27 Photos That Will Have You Packing for Greenland
Fun fact: Greenland has the lowest population density in the world, with less than one person—0.14, to be exact—per square-non-ice-mile. Compare that to the 27,000 people, including those of us at Jetsetter HQ, sardined into each and every square mile of NYC, and you can see why we're so preoccupied with the sweeping island nation.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
There’s no disputing that Greenland is a misnomer. But stop and take a look at the bubbling hot springs, the staggering fjords, the vast Arctic tundras, and the diverse wildlife population (giant walruses, reindeer and polar bears, among them)—all tucked under the dancing Northern Lights—and we think you’ll be willing to overlook it.
Nuuk is Greenland’s capital and largest city (still with just 16,800 residents). Considered the most cosmopolitan, urban and modern of the country’s cities, you’ll find museums, microbreweries, and boutique shops set against an icy Arctic landscape that includes the Narsap Sermia Glacier and Nuuk Fjord.
Dark winter nights are the best time to catch the famed Aurora Borealis in action. While the natural phenomenon technically takes place all year, its magic glow is lost over summer as a result of Greenland’s midnight sun. But September through April, from coast to coast, you’ll find the green and yellow lights playfully twirling across the sky some 62 miles above the horizon.
Southern Greenland is rife with hot springs, and Uunartoq harbors three naturally-heated pools that are toasty enough to swim in thanks to a little tectonic plate action happening deep within the earth’s core. Despite their location—among snow-capped mountains and inlets dotted with chunks of bobbing iceberg—the waters remain a consistent 98-100 degrees year-round.
Sure you’ve hiked, skied, snowshoed and most likely sailed, but have you ever done so on or around a glacier? The mammoth masses of ice are common sights on Greenland’s rugged landscape, so while locals don’t really bat an eye, most visitors jump at the chance to simply behold their sheer volume from a passing boat.
One of the most culturally-rich ways to explore Greenland’s terrain is by dog sled. The once-nomadic Thule people (ancestors of the modern-day Inuit people) brought the traditional practice to the country in 1300, after making the journey from coastal Alaska. Today, visitors bundle up in borrowed sealskin snow pants, on sleds piled high with reindeer blankets, to take to the blindingly-white territory behind a team of highly-trained, pure-bred sled dogs.
If you leave Greenland with only one souvenir, let it be a tupilak. In Greenlandic folklore, the small carvings—made from bones, antlers, teeth, and soapstone—are thought to have protective powers over their owner. Pack one away in your carry-on and maybe, just maybe, it’ll be able to shield you from any airport-related mishaps.
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