Greenland is truly one of the last frontiers remaining in the world for travelers to explore. Despite its isolation, there are some amazing things to do in Greenland for those that make the trip to the far north.
Isolated in the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, this huge landmass might be the largest island in the world, but it’s also the least densely populated.
It’s a land of extremes, where the long winters see constant snow, ice, and perpetual darkness, while the short summers see an almost unbelievable transformation into a verdant land that becomes full of life and sunshine.
This is not a place that is either cheap or particularly easy to travel to and to travel around, but the rewards are almost infinite for those who take the time to explore.
There are many incredible things to do in Greenland, from exploring remote fishing villages on the edge of the Arctic to witnessing the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights.
Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Greenland, to help you to plan your trip to this extreme, but unparalleled island of beauty.
Don’t leave home without your Greenland & The Arctic (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)
20 Epic Things to do in Greenland
Table of Contents
1. Hike the Arctic Circle Trail
Take on a grand traverse across Greenland by hiking from the edge of the ice sheet in Kangerlussuaq to the coast in Sisimiut along the Arctic Circle Trail.
We did it and it was the highlight of our trip to Greenland, also a world’s Top 100 Travel Adventure.
The route is 105 miles/165km taking you through the beautiful backcountry of Greenland. You have to be self-supported, carrying all of the food and camping gear that you will need and an average crossing lasts 9 days.
You’ll have the chance to experience gorgeous lakes, mountains, and valleys along the way. The ACT is one of the best hikes in Greenland and year after year it gets voted as one of the best hikes in the world.
2. Kayak in Ilulissat
Imagine being surrounded by towering icebergs in tranquil waters as you paddle and immerse yourself into pure nature.
Ilulissat, Greenland is one of those places where its shoreline with towering icebergs will hypnotize you.
If you are going to go kayaking anywhere in the world, I would put kayaking in Ilulissat at the top of your list when visiting Greenland.
3. Hike around the UNESCO Sermermiut
When visiting Ilulissat, Greenland every traveler must go for a hiking adventure through the Sermermiut Valley.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Greenland and arguably the world. The hiking paths twist and wind through the valley where on a nice day locals will be out picking mushrooms.
Explore old settlements and remains that date back 4500 years. A local guide will lead you through this UNESCO site pointing out fauna and flora that are only found here.
The hiking path will lead you to amazing viewpoints of the Icefjord located on the outskirts of Ilulissat, where you’ll have iconic views of icebergs floating in the bay, next to a towering ice wall.
It’s truly an incredible place and we visited more than once when we stayed in Ilulissat.
4. Go Whale Watching
Whale watching is fantastic in Greenland. It is truly exciting watching these amazing creatures in their natural habitat coming up to the surface to breach next to giant icebergs just feet away from you.
The best time to view whales in Greenland is from mid-summer to fall and this is when you will have a very good chance to see the whales when they are the most active.
Greenland is home to 15 species of whales and a few are active all year round.
The best place to go whale watching in Greenland is Ilulissat, Disco Bay, Paamiut, Nuuk, Aasiaat, Uummannaq, Kulusuk and Tasiilaq.
In Southern Greenland, you will find fin whales, minke whales, and sometimes sperm whales. It is common to find humpback whales near Paamiut, Maniitsoq, Aasiaat, and in the fjords around Nuuk.
Humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, and Greenland whales are often sighted in Disco Bay and Ilulissat.
5. Cruise the Ilulissat Icefjord
There is no other way to experience the amazing icebergs of Ilulissat than on a cruise, it is a must-do when visiting Ilulissat and to tell you the truth it is hands down the best place to do it in Greenland.
The Icefjord and its surrounding area is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site and that’s for good reason.
This natural wonder will have you amazed on land once you show up in Ilulissat but hypnotized once in the water. You will feel small next to the towering icebergs as they reflect perfectly in the Arctic water.
There’s plenty of great cruising options from photography-based cruises to midnight sun cruises and will be a highlight of anyone’s trip to Greenland.
6. Journey to Point 660
Jump aboard a souped-up 4×4 vehicle and explore enchanting sceneries of mountains, sweeping plains and an Arctic desert along the way to one of the most iconic ice cap points in Greenland, Point 660.
This is one of the most popular things to do in Kangerlussuaq and it is even offered as a layover trip.
Along the twisty and windy valley named Sandfugtsdal to get out and explore a fighter plane wreck and crystal clear lakes as the landscape changes from wild rolling green hills to rocky snow-covered rolling hills.
7. See the Russel Glacier
Greenland has many glaciers throughout its whole country, but one of the most popular ones to visit is the great Russel Glacier from Kangerlussuaq.
This real-life Game of Thrones ice wall is truly spectacular to see in person. Its 60-meter face will make you feel small standing next to it.
Here you can not only view this glacier but have a chance to get up close and personal with it by climbing on its massive boulders, exploring its icy rocks and watching its bright blue water cut through the ice.
It is not only fun but a fascinating trip that cannot be missed when visiting Greenland.
Most people only visit this Glacier on a long layover but for the adventurous, this is where the start of the ACT begins and you can hike, as we did, along the Arctic Circle Trail.
8. Visit Oqaatsut Village
If you are looking to experience what life is truly like in Greenland, you have to head Oqaatsut.
Here you can explore a settlement that sees few tourists and you can sit down and have a traditional meal with one of its 42 residents who live here year-round.
Visiting Oqaatsut was one of our favorite things to do in Greenland. It gave us a look into a fascinating life and what it is like to live in such a harsh environment.
Oqaatsut is remote, there are no roads to this village and most visitors will visit by boat or kayak. You can also hike to this remote village that takes a half-day from Ilulissat.
There is plenty of fascinating places to visit in Greenland but a trip to the Oqaatsut village is a must when visiting Ilulissat.
9. Take a City Tour of Sisimiut
Sisimiut, Greenland is situated in a naturally beautiful location in Western Greenland. It is the picture-perfect town in Greenland with colorful houses overlooking its fjord.
It has a great mix of Inuit and Scandinavian settlers that have called this place home for generations.
Sisimiut is Greenland’s second-largest settlement and is very popular for adventure travelers however the city itself is worth exploring on a city tour before heading out on those epic adventures.
Sisimiut may be small but there are lots to be seen here.
Be transported back into time through thousands of years of culture and history with your local guide at the Sisimiut Museum that’s located down by the harbor.
This settlement is one of the best in Greeland that showcases what it was like to live and survive in such harsh environments.
You can spend hours walking the streets, poking your head into local shops and admiring the colorful houses that are unlike anywhere else in Greenland.
There’s also a great variety of amazing viewpoints that can be seen right from the city. We suggest taking a look at the local fish market that has a variety of different items from the sea every day.
Another popular spot to learn about this city’s history is at the Arctic Circle monument and let’s not forget checking out the Greenlandic huskies located on the outskirts of town.
10. Buy Muskoxen clothing at Qiviut
One of the most exclusive and rare wool available in the world is Musk ox wool. Qiviut is the Greenlandic word for the downy wool that the wild musk oxen hide underneath their coarse overcoat.
This is a unique material that is not only fashionable but provides warmth. Which is extremely important in Greenland.
As a visitor in Sisimiut, you can experience this process first hand from start to finish at the Qiviut shop.
This interactive shop walks you through the whole process not only giving you an insider look on how its harvested but how and why they make certain items the way do.
After watching the process don’t forget to explore the shop where you have the chance to buy Musk ox yarn, gloves, hats, scarfs, jackets, vests, and boots.
Musk ox wool makes for a great gift and is one of the few local products allowed to be explored, unlike polar bear, whale, or seals products.
11. Sample the local delicacies
Since Greenland is mostly covered by permanent glaciers most of their food comes from the sea.
There are a few items that come from the land but those are only available for a short period of time, on top of that Greenland’s rugged landscape makes farming very difficult.
Many of their dishes are prepared fresh or smoked. A few of the must-try foods in Greenland are Whale Meat, Seal, Muskox, Eider Sea Duck, Lumpfish Roe and Greenlandic Lamb.
Keep in mind when visiting Greenland that they have eaten many of these foods for hundreds of years.
It’s a cultural thing and as travelers, we may not like the taste or agree with eating certain items but we should respect their culture.
12. Explore the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq
Greenland has many great abandoned settlements but one that simply can not be missed is the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq. This abandoned settlement is just a short boat ride from Sisimiut located on a remote island.
Assaqutaq is truly a fascinating place and when we visited the island, caretakers ran out to greet us. They had fish drying on the outside racks and you could tell they don’t see many tourists.
During the summer months, it acts as a place for summer camps for children and a place for sourcing fish to be used as food for many of the sled-dogs in Sisimiut.
We explored this abandoned settlement on a local tour that gave us an insight from those who have lived there for generations and who are passionate about preserving its history.
There’s a good amount of abandoned buildings, some restored and some left to deteriorate. There is even a good size gravesite where we heard stories about ghost hauntings on the island. The chilling silence of this settlement will captivate you as it did to us.
If you are not visiting Sisimiut, another popular abandoned settlement is located just outside Nuuk.
The Kangeq abandoned settlement will give you a look into what it is like to explore Greenland’s hidden gems that are found throughout the coastline.
13. Meet the Greenlandic Husky
It does not matter if you are exploring a little city like Ilulissat or a larger city like Nuuk, throughout all of Greenland it is easy to find the Greenlandic Husky everywhere you go.
These cute animals are iconic to Greenland. Most of the time they are found in designated areas on the outskirts of the cites where owners have dog houses set up for them to live.
Greenland contains the largest population of huskies in the Arctic and is unique in maintaining its traditions of dog sledding culture.
Today the Greenlandic Husky population is decreasing rapidly, this means Greenland’s unique dog sledding culture is in danger of disappearing.
If you are an animal lover or if you want to experience these magical creatures in their natural habitat we suggest joining a dog sledding adventure.
This will allow you to understand these creatures and how they have become a special breed throughout all of Greenland.
These are not the average dogs that you have at home. These dogs are used for work as dog sleds, not as your household pet. They are friendly but they are aggressive, there have been incidents where dogs have bitten tourists.
It is always best to keep your distance from animals unless the owner is there to tell you it is ok to get close.
14. Take a photo with the Kangerlussuaq Airport Sign
Located just outside on the runway side of Greenland’s main airport is one of the best signs in Greenland showing distances from all around the world. This sign will put Greenland’s location into a great perspective for you.
The North Pole is 3 hours and 15 minutes away, Tokyo is 10 hours and 5 minutes away and Los Angeles is 6 hours and 45 minutes away.
Most people only fly through Kangerlussuaq but we recommend staying and exploring that area.
We did and we were surprised about all the great things you can do there that most travelers simply miss because they are jetting off to another part of Greenland.
15. Book A Scenic Flight
Greenland is one of the best places to take a scenic flight since its landscape is so diverse. You have fjords, glaciers, mountain peaks, bright blue rivers and let’s not forget the iceberg dappled coastline.
There’s no other place in the world where you can take a scenic flight and have all of those amazing views in close distance.
The view from above is as impressive as the view on the ground. Flying in Greenland is spectacular. It truly will put the size of everything into perspective.
16. View the Northern Lights
Greenland has many natural beauties and one that always seems to amaze me is the Northern Lights. They are not something you can view in many places around the world.
That said, Greenland is a top destination for viewing the Northern lights since there’s little to no artificial light pollution.
Greenland often has clear skies that make for the best conditions for seeing the Northern Lights.
This surreal light show can be seen across the island, but it is best experienced them from September until the beginning of April when the colors appear at their most vibrant.
A few of the most popular places to view Northern Lights in Greenland are Kangerlussuaq, Disko Bay, East Greenland, and Nuuk.
Keep in mind this is a natural occurrence so that means the more time you spent outdoors the higher your chances of seeing them.
There are endless options for you to view the lights in Greenland including remote camping trips to luxury 4×4 or snowmobiling trips.
Recommended Tour: Northern Lights – Private charter 1-6 Passengers – Cabin boat
17. Visit the National Museum in Nuuk
There are many great adventures to be had in Greenland however one of the most inspiring ones is a visit to the National Museum in Nuuk.
Located near the waterfront, it is one of the best museums I’ve visited in all of our travels and one of the top things to do in Nuuk.
Just stepping foot through the doors you will be transported back in time by Greenland’s largest cultural history museum. The museum has great displays of traditional kayaks, mummies, and clothing dating back centuries.
They have preserved the Greenlandic history with items from all over this amazing country and all displays have information about every artifact.
If you’re going to add one thing from our list of things to do in Greenland, you must add a visit to the National Museum in Nuuk on to your list.
18. Ride the Sarfaq Ittuk
Discover a side of Greenland that many travelers don’t get to experience on a slow but beautiful adventure sailing on the Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry.
The Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry is the only passenger ferry in Greenland that carries 238 passengers and stops at 12 different settlements, towns, villages, and cities along its route.
This sailing journey will take you along the west coast between Ilulissat in the North and Qaqortoq in the South, operating on a weekly loop.
For some local Greenlanders, the Sarfaq Ittuk is the only mode of transportation linking them to the rest of Greenland and the outside world.
For anyone visiting Greenland, this is a chance to slow down and experience a local side of Greenland. You’ll visit places where you’ll be the only tourist due to it being so difficult to access.
On top of that, it is a chance to enjoy Greenland’s amazing wildlife that calls the coastal waters home.
This is hands down one of the best sailing adventures in the world and this ultimate sea journey on the Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry should be added to your can’t miss things to do when you are visiting Greenland.
19. Soak in the Uunartoq Hot Springs
Greenland has many great hot springs located throughout the country however the island of Uunartoq is home to the only hot springs in Greenland that warm enough to bathe in.
Located on an uninhabited island in South Greenland are three naturally heated springs that run together ending in a small natural stoned pool.
This is hands down one of the best places in Greenland to relax. Just sit back and enjoy its warm waters being surrounded by towering mountain peaks and an outer bay that’s dappled with drifting icebergs.
It is the true definition of being surrounded by natural beauty, so if your someone who’s looking for a great experience for your body and soul, you should add a soak in the Uunartoq hot springs on to your Greenland bucket list.
20. Kayak the Blue River
If you are looking for one of the most unique kayaking experiences in the world, you must head up north to a place where bright blue ribbons of water cut through a snow-white landscape.
It is a place unlike anywhere else in the world and it should be added to the top of your list of things to do in Greenland.
The melting waters of the Petermann Glacier split out like veins creating a bright blue river where adventure travelers come from all around the world to kayak.
Every year the river has a different shape snaking across this amazing icy landscape.
Kayaking the Blue River in Northern Greenland is a true adventure and not for those who have not done kayaking expeditions before, there are no infrastructures and on top of that, the logistics are challenging.
It is a remote and rugged place that’s only accessible by helicopter at the right time of the year. Spend your days snaking through its waterways and nights remote camping among the world’s last true frontier where you won’t find any other travelers.
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More on Greenland:
- 10 Fascinating Places to Visit in Greenland (That May Surprise You)
- 10 Cool Things to Do in Nuuk, Greenland
- Sisimiut Greenland: 15 Things to Do + Planning Tips
- 11 Things to Do in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
- Kayaking in Greenland: An Adventure Like No Other
- 9 Epic Reasons to Visit Ilulissat, Greenland
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- 9 Unreal Northern Lights Tours