When it comes to visiting the Arctic, you might not think of Greenland as your first choice. But the world’s largest island is a special place, and a Greenland cruise is a truly unique experience.
Here we break down exactly what makes traveling to Greenland so special and why a cruise to this fantastic destination is great for anyone interested in travel, culture, nature, or outdoor sports.
A Cruise Is The Best Way To See Greenland
A cruise is the best way to see Greenland’s unique landscape. You could travel by plane, but then you miss out on seeing Greenland’s beauty. Additionally, traveling by plane is worse for the environment, which is why a Greenland cruise is our top choice for travel to this destination.
Your experience will be more comfortable and immersive as you witness the stunning natural landscapes and wildlife that Greenland has to offer. Expert guides and educational programs provide an opportunity to learn more about Greenland and the local culture and history, making for a more enriching travel experience. A cruise is also an all-inclusive experience so you can truly unwind and enjoy the journey.
When it comes to visiting Greenland, it’s important to know that Greenland isn’t its own country, it’s an autonomous territory owned by the Kingdom of Denmark. Luckily, your cruise company will help make sure you have all the right documentation.
Spectacular Landscapes & Untouched Fjords
80% of Greenland is covered in ice and it is the only place outside of Antarctica that has a permanent ice sheet. This ice sheet means that only the coast is habitable while the center is an isolated icy wonderland.
While this means you can’t travel using overland vehicles, it does contribute to the natural beauty of the land. Greenland is full of fjords, narrow channels that form between cliffs. In fact, Greenland is home to the world’s longest fjord, the Scoresby Sund.
If you’re on a Greenland cruise, you can get up close to the fjords and marvel at the rugged natural beauty. You could even disembark and get onto a smaller boat to navigate the fjords.
One of the many amazing things about Greenland is that you might get to see glaciers ‘calve’ which is when a chunk of ice falls off a glacier to become icebergs.
Because of its very unusual terrain, Greenland also has some unique wildlife. This includes the musk oxen, which are only found in the Arctic. 40% of the muskox population can be found in Greenland.
There is a staggering assortment of whales for you to see in Greenland’s waters, including the blue whale, sperm whale, and even the elusive narwhal. You’ll also get a chance to see walruses.
You also might be able to spot a polar bear while you’re here. However, don’t count on it – you’re more likely to see one in Alaska or Canada.
Then there is the bird population with a wide variety of Arctic species, including the puffin. And don’t forget about the Arctic hares which blend in with the icy white surroundings.
Quaint Villages & Cultural Experiences
Very few places can boast the kind of isolated communities that Greenland offers, and even fewer combine this with enthusiastic locals who love to welcome their visitors.
With villages ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand people, visiting coastal villages in Greenland is an experience unlike any other. And if you’re wondering which villages to head to, check out my 7-day Greenland itinerary.
These villages are largely populated with Indigenous people who have a wealth of history and culture that they are happy to share with tourists. While many cruises have a very touristy feel, a Greenland cruise is guaranteed to be full of authentic local charm.
By taking a cruise, you can explore multiple different villages. This ranges from the capital, Nuuk, with its population of 17,000 to small fishing villages with just a few hundred people living there.
Always be respectful of cultures and traditions when visiting these remote villages.
While you can’t travel across Greenland in an overland vehicle, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many thrilling ways to explore the icy wasteland.
One of the benefits of traveling to Greenland via a cruise ship is that you get to dock at many different and interesting locations. Activities to enjoy include kayaking in the fjords, and hiking up the snow-capped mountains.
You’ll also find opportunities for mountain biking, and, if you’re feeling brave, you might even want to try a night of camping – just make sure you’re bundled up. Luckily, there are many lists of travel packing essentials to make sure you don’t forget anything vital.
Some cruises even offer innovative ‘heli-hikes’, where helicopters on the ship deposit passengers in remote parts of the inland, such as on the ice sheet itself. This is also a great way to reach previously unexplored glaciers.
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