I Really Want To Visit Greenland…

As I reflect on my travels, I’ve come to realize that my most memorable trips have been to nature rather than to cities. Unfortunately I don’t get to nature destinations as much as I’d like, due to the nature of my work (no pun intended). I have a hard time being disconnected for extended periods of time, and it’s much easier to stay connected in major cities than in rural areas with inconsistent wifi.

Looking back at my travels this year, probably my single favorite destination was Longyearbyen, Norway, which is the northernmost city in the world.

Longyearbyen-Polar-Bear-Sign

When Ford and I first arrived there I think we both sort of thought to ourselves “uhhh, what did we get ourselves into?” But I’m so happy we went, because it was magical. Being in the outdoors with 24 hours of sunlight and enjoying everything from midnight cruises to visiting abandoned towns to going on ATV rides was so fun. I can’t recommend the place enough.

Pyramiden-Svalbard - 12

Greenland is the next nature-oriented destination on my mind

As I think of planning my next destination-oriented journey, for some reason Greenland sticks out in my mind. I’m not exactly sure why, as I know very little about Greenland. Heck, perhaps I’m most familiar with it because of the number of times I’ve seen it on the airshow when flying across the Atlantic. I’ve flown over Greenland many times, and the views are always breathtaking.

Singapore-First-Class-777 - 71

Greenland even has their own airline, Air Greenland, and they have a single A330 that they fly between Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq.

air-greenland

The flight time is 4hr40min, and the plane even has a business class cabin, which seems to consist of typical recliner seats with ~55″ of pitch.

air-greenland-2

air-greenland-1

The thing is, I don’t know the first thing about Greenland. I’ve just started researching, and it seems like they have relatively few tourists (which makes sense, given the limited flight options and how few hotels there seem to be). Kangerlussuaq, which has the A330 service from Copenhagen, doesn’t actually seem to have many accommodation options. Air Greenland recommends the following destinations:

air-greenland

Based on that, it looks like one place to visit in Greenland is the Ilulissat Icefjord in the west of the country, which is a UNESCO site. That requires an additional flight, though.

greenland-map

Hotel Arctic is located here, which looks incredible. Not the hotel itself so much, but rather its setting.

You guys are a well traveled bunch and an incredible resource, so before I put too much more thought into this, has anyone been to Greenland? How was it? What places are worth seeing, and what’s the best way to go about planning a trip there?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious about a trip to Greenland…

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Another place to go that is on my bucket list, Bhutan. They have a le meridien, an Aman, and well every single thing about that place looks incredible. Would love to read about it while I’m going to college.

  2. @Andrew – plus don’t forget the Druk Air landing in Paro is supposed to be wild and a bit of a nerve racking landing. I believe they have Business Class too.

    They fly to Singapore and Bangkok via India on A319’s so if you position yourself in one of these cities, it’s easy to connect on to Druk Air.

  3. You can also get to it from Iceland and the little airport in Reykjavik (not KEF). Mostly prop communter planes but a bunch more times and a few destinations. I think..there might even be a summer time ferry but don’t quote me on that.

  4. Ben, have you been on safari? We went to Kenya and did the fairmont properties there.. 3 different locations…. all amazing! Best trip I’ve been on so far!!! Just amazing, I highly recommend.

  5. The only “rural” areas with spotty internet I’ve come across are in the USA. It’s amazing how good the telecommunications networks are in many other countries, even some of the “3rd world” countries have internet in the strangest of places.

  6. Alaska in the summertime is great as well. I always wanted to visit the Serengeti and Victoria Falls which are spectacular according to my friends who have been there.

  7. Ben, Me and my partner were in Greenland this past April. We flew from Boston to Reykjavik via Wow AIR which was really cheap, stayed there for a few days, then flew to Nuuk, their capital via Air Iceland. It’s not your typical capital. It’s probably similar to Longyearbyean as there weren’t that many people there. We took a private tour of Nuuk with Touring Greenland and a private boat tour of the fjords. The boat tour was very memorable as we stayed out there into sunset and even did an impromptu fishing. After a few days in Nuuk we flew into Ilulissat via Air Greenland. That’s not to be missed. The Icebergs are spectacular. We took a boat tour of the icebergs with WORLD OF GREENLAND and a small airplane tour of the polar ice cap with AIR ZAFARI. If you’re adventurous with eating, here you can try reindeer, minke whale and even Polar Bear. Tickets from Reykjavik to Nuuk to Ilulissat and back were expensive but we figured, we’ve saved so much money with our previous travel with points, this one was worth paying cash for.

  8. Good post and comments. I felt the same way when I recently visited Churchill, Canada, to see the polar bears.

  9. I’ve been! I did the day trip from Iceland. It’s like no place else and worth the (very!) high price to get there.

  10. Well what James said…

    I lived in Greenland for 6 years in the 90ties and the place not to miss is indeed Illulissat. Kangerslussuaq (or Sondre Stromfjord) is just an old US airbase with limited accomodation and things to do. It is another place from which you can go to the Ice Cap which is basically the other thing not to miss in Greenland.

    Other than that South of Greenland is also very pleasant and a much greener experience, so places like Narsassuaq, Qaqortoq are also very beautiful and home to agriculture (such as is is) in Greenland. It is also a great place to try Greenlandic lamb which is second to none.

    @Jorgen You will have scant luck in finding a way to fly on points to Greenland. Air Greenland is not a member of any alliance. And even though you can get to Iceland on points that is as far as you’ll get before you need Air Iceland or Air Greenland.

  11. We went to Ilulissat in winter for 4 days and it was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done. The best part was the flight in. We came from Reykjavik with Icelandair on a 28 seat Dash 8 (sorry no premium seats) and flew over incredible landscapes including a good portion across the Icefjord. It was the best joy flight ever on steriods. The Hotel Arctic is one option, another is the Hotel Icefiord. The accommodation is clean, closer to town, has a good restaurant and uninterrupted views of the water. We quite literally watched giant icebergs come and go and the water freeze before our eyes!

    Beware, Greenland is not about luxury, but if you go in with eyes open it’s a magical experience 😉

  12. Hi Lucky, Actually posting about Greenland has reminded my to ask which mechanism you use to offset your GHG emissions. Do you have a preferred program or do you buy the offsets offered by the airline at ticket purchase?

  13. I’d like to echo what Levy asks: What exactly do you do to offset the carbon emissions for your flights around the world. Do you usually buy offsets through the airline, or do you have a particular program that you use, especially since you travel so much.

  14. The post elicited some really helpful comments…I want to go also. But in response to your questions about other amazing nature places, I would highly recommend th Atacama desert in Chile. Quite otherworldly!

  15. Have you ever dreaded something and then found it wasn’t as bad as you thought ?Once I spent almost three weeks without speaking a word to another person . For a while after I found myself reluctant to speak very much . It disturbed the inner quiet that had developed . Spending time out of touch , in Svalbard , Greenland or some other place might be a better experience than you expect .

  16. Like you I am also curious about Greenland and have been reading every bit of travel information online.

    Though the easiest way to get to Greenland from the US would be to fly to Iceland and take a connection to Kangarlussuaq in Air Iceland at KEF the flight is a small plane with no premium cabin. So in all probability you will take the Air Greenland A330 from Copenhagen.

    You should definitely go since you loved Svalbard so much.

    Check out Daniel’s trip report in FT about his trip to Greenland and Iceland.

  17. Greenland is one of the two trips-of-a-lifetime I will soon take, together with DR Congo. I suggest though you book a week-long itinerary with a well-established tour operator – to truly enjoy Greenland you need to get to places hard to get to. While your trip to Longyarbyen might have been “adventurous” to you, in reality you barely explored the great outdoor of the Spitzbergen Islands – something I suggest you do not do if you decide to go to Greenland.

    The national tourism office for Greenland is http://www.greenland.com – very helpful to plan a trip.

    Hope this helps everyone.

  18. What’s worth coming back for? Bhutan. I was there for almost two years, and the experience was out of this world. I keep thinking I should return with my wife. You can fly into Paro airport from Bangkok, New Delhi, or Singapore on DrukAir. I was offered to sit in the cockpit on my flight out of Paro airport and put it up on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rJX8qpW4e8

  19. Definitely more of a “rough it” kind of a destination rather than the luxury you may be used to. South Greenland by Narsarsuaq is tremendous for the outdoors and hiking. Dog sledding is a great way to both have fun and to experience the local culture as that is a common form of transportation. Kayaking and glacier hiking are must do’s. The landscape is impressive throughout Greenland but the east around Tasilaq really stood out for me personally.

    I’m someone who travels to many countries for short periods of time and feel fulfilled, but with Greenland, I believe one should stay at least 5 days to truly enjoy the nature and the outdoors there, which I think is the main thing that attracts people to Greenland.

  20. Just an added bonus, the USD is incredibly strong right now. You currently get 7 kroner to the dollar, which makes the trip more affordable than say 3 years ago. And, spend some time in Copenhagen before or after Greenland. It’s great here in August 🙂

  21. Ben if you are travelling from CPH I would recommend the specific episode of (excellent) Danish political drama ‘Borgen’ which involves Greenland before you go. It greatly helps explain the relationship between the two countries and will also help explain why people from Greenland act the way they do.

  22. I didn’t see a response to the carbon emissions offset questions. If Lucky isn’t going to entertain those questions, what is everyone else doing?

  23. I really want to go too, but I have a different trip planned. 🙂 I plan on going eventually with Natural Habitat. It isn’t cheap by any means, but they have a pretty amazing trip no one else is doing (yet).

  24. Why sudenly the carbon offset is the main issue here? I understand global warming is main concern to all of us..but didn’t understand why when Greenland mentioned here everyone ganging up..
    Unlike the US countries like Denmark and Iceland spend a great portion of their income on environment…it’s time to press our governments to allocated more resources..

  25. I’ve never really thought about it but I bet it would be a really fascinating place to visit. It’s not widely travelled at all so it would be a real gem. I too like the magic in nature, there’s something really special about seeing something that has been naturally created, rather than man made.

    Sally @ Life Loving

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