Why a scarf is the best accessory in Greenland

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Wondering what to pack for your cosy winter getaway in Greenland?

 

Winter is that time of year when you struggle to look different any time you leave the house because you typically wear the same parka and the same snow pants every single day from October until April – and if you are like me, they are both black. Hence why a selection of colourful and exciting scarves (or hats for that matter) helps to change up the look!

Here is a starting list of what I suggest you pack for a winter holiday in Greenland, in addition to your everyday indoor clothes:

  • Down parka with hood – I use one by Mountain Hardware that has never let me feel the cold ever, but a lot of Greenlanders use a Canada Goose jacket, too. They’re just too heavy feeling for me. A knee-length jacket is what I suggest for max warmth, but it is not the best if you will be doing outdoor adventures that require a lot of mobility of your legs, so you must choose a jacket that fits your activity needs. A good jacket will not require you to have excessive layers underneath, but you will want to use a medium- or heavy-weight long underwear top and a wool layer for half-day or full-day outdoor adventures.
  • Insulated snow pants – not that I can imagine a pair of snow pants that aren’t, but they should be both waterproof and windproof. Just wear them over your jeans or everyday pants when walking around in town, or layer a pair of medium- to heavy-weight wool long underwear underneath them for half-day or full-day outdoor adventures. I use:
  • Wool socks – important because if snow does get into your pants/boots, the socks will remain warm even if they are wet. I don’t suggest the scratchy wool kind.
  • Winter boots – in general, they should be waterproof and have very good traction on the soles as there is snow and ice everywhere (no down-to-the-concrete plowing here). It is best if they give a minimum-temperature guarantee, but not everyone does. Places in the Arctic Circle Region and North Greenland get down to -25 to -30*C / -13 to -22*F, while places in the Capital Region and East Greenland typically hover in the -10 to -15*C / 5 to 14*F range. South Greenland is even milder. Over the years I’ve used these brands, starting with the most satisfactory:
    • Hanwag Tatra Lady GTX – My current shoe. Quite happily surprised, actually, that these boots function well in winter, as I purchased them in summer as a hiking shoe. But they are completely waterproof as I’ve tested on many occasions, and I used them recently for a few hours’ snowshoe trip and they kept my feet comfortable and warm.
    • North Face Valdex Winter Boot – Also generally satisfied with these boots, but have experienced cold toes sometimes with them in -20*C / -4*F like in North Greenland. They are also very heavy!
    • Sorel Joan of Arctic Boot – Not wildly satisfied with these boots, despite I had high hopes for them since I saw so many people using them in Greenland. For me, the traction is awful, and it is never funny to feel scared you will fall down at any time. I also got tired of the fur on the liner, but that was easily substituted with an alternate liner.
  • Scarf – Wool is your best friend when it comes to accessories!
  • Gloves – Mittens are highly recommended over gloves with individual fingers, as the warmth gets circulated differently. I’ll be honest here and say that gloves made outside of Greenland have never been satisfactory enough for me. The only ones I swear by are my sealskin mittens and my muskox wool gloves, and you have the possibility to buy them yourself in Greenland. If you are buying sealskin products, be sure to know what your home country’s importation rules are about sealskin – you might run the risk it is confiscated from you. There are, however, no regulations against muskox wool.
  • Hat – I suggest a wool hat, as synthetic knits simply do not hold up to the wind. Again, the accessories I swear by on a daily basis are made of muskox wool (like the hat I wear in the picture below), which can be bought in Greenland when you arrive. Read here about why I only use muskox wool!

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Time flies when you do! But where does it go?

Happy New Year! I’m marking it with my 12th trip northward to the best place in the world: Greenland. I’m a little biased, so if you don’t believe me, just ask Lonely Planet or National Geographic Traveler.

Getting to Greenland comes as second nature for me, and I could almost make the route with my eyes closed, so in a way I do become blind to how much time and how many steps it actually takes to get door-to-door. All I know is, it’s all worth it once I start seeing those East Greenland pointy peaks on the way to the west coast.

47.5 hours across three different days and three different airlines is what it’s going to take this time around to travel from Washington, D.C. to Ilulissat, Greenland. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. True story.

Here’s a fun little chart to show how I’m using my travel time to get north. Need some ideas for how to do the Reykjavík stopover? Check these.

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Before you go to Greenland, check the weather!

IMG_8695 Sila nuan’! Nice weather! Summer in Tasiilaq, Greenland.

In Greenland, sila reigns all. Sila is the entire worldly environment which can be seen with one’s own two eyes – the world of humans. The word is most commonly used in everyday Greenlandic to talk about the weather, and everyone knows that absolutely nothing can be done when sila acts up – so if your travel plans are affected, don’t even use your energy to get angry over it. That’s just how it is.

I recommend preparing yourself by checking the weather in Greenland a few days before departure/arrival. Most Greenlanders rely on the Danish Meteorological Institute for a weather forecast. Since the website is in Danish, here’s a small Cliff’s Notes to how to read the graphs, using the current weather for Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, in the next two days, Saturday-Sunday, 2-3 January 2016.

There’s 5 things to look for on the graphs – general weather characteristics, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, and wind direction. There is a 2-day outlook, a 3-9-day outlook, and a 10-14-day outlook, but really the only one that should be taken seriously is the 2-day outlook. Weather can always change.

The time is measured in military time, so for anyone that isn’t accustomed to this, 15 is 3:00 PM, 18 is 6:00 PM, and so on.

General Weather Characteristics

The top line of the graph shows the typical weather symbols to give a quick impression of what the day will hold. Fun fact: if the outlook is clear skies all day long on a winter day above the Arctic Circle, the symbols will be all stars 🙂

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Precipitation

“Nedbør” means precip (rain or snow), and if there is any, there will be dark blue vertical bars beneath the blue line. The amount is measured in mm along the y-axis on the left.

In the graph below, there is no precipitation predicted.

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Temperature

The blue line indicates air temperature and is measured in degrees Celsius along the y-axis on the right.

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For a general rule of thumb for conversions, for every 5*C you go up or down, the *F goes up or down by 9. And for even quicker reference:

  • 20*C = 68*F
  • 15*C = 59*F
  • 10*C = 50*F
  • 5*C = 41*F
  • 0*C = 32*F
  • -5*C = 23*F
  • -10*C = 14*F
  • -15*C = 5*F
  • -20*C = -4*F

Wind Speed & Wind Direction

The red and black lines indicate wind speed, both the gusts (“vindstød”) and the persistent winds (“middelvind”), and are measured in meters per second along the y-axis on the right.

10 m/s is approximately 22 mph or 36 kph, and is nothing that gets people worried in Greenland. There has definitely been 40 m/s (89 mph or 144 kph) before – or higher in East Greenland when the Piteraq comes – and that’s cause for worry!

The arrows along the x-axis on the bottom indicate the direction of the wind. Keep a watch for downward-pointing arrows – this means the wind comes from the north and makes for very chilly temperatures!

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Now you’re all set to check the weather in Greenland!

Fly WOW air

IMG_3378My latest rec for getting to Greenland cheap so you can spend the money where it counts!

Greenland is expensive. Let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way.

Short of some pretty astronomic miracles, the Air Greenland and Air Iceland prices won’t be decreasing much.

But what if I told you the solution could be WOW air?

No, WOW air does not fly to Greenland yet, but traveling with this newcomer budget airline from Europe or North America into Reykjavík (a major connection hub for Greenland) could at least make one leg of your journey much cheaper.

Not long ago I flew on WOW air for the first time and I’d like to give it the Polarphile seal of approval (I just made that up) along with an honest pledge that I would seriously consider flying with them again in the future. High marks for service, price, and personality; low marks for convenience (as someone traveling to/fro the DC Metro Area).

Post-script note: I already booked my second flight with WOW air just two months after this first trip. Despite having a free points ticket with the competitor, black out dates prohibited me from using it when I needed to. Since I was forced to use real money, booking with WOW air helped me save over 500 USD versus booking with the competitor.

~

The motivation: As someone booking their ticket just 11 days before departure, I was what you call ‘price-motivated’ – exactly WOW air‘s target market.

The bottom line: 11 days before departure I bought a transatlantic flight between continental Europe and North America for 294 USD, which did include some extra purchases of mine like seat selection, cancellation protection, and 1 piece of heavy hand luggage.

Regarding the seat selection fee, this applies to choose any seat in the aircraft, not just priority seating with extra leg room, like on other airlines (I don’t think those seats even exist on WOW air’s machines). I really didn’t want to get stuck with a middle seat in front of the exit row, and truth be told, I wanted to see out the window to Greenland when flying overhead. It’s a little ritual of mine.

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Regarding the luggage fee, 5 kg of hand luggage is included in the ticket price. One can elect to purchase an additional 7 kg allowance for a fee, or else check a bag for a fee.

The Experience: 

So what had me saying “Wow“? Plenty!

* Hand-luggage only travelers are the new Business Class. WOW air offers a separate check-in line for those traveling with hand-luggage only. Therefore, I got to bypass a line of around 50 people when I arrived to the airport, which I found to be a so lovely surprise!

* There are electrical outlets under each seat. This was maybe my biggest WOW moment, in fact. Not even Icelandair offers this in economy class!

* The planes are perfectly fine, just like all other Airbus machines. Maybe I was expecting a matchbox for some reason, but the economy seats are just like any others I’ve been in, and the seats themselves are very comfortable. I flew in their new Airbus.

* They’re funny! Anybody whose business model includes launching a gigantic purple people eater into the sky has to have a sense of humor, right? And, a la Southwest Airlines out of the United States, when you take away in one department (think: the free sodas and snacks) you have to add in another. Check the Vomit-meter on their Sick Bag in the seat pocket!

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The Critique:
There’s literally only one thing that made the experience a drag – WOW air does not service IAD (Dulles International Airport) outside Washington, D.C.! If WOW air flew out of IAD I would be hooked. Hands down.

Instead, flying into/out of BWI (Baltimore-Washington International Airport) creates some logistical nightmares for anyone trying to connect with D.C. or Northern Virginia, like me. After 9 hours of flying, this is the absolute last thing you want, especially in this area. Not to mention, there’s no TSA Pre-Check line at BWI security. Huh?!

45 minutes on the B30 Metro Bus from BWI to the Greenbelt Metro Station before riding 1 hour on the Metro from Greenbelt to Vienna, plus an Uber, to reach my destination in Northern Virginia, which otherwise would have been just a 22 minute Uber ride from IAD. That’s what it took for me to get home after landing at BWI.

And I’m a lucky one with a Global Entry status. I don’t even want to think about how much time I would have used if I had had to wait in the standard customs line.

These public transportations cost just an additional 21 USD, so clearly the pricing still makes a compelling economic case, but somewhere on the Metro I found myself wondering if crashing on my bed still fully clothed and dead tired due to an extra 2 hours of transit was worth saving approximately 275 USD. What do you think?

Aside from that big ticket item, there are a few things that could polish up the experience to match the competition in terms of value proposition, but nothing that’s a huge game-changer for me.

* It would be fantastic to have wi-fi onboard. I would gladly pre-purchase it along with the laundry list of other add-ons. What’s another 10 USD?

* A self check-in kiosk would be great!

The Facts:
WOW air flies to Reykjavík from Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore in North America (and soon from Los Angeles and San Francisco, too) and from 17 European cities including London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, and others.

WOW air advertises their base fares and then offers a whole host of optional fees and charges, plus various taxes. For example, at first glance my 294 USD ticket looked like it was going to cost just 129 USD. And really, many of the “electives” are virtually unavoidable so you have to pay extra no matter what. Is it really realistic to travel across the Atlantic with only a purse?

WOW air offers a wide selection of food and beverages on board for 250-1500 ISK (2-11 USD, or 2-11 EUR). Note that even non-alcoholic beverages like water, soda, and coffee/tea must also be purchased for 300-350 ISK (2-2.50 USD, or 2-2.5 EUR). The pricing is nearly exactly the same as you’ll find in the airport stores, at least it was for the wine, water, sandwich, and yoghurt I bought, so no need to nearly miss your boarding call to try to save some pocket change on refreshments.

All in all, given the late notice of booking and the distance traveled, I would say the 294 USD on Wow air is well spent. But given the circus involved in getting between BWI and the DC Metro Area, I would say there’s definitely grounds to think long and hard whether the cheaper airfare is worth the extra transit steps.

Through the Airplane Window: Videos of Flying in Greenland

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Come fly with me!

Do you like flight videos? Are you the kind of person that likes to visualize what it looks like to land in a country before you travel there? Are you just daydreaming of Greenland?

Well, if you can look past the foggy windows (figuratively, that is) and, at times, shaky filming, then these videos of landing and taking off from various airports and heliports around Greenland (and at different times of the year) can give you the right impression that Greenland is the most majestic place on this earth!

Disclaimer: Every time I shoot one of these videos, I have the highest and most earnest hopes to edit them, add great music, etc. but it just never happens. So I’m abandoning those dreams and simply putting the videos here in their rawest form – take it or leave it! 🙂

The videos are ordered alphabetically by town name.

Illorsuit

Late Spring arrival to Illorsuit, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Ilulissat

Late Spring departure from Ilulissat, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland, International Airport)

Kangerlussuaq

Late Spring arrival to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in Destination Arctic Circle, International Airport)

Kulusuk

Late Winter arrival to Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Mid Spring departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Early Summer departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Narsaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland)

Narsarsuaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsarsuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland, International Airport)

Nugaatsiaq

Late Spring arrival to Nugaatsiaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Nuuk

Mid Winter departure from Nuuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (capital city, International Airport)

Late Spring arrival to Nuuk, Greenland via Air Greenland (capital city, International Airport)

Qaarsut

Late Spring departure from Qaarsut, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Qaqortoq

Late Winter arrival to Qaqortoq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in South Greenland)

Tasiilaq

Early summer departure from Tasiilaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in East Greenland)

Uummannaq

Late Spring arrival to Uummannaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland)

Greenland Ice Sheet

Mid Winter flying over East Greenland and Greenland Ice Sheet via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Spring flying over Greenland Ice Sheet and West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Summer flying over West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

Be a #GreenlandPioneer!

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Photo credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland

#GreenlandPioneer – learn it, love it, live it!

Use #GreenlandPioneer to find the largest collection of inspiring photos, stories, and news on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you name it!

What is a #GreenlandPioneer, you ask? Everyone is welcome to his or her own interpretation, but we at Visit Greenland consider a #GreenlandPioneer anyone who travels to this great northern land to discover for oneself the true meaning of experiential travel. And it’s not only those who traverse the backcountry who count; travelers in search of culture-based holidays are every bit the Greenland pioneer, too!

Like what you see in the photos and stories tagged #GreenlandPioneer? Then splurge! Take the plunge! Come see Greenland with your own eyes!

The immense nature and the Pioneering People who live in and love this country are waiting for you 🙂

Check Out the Brand New Version of Greenland.com! Now LIVE!

Kangerlussuaq-03Where else in the world can you fly low and slow over an Ice Sheet, sensing that you can somehow see millennia right before your eyes? Flightseeing in Greenland is just one of many activities you can experience here! Photo by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland. 

Check out the brand-new version of Greenland.com, the official tourism site for Greenland – now LIVE and more impressive than ever!

Sermitsiaq.AG, a national newspaper, calls the new website “a more modern and visually beautiful edition” (translated).

Do you ever wonder if you can fulfill your greatest travel dreams and wishes in Greenland? Perhaps you are an avid trekker looking for a long walk in the nature to get away from the hustle of everyday life? Or maybe you’re a world history fanatic who loves to learn about cultures different from your own? The Things to Do pages show you exactly how you can make your greatest interests a reality in Greenland, as well as open your world to dozens of other activities that are possible in this beautiful country!

Or maybe you are already dreaming of Greenland but would like to know where the hotspots and best places to experience the Big Arctic Five are? The Destinations pages lead you on a virtual trip around Greenland inspiring you with photos and short articles about nearly every town and village in Greenland!

There are also oodles of resources and tools on the website to help you Plan your Trip and learn more About Greenland.

(As a contributing author to the Things To Do and Destinations pages, I personally attest to the improved quality of photos and written content and user-friendliness of the entire website :))

Happy reading to you all! Or as one says in Greenlandic, Atuarluarisi!

PHOTO GALLERY: Hiking Ukkusissat: Good enough to do 2x in 24 hours!

MadsPihl_Ukusissaq01The beauty of Nuuk is that one minute you can be in the city and the next minute you are in the great outdoors! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

If there was an official “Top 10 Things To Do in Nuuk, Greenland” list, hiking Ukkusissat (a.k.a. Store Malene) would be at the top for you Nature Lovers who crave an afternoon in the mountains and who will work a bit for a good panoramic view!

Ukkusissat has a strong presence in Nuuk as its snowy top can be seen from every corner of town. Whether you are sitting on the terrace of your AirBnB in Qinngorput neighborhood or are strolling along the pedestrian walkway in city center, Ukkusissat screams, ‘Get up here already! Come look out at all of Nuuk and Nuuk Fjord and pinch yourself because you are nearly at the top of the world!’ And for those whose eyes are always like magnets to the highest point wherever you go, well, you will probably set your sights toward Ukkusissat long before the Dash-8 even hits the runway.

Ukkusissat beckoned to me in this way for a looong time. In fact, one could joke it was like a 5th family member at the breakfast table because every morning over a bowl of müsli and a cup of coffee, I would stare out the window to its rocky slopes and promise myself that I would get there one day…

cropped-img_5392.jpgGreenlanders live a life close to nature, so we are lucky to have views like this even at the breakfast table. Ukkusissat shot from Qinngorput on 18 September 2013.

It took a full two years but I finally hiked Ukkusissat, and how glad I was for that! In fact, I was so glad that I did the hike twice in 24 hours! Someone asked me if I did that to represent each year I missed… that’s a good idea, but no, it was just a coincidence 🙂

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq03Being in the Greenland nature with good company makes my heart happy. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq06The water in Greenland is pure and delicious! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq05Snow at higher altitudes provides a welcome cooling effect (and hydration source) while hiking Ukkusissat. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

Here’s the thing with having a professional photographer in your hiking group – he gives you great photos from the night, but he’s always working! Which means you, an unsuspecting model, are also working!

IMG_9344The talented (former) Visit Greenland photographer himself, Mads Pihl, still working at 780 m / 2559 ft, on top of Ukkusissat.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq04The sense of awe and accomplishment one feels at the top of Ukkusissat is enough to make one want to do it all over again the next day! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq02One can easily find pleasure in solitude in this wide and untouched land. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014. 

Perhaps the neatest thing about hiking the very same route the following morning was seeing the stark differences in light. In the late evening, when the sun is quite low, the sky and mountains and sea are cloaked in a beautiful warm glow. In the daytime, when the sun is high overhead, everything is blue and bright! Both times of day are nice, but I think the evening light is the most magical!

IMG_9382When you are so high on Ukkusissat, you can scan the surrounding fjords for your next adventure! For instance, Sermitsiaq is another hiking dream of mine. Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.IMG_9384Toward Sermitsiaq. Shot on 21 June 2014 at 12:00. 

IMG_9337Toward Kingittorsuaq, a delightful mountain to hike 🙂 Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.

IMG_9380Toward Nuuk city. Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.IMG_9388

Toward Nuuk city. Shot on 21 June 2014 at 12:00.

THE FACTS

  • Name: Ukkusissat means “soapstones” in Greenlandic. Sometimes it is also written as Ukkusissaq which is just the singular form. The Danish name (more commonly used) is “Store Malene”, meaning “Big Malene”.
  • Height: Ukkusissat is 780 m / 2559 ft tall.
  • Location: Ukkusissat stands behind the Qinngorput neighborhood, approximately 4.8 km / 3 mi from Nuuk city center.
  • Ukkusissat is the taller of two mountains in the immediate Nuuk area (Quassussuaq, a.k.a. Lille Malene, is the other at 443 m / 1453 ft).
  • Access: Ukkusissat can be reached using Nuup Bussii public transportation toward Stop 41 Qarsoq/Asiarpak (15 DKK / 2.75 USD per ride). Always consult a bus schedule first. The best bus to catch is the #1, because it runs directly between city center and Qinngorput, 7 days a week. The #1A is another direct bus between city center and Qinngorput, and it runs every day but Sunday. There are 3 other buses (#3, #X1, #X3) that reach Qinngorput, but they are either less-direct, only run on weekdays, or do not go all the way to city center.
  • Hiking Time: Hiking time always depends on one’s physical fitness/hiking experience, weather conditions, and ground conditions. From personal experience only, it takes approx. 1 hour 40 minutes to reach the top of Ukkusissat. The conditions were near-perfect, and I consider my hiking level to be Experienced on a scale from Novice to Experienced to Expert. For Novice hikers or for those who wish to stop and thoroughly enjoy the views, it could take nearly 3 hours to reach the top.
  • Difficulty: Difficulty depends on one’s physical fitness/hiking experience, weather conditions, and ground conditions. There are areas on Ukkusissat where one must use his hands for support to make large steps up (bouldering) and where one must walk in snow. From personal experience only, Ukkusissat has Medium difficulty on a scale from Easy to Medium to Hard (and again, I consider my hiking level to be Experienced on a scale from Novice to Experienced to Expert).
  • Route: Follow the route marked by Orange dots painted on rock or cairns. One can also buy detailed hiking maps for Nuuk (and other towns) in Atuagkat Bookstore.
  • Seasonality: The best season to hike Ukkusissat is summer / early autumn, when there is the least snow present. One should take the utmost caution when hiking in snow because rock crevasses may be present and the snow might not be thick enough to hold body weight. Snow also limits visibility of the marked route.

WHAT TO BRING

The weather can change quickly in Greenland, and one should be prepared for many conditions! Always check the weather before you start a hiking tour.

A really nice thing about being in the nature in Greenland is that you can usually find a natural water source to drink from directly! And if there is snow, you can just eat the snow 🙂

  • Water bottle
  • Windproof / Waterproof layers (pants, jacket)
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncream
  • Mosquito head net (If there is little wind, the mosquitos could be quite pesky)
  • Hat
  • Gloves (even if it is not cold, they can provide hand protection if you need it)
  • Extra quick-dry layer
  • Extra socks
  • Lunch (small sandwich, fruit, chocolate bar, etc.)
  • Camera

Last but not least… Don’t forget your adrenaline and sense of adventure !!!

How to Get to Greenland

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Photo credit: Visit Greenland

After more than a few handfuls of trips between the United States and Greenland, traveling northward has become second nature for me. But how quickly I forget that, not long ago, I too was a first-timer wondering how on Earth to get to the top of the world! So, after my friend over at The Fourth Continent taught us about How to get from Down Under to Up Over earlier this month, I decided to share 6 basics about traveling to Greenland (with a focus on the United States/North America as the starting point), plus bonus material of a few veteran tips and a step-by-step look at my typical journey starting from Washington, D.C.

SIX BASICS

  1. There are 0 direct flights to Greenland from the United States/North America. Sorry about it.
  2. There are 2 worldwide cities with direct flights to Greenland, listed here from closest to furthest distance from the United States/North America. Look on the map and realize that both of them take you past Greenland just to bring you back west… 😉
      • Reykjavík, Iceland ( NOTE: There are two airports: Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavík Domestic Airport. Both are used for international transportation to Greenland. See Routes section below).
      • Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. There are 2 airlines that fly into Greenland, each with distinct routes in different seasons. See #5. Note: for anyone that is a very thorough researcher, you may have found mention of smaller airlines also offering service to Greenland (namely Greenland Express and Aluu Airlines). However, neither has produced consistently reliable flights and therefore I make no mention of them here.
  4. There are 6 international airports in Greenland, listed here in clockwise order starting in the east.
      • Nerlerit Inaat (East Greenland) – CNP
      • Kulusuk (East Greenland) – KUS
      • Narsarsuaq (South Greenland) – UAK
      • Nuuk (Capital Region) – GOH
      • Kangerlussuaq (Arctic Circle Region) – SFJ
      • Ilulissat (North Greenland) – JAV
  5. 2 big factors determine which airline and which route you will take into Greenland. Ask yourself these questions, and look below at the various route/season combinations.
      • When do I want to go to Greenland?
          • If you want to travel in summer, both airlines will be flying out of Reykjavík, and you can travel on nearly every day of the week.
          • If you want to travel in winter, only one airline will be flying out of Reykjavík, and you can only travel on 2 days of the week. If you need more flexibility or your dates are fixed, it might make more sense to connect via Copenhagen.
      • Where do I want to go in Greenland?
          • It always makes the most sense to connect through Reykjavík with a direct flight to your destination, season permitting. If you are traveling during summer, you can reach all 5 regions of Greenland via Reykjavík.
          • If you want to travel to Kangerlussuaq, specifically in autumn & winter & spring, check the economics – depending on ticket price and availability, it might make more sense to connect via Copenhagen than to connect via Reykjavík plus take a domestic flight in Greenland.
      • International Routes & Seasons. (*** Disclaimer: these routes and seasons are pretty set, but always refer to the airline booking systems for the most up-to-date information, linked above in #3.)
          • Copenhagen – Kangerlussuaq (Air Greenland, year round)
          • Copenhagen – Narsarsuaq (Air Greenland, summer)
          • Keflavik – Nuuk (Air Greenland, spring & summer & autumn)
          • Keflavik – Ilulissat (Air Greenland, summer) NEW – 2016!!
          • Keflavik – Kangerlussuaq (Air Iceland, summer) NEW – 2016!!
          • Reykjavík – Nuuk (Air Iceland, year round)
          • Reykjavík – Kulusuk (Air Iceland, year round)
          • Reykjavík – Ilulissat (Air Iceland, spring & summer)
          • Reykjavík – Narsarsuaq (Air Iceland, summer)
          • Reykjavík – Nerlerit Inaat (Air Iceland, spring & summer)
  6. You can also travel to/around Greenland via cruise ship.

MY TYPICAL JOURNEY (Washington, D.C. to Nuuk, Greenland via Reykjavík, Iceland)

Step 1: It always starts with a 6-hour direct red-eye flight, via Icelandair, from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. to Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavík, Iceland! Just like clockwork, I select the departure around 20:00 and arrival around 06:30 the next day, local time.

For Americans/North Americans not starting in DC, Icelandair also operates flights from Boston, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage, and others, and WOW air is also a reliable newcomer with budget North American flights from Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, and Montreal, and soon to be Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    • Veteran Tip: Difficult as it is to sleep on the plane when you are so very excited to get to Greenland, DO IT! When you land, you have jumped ahead 4 hours from EDT (or 5 hours from EST) directly into Iceland’s morning, and your next chance to sleep won’t be for many hours!

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Step 2: Next is a typically a 12-hour layover in Reykjavík, Iceland. The flight to Nuuk, Greenland does not leave until the evening, although if you’re going to Narsarsuaq, Greenland or Ilulissat, Greenland, for example, there are morning/afternoon departures, which are a bit more humane 🙂

You have many choices of what to do during a layover, depending to some extent on which airline you fly into Greenland with (which, in turn, depends on what time of year you fly…).

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    • If you take Air Greenland to a destination in Greenland, you will fly out of the same airport you arrived to (Keflavik International Airport). The Keflavik airport is a bit south of Reykjavik city center (45 minute drive), so you can either stay out of town near the airport or you can go into town and come back.
        • ‘Stay out of town’ option: You could hit the nearby Blue Lagoon, a popular natural geothermal spa. Reykjavik Excursions provides round-trip bus transportation, and you can hire luggage storage at the spa. Or you could do another excursion, of course.
        • ‘Go into town and come back’ option: Reykjavik Excursions provides bus transportation for this option, too, which I highly recommend over taking a private cab. For one thing, it’s cheaper (30 USD round trip, versus 200 USD round trip using a private cab) and for another, there is free wi-fi on board. You can hire luggage storage at the BSÍ Bus Terminal while you sightsee around Reykjavik.
        • Veteran Tip: Unless you have a definite plan or an excursion booked first thing upon arrival to Keflavik International Airport, I suggest killing time in this airport for a few hours before making your way to Reykjavik city center or elsewhere. Remember, it’s quite early in the morning, and if you go into Reykjavik too soon, you run the risk that the shops, cafés, and sights are not open yet. Better to stay put with a guarantee of wi-fi and strong coffee 😉
        • Veteran Tip: For extreme flexibility with your plans, you can wait to buy bus tickets upon arrival to Keflavik International Airport. Like clockwork, buses leave 30 minutes after every single international arrival, so check the schedule for your ideal bus departure. Tickets can be purchased at the Reykjavik Excursions kiosk. After baggage claim, follow the signs to Exit/Customs Declaration, and the kiosk will be on the right just before exiting the airport.
    • If you take Air Iceland into Greenland, then you might have to transfer to a different airport (Reykjavik Domestic Airport). Please note: the flights to Narsarsuaq, Greenland and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland leave from Keflavik International Airport while the flights to Nuuk, Greenland and Ilulissat, Greenland and Kulusuk, Greenland leave from Rekjavík Domestic Airport.
    • Reykjavík Domestic Airport is in Reykjavik city center so you must go into town no matter what. See the ‘Go into town and come back’ option and veteran tips above. A one-way ticket via the Reykjavik Excursions bus costs 18 USD, versus 100 USD for a private cab.
        • Veteran Tip: Reykjavik Domestic Airport is very small with just a small cafe and places to sit. These days, there IS free wi-fi inside, so that’s a plus! Check-in does not begin until 1 hour before departure, even for international flights, so there is no need to arrive to this airport very early. Stay in town as long as possible!
        • Veteran Tip: Always be prepared for delays or cancellations, and check the Departure Schedule frequently. Delays are a harsh reality of traveling anywhere in the world, but remember that you are flying in the Arctic. If there are unstable conditions in Reykjavík, in your Greenland destination, over the Greenland Ice Sheet, or anywhere in between, it is best to stay put until conditions improve. If a cancellation occurs, the airline will provide overnight accommodation for you, meal vouchers, and transportation to/from airport/hotel.

Step 3: Finally, Greenland-bound! The final step is a 2-3 hour direct flight from Reykjavík, Iceland to Nuuk, Greenland. It is a lovely flight, and with good visibility, you can see down to East Greenland and the Greenland Ice Sheet!

Flight time is still typically 2-3 hours even if you are not going to Nuuk.

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Total travel time: Up to 24 hours.

Total ticket price: Don’t even think about it.

Total experience of traveling to the best country in the world: Priceless.

PHOTO GALLERY: Signs, Menus, and More Around Towns

A picture lasts forever! That is why I started snapping photos of signs around town, tourist information boards, restaurant menus, etc. Originally I did this for my own personal use, but I think it can be very helpful to anyone dreaming of or planning a trip to Greenland. It is hit or miss whether you can find this same information on the Internet, so I decided to share it here in one single place.

The menus can give you a great idea about average food pricing (all prices listed in Danish Kroner). And I think the photos give an accurate picture of what you can expect to find in terms of posted information when you arrive to Greenland, and in what language(s). Sometimes signs are posted in English, but oftentimes they are only written in Greenlandic and Danish.

DISCLAIMER 1: This is not a comprehensive gallery of every sign, menu, etc. in the given town. Nor is it a comprehensive gallery of every town.

DISCLAIMER 2: There is no guarantee that the information in the photograph will be valid forever. I indicate the season I took the photo so you will know if it is very recent or a bit older. By default, no picture is older than summer 2012.

DISCLAIMER 3: Sorry for the poor quality of some of the photos. As I said, I originally took the photos for my own personal use!

Signs in Ilulissat

Signs in Kangerlussuaq

Signs in Nuuk

Signs in Sisimiut

Signs in Tasiilaq

Signs in Uummannaq