Top 10 Things to Do in Greenland


For the ultimate in unforgettable experiences, take a trip to the beautiful wilderness of Greenland, still one of the most remote and isolated regions on the planet. Rich in intriguing history, culture, and stunning natural beauty, Greenland boasts the most extensive fjord system in the world, massive glaciers, towering mountains, and vast ice sheets. Greenland is a sparsely populated autonomous territory of 857,000 square miles—there are only a few settlements and research stations, which are scattered along the coastline and are accessed by sea in the summer and snowmobile or all-terrain vehicles in winter.

Adventurers, nature- and animal-lovers, and anyone interested in the cultural roots of the North will have a whale of a time in Greenland. In this cold land inhabited by warm-hearted folk, you will get close to pristine nature and experience the history—and future—of not only this vast territory, but of the planet itself. 

The following are among the top 10 best activities you can expect to enjoy in Greenland.


1. View extraordinary landscapes

One of the main reasons to visit Greenland for many people is to view the extraordinary beauty of icy landscapes and seascapes of fjords, glaciers, and icebergs. The eastern coast in particular is dotted with numerous glaciers that travel down from the ice sheet. The glaciers often calve, producing massive icebergs that drift in the surrounding sea. The Ilulissat Icefjord on the Sermermiut plain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you are sure to see enormous icebergs calving off the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier.

No less rewarding is a sailing trip to the slightly smaller, retreating 3-mile wide Eqi glacier, where chunks of ice both large and small constantly break off and plummet into the sea. As it is relatively accessible, you will have the chance to get close to it—for example by Zodiak or kayak.

And what better way to experience Nordic culture and Arctic nature than by following in the footsteps of the historic Norse explorer, Eric the Red?


  2. Go whale watching

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Perhaps the second most popular reason to visit Greenland is for whale watching: Despite the harsh conditions, the waters surrounding Greenland support a diverse range of Arctic wildlife, particularly in Disko Bay, where there are various species of marine mammals, humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, and occasionally even orcas. Seals and walruses can also be spotted here. Undoubtedly, the best way to appreciate Greenland’s marine wildlife is by kayaking and Zodiac cruising through stunning fjords and ice-filled bays, getting up close to the mammals and scenery.


3. Be charmed by Disko Bay

There are plenty more reasons to take a trip to Disko Bay, where icebergs and whales meet. As well as a great place from which to sail to the renowned World Heritage Site of Ilulissat Icefjord, you’ll also encounter all kinds of flora and fauna here, and if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of polar bears on the shores or ice floes. There is also a wealth of seabirds to spot on the high cliffs and in the waters, such as puffins, guillemots, and Arctic terns. Hiking on trails in the tundra, you could also spot Arctic foxes, musk oxen, and reindeer. On this nine-day cruise exploring Greenland like few travelers do, you’ll have the chance to spot whales, glaciers, arctic hares, and much, much more.

Global warming is changing Greenland’s arctic environment at an alarming rate. On an eight-day voyage to Disko Bay and Uummannaq, you have the chance to follow scientists and decision-makers, visit the Danish research station on Disko Island, see the retreating glaciers with your own eyes, and even contemplate the possibility of losing them.


4. Explore capital city Nuuk

Visit the capital city, Nuuk, to enjoy cafés, local art galleries, and museums, such as the National Museum, or catch a show or concert at the Katuaq Cultural Centre. At 64°11' N, this is the most northerly capital city in the world and has been inhabited since 2100 BC, when the Paleo-Eskimo people of the Saqqaq culture occupied the area, living in Qoornoq, a now-abandoned settlement. Nuuk was later inhabited by Viking explorers in the 10th century before the Inuit peoples arrived.


5. Discover Inuit culture

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Visit local communities to experience the local Inuit culture and way of life. The Inuit of Greenland, also known as Kallaalit, still maintain a traditional way of life, hunting, fishing, and subsistence farming. Seals, whales, and fish have been vital sources of food, clothing, and materials for traditional tools and structures. With an experienced guide, you can visit remote Inuit settlements, meet locals, and learn about their way of life. 

The people are warm and welcoming and offer insights into local Inuit traditions, cuisine, and crafts, including carving, printmaking, and storytelling. Inuit artists are renowned for their intricate carvings depicting wildlife, mythical creatures, and scenes from everyday life. In Kivioq and Qeqertarsuaq (on the opposite side of Disko Bay to Ilulissat), there is local folk music and dancing, and traditional dress is worn on national holidays such as Greenland's National Day on June 21st. 

The truly adventurous might even like to sample local delicacies—not only seafood such as whale, seal, and fish, but also traditional dishes including suaasat (seal stew) and kiviak (fermented seabirds). On this nine-day cruise in East Greenland, you can visit remote Inuit settlements and learn about the history of Greenland—from the Viking settlements to the colonial era and modern day.


6. Awe at the northern lights

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The midnight sun and northern lights: Another great reason to travel to Greenland is to experience the midnight sun during the summer months—in Ilulissat, for example, the sun doesn’t fall below the horizon between mid-May and late July—and to marvel at the dancing aurora borealis in winter. East Greenland is an excellent place to witness the northern lights during the dark winter months when skies are clear.


7. Go dog sledding

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Go dog sledding: The tradition of sledding is still alive, and mushing an enthusiastic team of huskies is a thrilling way to discover the Arctic tundra. Just ask us for our recommendations of where to find your dog team.


8. Spend some time in Qaqortoq

Visit Qaqortoq in southern Greenland, a charming town renowned for its colorful buildings and vibrant arts scene. There are numerous sculptures in the streets and on rock faces. Many cruises stop off here, and you can also travel around here in winter by snowmobile. Other activities on offer include kayaking, guided hiking, whale watching, and tours to the ice cap, Norse ruins, and the 14th-century Hvalsey Church.


9. Unwind in hot springs

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Visit the Uunartoq hot springs near Qaqortoq in southern Greenland. Hot springs are common in Greenland (there are, for example, thousands on Disko Island), but they are only warm enough to bathe in at Uunartoq, where three hot springs run together to form a pool, which Norsemen discovered some 1,000 years ago. Savor the surreal experience of bathing in warm water while watching icebergs majestically float by.


    10. Boat to Uummannaq fjord

Take a summer boat trip to the Uummannaq fjord, in central-western Greenland, a photographer’s paradise at any time of year. Sail past dramatically sheer bird cliffs and enormous icebergs against the backdrop of the Arctic desert. The 1.5 billion-year-old desert rocks are tinged yellow and orange, because they are rich in sulfur and iron deposits. Greenland’s oldest mummies, the Qilakitsoq mummies, were discovered nearby and give an insight into Inuit life 500 years ago.


Polartours has many experts in the field offering curated visits to Greenland for all kinds of adventurers. Why not discover the best cruise option for you?


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