For many years Iceland has been one of the more popular destinations if you were looking to “drop off the map”. However, as it’s popularity has grown, it is harder to get away from other travellers and to feel the solitude of self in nature. Greenland still has that appeal and is becoming a great destination in order to experience nature’s dramatic silence.
Travelling in Iceland has always needed some flexibility in plans due to weather but this applies to Greenland even more so. Depending on where in Greenland you travel, day tours may be bookable in advance but others may not be bookable until the day of the tour due to weather and ice conditions. So it is good to plan ahead but also be comfortable with having the day off just to relax if plans do not work out.
Arriving in Greenland is an experience of itself. The land is made of rugged rock and a vast glacier, dotted with brightly coloured houses and a unique culture. Seeing it from above feels like you are about to arrive at a land before time. It is a little world of it’s own which can often cause a little bit of a culture shock.
There are several destinations to choose from when planning to travel to Greenland.
Ilulissat is by far the most popular destination as it has loads of Icebergs right in front of you and is a photographer‘s paradise.
Ilulissat is located on Disko Bay and it‘s name means „Icebergs“ in the native tongue. Icebergs are abundant in the area and it is possible to go on boat tours to sail among them or even go see the mighty Eqip Sermia, the calving glacier. On either tour you experience the immense silence that surrounds you and you feel like you are on the edge of the world. Loud cracks will be heard as the ice breaks and falls into the ocean, you have to keep an eye out on icebergs turning in the water. It surely is an adventure.
If history and culture is what interests you, Nuuk is the place to visit. Nuuk is the seat of government and the largest cultural centre of Greenland. Sitting just shy of the Arctic Circle, it is also the northern most capital of the world.
Not only does Nuuk boast a long history of the Inuit people but also Vikings that settled there around the year 1000. The Greenland National Museum is a do-not-miss as it has many exhibits and artifacts regarding Greenland‘s archeology, history, art, and handicrafts.
Nuuk even has it‘s own ice fjord to discover.
Tours available are; fishing tours, hiking tours, boat tours, heli/flight-seeing tours, city tours, or even a combination of any of these.
Ammassalik is an island located on the East Coast of Greenland. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, this island is perfectly located for longer bouts of solitude and relaxation. It is ideal for walks of all lengths to enjoy the Arctic flora, going for a boat tour to a remote and uninhabited hunting village, go for an iceberg boat trip, or go for a helicopter ride to check out the Mittivakkat Glacier.
Ammassalik has all the comforts that you need but in a charismatically rustic way.
Kulusuk is the smallest destination of them all. This tiny village seems like it literally is on the edge of the world. It has no ground transportation, unless you are staying at the hotel for a night or two, just one store, few people, but lots of character and scenery. This is a great place to go if you are looking for something completely different, for a short time, from what you are used to. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and icebergs floating in the ocean, it is bare bones and a simple lifestyle.
There are no roads linking any of these towns so if you are wanting to explore more than one location be prepared for more flights or a lengthy boat ride.
The Coastal Ferry can take you from Ilulissat to Nuuk to Narsarsuaq on the west coast, and vice versa, stopping by other smaller towns which you could explore. The whole trip from Ilulissat to Narsarsuaq can take 73 hours or so, depending on conditions.
The faster way to travel between these locations is by the local airline Air Greenland. Flights may not be available for the days you are looking to travel so research beforehand is highly recommended.
In the larger towns such as Nuuk, Ilulissat, and Ammassalik, you can use your credit card for most services and ATMs are available. Greenland uses the Danish Krone so if you are wanting to take out money, this is the currency you will get. For smaller towns such Kulusuk, you will not be able to rely on credit cards so bringing cash with you is a good idea. Before flying to Kulusuk, you can take out Danish currency at Reykjavik Domestic Airport prior to your departure.
Greenland is an adventure and a great place to unplug yourself from the modern world and just live in the moment. Whether going on tours or just relaxing near your hotel, it is a serene place to be. Personally, I would go every year if I could!