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Holidays in Greenland

Understanding Greenland

Although some maps with flat projections of the globe tend to make Greenland look the size of Africa, it is actually "only" about the size of Mexico Greenland has the world's lowest population density

It represents some 97% of the area of the Kingdom of Denmark The Danish territorial claim is rooted in the 10th-century explorations of the Vikings, though administrative power has changed hands several times over the centuries due to developments in Europe The native Greenlanders, or Kalaallit, are Inuit descendants of nomads from northern Canada "Eskimo" is offensive in some parts of the Arctic

According to the Icelandic Sagas, Erik the Red chose the name "Greenland" to entice settlers from Iceland In fact, Greenland has far more ice cover about 84% of its immense surface area than Iceland does This may only be legend: the southern coasts the Vikings settled are green in summer, and were likely more so during the Medieval Warm Period

Be careful with maps of Greenland, as many Greenlandic names simply reference a particular geographical feature For example, "Kangerlussuaq" means "Big Fjord" and so is not only the Greenlandic name for Søndre Strømfjord

When visiting a city or village don't be afraid to ask for directions of shops, places to eat or somewhere to sleep, even if you think there might not be any Most places even Nuuk are small enough for everyone to know where everything is, and therefore no one bothered to put up a sign Don't be surprised to find a fully equipped supermarket inside a grey factory-like building in the middle of nowhere

Talking in Greenland

The official language - Greenlandic Kalaallisut - is actually that of the more populated western coast The eastern dialect is slightly different Both are highly challenging languages to learn, as words are very long and often feature "swallowed" consonants Try uteqqipugut or Ittoqqortoormiit on for size

The good news is that almost all Greenlanders are bilingual Danish speakers, and many will even have a functional command of English Greenlandic words may come in handy for travellers wanting to experience the "real Greenland", though

Greenlandic is different enough from Inuktitut, the language of the Canadian Inuit who share similar historical roots to the Greenlanders, that the two peoples have difficulty understanding each other However, attempts are being made to unify the Inuit language, and Greenlandic - with its existing libraries of translated Shakespeare and Pushkin - seems like the most natural option

What to see in Greenland

  • Icebergs and glaciers especially the Ilulissat Icefjord
  • Animal life - Whales, seals, walruses, musk oxen, reindeer/caribou and polar bears
  • The Midnight sun - In the northern 2/3 of Greenland, the sun stays above the horizon for days or even several weeks in the summer In the remainder, the weeks around the summer solstice June 21, a national holiday see the sun dip below the horizon for only a short while each night, with the sky never getting truly dark Of course the reverse is true in the winter

What to do in Greenland

  • Hiking - You can freely hike anywhere in Greenland as there is no property ownership anywhere in the country DO go off the few small walking paths that exist You will easily find yourself in offbeat locales, and wonder if you are perhaps the first person to ever stand in that particular spot This rare sensation is by far the best reason to travel in Greenland
  • Driving a dog-sled
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain climbing

Buying stuff in Greenland

  • Inuit art and crafts
  • Sealskin -- which the Great Greenland fur company has fashioned into everything from coats to thick belts to purses and pencil cases
  • Duty-free -- most flights land at Kangerlussuaq, one of those lovely places on earth where you can buy duty-free after landing Stock up on cheap booze, smokes and everything else at prices far lower than the rest of Greenland Important: Greenland is not a member of the EU, so although you may be traveling from Denmark, the custom rules are the same as for a trip out of the EU


These are the names to look for, if you need to buy groceries:

  • Pilersuisoq - Chain of larger supermarket usually found in small villages Has a little bit of everything
  • Pisiffik - Chain of larger supermarkets present in the cities
  • Spar - Dutch supermarket chain with a few shops in Greenland
  • Brugsen - Danish supermarket chain with a few shops in Greenland

Food and eating in Greenland

Food in Greenland is generally not that different from American or continental European tastes Restaurants carry typical European fare Local food can be purchased at local markets in each town Many Greenlandic restaurants combine traditional foods locally-caught fish, shrimp and whales; also muskox and reindeer with more familiar dishes Expect to find whale meat at a Thai restaurant and caribou in a Chinese joint Nuuk also has several burger joints and a couple of very high-end restaurants, most notably Nipisa, which specializes in very expensive local delicacies Prices are high everywhere, but servings are generally large, especially with fries

Drinking in Greenland

A local specialty is Greenlandic coffee Its creation in some places is pure performance and it hits hard: its coffee laced with liberal amounts of kahlua, whisky and Grand Marnier One of the best places to buy is at the Sukhumvit Thai Restaurant, for about $22CAD

Accommodation in Greenland

Greenland is expensive Nice hotels exist in all of the more visited areas Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk, Hotel Arctic - with its igloo rooms - and Hotel Hvide Falke in Ilulissat, but cheaper options exist Try for the Seaman's Home hotel in Maniitsoq, Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Sisimiut and Aasiaat Also check with the Nuuk Tourism office for its hostel program, where locals have rooms they will rent out for a third the price of the town's hotels They usually speak Danish and Greenlandic, along with very rudimentary English

Cities in Greenland

aappilattoq  aasiaat  akunnaaq  alluitsup paa  ammassivik  arsuk  atammik  attu  igaliku  iginniarfik  ikamiut  ikerasaarsuk  ikerasak  ilimanaq  illoqqortoormiut  illorsuit  ilulissat  isortoq  itilleq  itterajivit  ivittuut  kangaamiut  kangaatsiaq  kangersuatsiaq  kapisillit  kullorsuaq  kulusuk  maarmorilik  maniitsoq  moriusaq  nanortalik  napasoq  narsaq kujalleq  narsaq  narsarsuaq  neriunaq  niaqornaarsuk  niaqornat  nuugaatsiaq  nuuk  paamiut  qaanaaq  qaarsut  qallimiut  qaqortoq  qasigiannguit  qassiarsuk  qassimiut  qeqertaq  qeqertarsuatsiaat  qeqertat  saarloq  saattut  saqqaq  sarfannguit  savissivik  sermiligaaq  siorapaluk  sisimiut  tasiilaq  tasiusaq  timerliit  tiniteqilaaq  ukkusissat  upernaviarsuk  upernavik kujalleq  upernavik  

What do you think about Greenland?

How expensive is Greenland?
(1 DKK = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant103.5 DKK
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)273 DKK
McDonalds meal72.15 DKK
Local beer (0.5 draft)39.6 DKK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 44.28 DKK
Cappuccino34.37 DKK
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)13.85 DKK
Water (0.33 bottle)11.99 DKK
Milk (1l)13.41 DKK
Fresh bread (500g)17.97 DKK
White Rice (1kg)29.92 DKK
Eggs (12) 35.55 DKK
Local Cheese (1kg) 85.5 DKK
Chicken Breast (1kg) 42.94 DKK
Apples (1kg) 27.53 DKK
Oranges (1kg) 24 DKK
Tomato (1kg) 34.88 DKK
Potato (1kg) 25.73 DKK
Lettuce (1 head) 38.64 DKK
Water (1.5l)20.29 DKK
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 132.72 DKK
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)20.1 DKK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 21.66 DKK
Cigarettes70.08 DKK
One way local bus ticket16.52 DKK
Monthly pass for bus551.5 DKK
Taxi start23.28 DKK
Taxi 1km23 DKK
Taxi 1hour waiting227.5 DKK
Gasoline (1 liter) 7.18 DKK
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 331.5 DKK, your travel companion

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