A note about travel to Greenland

The remote location and island status of Greenland means that virtually all items must be imported; hence, even everyday items cost more than they do in Iceland or Denmark (which Greenland is a part of) or are simply sold out during your stay.  Accommodations tend to be small in size, due to high cost of importing building materials.  Repairs might also take a while, due to spare parts or tools being imported.

Please keep in mind that the Greenlandic travel infrastructure is not comparable with Western standards and service is often more relaxed then you will find elsewhere.  Most towns and villages have limited resources of planes, boats, helicopters and guides, so even with the best preparation possible, unexpected events can change your travel plans, such as flights not being on time, sudden weather changes or last-minute cancellations of other participants, leading to a specific tour not reaching the minimum.

We can therefore not completely exclude uncertainties or minor inconveniences, but as soon as you adapt to the lack of haste in Greenland, you will find the country a fascinating and breathtaking destination.

The Greenlandic people remain in many ways, unaffected by the influence of the Western culture and true to their own customs. As a result of this you may see things that you do not personally agree with, but which form a part of the culture and customs in Greenland. This may come in the form of food offered in restaurants, items for sale or the way the locals treat their dogs, which some people may find disturbing. It is important to remember that the dogs are working animals and not pets. However, you will find the people of Greenland very friendly and that generous hospitality has deep roots in the society.

Practical Information about Greenland

Climate

Greenland is the world’s largest island at 810,810 square miles.  It boasts the Northern Hemisphere’s largest ice sheet – 694,981 square miles, which cover 85 percent of its total area.  The Greenland climate is arctic to sub-arctic, but the distance between north and south means there are tremendous differences in temperature and climate. Thanks to a very dry air, cool summers feel surprisingly comfortable.

In general, summer temperatures are highest inland and coolest along the coasts. But you will be surprised to know that warm + 70° F days are not uncommon during the summer!

What to wear

It is best to be prepared by wearing ”layered” clothing. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof. Gloves and hats are recommended when sailing. It is a good idea to wear solid boots, waterproof shoes or rubber boots with a solid sole in the summer and winter. Clothing tends to be casual in Greenland and acceptable also in finer restaurants.

Currency

Danish Krone (DKK).

Accepted Credit / Debit Cards and ATMs

These cards are valid at banks or ATMs although we advise you to carry some cash as not all shops accept foreign credit cards: VISA, VISA PLUS-card, VISA Electron, Euro cheque card, Eurocard/Mastercard.

Traveler’s checks are usually not accepted in Greenland.

Electricity

220 voltages is standard (as in much of Europe). You may want to bring an adapter.

Time Zones

There is a four hour difference between Copenhagen and Greenland (Kangerlussuaq). When it is 10.00 am in Greenland it is 14.00 in Copenhagen. There is a two hour difference between the American East Coast and Greenland. When it is 10:00 am in Greenland it is 8:00 am EST in Baltimore.

Communication

Greenland has a modern telecommunications infrastructure, and it is possible to access the internet at most hotels and many net cafes.

Entering the country

Although Greenland is a part of Denmark, a Schengen visa is not valid to travel to Greenland.  It needs to be specifically marked “Valid for Greenland” on the visa (if the Schengen visa is issued by a Danish Embassy and valid for Greenland)

Valid travel ID or passport must be shown, when entering and leaving Greenland. American citizens do not require a visa for trips shorter than 3 months.

Import restrictions

Greenland is not considered a European Union country. Information on what you can bring into the country is available in airports – although drugs, weapons, living animals – including pets and birds are not allowed.

NB: From January 1, 2011 it is forbidden to bring any form of beer, wine and spirits with you when entering Greenland.

Export restrictions

It is illegal to import any art or artifact created from a marine mammal, including whalebone, walrus tusks (ivory) and narwhal tusks (also ivory) into the USA. For more information, contact a local tourist office.

Porterage Service (Baggage and Luggage)

There is no luggage porterage service available at hotels and other accommodation in Greenland. Compared to other countries, Greenlandic hotels are small, and this service is simply not available.  We always advise that you should pack light. A good rule of thumb is to bring no more than what you can comfortably carry between the bus and your hotel room.