Before heading to Greenland I knew only one thing about it: it’s a far, far away realm. OK, three things, it’s also the biggest island in the world and the perfect setting for real life Frozen, because the sea that surrounds it is almost always frozen and under the reign of cold currents.
As a matter of fact, even in the center of Greenland, ice can measure up to 3 km in thickness, so it’s only natural for its population to huddle around the coastal region, in the south, where there is less ice and more life-friendly conditions.
Now, my true surprise came when I arrived there and saw that the name Greenland is actually misleading. Yes, you can find green fields in the south and sheep enjoying the grass, but Greenland is more like Whiteland.
However, despite its frozen welcome and remoteness, Greenland dazzled me. Planning for a trip to Greenland is not an easy thing to do. It’s not like planning for a trip to Paris. Greenland is wild and remote, a rugged land, dotted with a few settlements and sheep farms, in the south, and almost no roads to connect its communities and towns. So, traveling around Greenland usually involves boats, helicopters or planes. Air Greenland will take you to the main towns in the country, while domestic flights and helicopters will cover the remaining connections to some of the settlements.
Summer or winter, Greenland is spectacular
It’s also important to choose wisely the period of your visit. If you want to visit Greenland during summer, expect to discover the Midnight Sun, admire whales along the shores, enjoy boat trips from one community to another, and be in awe with the nonchalant journey of icebergs. Yes, there will be flowers and other plants alive and well in Greenland, and the weather will be mild and perfect for hiking.
Summer is the perfect season for diving in the Arctic and close encounters with icebergs, as well as the wonderful flora and fauna living in the cold waters. Cruising and kayaking, whale watching and river fishing, as well as dipping in hot springs, all these fun activities await to make your trip to Greenland memorable.
When winter comes, and let me tell you that it doesn’t hold anything back from its arsenal, the snow starts falling, and falling…and falling, until everything is white, still and magical. It lasts for six months the winter in Greenland, which means six months of dog sledding and skiing, star gazing and northern lights, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Six months of winter wonderland in its homeland, away from anything remotely similar to what you might find anywhere else in the world.
The Icefjord and people of Greenland
And let’s not forget about the Ilulissat Icefjord, always there for visitors, whether summer or winter, telling the long story of our planet, over and over again, until we will understand that it’s our duty and obligation to serve the Earth well and fight climate change. At first, you will see the icefjord from the window of the airplane that will take you to Greenland. If you like what you see, you can always go on a helicopter trip or fixed-wing plane to embrace the greatness of this magnificent creation of Mother Nature and Father Earth from the air. If you want to get one on one with the mighty icefjord, you need to hop on a 41-foot masted vessel that will take you between icebergs with the accuracy of New York taxis driven between skyscrapers.
The capital of Greenland is Nuuk, an interesting place to explore, which houses the Greenland National Museum, the perfect destination if you want to know more about the country’s culture and history, or if you want to admire 15th-century Greenland mummies.
Now, when it comes to Greenland’s people, it’s best to know that they are not exactly all smiles and rainbows. They might seem at first as closed people, living in colorful wooden cottages. However, give them time and space, and they will tell you wonderful stories about their culture that brings together both Danish and Inuit heritage. You will find a museum dedicated to the Inuit culture in Qaqortoq, the largest town in South Greenland, as well as well-preserved buildings dating back to 200 years ago.
Yes, Greenland is remote. It’s so remote that basically tourists come here only when there’s no more world left to discover, but it’s a natural wonder and should be more often included in your travel plans. It’s rugged and surreal, home to a perfect scenery and an ideal setting for a plethora of fun outdoor activities. Some refer to Greenland as one of the last wildernesses in the world. I am one of these… some! I absolutely love Greenland, despite its icy lands and overwhelming silence, and will never say no to a trip there.