As if the stunning Northern Lights and vast, untouched wilderness weren’t enough to put travel to Greenland solidly atop your bucket list, it’s also home to some of the most fantastic fjords on the planet. These deep, narrow inlets lined by high cliffs were formed thousands or even millions of years ago by retreating glaciers.
Photo courtesy: Yosef Wosk
Today, Greenland’s fjords are an incredible sight to see by small cruise ship and even more intimately, by Zodiac cruiser. Here are the top fjords you may explore on your Arctic expedition:
Ilulissat Icefjord: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Given its heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2004, Ilulissat is one of the most scientifically important of the Greenland fjords, as well. Located 62 miles (100km) north of the Arctic Circle in West Greenland, it’s considered one of the world’s most important regions for the study of glaciology and monitoring the effects of climate change.
Glacier recession and ice melting at Ilulissat are considered “spectacular manifestations of global climate change” by researchers; this fragile ecosystem is a type of “canary in the coal mine” for the rest of the world when it comes to global warming.
Rypefjord and Rodefjord: Birders Paradise
Deep in Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord system, lies Rypefjord. This craggy fjord has walls with summits as high as 6,160 ft., about as tall as the highest peak in the American Northeast, Mount Washington. Carrying on into Rodefjord, you’ll want to keep a pair of binoculars handy, as wheatears, snow buntings and ravens are known to frequent the area.
Kong Oscar Fjord: Cruising and Hiking
Kong Oscar Fjord in the Northeast Greenland National Park is known for excellent Zodiac cruising and hiking. Ella Oya (Ella Island) lies at its north end and hiking to the top offers breathtaking views of the icy fjord and colorful tundra below.
Bernstorffs Fjord: An East Greenlandic Icefjord
Exploring seawater-flooded fjords by Zodiac cruiser gives you a great vantage point for viewing marine life and birds nesting in the craggy rock walls. Bernstorffs Fjord in particular is a great place to see icebergs calving, especially at its mouth (where it meets the sea). Deep in the fjord lies a single uninhabited island, Ensomheden, which means “loneliness.” Of course, you won’t feel lonely alongside your small excursion group, but the vast scale of Bernstorffs may well leave you stunned.
Alpefjord: Icebergs and Muskoxen
Alpefjord, a part of the Segelsällskapets between the Vikingebrae and the Gully Glacier, is also within the stunning Northeast Greenland National Park. It earned its name thanks to the incredibly high mountains on its east bank. You’ll want to bring a variety of camera setups and lenses, as both the landscape and wildlife photography opportunities are excellent when conditions are right.
Breathtaking Fjords Just One Reason to Travel to Greenland
Exploring Greenland’s spectacular fjord’s by morning, hiking the vast tundra by afternoon and catching the best Northern Lights show on the planet after dark -- can you imagine anything better?
Exploring Greenland’s fjords and spectacular scenery is a unique and unforgettable experience. Want to learn more and start planning a Greenland expedition of your own?
- Read more Greenland stories from polar travel experts and travelers like you
- Explore Greenland in this online guide
- Download your free Greenland Destination Guide