Greenland — Attractions
Greenland’s entire northeast quarter is occupied by Northeast Greenland National Park, the biggest national park on Earth. Although it requires a special permit to enter, many other parts of the territory are much more accessible. Greenland’s most populous community, Nuuk, which contains 25 percent of Greenland’s population, holds the biggest art gallery, museum and even Santa Claus’ mailbox. Visitors can also look up at the 25 mile long Ilulissat Icefjord or warm up in any of Greenland’s countless hot springs, both popular natural attractions.
Northeast Greenland National Park
None of the planet’s national parks stand farther north or cover a larger landmass than Northeast Greenland National Park. In fact, only 30 countries in the world are larger than this massive park that engulfs Greenland’s entire northeast section. Although Inuit have hunted and survived in this Arctic park for centuries, there are only a handful of human residents, all of whom live and work in military outposts, research stations, weather stations, or the policing agency. Special permits are required, but if you do obtain entry into the world’s most pristine Arctic wilderness, keep your eyes peeled for 40 percent of the world’s musk ox population alongside walrus, whales, polar bears, and at least 10 Arctic bird species.
Address: Northeast Greenland
Greenland National Museum
Mummified remains of children and women who perished in a late 15th century boating accident are among the most interesting exhibits at one of Greenland’s first museums. Situated in the heart of Nuuk’s historic district, the area is filled with buildings dating as far back as the early 18th century.
Address: Greenland National Museum and Archives, Hans Egedesvej 8, P. O. Box 145, 3900 Nuuk
None of the Western Hemisphere’s glaciers are more productive than Jakobshavn Isbræ at the eastern end of West Greenland’s famous Ilulissat Icefjord. This 25 mile long fjord and UNESCO World Heritage Site lies between Disko Bay and Greenland’s inland ice sheet and floats between 66 and 115 feet each day. 20 billion tons of icebergs drift from the Ilulissat Icefjord each year, some over 3,300 feet high that sit at the bottom of the shallow waters for years because they are too large to breakaway. This breathtaking site has made Ilulissat, Greenland’s third largest community, the territory’s most visited tourist attraction.
Address: Ilulissat Icefjord Office, Qaasuitsup Municipality, Noah Mølgårdip Aqq. 7, Boks 1023, 3952 Ilulissat
Uunartoq Hot Springs
Few other natural hot springs in Greenland provide such perfect bathing conditions as the three on the uninhabited South Greenland island of Uunartoq. Floating icebergs and towering mountains supply the breathtaking backdrops to Uunartoq and the small pool they run into. The hot water is believed to be created by friction between deep layers beneath the Earth’s surface with average temperatures hovering around the 100°F mark.
Address: Uunartoq, South Greenland
The remains of the Viking colony Erik the Red established near Greenland’s southern tip around the year 1000 stand just over three miles northeast of the modern settlement of Qassiarsuk. This colony, whose name translates to “the steep slope,” survived for roughly five centuries at the Tunulliarfik Fjord’s sheltered head 60 miles from the ocean before vanishing for unknown reasons. The small Thjodhild’s church and its surrounding graveyard are the most well known landmarks of this mysterious site, but replicas of the church and a Norse longhouse stand near the original remnants.
Address: South Greenland
During Greenland’s brief summer, this museum is open to all visitors interested in learning more about the history of the territory’s busiest airport, first opening as a United States WWII Air Force base. Kangerlussuaq is also the departure point for many of Greenland’s guided adventure tours and home to one of the territory’s largest varieties of wildlife.
Address: Kangerlussuaq Museum, P.O. Box 1006, 3910 Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Nuuk Museum of Art
About half of the 300 paintings hanging in Greenland’s only privately owned art gallery were created by one artist, Emanuel A. Petersen. The collection belongs to businessman Svend Junge, and contains wood, ivory and soapstone carvings.
Address: Nuuk Art Museum, Kissarneqqortuunnguaq 5, P. O. Box 1005, 3900 Nuuk
Norwegian missionary Hans Egede founded Greenland’s first town in 1728, in the shadow of Sermitsiaq Mountain. Nuuk today is Greenland’s official capital and the world’s smallest national capital in terms of population. Aside from the Nuuk Museum of Art and the Greenland National Museum, Nuuk’s main attractions are a wooden cathedral, the Katuaq Culture Center, Hans Egede’s house, and Santa Claus’ mailbox.