Editor’s tips for 2021

12 real reasons why you should visit Greenland by month.

So Greenland’s on your bucket list for the new year – or perhaps even the year after – but when is the best time to visit Greenland and what are useful things to know before going? What are things to do in Greenland in winter as opposed to summer?

In order to help you make your decision, visitgreenland.com editor Tanny Por has hand-picked 12 reasons why this polar wonderscape is so special at particular times of the year. Month-by-month recommendations of where to go & why to visit Greenland, enjoy!

January

RETURN OF THE SUN

Sun aligned with icebergs in Ilulissat. Photo - Ben S. Rehn, Visit Greenland

The thick cloak of polar darkness is still flung over much of Greenland, and January is a time of waiting for the return of the sun. Winter solstice, and Greenland’s winter darkness is magical in its own way. Although the sun has not risen for months in the northernmost parts of the country, light can be found in the moon reflecting on the thick snow, the stars twinkling in the sky, and the northern lights dancing in the heavens. 

On the day of its first rising, communities above the Arctic Circle gather together at their town’s vantage point to watch the sun peep above the horizon. There is no set event, but sometimes people will gather and sing songs together as they watch the sun return. It’s an occurrence rarely experienced and hard to imagine by the outside world.

February

WELLNESS X SNOW

Tourist looking back when leaving the city for a winter hike with Marc Carreras in Nuuk in Greenland. By Rebecca Gustafsson

As February brings more light to the day, you will notice that people stay out longer. It’s great that Greenlandic wellness options are becoming more accessible because a snowstorm in Greenland would not cancel the event, only add a layer to it!

Nuuk offers a white backcountry experience during this time – one can consider outdoor activities such as alpine and cross-country skiing, randonnée and snowshoeing with stunning vistas! After a day out in the wild, head to the swimming pool for a soak in the hot tub. Magnificent views guarantee a true Greenland spa experience. 

Snowmobiling is an adrenaline pumping sport which is second nature to locals in Sisimiut. Take a tour with an operator, and then return to town and try Hotel Sisimiut’s Arctic Spa offering, complete with sauna and wilderness baths. 

Another option is on the other side of the country with Tasiilaq tours, where a snowmobile will pull a mobile sauna to a beautiful location. When you are too hot, you can roll in the snow to cool down!

March

CULTURE IN NATURE

Ice Fishing Scene in Ilulissat. Photo - Aningaaq R. Carlsen, Visit Greenland

March is a fine time to try traditional nature activities such as dog sledding and ice fishing which have both been a way of life for thousands of years. It’s actually still a common mode of transport in Greenland and the local fishing industry is an economic lifeline for the country presently.  

There is no better way of feeling the raw power of Greenland’s nature than on a traditional wooden sled. You can dogsled anywhere above the Arctic Circle and in East Greenland, but a lesser known place that stands out in the winter is the northerly town of Uummannaq. Here you can experience small-town living with 1400 residents, and slow your heartbeat down even further by ice fishing. Think of nothing else as you pull up fishing lines of up to 300 metres in spectacularly white, barren surroundings. Your cheeks will grow red from the exertion of working the line laden with the most delicious fish species in Greenland: halibut, redfish or even catfish.   

Another popular experience is sleeping at igloo lodge greenland. The tradition of building ice igloos (actually adopted from the Canadian Inuit) is now available for tourists visiting Ilulissat in the coldest months of the year. If you’re lucky when staying at the Greenlandic igloo, the northern lights will shimmer across the sky.

April

LIGHT AND SOUND

Kangerlussuaq northern lights at a hut. Photo - David Trood, Visit Greenland

April will be one of your last chances to bask under the northern lights until winter comes again! Due to its positioning at 67°N and its inland positioning, Kangerlussuaq is one of the best places on Earth to see the night sky light show. You will find that many nights will be clear and cloudless! During the day, do some activities related to the Greenland Ice Sheet – it’s the only place in the country where you can reach it by road.

For music lovers, combine the northern lights with Arctic Sounds Festival in Sisimiut, a burgeoning music festival, which showcases artists from Nordic countries and Inuit Nunangat from Canada.

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Package Tours

Disko Line: Calving glaciers, whales and icebergs

Disko Line

Calving glaciers, whales and icebergs

Let the magnificent nature of Greenland get under your skin on boat trips in an extraordinary landscape of glaciers and icebergs.

Greenland Tours – Frozen West

Greenland Tours

Frozen West

5 days exploring Disko Bay in winter incl. visit to the Greenland Ice Cap

Greenland Tours: Hounds of Snow

Greenland Tours

Hounds of snow

8 day dogsledding trip in East Greenland

Greenland Travel: Winter adventure! Vacation in a snowy paradise

Greenland Travel

Winter adventure! Vacation in a snowy paradise

Sail on Ilulissat Ice Fjord and see the icebergs. Go dogsledding. See northern lights. Walk the Ice Cap. Go explore! Greenland is waiting

May

HELISKIING

Skiing among remote peaks in East Greenland near Kulusuk

May is the perfect time for heliskiing – and Greenland is one of the few places left on earth where you can fly down sheer white slopes all by yourself! 

Greenland helicopter skiing enthusiasts say that the mountains near Maniitsoq (Arctic Circle) and Ammassalik (East Greenland) are pristine places to be dropped by the aircraft on an untouched snowy peak. Ski down dramatic mountain slopes of up to 2000 metres, that end directly in an iceberg-filled sea. Much terrain can only be accessible in the summer by boat due to the packed ice.

June

NATIONAL DAY UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN

Traditional Clothing On National Day. Photo - Aningaaq R. Carlsen, Visit Greenland

Visiting Greenland in June is splendidly bright – the midnight sun is already in full swing up in North Greenland – and there’s lots you can do during summer such as kayaking, stand up paddling, hiking, whale watching and iceberg harvesting. 

For a special cultural experience, consider the colourful celebrations of National Day on the 21st of June. Many arrangements are held outside on Greenland’s summer solstice (the longest day of the year). 

In Nuuk, most activity is centred around Nuutoqaq, the Colonial Harbour. In 2020, you could watch from afar online! There will be live entertainment, folk dancing, and a locally-inspired barbeque. The day is usually kicked off with cannons shooting and choirs singing. For cultural buffs who really want to immerse themselves into society, this one’s for you.

July

FISHING PARADISE

Fly fishing at Erfalik river in Greenland. By Mads Pihl

July is fishing season! Greenland is the best place for non-fishy people to try their hands at catching a scaly specimen – you won’t get a better chance for success anywhere else in the world. Go with an operator on a sailing trip and try your luck fishing off a boat. If you’re lucky, you might catch 5 in 10 minutes! 

Many fishermen who come to Greenland love the thrill of fly fishing the fiercely strong Arctic char. Getting to the river that you want to fish in is part of the adventure as it is a relatively firm, beautiful landscape with little vegetation. When you need to quench your thirst, drink the fresh water running from the glacier. Specialised fishing camps are located on the Greenlandic west coast in South Greenland, Nuuk and Destination Arctic Circle. 

Meanwhile, the locals of Greenland also get kicks out of trying to fish resting Arctic Char with their hands only.

August

VILLAGE LIFE IN THE SOUTH

A sunny day at the Nanortalik church in South Greenland. Photo by Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland

What is the reason for Greenland’s name? The answer lies down South! August turns lush and green in South Greenland, a destination with both gorgeously striking and varied nature and small communities to explore. Check out the well preserved Norse Ruins left by Icelandic vikings and visit remote sheep farms overlooking icebergs, both reasons why the region has UNESCO World Heritage status

For the more active tourists, it is possible to hike from one community to another with a backpack. Mix up your sleeping arrangements by bringing your own tent, getting hosted by sheep farmers (and eating delicious homemade food), or staying in the hostels and hotels in the bigger towns. There is also the option of getting transfers by boat if you would prefer to have a more relaxed holiday. There are so many things to do in Greenland in August.

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SPECIAL

MOTORSPORT RACING FANS

For motorsport racing fans out there, Extreme E is a new off-road racing series using electric SUVs and futuristic technologies in the most extreme environments such as the desert and the Arctic. Its purpose is to highlight the impacts of climate change. In late August 2021, the world’s biggest racing names, including Lewis Hamilton’s team X44, will race on the sandbars in view of the Russell Glacier in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Stay tuned for more info!

September

HIKING IN AUTUMN RED

Kapisillit Walk In Sunset. Photo - Aningaaq R. Carlsen, Visit Greenland.

This month is a perfect time to go hiking and sailing in the fjords of Greenland. You might still see some whales in the area, but you will definitely have the chance to go trekking in nature, picking herbs and berries. The northern lights begin to dance in all of their glory, and pesky mosquitoes who were buzzing around during early summer will have disappeared. What’s not to like about September? 

A gem of a place that has all of these things and more is Qeqertarsuaq, otherwise known as Disko Island. This geothermal island is galore with hiking opportunities to sparkling black beaches, hot springs, basalt columns and more. It is also an island filled with unique plant species and is a whale watching hotspot.

October

MARATHON & MUSK OX

Johanne Bech hunting for musk oxen near Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. Photo by Mads Pihl

As the light really begins to fade in October, energy is renewed via the ‘Coolest Marathon on Earth’ – the Polar Circle Marathon organised by Albatros in Kangerlussuaq. Obviously, this adventure marathon is for running enthusiasts. The twist is that you will race above the Arctic circle, just by the Greenland Ice Sheet, and potentially past musk ox and reindeer in the Arctic tundra. The 2020 event and the April race in 2021 have been cancelled, however the October race is still scheduled. 

October is also the last month where you can go musk ox hunting with an expert. A niche form of tourism, hunting enthusiasts can roam the Greenlandic tundra with locals who know the terrain contours inside and out. Musk ox and other trophy hunting trips are available with licensed operators all over the country, including in remote Ittoqqortoormiit where the Greenland musk ox stock stems from.

November

EXPLORE THE ARTS

The opening. Photo by Serena Ho

The Dark Sky of Greenland is beautiful, especially during November. This month you can slow down completely! In the south, the sun still radiates the softest sunlight you can imagine. The gentle hues of sunset coaxed out by the sun are some of the most stunning imaginable, making it a photographer’s dream to capture. In the north, the sun has already set for the year, which makes November the perfect time to explore the arts indoors. 

In 2021 the Nuuk Nordic Culture Festival will welcome artists from all the Nordic countries to perform, exchange and promote Inuit art, culture, music, literature, dance and ideas in Greenland. A biennial event, this festival offers some free and paid events, but is completely free for youth under 16 years.

Editor’s update: the event moved to October 28 – 31

December

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Christmas Tree in Nuuk. Photo by Stine Selmer Andersen - Visit Greenland

December brings in the Christmas spirit and orange stars hanging in windows light up the streets. On the first Advent Santa Claus (who lives in Uummannaq) flies in by helicopter and the Christmas tree is lit all over Greenland. Small cozy Christmas fairs can be found throughout the towns.  

Tourists can celebrate New Years in Ilulissat – welcome the new year in with celebrations overlooking the gorgeous icefjord while eating delicious Greenlandic Christmas food. 

For the ski bunnies, the ski lifts usually open in December for alpine skiing. Cross country skiing is also a popular activity and it should be possible to hire or borrow equipment from operators or the ski clubs. In Nuuk, a new piste machine worth 2.8 million DKK was bought by Sisorarfiit Ski lift (website in Danish), to maintain the ski slopes and trails.

Helpful hints:

Two people laughing and dancing in Nuuk during a _Happy_ video shoot in Greenland. Photo by Filip Gielda - Visit Greenland

Although the list above is not by all means comprehensive, we hope it provides you some Greenland travel advice that will point you in the right direction to choose a time of a year that suits you. To investigate more read the helpful hints below: 

Article by Tanny Por

Tanny is a world citizen who helps to share the outside – inside perspective of travelling in Greenland. She also works with strategic initiatives in the areas of content marketing and destination development for Visit Greenland.