It may not be the first destination you think of for a vacation, but there are some glorious places to visit in Greenland. A place that seems at odds with its name because for much of the year it is white with snow, but when the winter ice recedes, a gorgeous, if stark, landscape becomes accessible. And people do live here – it’s not just explorers, polar bears and seals. Let’s whizz around some of the great places to visit in Greenland to see whether you fancy a trip there.
1. Disko Bay
Disko Bay is one of the most popular places to visit in Greenland. It sits on the western coast of the country and boasts numerous animal inhabitants and natural attractions, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ilulissat Icefjord. Tours here can last a few hours or more than a week! June through August is a recommended travel period, and Lyngmarks Glacier (on Disko Island) offers the only summertime dog sledding in Greenland. There is so much to see; some travelers make this their only Greenland destination.
2. The Ice Cap
The Greenland Ice Cap (also appropriately called the Ice Sheet) is the second largest ice sheet in the world after Antarctica, and measures over 2,000,000 cubic kilometers. The ice dates back over 110,000 years. A boat trip to the Ice Cap allows you to get really close while still appreciating the vast splendor of this natural attraction. Many tours leave from Disko Bay and are available year round.
Nuuk is located on the southwestern coast. It is one of the main places to visit in Greenland because it is the capital and the country’s largest city, but with a population of just over 15,000 don’t expect the frantic pace of other national capitals! Take a guided tour around the city’s many museums and historical sites, or warm up with some hiking or skiing (snow can fall year round). Whale watching is another option. Visitors have to arrive by boat, plane or helicopter because Greenland has no national road or train system to connect its cities. Snowmobiles are another popular way to travel long distance.
4. Rocky Mountains
Follow the fjords! A fjord is a narrow inlet with steep sides (think U-shaped valley) cut out by a glacier, and there are dozens of them in Greenland. One of the best places to see an example is in the Rocky Mountains on the eastern shore. The breathtaking sheer cliffs easily make this one of the best natural attractions of Greenland. Go by boat.
5. Fishing Locations
Arctic Char (also called silvery mountain trout) are cold-water fish that resemble salmon. Greenland boasts some of the best fishing in the world for it! Go fly fishing in the summer for these and other tasty morsels in the many rivers that Greenland offers. Guided and unguided tours are available. The more adventurous may want to try ice-fishing for halibut. During the winter, tours take anglers via dog sled over the frozen fjords. Trips can last anywhere from half a day to several days for the more hard-core! Fishing from boats anchored or adrift, visitors have a good chance of catching cod or rose fish. Boat fishing also allows maritime hunters to try and reel in massive Greenland sharks year-round.
6. The Northern Lights
You don’t have to go far to see one of the most amazing sights of Greenland. The Northern Lights is a phenomenon to experience and can be seen pretty much anywhere across the nation! Atoms collide with charged particles in the thermosphere (high altitude atmosphere) and produce a sky-encompassing phosphorescent glow. Greenland is one of the best northern locations to witness this incredible natural attraction. The best time for viewing in Greenland is September through April – they cannot be seen in the summer due to the midnight sun!
A trip to Qaqortoq (sounds like: Kar-hor-tok) will leave you with lots to talk about, even if the pronunciation takes some practice! With over 3,000 residents it is the most populous town in the southern region and the 4th most populous in Greenland. Be sure to check out the Stone&Man exhibition, an art project from 1993-1994 where 18 artists carved 2 dozen sculptures into boulders and rock faces in the town. Today over 40 pieces are part of the exhibit.
The sights and the places to visit in Greenland are beautiful and fascinating. Pretty when the snow recedes, it becomes a whole other world when winter descends and the island becomes a sea of white. You’ve got to be hardy to live here, but you don’t need to be just to visit. Have you ever thought about visiting this amazing place?