Greenland is the largest geographical island on the planet, and it boasts one of the most encapsulating natural environments for travelers to discover. Home to the world’s second-largest ice sheet, after Antarctica, 80% of Greenland’s surface is covered in the thick ice that makes for incredibly scenic photographs—ones you can’t take anywhere else.
It’s not just the ice sheet, though. Greenland offers a wide spectrum of remarkable landscapes, iceberg-choked fjords, alpine lakes, wildlife, and colorful tundra that make the island such a remarkable destination for people who love to explore the remote northern wilderness. It’s a land bursting with potential adventure to satisfy lifelong adventure-seekers. In this article, we look at the best places to visit in Greenland.
Where is Greenland?
Greenland was once connected to other landmasses when the entire world was covered by one supercontinent known as Pangaea. Following the breakup of the ancient land, continents, islands, and other landmasses slowly drifted to the locations we see today on global maps.
Greenland ended up as an island not far off the northeast coast of what would eventually become Canada, largely separated by Baffin Bay. It also lies directly northwest of neighboring Iceland with the Denmark Strait between the two island nations. The Arctic Ocean lies to the north of Greenland, most of which falls within the Arctic Circle—one of the coldest geographical regions on Earth.
One way to visit Greenland is by booking a polar voyage such as Quark Expeditions’ the Under The Northern Lights: Exploring Iceland and East Greenland itinerary. This 14-day voyage departs from Reykjavik, Iceland, and sails northbound towards the southeastern coast of Greenland.
You’ll travel along the east coast of Greenland with pointed stops at places like Milne Land and Ella Island. You’ll witness natural wonders at both destinations, including the famous King Oscar Fjord near Ella Island. At various points during the journey, you’ll have the opportunity to disembark the ship and explore places such as Frederiksdal and Sydkap, where guests can explore the colorful tundra and the remains of ancient Thule settlements.
Best time of the year to visit Greenland
Since Greenland lies within the Arctic Circle, conditions both on the water and on land can be especially difficult during the winter season. Waves can become particularly powerful during those times of the year, making it dangerous for vessels to venture too close to Greenland’s rocky and icy shorelines.
For that reason, it’s best to visit Greenland in the summer when the weather is more cooperative for adventurous hearts, bodies, and minds. The period spanning from June through August is optimal for flightseeing, Zodiac cruises, hiking, and other outdoor excursions. It’s also the time of year when adventure destination brands like Quark Expeditions offer the most exciting opportunities to visit and explore Greenland in detail.
Why visit Greenland?
Though it's a sparsely populated island, Greenland is a beautiful—and massive—tapestry rich in geographic wonders, which are only rivaled by the Inuit, Thule, and Norse landmarks and ancient ruins that recount a fascinating and revealing story about the land and its people. The island is founded on pristine coastal areas, incredibly deep fjords—some as long as 70 kilometers—and high alpine lakes, mountains, and a surprisingly colorful tundra.
You’ll have the opportunity to explore the island by land, air, and sea by booking a passage on Greenland Adventure: Explore By Sea, Land, and Air adventure. This 9-day polar adventure—supported by two twin-engine helicopters and 20 quick-deploy Zodiacs—includes the opportunity to explore the Greenland Ice Sheet, hike along with natural wonders like Tasermiut and Lindenow Fjords along the east coast of the island, and explore remote areas seldom visited by humans.
Additionally, if you’re feeling seriously adventurous, you can go alpine kayaking with a team of experts who will guide you through remote glacial lakes in the upper alpine zones. If you’d prefer to explore more of the island by land, you can also book a mountain biking adventure through the Greenland tundra.
Best way to visit Greenland
An adventure that allows you to explore the entire coast of southern Greenland is one of the best ways to visit the island and see what makes it such a fascinating location to explore. That’s why a voyage like the Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts and Disko Bay could be your best option to visit Greenland and enjoy all that it has to offer.
This 15-day journey takes you across the entire southern and western coasts of Greenland. You’ll sail to incredible destinations like Skjoldungen, Hvalsey, Igaliku, the capital city of Nuuk, and many more locations. Along the way, you’ll also see landmarks that date back to the time of Erik the Red’s arrival in Greenland at the height of Viking exploration.
Best places to visit in Greenland
We’ve created a helpful guide on the best places to visit while in Greenland that can help you make the most of your journey to this Arctic island, whether it’s to East, West, and South Greenland.
In the East, you have the banks of King Oscar Harbour near the community of Tasiilaq where you can immerse yourself in the local culture of the area. You can also cruise deep into flooded valleys that harbor icebergs floating in the sea. You can even take a Zodiac cruise towards the Bernstorffs Fjord that’s rich with impressive glaciers.
To the South is where you’ll find many historic landmarks citing Erik the Red’s arrival in Greenland. You’ll also come upon the least populated fjord in all of Greenland known as Lindenow Fjord. During your time in the area, you can take a Zodiac out towards pack ice floating offshore in search of bearded seals that lie on the ice.
To the West, you’ll find the breathtaking Ilulissat Ice Fjord, a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site that’s been protected by its declaration since 2004. West Greenland is also home to the majority of villages in the southern part of the island, allowing you to connect with locals and learn about both the culture and history of the land.