4 trips that will get you to Greenland sooner than you think

written by Sahar Aman September 27, 2023
a glacier in Greenland

These trips from Iceland and Canada will bring Greenland’s scenery, fjords and coastline a little closer to your doorstep. 

Coming face to face with Greenland’s centuries-old glaciers is much easier to manage than you think. While that might be hard to believe about one of the most untouched destinations on the planet, Greenland isn’t out of reach. These four routes mean you can begin an Arctic adventure from accessible hubs like Toronto or Ottawa in Canada and Reykjavik in Iceland. Any one of these trips is an opportunity to create a core memory filled with scenery that only the naked eye can appreciate.

Picnic at the foot of Greenland’s most beautiful fjord

The West Greenland Gems: Fjords, Icebergs and Culture trip from Reykjavik lasts 12 days. You can hop on a flight to Iceland and head over Arctic waters towards Greenland the next day. 

Uummannaq is just one of the many destinations that are easily accessed on this trip. It’s considered the soul of north Greenland and is known for its heart-shaped mountain. 

Few people in the world can say they’ve had a chance to explore Ummannaq Fjord – a 100-mile-long fjord system with winding valleys and channels sure to awe. The surrounding town will play right into the Greenland of your imagination: brightly coloured homes dotted along the coastline, icebergs floating in the background and sleeping under the northern lights. 

Other destinations on this trip include Disko Bay, a popular area for iceberg gazing and whale watching. The explorer in you will appreciate stopping off at otherwise remote landmarks: The Sermeq Kujalleq glacier (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Torsukatak Fjords. 

You’ll also indulge in local tastings in Sisimiut – Greenland’s adventure and hiking hub. And break bread over a picnic with the townspeople of Manitsoq, which is home to Eternity Fjord. While this trip has many highlights, this fjord is considered Greenland’s most beautiful, and the grand finale before heading home. 

a small house underneath the northern lights in the sky
Fall asleep under a luminous sky

Discover Norse ruins and thousand-year-old traditions 

The Greenland Explorer: Sail and Soar the Alpine Arctic trip offers some serious bang for your buck. In 11 days, you’ll discover everything that makes Greenland what it is in one clean swoop. Think iced spectacles, stretches of coastline, a steady stream of Arctic wildlife and a little taste of local history, culture and village life. 

After being transferred to Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, you’ll fly out to Narsarsuaq. A hiking haven thanks to all the valleys, this settlement has a population of about 123 people. It is considered the gateway to south Greenland’s Norse ruins, glaciers and abundant wildlife. Located at the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet, this southern region is another UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to ancient Norse and Innuit farming traditions.

Throughout the trip, you’ll venture from east to west, cruising through regions like the Arctic Patagonia. As you explore fjords, islets, inlets and other natural landmarks, you’ll learn about the communities that once lived among them. For example, thousands of years ago, Lindenow Fjord – known by its Greenlandic name, Kangerlussuatsiaq – was home to groups of Inuit hunters and fishermen. 

As you make your way through the fjords and villages of Arctic Patagonia and meet the locals, you’ll experience traditions like hunting and fishing through their stories, music and food.  

Gape at glaciers all day long 

If you call Toronto home, you’re already one step closer to Greenland. If not, Toronto is a super convenient city you can quickly get to directly from many places in Europe and North America. The 13-day High Arctic Explorer: Greenland to Canada pairs Greenland with Canada and kicks off with a direct flight to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. This tiny town has a population of just 500. Here, you’ll hop onboard Intrepid’s Ocean Endeavour and begin your crossing of the Arctic Circle surrounded by snowy mountains and glaciers. 

There are some impressive stops planned on this trip. The Sisimut Coast is a stretch of fjords, islands and mountains that will fill your cup more than once. Better yet, take advantage of getting off board and stretching your sea legs with a hike along the coastline’s natural sites while learning about Saqqaq, Dorset, Thule and modern Inuit people who have called the Sisimiut region home for 4500 years. 

After exploring Greenland, you’ll see a side of Canada away from city life. This second half of the trip will take you to places like Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), a small Inuit community. Mittimatalik is home to Tununiq Arsarniit Theatre Group, artists who tell stories with drum dancing and throat singing. After that, you’ll spend five days exploring landscapes around Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area (Lancaster Sound) while keeping an eye out for narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales who like to feed around here.  

a boat sailing towards an iceberg at sunset
Ilulissat at sunset

Maple syrup meets iceberg sightseeing 

The High Arctic Explorer: Canada to Greenland adventure begins in Ottawa and takes you to many of the same spots as the trip above, but saves Greenland towards the end with a chance to explore Ilulissat. This vibrant coastal town is a UNESCO site renowned for icebergs and views. If you’ve been dreaming of Greenland, Ilulissat is likely the picture you have in your head. 

Ilulissat means icebergs, and even if you’ve seen plenty of icebergs before, chances are you haven’t seen anything like the giant ones that come by here – some up to a kilometre tall! 

Illulissat Icefjord is where the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier calves into the sea. Studied for over 250 years, it’s one of the most active glaciers in the world. As a result, more than 35 billion tonnes of ice pass through this spot every year, creating the world’s fastest ice stream. The combination of all this culminates in an actual phenomenon.

Illusiat is also rich in Inuit culture and has a budding food scene for humans while being a popular feeding spot for whales.

Discover more of Intrepid’s small group adventures to Greenland.

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