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The largest non-continental island in the world, Greenland is also one of the most sparsely populated, consisting of vast swaths of breathtaking wilderness mixed with a glacial coverage of around 84% of the island’s landmass. With very few roads, transport is generally via boat or helicopter with flights offering the opportunity to glimpse the island's stunning topography of magnificent mountainscapes, glaciers and spectacular fjords. Historically part of Denmark, the island was granted self-governance in 1979. The population is a unique mix of both Inuit and Danish blood with a corresponding blend of traditional and modern day beliefs and practices providing a rich cultural heritage. 

What to see

Settlement of the island centres mainly around its southern shores, with the capital Nuuk located on the west coast. Nuuk was founded in 1721 by Hans Egede and has a population of 15,000 people, almost a quarter of the entire islands population. Highlights include, the west coast village of Ilulissat, which translates as Iceberg. The village is a Unesco world heritage site, beautifully situated at the mouth of a 40km ice fjord filled with enormous icebergs calved from the ocean reaching  Sermeq Kujalleq  glacier, the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. 

Isolated east Greenland offers truly spectacular fjord systems, such as the vast Scoresby Sund, birthplace of innumerable icebergs and an Inuit hunting ground. Glacial topography and steep mountains make access almost impossible except on expedition cruise ships, which allow explorations of the icy waterways by zodiac and hikes into the wilderness of the North-East Greenland National Park, the largest national park in the world. Search for wildlife that may include musk oxen, seals and abundant birdlife, while a visit to the small village of Ittoqqortoormiit provides a glimpse into local culture and life in harsh Arctic conditions. Further south lies the small village of Kulusuk, with a population of 300 people, located on an island at the head of the Ammassalik fjord. The islanders here still practise many traditional ways of life, heavily reliant on catching seals, whales and polar bears as an important source of income for the vast majority of the families who live here.

While in the far south, the southern shore of Greenland is nicknamed the ‘banana coast’ by locals due to its easy accessibility and green landscape in summer. There are various Viking and Norse historic remains and sites relating to the first settlement of the island dotted around this area. Eric the Red is said to have chosen this part of the island for settlement around the village of Narsarsuaq when he first arrived on Greenland’s shores.  Today, the area is the location for the university town of Qaqortoq while the countryside supports various sheep farms surrounded by deep blue fjords with multi-coloured icebergs and calving glaciers.

Tour Collection

Browse our collection of small escorted group tours and luxurious private journeys.

Key Facts

Capital: Nuuk
Flying time from London: 4 hours
Time difference: - 3 GMT
Population: 56,500
Currency: krone
Official Language(s): Greenlandic, Danish
Visa (UK Passport Holders): No
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