The world’s biggest noncontinental island has the world’s sparsest population. Nonetheless, scattered mainly along Greenland’s west coast are dozens of photogenic little villages of colourfully painted wooden cottages, plus a few small towns as well as the capital, Nuuk Town (Godthåb). In the south there’s an appealing sprinkling of emerald-lawned sheep farms.
Culturally, the unique blend of Inuit and Danish blood has produced a Greenlandic society all of its own. This sometimes discordant mix of ancient and modern combines seal hunting and dogsledding with Carlsberg and kaffemiks. While it has many underlying social problems, Greenland suffers negligible crime, and sensitive visitors with a passionate but unaggressive interest in local ideas will find a fascinatingly rich culture beneath the thick façade of Greenlandic taciturnity.
With an ever-improving network of tourist offices, and comfortable if unflashy mini-hotels and hostels, Greenland is no longer the sole reserve of plutocratic cruise-ship passengers. However you travel, it’s wise to schedule a wide safety margin for unpredictable weather. Leave ample time in each destination to unwind, soak up the midnight sun, watch icebergs explode or be dazzled by the magic of the aurora borealis.
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