Amazing Greenland: when to go and what to do on the world’s largest island

Often overshadowed by other destinations nearby, Greenland is an amazing country to visit. But when should you go and what do you do there?

4 mins read

In a place without a real road system, one of the best ways to get to know the island is through cruise travel, which can bring you to places you never imagined you'd see and acquaint you with people you had no idea you'd ever meet. In Greenland, Inuit culture is thriving and adapting to the changing times, and Greenlanders are a famously friendly people.

You can meet local residents, go on hunting trips, sled with dogs and more - but make sure you don't miss out on what makes Greenland unique. While most people know it's quite cold (the icy answer to Iceland's truly green surrounds), there's much more to Greenland - and you don't have to forgo the trip entirely if you're not a fan of winter weather.

When should you go to Greenland?

Conde Nast Traveler recently published an article recommending Greenland as an ideal destination year round. Whether you're looking to escape the heat of summer or experience some of the delights winter in Greenland brings, you're in luck. There's never a bad time to make the trip.

However, you should consider what's important to you. If your heart is set on the northern lights and meeting sled dogs, it's best to wait til winter (even if you have to pack all of your wool clothing).

If you'd rather have a more temperate experience and still immerse yourself in the culture and landscape of Greenland, summer could be a lovely time to go - and could also get you out of humid, hot days at home. In fact, most expedition cruises to Greenland take place between June and August because the melting ice makes it possible to navigate the fjords and bays along the coast.

From dog sledding to glaciers - what activities should you do?

Greenland is a unique country, and provides many opportunities for travelers. One of the things everyone should do is get serious about sampling local cuisine. Whether you go with an excursion from your cruise ship or on your own to explore restaurants, you'll find freshly caught fish - and Greenland is the only place you can try Greenland salmon - as well as wild game that has recently been hunted. You may sample delicacies like seal and musk ox if you let yourself be governed by what's up for grabs at the place where you go to eat. Don't avoid unfamiliar food - some of them are only available in Greenland.

You should also make sure to look around you at every step of the way. Greenland is beautiful, from its glaciers to its green meadows, and taking an excursion for the sole purpose of hiking around a little is a great idea. It's unlike any landscape you're likely to have seen before, so take plenty of pictures or even schedule a special photography cruise to treat yourself and bring home the best vacation photos around.

There are many excursions available for the bold, from dog sledding to an actual several-night hunting experience (which is only for the very fit indeed). And then there's kayaking in the land of kayaks. If you're an adventurer, Greenland can cater to you exquisitely. You may see any one of a number of local animals, from seals and oxen to whales, on your travels, and you'll certainly be exposed to the elements in ways that aren't all too common back home. This is true whether you visit in winter or summer. If your intentions in going on a vacation include exploration and new challenges, Greenland is perfect for you.

Meeting the locals - who are they?

Greenlanders are a welcoming people, and it's more than worth your time to get to know them. There are many families willing to open their homes to travelers for some coffee and conversation, and an excursion to speak to locals is also possible on many Greenland cruises. The latter type of meeting is called a Kaffemik, according to Conde Nast, and used to take place mostly at pivotal moments in an Inuit family's lifetime. However, today you can attend such a gathering by invitation from locals who are happy to speak to travelers about their lives.

Most people in Greenland are of Inuit descent, though many also have Norwegian blood. Some are more recent arrivals to the island as well, but what unites them all is a love of where they live and a welcoming disposition. In a country founded by explorers, both Inuit and otherwise, you'll find kindred spirits and have conversations you will remember for a lifetime.

People who choose to take a cruise to Greenland, instead of more typical destinations, are also an interesting bunch. They are likely to have the exploration bug just like you do, which means you might make lifetime friends among your fellow travelers simply because you all enjoy the kind of magic Greenland offers.

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