About 4,500 years ago, early man migrated thousands of perilous miles from Canada into Greenland. And when they got there and saw the ice-covered mountains, glaciers and resident polar bears, they stopped and said ‘Yep, this looks like the spot.’ And who can blame them? It may be cold, but the unfenced wilderness of the world’s biggest (and least populated) island is worth wearing a scarf 11 months of the year for. Although technically still part of Denmark, Greenland is now self-governing and has a proud Inuit culture. And with no crowds, little crime and only a few roads to break up the endless ice flow, it’s easy to see the appeal (just don’t forget that scarf).

Greenland Tours & Travel

All our Greenland trips

USD $8,695
CAD $11,240
AUD $11,800
EUR €7,600
GBP £6,000
NZD $12,945
ZAR R110,945
CHF FR8,535
Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...
Fly one way over the Denmark Strait to Greenland then cruise back on this Arctic adventure that reveals this remote...
USD $8,395
CAD $10,860
AUD $11,400
EUR €7,300
GBP £5,800
NZD $12,505
ZAR R107,185
CHF FR8,245
As the northern lights dance above, explore Northeast Greenland National Park and spectacular Scoresby Sund on this...
USD $9,690
CAD $12,480
AUD $13,100
EUR €8,400
GBP £6,700
NZD $14,370
ZAR R123,170
CHF FR9,475
From Reykjavik to Ottawa, explore the wildlife-rich fjords and Inuit communities of Greenland, Iceland and Baffin...
USD $8,390
CAD $10,860
AUD $11,400
EUR €7,400
GBP £5,800
NZD $12,505
ZAR R107,185
CHF FR8,245
See the best of the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic. Explore the peninsula of Baffin Island via Sam Ford Fjord, and...

Articles on Greenland

Life in the north: our top 6 Arctic wildlife experiences

Posted on Wed, 20 Apr 2016

One thing the Arctic does have is wildlife. Lots of it. On a size and scale that puts a lot of the more traditional ‘animal destinations’ to shame.

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About Greenland

At a glance

Capital city: Nuuk
Population: 56,970
Language: Greenlandic, Danish
Currency: DKK
Time zone: (GMT-03:00) Greenland
Electricity: Type K (Danish 3-pin)
Dialing code: +299

Best time to visit Greenland

Generally the summer months of June, July and August are the time to see Greenland, but it does depend what you’re looking for. At midyear the country isn’t as chilly as it can be (temperatures can rise as high as a sweltering 15°C…) and you’ll get to experience the phenomenon of the midnight sun. Of course, if it’s the night lights of the aurora borealis you’re after, the time to go is definitely October through to March, when temperatures can plummet to well below freezing. Pack accordingly.

Geography and environment

When 84 per cent of your country is covered in the world’s largest ice sheet (and the rest is classed as permafrost), geography may seem kind of self-explanatory. But Greenland’s coastal fringes are where most of the magic happens. Plunging fjords, rocky promontories, trundling glaciers calving off into the Labrador Sea. Most of the settlements along the western coast are colourful wooden houses painted every colour of the rainbow. Towns and settlements are virtually cut-off from each other (roads are very rare in Greenland), so most trade and movement is done by sea and air.

Top Picks

Top 5 wildlife experiences in Greenland

1. Humpback whale

Humpback whales migrate to the cooler waters of the Arctic to feed each year. It’s a mammoth journey, often spanning thousands of kilometres (and all at travelling just a few kilometres per hour). That’s probably why humpbacks like to blow off a bit of steam in Greenland. Around Aasiaat, Qeqertarsuaq and Sisimiut between April and November it’s not an uncommon sight to see a 30-tonne humpback leaping clear out of the water.

2. Narwhal

In the Middle Ages, Inuits and Norse tribesmen would trade narwhal horns for fabulous sums (they were the marine equivalent of a unicorn). Thankfully the horn trade is over and these beautiful toothed whales can swim and eat in peace. They’re usually found in Melville Bay and around Qaanaaq, where their spiralling three-metre tusk can be seen poking through the surface of the water.

3. Polar bear

This is the world’s largest land predator, and the chances of seeing one increase when you’re on the water. Cruising along the coast of west or north-east Greenland is your best shot at spotting one of these creatures, but don’t hold your breath – they can be quite aloof. But the good news is that if they are out there, they are quite easy to see due to their off-white fur standing out against the snow-white ice.

4. Arctic fox

Technically there are two types of Arctic fox in Greenland – the classic white and the blue. Both species change colour depending on the season in order to blend in with the rocky landscape and the polar ice sheet. Arctic foxes live on an almost exclusive diet of lemmings – so when lemming populations drop, so do the number of foxes. Thankfully numbers are strong, and the Arctic fox isn’t a threatened species.

5. White-tailed eagle

Don’t forget to look up every now and then: Greenland has a huge and colourful variety of birdlife. The biggest and most striking bird is the white-tailed eagle (known as the nattoralik in Greenlandic). You’ll usually find them circling along the west coast down to Cape Farewell, hoping to find a cod, char or smaller sea bird to stoop. These birds are as rare as they are beautiful, and are officially a protected species in Greenland.

FAQs on Greenland

Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: Yes - required in advance
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
Not really. For restaurants and hotels, a service charge is usually included in the bill. Tipping won’t be expected, but it is sure to be appreciated when offered.
You can thank undersea optic cables running from Europe for Greenland’s great internet connectivity. Around 93 per cent of the population has access to the web. And it’s highly likely your accommodation will have Wi-Fi.
You sure can. There’s only one phone provider in Greenland, Tele Greenland, but most villages will have good 3G coverage. Note that data roaming charges are international (as Greenland is technically outside the EU) and much higher than usual.
Most Greenland villages and cities have modern and fully functional flush toilets, which are widely available.
Beer = 11 USD
Simple lunch at a cafe = 17 USD
Dinner in a restaurant = 45 USD
Train ticket = 3 USD
Bottle of water = 1.5 USD
Tap water is safe to drink throughout Greenland. You can even drink the water in the rivers and lakes – nothing better than pure glacial melt water.
Major credit cards will be accepted at most restaurants, hotels and shops. Major supermarkets will also give cash out, but if you’re venturing into the smaller settlements, carry cash as a backup (card readers are often broken).
ATM access is good in the major towns and settlements, but most holes-in-the-wall will close at about 6pm. You can also withdraw money in banks and post offices.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to:
January 1 – New Year’s Day
January 6 – Epiphany
April 2 – Maunday Thursday
April 3 – Good Friday
April 6 – Easter Monday
May 1 – Prayer Day
May 14 – Ascension Day
May 25 – Whit Monday
June 21 Ullortuneq (National Day)
December 24 – Christmas Eve
December 25 – Christmas Day
December 26 – Second Day of Christmas
December 31 – New Year’s Eve

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

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From New Zealand?

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From Canada?

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From US?

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From UK?

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The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
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Responsible Travel

Greenland Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Greenland

1. 1. Be considerate of Greenland’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. 2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

3. 3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. 4. Signposts (and signage in general) are rare in Greenland, but locals are more than happy to offer directions.

5. 5. Make an effort to learn some Greenlandic before you go. Locals do speak Danish and (often) English, but will really appreciate the effort.

6. 6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

7. 7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

8. 8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, especially children.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Last places – A journey in the north Lawrence Millman
This cold heaven: Seven seasons in Greenland Gretel Ehrlich
The fate of Greenland: Lessons from abrupt climate change Philip Conkling
The crooning wind: Three Greenlandic poets David R. Slavitt