A Short Guide to Greenland Travel

Greenland is one of those countries where tourism isn’t yet huge. Many people aren’t aware of all that Greenland has to offer, and many of those who want to explore the final frontier of travel are put off by the cost of flights to this icy wonderland. Greenland travel isn’t always easy, but it is truly amazing, and it is far from being outside the realm of possibility!

This is just a short guide with some handy info to help make your Greenlandic trip as easy as possible.

Language

The language spoken depends on the region. In the capital city of Nuuk, Danish is more widely spoken than Greenlandic, and native Danish expats in Greenland will generally speak good English. Native Greenlanders in Nuuk generally speak Danish and then either Greenlandic or English as a second language.

In the smaller towns and cities, Greenlandic tends to be the most widely spoken language, and often these Greenlanders will learn some Danish too, but many will not have any English. However, there are lots of Danish expats living in Greenland as part of the tourism industry and most will speak English.

Greenlandic is an incredibly complex language and incredibly difficult to learn; knowing a few phrases in Danish will be your best bet at communicating with locals.

Currency

Danish Kroner (DKK) is the official currency in Greenland. 5DKK is approximately equal to $1 AUD or 0.73c US. Most places will accept Visa and Mastercard and there are ATMs in the town centres. Airports will not have currency exchangers and currency exchangers are a rarity in the cities. Make sure you have enough Danish Kroner before arriving in Greenland.

Electricity

If you have a European adapter or EU plugs, these will work in Greenland.

Tipping

Tipping isn’t customary in Greenland as the service charge will be included in the bill, however, like anywhere in the world, if the service you receive is exemplary – then definitely leave a tip!

Booking

Many travellers like to travel on a whim and let spontaneity guide them, which is wonderful, but that’s not an easy thing to do in Greenland. International flights to Greenland from Reykjavik and Copenhagen usually only run 1-2 times per week, and domestic flights are typically expensive but cheaper if purchased in advance.

Hotels, guesthouses and tour companies are also few and far between, so accommodation and day tours can book up ahead of time. Also, many tours will only be run once or twice a week, which can make booking trips difficult to coordinate.

Furthermore, Greenlandic people have a bit of a case of ‘island time’ and responses to emails and booking requests can be delayed and vague. You will most likely need a bit of forward planning and a little bit of perseverance to book your perfect Greenlandic adventure.

Weather

Bipolar is really the only word to describe Greenlandic weather! As with many travel destinations – this can have a big impact on your trip. As long as you have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude and are prepared that cancellations, delays and re-routing are all pretty standard, you should still have an awesome trip. It might be a good idea to get solid travel insurance which covers cancellations due to weather.

Budget

Shoestring travel is a difficulty here, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Flights to Greenland will easily be the biggest expense of your trip and that is unavoidable. Hotels are expensive as standard here, but if you are on a tight budget, try couchsurfing or one of the many B+Bs which are usually around 30-40% of the cost of a hotel. Choose to DIY hiking trails rather than take guided trips, cook food rather than eating out, and forego WI-FI for as much of your trip as possible.

Taxis

Smaller cities and towns means less taxis floating around the place, and you may arrive into an airport and find no cabs waiting. Try and find a local with a phone to call a cab for you, otherwise you may be in for a long wait.

Sled Dogs

Huskies are amazing creatures, as I have continued to find out time and time again! However, a little commonsense and knowledge goes a long way with these furry babies! Firstly, approach the adults with caution – these adults have been trained to work and as a result – have been known to bite. As for the pups – you can pet them pretty safely but make sure they don’t have a protective mumma around within striking distance, as she may find your display of affection a threat to her pups. Enjoy falling in love with these amazing creatures as much as I did!

Wi-Fi

General rule of thumb in Greenland: expect to have zero internet access and occasionally you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. There are Wi-Fi networks around the place – but expect to have to pay a premium to use them. A cost of $30-$70 AUD per 24 hours isn’t unheard of. If you are lucky enough to score free Wi-Fi – be aware that it may only be turned on for a few hours a day. Just go with the flow and enjoy switching off from the world for a while.

When to Travel

Summer season of June-August is the easiest time of year to travel to Greenland – flights are more regular, more accommodation is available and a huge range of things to do are supported by the more temperate climate. Autumn has a lot of appeal too though, when the Northern Lights start appearing in the sky and one of the most remote places on Earth become even less occupied by humans. Winter is pretty harsh in the Arctic – but the chance to dogsled and snowmobile holds its own appeal too! Basically, go whenever you like – each season will provide a totally new experience.

Why to Travel

Greenland is remote, wild, rugged, other-worldly and nothing short of scenic perfection. There are so many adventures just waiting to be had there, many new settlements to explore, new wildlife to sight and new people to meet. Greenland has been referred to as one of Earths last wildernesses – you know you want to see it for yourself!

With this post, I am sad to say that the Greenland series is, for now, finished. Making it to the Arctic was a truly unbelievable experience. When I ventured to Greenland I knew I would like it, but I had no idea how madly in love with it I would become.

However, the show (or blog) must go on! So coming up later this week will be more stories about my recent Icelandic adventures, and hopefully I will be back in Greenland before too long!

Also please don’t forget to click this link to try and help me win a trip to Antarctica!

Lastly, if you are currently living in Samoa, The Philippines, Myanmar, Japan or China and would be interested in showing your favourite travel blogger around – please get in contact with me at ellen.burne@yahoo.com to have a chat!

Posted by

20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

66 thoughts on “A Short Guide to Greenland Travel

  1. Thank you for this post. I’d love to go to Greenland one day and you have inspired me even more so! I was very tempted when I was in Reykjavik last month but with time and budget constraints, it just couldn’t happen. Will keep this post in mind for future travel! 🙂

  2. Never ever thought of going to Greenland, never gave Greenland a thought at all…until now. Wow, the last open place, I can see that from your photos and advice on travel. What fun to go with lot’s of time and patience. You are an amazing young woman! Living life to the fullest! Thank you for sharing for your readers to enjoy from the comfort of our couches:)

  3. What a wonderful experience! I have just voted for you in the competition to win a trip to Antarctica! Hope you win. I have been to Antarctica and done that same 30 day cruise from Ushuaia to New Zealand. It is a total mind-blast. Hope you win! Holding thumbs for you.

  4. Googled Greenland right after reading this post. Haha. Hope you win the Antarctica trip! Btw, I’m from the Philippines, currently in Manila but I frequent the North of Luzon, I would love to show you around or at the least meet with you if ever you drop by our country.
    Caffeine Rush

  5. I have loved your Greenland series, and it has definitely gotten a few conversations flowing between myself and a friend who also wants to go. Thanks so much for sharing, and if you ever find yourself in India, you’ve got yourself a guide! xx

  6. Super helpful, thank you! I might have to bookmark this for later. 🙂
    My next stop is Ecuador, but I’m already looking ahead to the next couple of years and where I want to go next. Greenland is for sure on the list.
    Happy traveling!

  7. I know you’ve probably fielded this question a million times but how do you do what you do? How do you travel so much and afford it? I’m completely jealous. I love photography and travel and i can’t even imagine all the photo opportunities you must have daily. Nice blog.

    1. I am very lucky to be able to do what I do. I earn good money in Australia working as a midwife and am able to accrue generous amounts of leave. Travel is my priority so I do whatever I need to to make it happen 🙂

  8. Really happy your blog appeared in my recommended list! Incredible photos. You’ve done some amazing trips that I hope to do myself some day. I met some huskies in the far north before, they’re beautiful creatures. Especially when they all howl in sync.

  9. Great post! I am heading to Greenland and Iceland on a future trip and this info was very helpful! (Gotta love dreaming of the next trip while I’m still travelling Southeast Asia for the next few months!)

  10. Great post! I really like your blog 🙂 just a little thing: Greenland is actually part of Denmark so it somehow fits more into Europe then N.America, I think. All best!

    1. I did actually know that, but as far as continents go, Greenland lies on the North American continental plate – which is why my Greenland posts are tagged under both Europe and N. America. Thanks for reading! 😊

  11. I am trying to plan a trip to Greenland in October and would love to know how about you went on doing that, as I am having trouble connecting with some travel agents based out of Denmark/Greenland.

    1. I am not surprised, it is tough booking through travel agents and tour companies in Greenland – things seem to run on island time. My best advice, email the companies directly and be patient when waiting for a response. Where in Greenland are you planning to visit?

  12. I have been to a few remote places in the world and only recently have I given Greenland a thought. It’s a far cry from my sunny and warm Miami. Hoping to make it there in August 2017. Kangerlussuaq would be my ideal starting point. Hats off to the brave solo traveler.

  13. Thank you for your blog, it is very helpful. We’re travelling to Iceland (from Texas) in September and want to spend some time in Greenland. Flights to Ilulissat are already booked but Nuuk is available. We have options of Monday-Wednesday or Monday-Friday. Which would you recommend? Is there enough to stay busy for 4 days?

    1. Is there any way for you to catch a domestic flight from Nuuk to Ilulissat? Nuuk is a beautiful city, but it’s definitely a quieter one and if you can’t find a domestic flight out, I think Monday to Wednesday would be plenty!

      1. Domestic to Ilulissat is an option, although we’d prefer to minimize flying around too much. I’ve been able to figure out a way to extend our stay in Nuuk from Saturday to Wednesday by flying Air Greenland there and Air Iceland back, so I think 3 full days in Nuuk will give us plenty of time to do all the sight seeing, Christmas shopping, and hopefully some relaxing.

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