Confusingly named, enticingly remote and ever more common, the chilly island of Greenland is fast turning out to be the darkish horse of 2020 vacation locations.

Just before planning their trips, most website visitors know tiny about the Arctic location past obscure suggestions about its misleading nomenclature — “Greenland is icy whilst Iceland is green, correct?” — or its website link to popular society, particularly: “It is really the one singer Bjork is not from.”

The truth of the matter guiding the name

It is true that Greenland is a land of icebergs and glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet, the next most significant continental glacier in the environment.

So why these kinds of a verdant title?

Quite a few men and women know the outdated Nordic saga. Right after currently being exiled from Iceland, Norse explorer Erik Thorvaldsson — greater acknowledged as Erik the Pink — named his new dwelling “Greenland” to entice a lot more visitors. Just after all, “green” seems a lot more appealing than “ice-stuffed” for a lot of holidaymakers.

Kulusuk, a remote island in southeast Greenland.


Nonetheless, number of know that Greenland in fact was considerably greener all over A.D. 1000, when the Vikings followed Norse tailor made of naming one thing as they observed it.

Unfortunately, which is a predicament that is rapidly turning into real once again. Due to world warming, Greenland’s icebergs are melting at a stressing amount. As illustrations or photos of a distant Arctic wonderland rising from the ice are splashed throughout international media, vacationers are starting to see Greenland in a new mild.

Melting icebergs calved from Jakobshavn Glacier floating in Disko Bay in close proximity to Ilulissat, Greenland.

Paul Souders

Some others are discovering the attractiveness of nearby Iceland to be also considerably and rightfully look at Greenland as a slower, quieter option.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertion about buying Greenland in August 2019 did not harm both. Greenland — which is not for sale — skilled a around the world surge in Google searches since of it.

Melting Greenland morphed into a location

A place the native Inuits know as Kalaallit Nunaat, Greenland is an “accessible Arctic” nation of just 56,000 inhabitants. Tourism numbers outstripped the resident populace in 2019.

CEO and co-founder of Nordic vacation expert 50 Levels North, Tietse Stelma, explained the organization is suffering from 400% development in vacation bookings this yr.

“Greenland is a wonderful alternate to Iceland, with considerably less tourists and consequently, considerably additional genuine activities,” he explained.

The colorful architecture of Greenland.

Elizabeth M. Ruggiero | iStock | Getty Pictures

Nonetheless, it truly is not a finances holiday break.

“It really is a appreciable price tag to stop by Greenland, and flights can be pricey,” Stelma said.

For journey author, journalist and polar expedition guideline David McGonigal, who has visited Greenland about 20 instances in the past two many years, the Danish protectorate has generally been incredibly tranquil.

“There are outlets and supermarkets, but the selling prices are pricey men and women are pleasant while obviously reserved,” McGonigal mentioned. “It is really the landscape and the wildlife that (are) most intriguing.”

Two humpback whales swim in the vicinity of a compact iceberg (exhibiting symptoms of melting) in the vicinity of Ilulissat, Greenland.

Monica Bertolazzi

Although McGonigal likens neighboring Iceland to Scotland or northern Scandinavia — “a northern European state entire of gorgeous people and dramatic volcanic landscapes” — he spends his visits to Greenland mountaineering and sailing the deep fjords, getting macro pictures of wildflowers or exploring villages dotted throughout barren foreshores and rocky islands.

“I as soon as asked a Greenlander why they paint their residences in brilliant hues,” he laughed. “The response was: So we can obtain our personal households on Saturday night.”

What to do

Unsurprisingly, most visits to Greenland are expended in the wild. Intrepid website visitors hike on to the otherworldly environs of the Greenland ice sheet, kayak to location one of 15 species of whales, check out icebergs calve (or break up) at Eqi Glacier and fish for Arctic char in the rivers of the Kangia fjord.

Getting around isn’t simple, offered there are few roadways concerning towns. Only one in 20 citizens owns a auto, with numerous employing the Sarfaq Ittuk ferry to get close to (the ship is also well known with vacationers who want to wake up in front of an iceberg). Air Greenland flights are a different alternative they fly at reduced altitudes and afford to pay for exceptional views.

Rafting around the icebergs of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland.


Of Greenland’s 70 inhabited towns, only 13 have runways, which tends to make helicopters an additional common kind of transportation.

“Just about every customer to Ilulissat ought to grit their teeth and spend for the helicopter flight above the icebergs,” McGonigal stated.

A polar bear mother and two cubs in northeast Greenland.

Raimund Linke

Although most guests adhere to the west coastline, the wilder east coast is household to Scoresby, the world’s largest fjord. The east is also the most most likely locale to see a polar bear, a reality McGonigal explained would make hiking in Greenland far more peaceful than somewhere else in the Arctic.

“In my encounter, it is only along the east coast and other quite distant areas that you have any prospect of obtaining polar bears,” he explained.

When to go

The shorter travel season indicates visitation peaks about the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months, when the midnight solar gives infinite daylight (late April to late August, relying on the latitude).

Summertime temperatures can access 50 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the Northern Lights can been observed as early as September.

A winter season night time in Nuuk, Greenland’s funds.

Carlo Lukassen

Whatever time of calendar year, the “sila” (a Greenlandic principle this means temperature or state of intellect) performs a essential role throughout trips to Greenland.

“This is the Arctic … so where by you go, even in midsummer, can be dictated by where by the ice isn’t,” said McGonigal. “And as you head north, it’s far more of an issue, of course.”

Where by to keep

As the region prepares to take care of an influx of vacationers who want to see what Stelma explained as a vacation spot “unplagued by overtourism,” the desire has not nevertheless translated to an equally major increase in lodging.

Airbnb options are couple and considerably concerning, and many inns are booked six months in advance.

Igloo cabins at Resort Artic.

Courtesy of Resort Artic

People scheduling a stop by may possibly consider the igloo-formed cabins at Ilulissat’s 4-star Resort Arctic, a luxurious hut overlooking the icebergs off the coastline of Ilimanaq in the north, or an adventure normally reserved for scientists — tenting on Greenland’s ice sheet.

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