FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
By tourists in Greenland
We have compiled useful information and good advise for your visit in Greenland in our list of Frequently Asked Questions. We also encourage you to get in touch with your travel agent (if applicable) for more specific details about practical considerations regarding your itinerary.
What to bring and wear?
As the saying goes, there is no bad weather – it is only a question of dressing properly. What to wear depends on the season, place, type and level of activity and the weather.
When hiking in Greenland it is often good to think on bringing multiple layers, so you can adjust accordingly to temperature and weather. Take off layers when you are warm and put on layers when you are cold.
In general we advise you to bring:
- Waterproof and breathable footwear with a good grip and support around your ankles. Many places in Greenland you will find yourself walking on rocks, gravel or dirt tracks. Proper footwear may be the difference between great and bad experiences.
- Rain- and windproof breathable clothing. Even on days with blue skies, the weather may change and the wind is almost always cool. A light and packable jacket allows you to wear it when needed.
- Warm clothing, to wear if the temperature changes.
- Warm and sheltering headwear. Your head is one of the main areas of warmth drain and should be covered in cold conditions. In high summer the sun can be very strong, and a hat or cap can come in handy.
- Gloves. To protect your hands on the water and chilly days.
- Sunglasses. The sun is very strong during summer and especially on the water.
- Sunscreen for exposed skin. In summer the air may feel cool, but the sun still burns
- Mosquito net and repellent. Especially in July and August. If you are allergic to insect bites, you should bring antihistamine.
Tipping and gratuity
All prices in Greenland include tips and gratuity.
If you find the service at a restaurant or by a guide to be good, gratuity is appreciated. How much you wish to give is entirely up to you.
Also feel free to express if the service exceeded your expectations, as this both encourages and makes the service provider conscious of what they are doing good.
How should I behave when meeting locals?
Most people in Greenland welcome visitors and are in many cases just as curious as you are. For many visitors and locals the best experiences comes from meeting and engaging each other in a way that provides value for both. This can be from just a smile, a conversation to engaging in shared activities.
Even if a small Greenlandic village may seem like another world from your home, the general rule of conduct is basically not to behave in a way you would not at home.
There are however some special considerations as most settlements in Greenland are working areas and designed for local use. In North Greenland sled dogs are not pets and should never be approached. You may find tools and equipment apparently lying around, but be sure it belongs to someone and has a purpose.
Ask your onboard-guides if there are special considerations before going a shore, and follow these simple advices:
- Smile and say hello
- Ask before you take pictures, and always respect a “no”
- Talk to people, not about them
- Respect local habits
- If invited into a local’s home, always remember to take off your shoes before entering
Which currency and credit cards can I use?
Danish kroner (DKK) is the valid currency in Greenland. Some souvenir shops may accept foreign currency, but only in notes. In smaller towns and settlements the local Pilersuisoq shop accepts cash in Danish Kroner, Euro, US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, British Pounds, Norwegian Kroner and Swedish Kroner.
As a general rule it is always a good idea to bring cash in DKK, especially when visiting small towns and settlements.
The following credit cards are accepted in Cash Dispensers (ATMs): Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard, Diners, Dankort and American Express. Pin-code must be used to draw money.
Cash Dispensers (ATMs) are found in the following towns: Nanortalik, Narsaq, Qaqortoq, Paamiut, Nuuk, Maniitsoq, Sisimiut, Kangerlussuaq, Aasiaat, Qasigiannguit, Ilulissat, Qeqertarsuaq, Uummannaq, Upernavik, Tasiilaq.
Which temperatures can I expect in Greenland?
The shear size of Greenland makes for considerable differences in climatic conditions from the South-west to the North-East. Even within the regions there may be great differences, whether you are near the ocean or in the fjords, or between night and day.
Mean temperatures are only advisory and are averages over a period of years. You may encounter considerably colder or warmer temperatures on site.
TEMPERATURES IN DEGREES CELSIUS
|C°||Qaqortoq (Southwest)||Nuuk (West)||Sisimiut (West)||Kangerlussuaq (West)||Ilulissat (Northwest)||Ittoqqortoormiit (Northeast)|
TEMPERATURES IN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT
|F°||Qaqortoq (Southwest)||Nuuk (West)||Sisimiut (West)||Kangerlussuaq (West)||Ilulissat (Northwest)||Ittoqqortoormiit (Northeast)|
Where can I find general guidelines on how to behave when visiting the Arctic?
The association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, AECO, have produced an informative and comprehensive animated short film about best practices for visitors to the Arctic which you can watch below. For more information about guidelines when visiting the Arctic you can visit the AECO website.
If your browser has trouble displaying the video you can also find it on Vimeo.
How am I covered if I hurt myself or get sick?
There are hospitals in the towns and nursing clinics in the settlements.
If you use medication regularly it is recommended, that you bring your own medicine for the stay in Greenland.
Are there places to shop in Greenland?
In larger towns in Greenland you may be surprised at the variety of shops and goods. There may only be a few shops, but the selection is wide. Often there are one or two larger super markets selling all from hardware to milk, and a selection of smaller specialized shops. In Nuuk you will find the first proper mall in Greenland.
In smaller towns and settlements the selection is smaller. Here there may only be a single store dealing in food, hunting equipment, fishing tackle and other items necessary. You may also find postcards and greenlandic handicrafts for sale here. The store also functions as post office and bank.
There is no VAT in Greenland, but as most goods must be either shipped or flown in, prices tend to be on par or a bit higher than in Northern Europe.
In Greenlandic shops prices are set and not for negotiation. This is also the case for most street vendors. Do not attempt to hackle unless expressly invited to.
Are there any special conditions of entry to Greenland?
If you do not need a visa for Denmark, you do not need a visa for Greenland.
If you need a visa to enter Denmark, please be aware that you need a special permit to enter Greenland, as Greenland is outside the Schengen agreement. Make sure to note that you are traveling to Greenland, when applying for a visa. Read more information on visa requirements for entering Greenland on the Danish Immigration Service’s homepage
Read more about Visa Requirements for Foreigners Visiting Greenland
Who and what can I photograph in Greenland?
PEOPLE & PLACES
People in Greenland are generally welcoming and friendly, and most people will enjoy being photographed. However, always ask before taking a photo and always respect a “no” or a gesture signaling no.
You are also always allowed to photograph in the public space, including photos of both the natural world, public buildings, and private homes.
However, please be considerate when photographing in public, and note that some destinations, especially in the Disko Bay area in and around Ilulissat, see a lot of visitors every year. This may at times make locals a little less forthcoming when you ask about taking their photograph.
When photographing wildlife of any species and size do not disturb, frighten, approach, or feed the animal in order to try and make it respond or move. Be patient and enjoy the moment – and accept that most natural wildlife shots require the kind of good timing which does not always happen in the spur of the moment on a quick visit.
OBJECTS & PLANTS
Also, leave everything in place where you find it, so please do not rearrange objects, plants or other features of the natural environment in order to get “the right shot”. The right shot is what is available in the context of the environment around you, and changing body position or camera angle is the wiser choice compared to physical intervention.
I would love to visit your beautiful country. Can you please help me realize my dream of going to Greenland?
(Answer applies to all unspecified destination-questions)
1. Yes! Greenland is geographically very big, so we suggest you have a look at our how to get started and have a look at the different destinations and activities to do. That’s a good start. Once you get a more specific picture of where you want to go, what time of year and what you want to do, you can contact your local travel specialist or choose a provider in the town you wish to visit here.
2. Please note that Visit Greenland is the national tourist board of Greenland: a non-profit corporation under the self-government of Greenland. We are not a tourist bureau and you cannot book your flights or tours at Visit Greenland, but here are places you can. We refer to local providers on our web page.
I want to go to (insert town name). Can I go (insert activity) there?
We get many questions on specific activity inquiries. We have articles on each town here with links to the activity information for the specific town. Each destination-page on the website has related providers at the bottom you can contact for more information and booking.
I plan to hike in Greenland. Do you have any hiking tips for me?
1. When hiking keep the basic precautions in mind.
2. Unfortunately we do not sell hiking maps at the National Tourist Board, but to obtain hiking maps for Greenland, we will advise you to contact your local bookstore. You can also purchase maps online here.
3. You can purchase gas canisters and cartridges of butane at the local stores – Pilersuisoq or Pisiffik or the gas stations called Polaroil in every town and village in Greenland.
4. You are allowed to camp in any site in Greenland as long as you are not camping right next to houses. Please respect the privacy of the locals. The only exception to this are protected areas, such as Taseralik in Sisimiut and Sermermiut in Ilulissat..
5. You can drink the water from flowing rivers while hiking in the nature. You don’t need purifiers to drink the water, as long as the waters are connected to a flowing river. For example, do not drink from a closed small lake.
Should I be worried about polar bears and if so, is it possible to rent rifles for protection?
1. One should always be cautious. Talk to the locals from where your hike starts. If a polar bear has recently been spotted, they would know. It is unlikely that you will see a polar bear but chances of encountering polar bears are more likely in the remote places of north and/or east Greenland. For summer hikers: there will still be ice floes coming from the North Pole, and polar bears tend to travel along the coast line following these.
2. Destination East Greenland does rent out rifles. Contact them here.
3. Final Guidelines for encounters with polar bears from the Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture
4. Guide infographic: Encountering Polar Bears While Hiking in Greenland
I want more information on Greenland. Can you please send brochures to...?
All of our information is online, and we no longer make brochures. Please have a look around our website and/or our articles, where we put all information we have on tourism in Greenland – use our search function if you are looking for something but cannot find it. Your nearest travel specialist might also have some brochures.
Do I need a visa and passport when traveling to Greenland?
1. Practical travel information such as these can be found under practical travel information – “You do not need a visa as a Dane, but if you come from a country from which a visa is required to enter Denmark, it should be noted that you are travelling on to Greenland. Remember to take your passport with you, as security regulations may require that you provide proof of identity both upon arrival and on departure”.
2. If you found this answer helpful, you might find the rest on this list helpful too. Here you find information about currency, hospitals and much more.
3. To apply for a visa to Greenland you have to contact the Danish immigration service at Ny i Danmark or your local Danish embassy.
I’ve heard there are many mosquitoes in Greenland. Is this true?
There are mosquitoes and midges (small black flies) in the summer months, approximately from June to August. When the first night frost appears they disappear. Greenland’s coast is big, and the night frost happens sooner some places than others depending on where you are. We advise visitors to bring mosquito nets, repellant and after-bite, or buy it upon arrival. These can be bought several places in the towns.
Can I bring my pet with me to Greenland?
Yes, you can bring a dog or a cat with you, but you need to comply with the following rules and guidelines – click here.
Can I expect a rescue operation if I have a mishap in my own boat while visiting Greenland?
Yes, a SAR (Search And Rescue) operation will be carried out by boat or/and helicopter if you perform a ‘mayday’ call, but you should familiarize yourself with the official guidelines beforehand – click here.
I would like to work or volunteer in the national park. Can you help with that?
Greenland National Park is larger than any other national park in the world, due to the size and difficult accessibility of the park. However, it is not a traditional national park. Apart from the staff who work at a couple of the meteorological stations, the monitoring unit under the Danish defense and the Sirius patrol, no people live in the area. To be able to travel to the national park and stay there, tourists must have permission from the Department of Domestic Affairs, Environment and Nature, as visitors usually visit the park for the purpose of scientific research and expeditions to the area. As the animals are wild, there is no voluntary work program for animals.
However, you have the opportunity to visit the national park as a tourist. The nearest inhabited place by the national park is Ittoqqortoormiit, which is a city with 345 inhabitants (2020, Greenland Statistics). Contacts / providers in Ittoqqortoormiit can be found here. If you are participating in an organized trip as a tourist, e.g. in a cruise, the organizers of the trip will have already provided the required permits.