Things to Consider
- Flying is the most popular route to Greenland as there’s no international ferry service. Alternatively, join an expedition cruise from Svalbard or the Canadian Arctic
- You can only fly to Greenland from Copenhagen & Reykjavik, Keflavik & Akureyri in Iceland. There are currently no direct flights from North America
- Kangerlussuaq in West Greenland is the country’s biggest transportation hub with an extensive network for domestic flight connections
- The Arctic climate is challenging for aviation. Delays are common when flying to/from/around Greenland, so avoid tight connections
- Once in Greenland, there are no roads or trains between towns. All transportation is by either plane, ship, dog sled or helicopter
Flying to Greenland
Given the considerable distances involved, and the physical barrier of the ice cap itself, arriving into Greenland by air is the most expedient and popular routing. Useful things to be aware of:
- Direct flights to Greenland are only available from Copenhagen (4 hours flying time) and three Icelandic cities (approx. 2-3 hours)
- The most important routing is Copenhagen/ Kangerlussuaq which is operated by Air Greenland with one daily flight in each direction
- Kangerlussuaq and Narsarsuaq airports are the only two capable of receiving large airliners
- Greenland has 6 international airports: Kangerlussuaq, Nuuk, Ilulissat, Constable Point, Kulusuk and Narsarsuaq
- These main entry points are supported by 8 domestic airports which Air Greenland flies to on a daily basis, typically using 37 passenger Dash 8 aircraft
- Two airlines currently service Greenland: Air Greenland - the national carrier - and Air Iceland Connect
- There are no direct flights at this time from North America
Flights into West Greenland
Kangerlussuaq: Air Greenland’s daily 4 hour flight from Copenhagen utilises an Airbus 330 with capacity for 278 passengers. Onward flights from Kangerlussuaq to Ilulissat/ Nuuk, etc are by a smaller Dash 8, which is the key plane used on all domestic routings.
Ilulissat: Air Greenland flies daily from Keflavik during summer, while Air Iceland offers the same routing only spring - autumn.
Nuuk: There can’t be many capital cities with so few direct international flights! The only direct flights are either with Air Connect from Reykjavik throughout the year, or from Keflavik in Spring- autumn only (Air Greenland).
Flights into East Greenland
The whole of this long coastline is only serviced by two airports:
- Air Greenland flies daily from Reykjavik to Kulusuk during the summer, and twice a week in winter
- Kulusuk airport services Tasiilaq, the largest town in East Greenland, located across the bay. Regular helicopter transfers connect the two communities, or boat in the summer, as there’s no road
Constable Point/ Nerlerit Inaat
- Air Iceland has a regular service from Akureyri in Northern Iceland throughout the year. The airport services the community of Ittoqqortoormiit, which is 40km away
- Transfers between the airport and village are provided by helicopter (15 mins)
Photo credit - Visit Greenland
Travelling by Ship to Greenland
As there are currently no international ferries to Greenland, arriving by ship is limited, but not impossible as expedition ships arrive from Iceland, Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic during high summer and early autumn.
While air travel is expedient and relatively cheap, in a country with as modest an infrastructure as Greenland, travelling by boat is actually very practical, allowing you to access places which are otherwise off limits. Plus, much of Greenland’s most dramatic scenery can be better experienced from the bows of a ship.
Trips that arrive by ship
Introductions to the High Arctic don’t come much better. Over 13 days traverse the High Arctic from wildlife-rich Svalbard, via East Greenland’s towering icebergs and autumnal tundra, finishing in Iceland. This well balanced itinerary provides abundant wildlife, startling scenery and…
Beginning in Svalbard before arcing westwards across the Greenland Sea and then down East Greenland’s long coastline to finish in Iceland, this is an audacious Arctic journey of startling diversity and contrast. Spectacular landscapes, towering glaciers and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters…
Spending equal time exploring Canada’s historic Northwest Passage and West Greenland, we like this voyage’s balance and variety as much as exploring little visited places like Thule, one of the northernmost towns in the world. Big ice, rich history, exotic…
Trips that arrive by plane
Utilising a specially designed seasonal safari-style camp as your base, explore this little visited land by kayak, zodiac, motor boat, helicopter and on foot. The long summer days help maximise exploration, while the rustic luxury of the camp overlooking Sermilik…
Arriving in Greenland is one thing, the next challenge in this vast country is how to get around.
Fortunately, Air Greenland provides a very good service to 14 domestic airports scattered throughout the country on a daily basis, typically using their Dash 8 aircraft which can carry 37 passengers.
In the absence of roads, boats play a far more significant role in terms of transportation in Greenland than many other countries, for both Greenlanders and visitors alike. Companies like Diskoline and Ilulisat water taxis provide both scheduled and charter transfers between towns and communities. As well as providing an invaluable service, these transfers can be an excellent way to get a sense of the coastline.
In winter, snow mobiles and dog sleds really come into their own and are a crucial way to get around most communities.
Plan your trip
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Help Me Choose
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Getting to Greenland: Your Questions Answered
Greenland’s visa regulations are the same as those that apply in Denmark. The good news is that no visa is required for EU, US, Canadian or Australian nationals.
It’s a tough one to answer as it depends on your interests and each season in Greenland has much to offer:
Spring: Dog sledding, snowmobiling & winter activities
Summer: Trekking, kayaking, expedition cruises
Autumn: Best time to explore East Greenland. Northern Lights
Learn more about when to go.