Greenland is a beautiful country that is politically under Denmark as a territory. With only 55,000 inhabitants, Greenland is one of the world’s smallest countries. With so few people and so cold, you might think Greenland doesn’t have anything to offer to tourists.
And you’d be wrong. Greenland is a beautiful country to visit any time of the year, with so much to see and do every season that you may find yourself planning repeat trips.
Why You Should Visit Greenland
Greenland is the biggest island in the world and has a polar and subpolar climate, meaning it’s freezing year-round. The weather and climate vary by region and how far north you are on the island.
The difference between seasons is stark, with the midnight sun ruling the summer, while the sun vanishes entirely for much of the year between fall and spring. However, both seasons are great for visitors.
The summer is characterized by long daylight hours, perfect for those who love to get outside. Dogsledding is popular in the winter and spring, while hiking, camping, kayaking, and so much more are available in the summer.
The winter also has the best chances to see the Northern Lights, but the phenomenon starts appearing in the fall when the sun leaves for extended periods.
If you’re hesitant to visit in the cold winter, fall can be a nice compromise before the snow and ice begin to set in. Winter is a particular time for Greenlanders, with celebrations of Christmas, the Return of The Sun, and more.
The light mar the sky’s darkness by the cities and towns, plus the Northern Lights. February and March remain the most popular times to visit in the winter, but December and January have their charms and traditions.
Overall Best Time to Visit Greenland
The best time to visit Greenland overall would be the summer months, June through August.
The weather, while still not warm, will at least not freeze you to death, with some regions getting up to nearly seventy degrees and others barely reaching fifty.
The wildlife and flora of Greenland are out in full force, with several seasonal migratory species in addition to more permanent residents of the tundra, including arctic foxes, polar bears, reindeer, and more.
Wildflowers carpet the tundra, and the midnight sun makes it perfect for camping, touring, or exploring glaciers, towns, and other landmarks. Much of Greenland is unspoiled wildlife and untouched landscapes, which call for adventure in everyone.
While exploring the natural beauty of Iceland, you’ll also be able to take tours and cruises that aren’t available during the winter when the fjords freeze. Fishing, berry picking, and other seasonal activities also become available.
While you’ll miss out on activities like the northern lights, other Icelandic celebrations, and winter sports like dogsledding, skiing, and snowboarding, the warmth and the other adventurous activities are only available in summer more than make up for them.
The midnight sun, kayaking, camping overnight in glaciers, the sky’s the limit. You can even journey to the northern end of Greenland for some actual adventuring to the North Pole.
Remember to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the bright midnight sun. However, summer is also the peak tourist season for Greenland when travel and accommodations are at their most expensive.
While Greenland doesn’t get as many tourists as Iceland or North European countries, it’s still something you should be aware of when planning.
If you want to travel to Greenland during the summer, book well ahead of time, particularly any seasonal activities, like cruises, glacier tours, or kayaking. Remember to pack for the weather and be prepared for the bright sun that never goes down.
Cheapest Time to Visit Greenland
The cheapest time to visit Greenland would be between November and March. This is when winter gets into full swing, and the sun sinks under the horizon for a good chunk of the country until it rises again in January.
That means total darkness, twenty-four hours a day throughout December, which means Christmas is also celebrated in the dark. It’s an essential holiday for Greenlanders, who celebrate unique traditions and keep their towns lit up.
There’s nothing quite like Christmas in Greenland, and if you’re willing to suffer through the cold and the dark, you’ll be able to experience something truly incredible.
Once Christmas has gone by, New Year rolls around, another important holiday celebrated by Greenlanders. Then, in the middle of January, they celebrate the Return of the Sun, when Greenlanders get a tiny peek at the sun for the first time in months.
It’s a unique cultural celebration unlike anything else you’ve seen, where people cheer at the horizon for a short half-hour of golden sunshine.
It’s beautiful and a primarily local celebration that will help you understand the spirit of the Greenlanders who call one of the most hostile environments on Earth home.
More tourists come in February and March when there are more normal daylight hours and winter sports peaks, like dogsledding, skiing, and snowmobiling. Almost all transportation is done by dogsledding in the winter months, making it a unique and wonderful Greenland experience.
Once March rolls around, spring begins to set in, with rising temperatures, melting snow, and migratory birds returning to the nest.
Spring happens quickly in Greenland, over a few weeks between April and March, so you’ll have to time your arrival carefully to see spring. Also, remember that the amount of sunlight you’ll see and how cold it is varies depending on the region.
The southwest coast still gets a little sunshine in the middle of winter, while places further up the coast do not. It all depends on where you’re at. Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, gets around one hour of sunlight in the winter, while Ilulissat’s sun disappears from November to early January.
No matter where you go in Iceland during the winter, you’re sure to find the temperature below freezing and the snow piles up high.
The most popular winter activity is the Northern Lights, which light up when you get away from the bright lights of cities and towns and into the interior of Greenland. These beautiful sights are usually seen during the darkened nights and sometimes on the days of Greenland’s winter.
Least Busy Time to Visit Greenland
If you want to split the difference between summer and winter, visit Greenland during the fall. September through October has rapidly changed temperatures as the freeze moves outward towards the coast.
Fall happens as quickly as spring does for a couple of weeks, but it has the best of both worlds, where you can see the Northern Lights while still getting plenty of sunshine over a day.
Once the peak summer season ends, most tourists leave, meaning discounts on accommodations and travel, though you’ll risk the weather disrupting your plans. Altogether, there are fewer people than during the summer when the weather remains calm and above freezing.
You can go dogsledding, participate in outdoor activities, see the Northern Lights, and see glaciers on the same trip if you time it right and get a little lucky.
Overall, fall has the most number of activities available to you, though there are still some things you can only do in the summer or the winter. It has downsides. It’s colder than summer and creeps in the longer you stay.
Another vital thing is that it snows, even in early September. The further in the fall, the more it snows. Also, the wildlife and flora aren’t at their best this time of year.
Most migratory species leave fast, and permanent residents are busy preparing for winter and are hard to spot. The tundra freezes quickly, and everything is brown, grey, or covered in snow.
Worst Time to Visit Greenland
Spring happens fast in Greenland, over April and May, and it’s the worst time to visit. While it’s not the worst time because of the weather, or other conditions, there are fewer activities this season.
You can see the Northern lights up until April and participate in winter sports until May, but many outdoor activities aren’t up and running yet, making spring a worse version of winter. It’s also the second busiest time of year, with the tourist season just starting.
Many activities like cruises and tours open at the end of May. It’s also when the weather begins to be warm and get out of freezing permanently. The tundra grows wildflowers, and 60 migratory species come back to roost.
If you love wildlife, spring might be a better option than fall. Otherwise, you can find better activities and weather in other seasons. Spring is beautiful in Greenland, so if you’re interested in photography, this is also a good season.
Fewer people plus beautiful landscapes equal some of the best photos you’ll ever take. If you’re interested in visiting Greenland, you should choose based on the activities and attractions you want to see and do, and spring has little to offer other than beauty.
Things to Consider
Greenland is a massive landmass, and it’s hard to get to, so it’s best to be thoroughly prepared before your trip. Pack layers of clothes for the summer, and dress warmly in all other seasons.
Some other tips include making sure to:
- Research the weather and climate conditions of the area you’re going to. Greenland is massive, and weather and temperatures vary wildly over the island.
- Pick the season you go to based on budget and activity. Each season has something to offer, from the cool summers to the icy winters, so don’t be daunted by the weather.
- Expect delays. Greenland has unpredictable weather, so have travel insurance covering weather delays for emergencies.
- Book well ahead of time. While Greenland isn’t a huge tourist destination, it can get busy. It’s better to book a month before your trip than when you get there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you book your trip and pack your bags, you have some questions you need to answer.
What is the best month to visit Greenland?
It depends on the season that calls to you, but generally, July. It’s the warmest month of the year in Greenland, with plenty to see and do.
How long should you spend in Greenland?
If you travel to different parts, plan for at least a week. If you’re staying in one place, four or five days should be plenty to see and do everything in an area.
What time of year can you see the Northern Lights in Greenland?
September to April is when you can see the Northern Lights. Eight months out of the year is very impressive compared to other countries, but it’s also winter for eight months out of the year, so it balances out.
Is a trip to Greenland worth it?
Greenland is a beautiful country with a unique culture and much to explore. It’s perfect for everyone, with history, landmarks, and activities for the entire family.
How much money do you need for Greenland?
It depends on when you travel, as winter is cheaper than summer, but you should generally plan to spend 200 dollars a day while in Greenland.
So, What’s The Best Time to Visit Greenland?
There’s never really a wrong time to visit Greenland. There are just different activities and sights each season. Greenland can seem like a completely different country on a trip in the summer vs. a winter journey.
So no matter if you want to drive dogs over the barren snow, kayak through impressive fjords, or fish during the short yet intense fishing season, there’s plenty for you to enjoy about Greenland.