Top Things to Do in Greenland
Greenland means “Land of the People” and was discovered by Vikings in the 10th century and is the largest island on earth at 836,300 square miles. While most of the island is permanently frozen there is still plenty to do here. Here is a list of the top things to do in Greenland, and a few other fun facts. The population of the whole island is only about 56,000 with roughly one-third of that living in the capital city of Nuuk. There are virtually no roads between towns, so if you want to explore, it will be by boat, airplane, snowmobile, or sled. Due to limited lodging options, hotels fill up pretty far in advance so you will need to plan ahead to find the best flight deals and for booking hotels. Since the climate is much colder than you are probably used to, you’ll want to make sure you know how to pack and what to bring on your Greenland adventure.
Dog-Sledding and Snowmobile Tours
There’s no question about it. Exploring the wildlife is one of the top things to do in Greenland, and the best way to experience the magnificent views and pristine natural environment is via a sledding tour or snowmobile excursion. Since the temperature rarely gets above freezing even in July, you can enjoy these activities year-round. Some of the most popular places to explore are Thule, Disko Bay, Tasiusaq fjord, and Qaanaaq. Be sure to look for reindeer, polar bears, and white-tailed eagles on your excursion. There are numerous tour operators across the country to accommodate different budgets.
Boat Tours- Whale Watching
Sailing is a way of life on the island and is a great way to explore the scenic waterways, fjords, and scout out whales. June and July are typically the best months to cruise among the icebergs, taking in the breathtaking coastline while looking for whales. The most often whale encounters are with humpback, fin, and minke whales, but occasionally there is spotting of blue, beluga, sperm, pilot, and killer whales and even narwhals. Disko Line and other operators typically depart from towns such as Ilulissat, Nuuk, Aasiaat, and Qeqertarsuaq.
While there are literally thousands of natural hot springs all over Greenland, the most notable place for visiting them is on the uninhabited island of Uunartoq in Southern Greenland. This is where you will find the only outdoor heated spa in the country. Three naturally heated springs merge into a pool where you can immerse yourself whilst being surrounded by stunning views of icebergs and mountain peaks. Uunartoq is just a short boat ride from the town of Ilulissat. Hotel Icefiord in Ilulissat has amazing views of the icebergs and sea as well as excellent food.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, this amazing iceberg-strewn section of coast in Disko Bay is Greenland’s most visited area. The huge glacier, Sermeq Kujalleq, feeds into the bay and if you are lucky, you will witness the glacier “calve”. When a glacier “calves”, it means that an iceberg breaks away from the glacier and floats out into coastal waters. The Ilulissat Icefjord is the most active glacial area outside of Antarctica.
Aurora Borealis- The Northern Lights
Seeing an Aurora isn’t guaranteed, but if it is on your bucket list of things to do, you will want to make your trip to Greenland in the winter when the lights are most active and most likely to be seen. December through February are the best months because the nights are usually clearer. While the Northern Lights are visible across Greenland, you’ll find the best views in Ittoqqortoormiit (east), Qaqortoq (south), and Kangerlussuaq (west).
The Greenland National Museum is located in the capital city of Nuuk. The museum contains a unique collection of Viking artifacts, hunting equipment, Inuit skin boats, and kayaks. One of the most popular exhibits are the 500-year-old mummies of women and children that are so well preserved that there are identifiable facial tattoos and recognizable colors within their clothing.
In Nuuk, you will find colorful houses that dot the coastline and line the streets in town. While there is a handful of souvenir shops, most of the shops cater to local needs- meaning you can find authentic Greenlandic pieces to remember your trip.
Visiting Greenland will leave you in awe of its beauty. For even more ideas and top things to do in Greenland check out Visit Greenland.