Greenland is the world’s largest island at square miles, which is the same as France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium put together. It boasts the Northern Hemisphere’s largest ice sheet – 694,981 square miles, which cover 85 percent of its total area. The Greenland climate is arctic to sub-arctic, but the distance between north and south means there are tremendous differences in temperature and climate. Thanks to a very dry air, cool summers feel surprisingly comfortable. In general, summer temperatures are highest inland and coolest along the coasts. But you will be surprised to know that warm + 70° F days are not uncommon during the summer!
What to wear
It is best to be prepared by wearing ”layered” clothing. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof. Gloves and hats are recommended when sailing. It is a good idea to wear solid boots, waterproof shoes or rubber boots with a solid sole in the summer and winter. Clothing tends to be casual in Greenland and acceptable also in finer restaurants. See also our Packing list summer.
Danish Krone (DKK).
Accepted Credit / Debit Cards and ATMs These cards are valid at banks or ATMs although we advise you to carry some cash as not all shops accept foreign credit cards: VISA, VISA PLUS-card, VISA Electron, Euro cheque card, Eurocard/Mastercard.
Entering the country
Greenland is party to the Schengen Agreement implying that passport and visa regulations are similar to those applicable for Denmark. Valid travel ID or passport must be shown, when entering and leaving Greenland. Please be aware of visa requirements. These can vary from country to country. Contact the Danish Embassy for further information. You can read further about visa regulations at:http://www.um.dk/en/menu/ConsularServices/DanishVisaRules/DanishVisaRules.htm
American citizens do not require a visa for trips shorter than 3 months.
Greenland is not considered a European Union country. Information on what you can bring into the country is available in airports – although drugs, weapons, living animals – including pets and birds are not allowed. Exceptions are made for dogs for the blind.
It is illegal to import any art or artifact created from a marine mammal, including whalebone, walrus tusks (ivory) and narwhal tusks (also ivory) into the USA. For more information, contact a local tourist office.
220 voltages is standard (as in much of Europe). You may want to bring an adapter.
Hospitals and dental clinics are found in most towns. Acute treatment is free. There is no hospital in Kangerlussuaq, but a nursing station is open. You are advised to bring your own prescription medicine on the trip. Travel health insurance is recommended. No vaccines are required for travel in Greenland.
Where to stay
Greenland has a wealth of accommodations – from hotels and youth hostels to seaman’s homes. Many of the hotels and seaman’s homes have been classified in accordance with international standards so you can check their standards.
Greenland’s National Day is June 21 and is called “Ullortuneq”, which means the longest day of the year. It is also the official Flag Day, so in addition to festivities you will see the striking flag with the red half circle flying proudly everywhere.
Be prepared. In July and August mosquitoes can be a plague in Greenland just as they are in all Arctic areas. You are advised to bring a mosquito net or insect spray or even medicine if you are allergic to insect bites.
Greenland has a modern telecommunications infrastructure, and it is possible to access the internet at most hotels and many net cafes. GSM 850/1900 can be used if you have an agreement with AT&T Wireless PCS, T Mobile and Singular Wireless.
There is a two hour difference between the American East Coast and Greenland. When it is 10:00 am in Greenland it is 8:00 am EST in Baltimore.
Midnight Sun and Northern Lights
The midnight sun is present north of the Arctic Circle during the summer. But even towns located further south tend to be light at night. The midnight sun can be experienced above the Disko Bay from the end of May to the end of July. The northern lights actually occur all year round, but cannot be seen during the summer months in Greenland due to the midnight sun. The northern lights can be seen at its best from September to April.
The Greenland Church is part of the Danish Protestant Church. Churches are found in all towns, although smaller buildings may be used in smaller communities. The local Greenlandic language is used. You are welcome to visit the churches. If they are locked, ask the local tourist agency for help. Please note that taking photos is generally forbidden during mass.