread.
The food will be memorable, just as the many other highlights of Greenland tourism.