How to Travel to Greenland

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Explore Greenland's remote beauty as part of your next Nordic travel experience. This vast Arctic wonderland offers unique landscapes, rich Inuit culture, and a perfect complement to any Nordic adventure.

Travellers flying between the U.S. and Europe often glimpse the expansive icy stretches of Greenland from their airplane windows.

Urban landscape of Greenland.
A Greenlandic community nestles at the foot of a snow-covered mountain.

For most, the vast white landmass of Greenland seen on in-flight maps remains a distant, hard-to-reach destination due to the logistical challenges involved in visiting. But those who make the effort are rewarded.

This remote, icy land beckons the adventurous traveller with its spectacular landscapes, distinctive communities, rich Arctic cultural heritage, and a travel experience you can't find anywhere else.

Why Visit Greenland?

Greenland, home to the world's second-largest ice cap, showcases an expansive Arctic wilderness that captivates with its vast ice fields and rugged coastlines.

These remote landscapes host isolated communities where contemporary living intertwines with deep-rooted Inuit traditions dating back thousands of years.

Although considered part of the Nordic region, Greenland's Arctic culture is distinct. The residents, deeply connected to the land and sea, continue age-old practices like hunting, fishing, and foraging, which are vital to their culture.

These communities are cultural bastions, preserving ancient customs amid stunning, harsh environments where icebergs meet snowy terrains, and local people rely on the land and the sea.

Greenland also offers unique experiences such as kayaking and dogsledding, enriching visitors' understanding of local lifestyles.

Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland.
Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland.

The majestic scenery, some of it recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the winter northern lights add to the mystical allure of the region.

Adventurers can engage in activities like ice climbing, hiking, and boat tours through dramatic fjords, providing insights into the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

A trip to Greenland is a profound journey into a land of natural extremes and enduring human spirit, offering an experience far beyond the ordinary.

Flying to Greenland

Reaching Greenland is part of the adventure, given its remote location and challenging weather conditions.

Flying is the primary method of travel, but even that isn't straightforward. There are no direct flights from North America. Instead, the primary gateways are from Copenhagen in Denmark, and Reykjavik in Iceland.

Air Greenland and Icelandair are the main airlines servicing routes to Greenland. The main hub for international flights is the Kangerlussuaq Airport, a former airbase with capabilities to handle transatlantic flights from Copenhagen.

Despite its small size—supporting a population of just 500—Kangerlussuaq is crucial for connecting international travellers via smaller planes or helicopters to Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and other key locations.

Nuuk Airport is currently under expansion to accommodate larger aircraft directly from Denmark, aiming to streamline travel in the coming years.

Air Greenland plane in Iceland. Photo: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com.
Air Greenland plane in Iceland. Photo: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com.

According to Visit Greenland, Nuuk will become the new primary airport for international flights in 2025: “Air Greenland will subsequently schedule two Atlantic flights a day from Copenhagen to Nuuk, in the morning and afternoon, allowing for better connectivity to the rest of the world.”

Fly to Greenland from Norway

At present, the easiest way to reach Greenland from Norway is to take one of the multiple daily connections between one of the major cities and Copenhagen. From here, daily flights to Greenland are available. Another option is to connect via Iceland.

Fly to Greenland via Iceland

If you're traveling to Greenland from the US, Canada, or the UK, the fastest route is through Iceland. Air Greenland offers year-round direct flights from Keflavik International Airport near Reykjavik to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.

Changes in Icelandair’s scheduling have somewhat reduced the travel time for American tourists. However, be sure to confirm which of Iceland’s airports will serve as your transit point.

Keflavik is Iceland's primary international airport. However, Icelandair also provides year-round direct flights from Reykjavik City domestic airport to several Greenlandic destinations, including Ilulissat, Kulusuk, Narsarsuaq, and Nuuk.

Keflavik (often marketed as Reykjavik) is at least one-hour by road from Reykjavik's domestic airport, so be sure to double check your itinerary.

Getting Around Greenland

Greenland’s sheer size and lack of interconnected road systems make local air and sea routes essential. Air Greenland provides an indispensable network of propeller aircraft and helicopters that facilitate movement across the country.

From Kangerlussuaq Air Greenland offers connecting flights to Nuuk, Ilulissat, Aasiaat, Sisimiut, Maniitsoq, and Narsarsuaq. From Narsarusaq, connections are available to Kangerlussuaq, Nuuk, Paamiut and the settlement Narsaq.

For sea travel, the Arctic Umiaq Line offers ferry services along the west coast, from Qaqortoq in the south to Ilulissat in the north.

Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line) passenger ship close to Maniitsoq, Greenland. Photo: Lasse Jesper Pedersen / Shutterstock.com.
Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line) passenger ship close to Maniitsoq, Greenland. Photo: Lasse Jesper Pedersen / Shutterstock.com.

This route is especially popular among those looking to engage with local communities and immerse themselves in the breathtaking coastal scenery.

Those familiar with Norway's coastal ferry will surely understand the concept. Although, whereas the focus of Hurtigruten and Havila is now very much tourism, the focus of Greenland's ferry remains very much local transport.

That being said, Hurtigruten Norway recently inked a deal with Arctic Umiaq Line to help market its service. So, you may see the Greenlandic coastal route advertised more widely in the months and years to come.

Organised Tours in Greenland

For those looking to streamline their visit, agencies like Greenland Travel offer packaged tours that include transportation, activities, and guided tours.

Alternatively, if time is limited but you wish to experience Greenland’s famed icy waters, consider a shorter tour such as the 2.5-hour Disko Bay cruise, which navigates among massive icebergs.

Cruises to Greenland

There are no ferry connections to Greenland from Iceland, Denmark or Canada. However, the number of cruise ships visiting is increasing.

Cruising is an emerging travel style in Greenland, offering a unique vantage point of its expansive ice fields and remote villages.

Smaller, specialised cruise lines such as Quark Expeditions and Hurtigruten Expeditions provide in-depth explorations of Greenland’s coast, making it possible to experience the area's stark beauty intimately.

Larger cruise lines tend to include a port or two in Greenland as part of a longer Northern Europe or transatlantic itinerary.

Whether you’re drawn to exploring remote landscapes, witnessing the northern lights, or engaging with indigenous cultures, Greenland’s unique character makes it an unforgettable part of any Nordic adventure.

Have you ever been to Greenland? Was it worth the long trip? I'd love to hear your experiences down in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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