What you Need to Know Before Going to Greenland

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If you chose Greenland as your next travel destination, you need to prepare very carefully and plan your route. Its remote location and arctic climate dictate their own rules you must adhere to safely travel and return home. So, the first thing you should think about is the route, or rather the cities that you want to visit. Here you can read about Nuuk – the capital of Greenland, and about Ilulissat – the city of icebergs. Many interesting things can also be seen in Kangerlussuaq, although we didn’t have time to invest in it, but the excursions there will not allow you to stay indifferent.


Flights to Greenland are performed only by AirGreenland scheduled airlines. And this means that you will not be able to buy cheap discounted tickets or find a good deal from low-cost carriers. Another option is to fly to Iceland first, and from there to fly to Greenland by Icelandic airlines. These flights are performed only in summer on the basis of charter flights, and the connection in Reykjavik may not work for everyone. Almost every day the airbus A330-200 operated by AirGreenland departs from Copenhagen, which can take you to the airport of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland in 4.5 hours. Within the entire country, only there is a flight strip, which can accept such a large aircraft. Therefore, even if you are flying to Nuuk, Ilulissat or any other city, first you will land there.

Then between the cities you will be transported by small two-propeller Dash-8-200 airplanes operate by the same airline. They have only 37 seats. We called them “maxi-taxis”, because at check-in for domestic flights no seats are assigned. Every person takes any free seat in the cabin. These airplanes will not be able to take you far away due to their small fuel tank volume, which is designed for not more than 1500-kilometer flights. Therefore, while travelling from city to city there will be “technical stops” for refueling these “mini-planes”. When we flew from Nuuk to Ilulissat, we made such a stop in Kangerlussuaq. For the duration of the stop all passengers left the plane, went to the terminal and in 10 minutes everyone was invited to board the same aircraft.

There are no other options for traveling around the country other than air connection. In Greenland, there are no roads, so plan your route in advance and adjust to AirGreenland’s flight schedule. Planes to distant cities fly once or twice a week. The number of flights can also be changed or canceled altogether in winter due to weather conditions.

We flew to Greenland in late April, but the plane tickets we bought a year in advance. This allowed us to save a little on domestic flights, although the difference was not very significant.


Despite the fact that Greenland is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, you will need a separate visa to visit it. Separate means that the Schengen visa is not applicable, and you will not be allowed even to board the plane that is going to Greenland. To get the Greenland’s visa, you need to contact the Visa Application Center of Denmark and submit necessary documents. The list is almost the same as for the standard Schengen visa with the only difference in the cost – for one person visa costs about 80 USD + courier delivery to your home or office. In Kiev visa center, there were nobody wanting to apply to the Danish window, so we were done with no waiting in line. And the visa itself was issued very quickly – in 3 days after the documents were submitted. Then, you will be asked to show the Greenland’s visa at the check-in counter for the flight, and the appropriate notes will be made on your ticket, indicating you have passed passport control. If you want to visit the Faroe Islands (also a part of Denmark), you need to get another separate visa for this visit as well.


Depending on the season when you go to Greenland, you should carefully consider the list of things to take with you. If you travel in winter, which can last until mid-May, then stock up on warm and windproof things. Regardless of what kind of excursions you will go on, you should wear thermal underwear that will remove moisture from your body in case of your physical activity. Also be sure to have fleeces, which will warm and protect you from frosts. And from the wind you will be protected by a warm jacket, preferably with membranes, however, a simple down jacket will do. Gloves are also very desirable to have in case of strong wind and frost.

Given the amount and height of snow that lies on the roads, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have tourist boot covers or leggings worn over a trouser leg that serve to ensure that during hiking through deep snow it does not get inside a boot. If you do not plan to hike through rough terrain and plan to move only on asphalt, then you are free not to take them.

Boots for such a trip should be only trekking, preferably rubberized around the entire perimeter of the boot. Since the main landscape of Greenland is rocks, mountains and ice, it is very easy to stumble and dislocate a foot during the hike. Good quality shoes will protect you from this. In general, it is better not to take any chances with shoes, because the further outcome of the entire trip depends on your ability to move on two healthy legs.

Of course, a lot of clothes can be bought in Greenland – there are several shops with clothes. However, it is worth considering that all goods there are overpriced. Therefore, it is better not to consider going shopping there.

Be sure to take a backpack with a capacity of at least 25 liters. On all excursions, regardless of their duration, you should have a light snack and a bottle of water with you – all this can be put into a backpack, so you can move with free hands. And if you go trekking, you surely will not be able to do without it.

Be sure to take sunglasses with a category of at least 3. Very strong arctic sun reflecting off the snow and water will blind your eyes.


Despite the fact that you are going beyond the Arctic Circle and not to the Mediterranean Sea, you need to take sunscreen cosmetics with the highest sun protection factor. Since the arctic sun, along with the rays reflected off the snow, will literally burn your skin, and staying out all day in the open can be accompanied by a burnt face and freckles. My sunscreen with SPF 30 was just useless, and after a 5-hour sled dog excursion my face was covered with freckles. Therefore, it is worth to take SPF 50 or better yet SPF 100. The same goes for lip balm – buy it with the highest SPF available.

We did not catch a summer season on our trip, but many people told us that at that time mosquito armies were raging, giving a lot of trouble to tourists. Therefore, if you decide to go in summer, be sure to take a few types of repellents to be able to safely move around the rough terrain without a mosquito swarm around you.

Accommodation and Food

Greenland intensively develops tourism in its sparsely populated lands. And this means that there is already a choice of accommodation in different cities, albeit a small one. So, in the capital there is a choice of 4-5 hotels. And in Ilulissat you can even choose between hotel, apartments, hostel and B&B. If you are used to comfort, and even beyond the Arctic Circle you are ready to pay for it, then you should pay attention to the Hans Edge Hotel in Nuuk and the Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. These are the most expensive and luxurious hotels in entire Greenland. Thus, the prices there will start from 300 USD per night in a double room. This price will include breakfast and Internet access. You will have to have lunch and dinner in restaurants and cafes in the city or in these hotels.

If you want to save on your accommodation, we recommend you to book the Hotel Icefiord Apartments, where you can cook your own food. This will significantly reduce the cost of your stay in Greenland, especially given the cost of food in restaurants. In supermarkets you will find a lot of frozen foods and cereals, and you can always cook something quickly. I was especially happy with the prices for shrimp, its cost being lower than in our stores. At the same time, the apartments also have Internet access and all necessary accessories for long-term stay – towels, pans, plates, cups, etc. The price per night in these apartments ranges from 100 to 150 USD depending on the season.

We didn’t learn the prices for accommodation in the hostel in Ilulissat, but we suspect that it is even cheaper than in our apartments.

Roaming and Wi-Fi

With roaming everything is very simple – it doesn’t exist. Upon arrival, your card will show no signs of life, so you seem to be completely cut off from the world. By the way, it happens absolutely to all European mobile operators. I asked tourists from the UK and Hong Kong, and their sim-cards did not work as well. If you really need to be in touch, then you have to buy a card from the local operator TeleGreenland and make calls using it. Or connect to Wi-Fi. The rates for this type of connection there are just stratospheric. The day of Internet access on one device can cost up to 800 UAH depending on the place where you buy it. And do not even try to catch free Wi-Fi access – all networks there are password-protected with very secret ciphers. In some hotels, Internet access is already included in the price. Therefore, when choosing a place to stay, pay special attention if you want to stay in touch during your entire trip. The rates, for example, are as follows: at the airport of Kangerlussuaq we bought Internet access for 30 minutes for 200 UAH. In all cafes and restaurants, Wi-Fi is also not free – you need to buy special access consisting of randomly generated code.

Polar Day and Night in Greenland

Since most of Greenland lies beyond the Arctic Circle, there is a seasonal change in polar day and night. Polar night lasts from mid-November to early February. During this period, the sun comes up over the horizon for only a few hours, and then it goes down. On a polar day, the situation is opposite – the sun almost does not go beyond the horizon and you there is no darkness day and night. The peak of activity of the polar day is from mid-May to the end of August. In the season of the polar night you can see the real arctic northern lights, or, as it is called by the locals – “Aurora”.

Excursions in Greenland

In Greenland, there are practically no such familiar seasons as spring and autumn. Summer begins when the ice melts on the ground and in the coastal bays, and winter begins with the first snow and frosts. Thus, you cannot come in summer and enjoy winter excursions, and vice versa. Therefore, it is necessary to choose. Dog sledding, skiing and sleighing, northern light watching, winter fishing on ice are only winter activities that you will not find in summer. Thus, in winter you cannot see the largest glaciers of the Disko Bay, because the ice locks all coastal waters, you miss out on many helicopter excursions and an opportunity to live in wooden cottages overlooking icebergs. In addition to winter and summer excursions there are all-season ones, however, they are not unique or extreme in any way. In any case, it’s up to you to decide which Greenland you want to see – winter or summer.

I strongly hope that this article will help you prepare to visit such an amazing and at the same time harsh country as Greenland.

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