Greenland: Hot and Cold

Greenland: Hot and Cold

Between the North American and European continents lies an island made up of 836,300 square miles of ice and frozen tundra. Though it may seem dull and inhospitable, Greenland is actually an adventurous and diverse travel destination.

To begin their Greenland adventures, most visitors first travel by plane to the capital, Nuuk. Greenland’s tourism website describes this city as “the heart of a nation . . . fueled on fresh air, strong coffee and diverse personalities.”

A must-see in Nuuk is the Katuaq Cultural Centre, which is used for concerts, exhibitions, conferences, and cinema. The Greenland Tourism Bureau describes the architecture of the cultural center as inspired by “waving northern lights, icebergs and the play of light on ice and snow.”

Even if visitors don’t venture farther north to experience the vast natural landscape, they can enjoy part of Greenland’s beauty in Nuuk. The juxtaposition of the blue ocean, colorful houses, and snow-capped mountains standing guard in the background is absolutely breathtaking.

A travel blog, Avenly Lane Travel, reports there is a 99% chance you will see the northern lights if you are in Greenland between September and April. Though these months may be colder, braving the cold to observe these vibrant, colorful dancing lights in person is well worth it.

Adventurous visitors should also take advantage of exploring the ice sheet. Though it may seem like just a white blur, the compacted ice has jagged cracks, deep canyons, and other glacial features that show gorgeous hues of blue, green, and gray. An exciting adventure on the ice sheet includes dog sledding, which is an important part of Greenlandic life, history, and culture. Kayaking is another great way to view the ice fields, canyons, and small islands.

To warm up after adventurous sightseeing, many visitors enjoy Greenland’s natural hot springs. Though they are a common phenomenon on the main island, the best hot springs are on the uninhabited island of Uunartoq, between Qaqortoq and Nanortalik in southern Greenland.

From these outdoor spas, you can view many icebergs and mountain peaks. Boat tours to this location are frequent during the summer, and many locals and tourists bring along a picnic basket to enjoy at the springs. This location has been popular for centuries. Leif Ericsson, the ancient Icelandic explorer, supposedly took a swim here after visiting a Benedictine Abbey nearby. The springs are also rumored to be haunted. Despite the rumors of ghosts and harsh climate, these springs have been an alluring tourist experience for thousands of years.

Whether you are looking for an adventurous week exploring a vast ice sheet, kayaking frigid waters to see arctic wildlife, or warming up in an isolated and cozy hot spring, Greenland is as beautiful as it is adventurous.

—Emily Sullivan

Featured image courtesy of Camilla Hey. cc

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