How to Travel to Greenland from Canada

April 7, 2022

Any polar adventurer will understand that Canada and Greenland are two of the vastest, diverse, and ecologically intriguing northern landmasses that can be explored. One is the largest island in the world, and the other is the second-largest nation in the world with an infinite number of small to mid-sized islands connecting it to the Arctic Circle.

The two destinations share some commonalities in terms of history, geography, climate, and serene natural beauty. Adventurers with an appreciation for an abundance of nature, an impressive array of wildlife, incredible rivers, lakes, and fjords, as well as topography that combines greenery and glaciers will find it all in Arctic Canada and Greenland. In this article, we look at how to best travel to Greenland from Canada.

Connecting with local Indigenous communities is one of the highlights of voyages to Greenland.

Connecting with local Indigenous communities is one of the highlights of voyages to Greenland. Photo: Sam Crimmin

Where is Greenland?

As mentioned, Greenland is the world’s largest island and it’s situated in the north Atlantic Ocean bordering the southern edges of the Arctic Ocean. It’s located due east of Baffin Bay which separates Greenland from Baffin Island, the largest island within the borders of Canada.

Greenland was originally home to Inuit explorers following the Ice Age. These tribes migrated from northern Canada across what was then a frozen Baffin Bay that connected to the island of Greenland.

In the era of the Vikings, Erik the Red led an expedition to explore Greenland following the discovery of neighboring Iceland to the south. It was Erik the Red who established the first European settlement in Greenland in what is now the town of Qaqortoq, a principal town on the southwest edge of the island.

Today, tourists are encouraged to book special excursions across Greenland that revisit some of the first settlements made by Erik the Red and his band of Vikings.

When is the best time to visit Greenland?

The Greenland Ice Sheet is one of the most infamous natural wonders in Greenland. Similar to the Northeast Greenland National Park, the Greenland Ice Sheet is a massive landscape that is also home to an amazing variety of wildlife. The Ice Sheet Experience offered by Quark Expeditions enables adventurers to experience this incredible ice mass with helicopter-supported excursions during polar voyages to South Greenland.

Quark Expeditions' guests enjoy flight seeing excursions to the Greenland Ice Sheet, where they set foot on a mammoth ice field  that's larger than the state of Texas.

Quark Expeditions' guests enjoy flight seeing excursions to the Greenland Ice Sheet, where they set foot on a
mammoth ice field  that's larger than the state of Texas. Photo: Hugo Perrin

However, weather conditions at different times of the year make it difficult to navigate the Greenland Ice Sheet. During the winter months, strong winds and powerful waves from the ocean create treacherous conditions for vessels to navigate around. For that reason, the best time of year to visit Greenland is during the summer and early fall. Experienced adventurers recommend that you plan a visit to Greenland between July and October when the conditions make the Ice Sheet more navigable.

That’s why the Greenland Adventure: Explore By Sea, Land, and Air voyage is one of the most intriguing opportunities for polar adventurers. This is a 9-day experience that allows you to explore the Greenland Ice Sheet by, as you guessed it, sea, land, and air.

You can enjoy special flightseeing and heli-hiking excursions aboard two twin-engine helicopters stationed aboard the new game-changing ship, Ultramarine, which will allow you to explore the coast in whatever way you choose. You can also participate in paddling excursions through fjords and along the coast of Greenland, and book Zodiac cruises to explore incredible fjords up close and personal.

Top 10 things to do in Greenland

Greenland’s rich history, including eras dominated by Vikings and Inuit (Thule), means there’s a rich historical legacy to explore.  This guide has a list of the top things to do in Greenland, which you can use when planning your own adventure to Greenland. Zodiac cruises, whale watching, mountain biking, and sailing through unforgettable fjords are among the many experiences you can enjoy when you travel to Greenland from Canada for the expedition of a lifetime.

Guests on a Quark Expeditions voyage enjoy a walking tour of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

Guests on a Quark Expeditions voyage enjoy a walking tour of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Photo: Sam Crimmin

What is the best way to travel to Greenland from Canada?

If you plan on visiting Greenland as part of an eastbound adventure from Canada, your best option is to book a spot aboard the Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland adventure.

As you can guess, the name says it all: you’ll take a flight from the Canadian city of Toronto en route to Kangerlussuaq in southwestern Greenland. From there, you’ll begin your seafaring adventure as you explore the western coast of Greenland as far north as the town of Qaanaaq. Then, you’ll travel due west to the northern edges of Baffin Island in Canada before traveling south through Baffin Bay back to Kangerlussuaq.

Along the way, your expedition team members, who are all polar experts in their own right, will point out historic landmarks, including the fabled northwest passage once prized by European explorers at the height of colonization. The journey is a 20-day experience that wraps up the summer season.

Northern Lights in East Greenland.

Northern Lights in East Greenland. Photo: Acacia Johnson

Cruises that go to Greenland

So the question remains: What is the best way to travel to Greenland from Canada? For a straightforward voyage to Greenland, nothing beats our Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts and Disko Bay adventure. This is a two-week voyage that explores the southern parts of Greenland at the beginning of July. You’ll travel from nearby Iceland and sail along the southern and western edges of Greenland, taking in all of the beauty and wonder of the land. You’ll also explore many of the culturally-rich villages along the coast and cross the Arctic Circle en route to the communities of Sisimiut and Ilulissat. It’s truly worth the trip to Greenland from Canada.

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