When Is The Best Time To Visit Greenland?

Greenland is the world’s largest island. The Denmark-owned territory is located in North America. Famed for dramatic glaciers, Inuit culture, prolific wildlife, and the Northern Lights, it’s an incredible place to visit.
Snowcapped houses in Maniitsoq, Greenland. Photo: Visit Greenland | Unsplash

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Greenland also has pretty extreme temperature and sunlight patterns, so you’ll need to understand the climate before booking your trip. So, when is the best time to explore this fascinating place? Well, that depends on the kind of trip you’re looking for.

Visiting Greenland by Season

Greenland experiences four clear seasons; however, it’s usually summer and winter that attract the most visitors. Greenland’s amount of light and darkness is dictated by season. In summer, Greenland experiences an entire 24 hours of sunshine a day. This miraculous phenomenon is known as the ‘midnight sun.’ In contrast, some parts of Greenland experience no sunshine for several days during winter.

Summer in Greenland – June to August

Charming Kulusuk is a brilliant spot to see the Northern Lights. Photo: Johannes Plenio | Unsplash

Summer in Greenland is the best time to go if you love exploring the outdoors. It’s an ideal time for sailing, hiking, visiting national parks, and general outdoor fun. Summer is also a brilliant time to spot whales, and visitors have a high chance of spotting finbacks, humpbacks, and minke whales. If you’re extra lucky, you might even spot a narwhal.

While temperatures vary across Greenland due to its vast size, the capital of Nuuk can see temperatures of around 11 degrees during summer. While this still necessitates warm clothing, the daylight means you can happily adventure outside.

Summer Visits are Best for:

• Hiking
• Sailing
• Mountain trails
• Whale watching
• Learning about the fascinating Inuit Culture

Winter in Greenland – December – April

The Northern Lights dancing above Nuuk. Photo: Visit Greenland | Unsplash

Greenland’s Icey, Arctic winters also draw many travelers. Winter is perhaps most renowned for the famed Northern Lights, which illuminate the sky with their enchanting patterns after the sun sets. Winter is also fabulous for reveling in snow activities like dogsledding or hopping on a snowmobile. Frozen lakes offer visitors a fantastic skating experience, and if you’re the more adventurous sort, you might delight in some glacier hiking (with an experienced guide, of course.)

If you’re looking for a winter wonderland extravaganza, then Greenland in winter is the place to be.

Winter sees freezing temperatures in the minus 50s, so wear your proper snow gear at this time and wrap up!

Winter visits are Best for:

• Snow activities (like dogsledding)
• Spotting the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis)
• Glacier hikes

Greenland by Month

The iconic Sermitsiaq Mountains in Nuuk. Photo: Aningaaq Rosing Carlsen | Unsplash

These months host some popular activities and events:

January: The sun’s first rising after a long and dark winter. While there is no set event, many communities will gather and sing songs together as they watch the sun return. The 6th of January also sees Mitaartut celebrations (Greenland’s version of Halloween)

February: Nuuk Snow Festival (which houses some of the best ice sculptures around.)

March: Arctic Circle Race

April: Arctic Palerfik – a long-standing festival where locals bid farewell to winter and the Arctic Sounds music festival.

May: Nuuk Nordic Cultural Festival

June: National Day of Greenland (which sees festivals across towns and settlements)

August: One of the best months to spot whales

September: Greenland Adventure Race

December: Igasa Food Festival (a must for foodies!)

The Takeaway

Both summer and winter offer travelers plenty of activities and events. If you dream of spotting the infamous Northern Lights, you’ll need to visit Greenland between the end of September and April. If you love the cold, why not explore this essential Iceland guide or these stunning winter destinations in Europe?


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