Greenland

When to go to Greenland

The best time to go to Greenland

Although Greenland experiences four distinct seasons, it is the winter and summer months which draw the most travellers to this fascinating country. The sun dictates all, with the pendulum swinging between the midnight sun in the summer and the polar night in the winter. Spring and autumn are quick, transitional periods which nevertheless offer a variety of experiences and also lower prices, as these months occur outside of Greenland’s peak seasons for tourism.

The main attraction during Greenland’s freezing Arctic winters is the Northern Lights, which dance across the sky from September to April when the sun has set. Even Nuuk – Greenland’s capital city, which lies below the Arctic Circle on the country’s southwest coast – experiences just a few hours of sunshine a day during December. Summer brings the phenomenon of the midnight sun, as well as increased temperatures which make fjords more easily navigable and wildlife sightings more frequent.

Despite these general trends, Greenland’s massive size results in a similarly massive discrepancy in temperatures as you move across the country (which is officially the largest island in the world). Those living on the southernmost tip of the island enjoy summer temperatures a few °C above freezing, while temperatures in winter rarely drop below -10°C. By contrast, winter temperatures in the far north can reach an average low of -30°C.

Although some animals can only been during certain periods of the year, many - like the polar bear, narwhal and Arctic fox - are year-round residents.

To maximise your chances of sighting a particular species, take a look through our Greenland wildlife page. We can put you in the right place at the right time for whichever wildlife encounter you desire.

When to go

This is a guide for the country as a whole, indicating good times to plan a holiday, taking into account popular places to visit, wildlife encounters and overall weather. Please remember that where in the country will vary depending on month of travel.

when to go by season

June to September

The long, bright, balmy days of summer are the best time to visit Greenland for those who actually want to see a bit of green land! Most of the country’s coasts will become snow-free during these months and, especially in the south, animals like reindeer, Arctic hare and muskox can be seen grazing on the thawed-out vegetation. Visitors can see the Northern Lights as early as August depending on how far south they are, while the midnight sun further north provides plenty of light for travellers wishing to hike into the interior, sail down fjords and explore the local towns. Late summer is the best time for whale watching, with many species passing close to shore and some even surfacing in the country’s harbours.

October to November

Peak whale-watching season extends into early autumn, with observers able to spot blue, bowhead, fin, humpback, minke, pilot and sperm whales off the coasts, as well as belugas and narwhals. Autumn is when the Northern Lights start to become visible for most of Greenland, although it’s not until the depths of winter when conditions become ideal.

December to March

As well as the Northern Lights – best seen away from the artificial light produced by settlements, when conditions are dark and clear – the winter months also provide fantastic conditions for dogsledding expeditions. With a decent amount of snowfall lying on the ground, there’s no better way to travel during the winter than wrapped up in furs and sealskin while huskies or the native Greenland dog pull your sled across the snow. Although you’ll have to endure short days in freezing conditions, you’ll be thankful to make it out under the open sky thanks to the crisp air and the few precious hours of beaming sunlight, which will turn the snow-covered mountains and ice-bound fjords into a truly magical landscape.

April to May

Visiting Greenland during the short transitional season of spring allows you to witness the snows melting at a fast rate, but depending on the conditions, winter activities like dogsledding can be enjoyed at lower rates thanks to the tourism industry’s peak season having drawn to a close. Spring will also see the first shoots of the native vegetation emerging from the land.

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