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Where to go in GreenlandScroll

Where to go in Greenland

Sl Nws Greenland View People Credit Andrew James

Where to go in Greenland

Greenland’s gigantic interior ice sheet covers more than four-fifths of the country’s surface – some 660,000 square miles – which means you’ll never be far from the ocean during your safari here. Luckily, the island’s coastlines are studded by an array of spectacular bays and fjords home to icebergs, fishing boats and marine mammals, as well as picturesque towns and villages hugging the shores that are painted in the quintessentially Scandinavian palate of bright blues, reds, greens and yellows. From the remote settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit on Greenland’s rugged east coast, you can traverse Arctic tundra in search of muskox and Arctic fox before sailing into the world’s largest and deepest fjord system, Scoresby Sund. And on the west coast, the cosmopolitan capital of Nuuk marks the entrance to the world’s second-largest fjord system, where humpback whales can occasionally be spotted in the summer. Further north, the nutrient-rich waters of Disko Bay attract seals, walrus and a host of different whale species, while nearby you can witness one of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world calve into the sea at the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Disko Bay & Ilulissat

On the west coast of Greenland lies the spectacular Disko Bay, a region renowned for its imposing glaciers and glistening icebergs. Along the shoreline, the brightly coloured houses of small Inuit villages perch precariously on the edge of rocky cliffs.The largest of these settlements is the town of Ilulissat, home to almost as many huskies as people, which stands at the entrance to the Ilulissat Icefjord. The icefjord was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 and is one of the most visited sites in Greenland, forming a wide, iceberg-packed channel leading up to the colossal Jacobshavn Glacier. Jacobshavn, or Sermeq Kujalleq, is one of the most active glaciers in the world, advancing 40m each day and producing 46km³ of icebergs per year.

Kong Oscar Fjord & Kejser Franz Josef Fjord

Situated on the southernmost edges of Northeast Greenland National Park, Kong Oscar and Kejser Franz Josef are the names of two major fjord systems that are found adjacent to each other on Greenland’s rugged east coast. They are two of the most significant fjord systems in all of Greenland, each one encompassing several smaller fjords and sounds. Both are found north of the Liverpool Land peninsula, on which lies Ittoqqortoormiit, east Greenland's northernmost settlement (if research and sledding stations aren’t taken into account). This makes a journey into the heart of these fjords a truly wild experience. Among the sites that one can see from the fjords is Teufelschloss, or “The Devil’s Castle”, a mountain composed of reddish rock that rises ominously above the waters of Kejser Franz Josef Fjord, about 60 miles from the fjord’s mouth in the Greenland Sea. Teufelschloss makes for a conspicuous landmark when travelling through this area.


As the country’s capital, Nuuk is Greenland’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, with a population of around 17,000. This may not sound like much, but the people living in Nuuk in fact make up almost a third of Greenland’s entire population – the second-largest settlement is Sisimiut, with just 5,500 residents. The oldest building in Greenland is found here, built in 1721 by Nuuk’s founder, the Lutheran missionary Hans Egede. A stroll through the Old Nuuk neighbourhood reveals further ties to the history of the area in its cathedral and mission house, while the city’s bustling harbour serves as an echo of the marine subsistence lifestyle that sustained the first inhabitants of this land, who settled here as far back as 2200 BC. Also within the city are contemporary cultural landmarks like the University of Greenland, the Nuuk Art Museum and the Katuaq, a cultural centre designed in a modern architectural style that evokes the undulating patterns of the Northern Lights. And inescapable wherever you look is the majesty of Greenland’s natural beauty, its ice-choked fjords, the rolling greens and browns of the surrounding tundra, and looming over all, the mountain Sermitsiaq, its jagged peaks creating a magnificent backdrop for this lively and colourful city.

Scoresbury Sund

Scoresby Sund - or Kangertittivaq in the native Greenlandic - is the world’s largest fjord system, extending for over 200 miles into the frozen interior of Greenland’s east coast. The fjords intricate, tree-like structure was first mapped in 1822 by the Arctic explorer William Scoresby, who was reportedly enchanted by the regions incredible natural beauty. Rugged mountains and basalt cliffs rise sharply into open tundra, home to muskox and Arctic foxes, while families of walrus and harbour seals can be found hauled-out along the shoreline. The remote town of Ittoqqortoormiit is the only settlement in the region, formed of a collection of colourful wooden houses that sit perched overlooking the entrance to the fjord. The town and its few hundred inhabitants are completely blocked off by sea ice for nine months of the year, and the community has existed for generations solely through hunting and fishing in the surrounding wilderness.

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