Winter in Greenland opens up new worlds and new trails across an otherwise roadless land, and the snowy season actually has more options for travelling through the country than you might immediately expect.

Dogsledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and then of course skiing are central to how we navigate our winter landscapes, and while many towns have groomed cross country ski trails right on their doorstep it is the longer, often multi-day, wilderness ski experience that appeals most to adventurous spirits looking to explore the mountains and valleys of Greenland.

Winter in Greenland opens up new worlds and new trails across an otherwise roadless land

The Tasiilaq area is a serious contender for the best cross country skiing destination in the country

Backcountry adventures in East Greenland

Ammassalik Island in East Greenland is a popular hiking destination in summer. In winter the deep snows, accessible mountain valleys, and steep alpine peaks of the area around the region’s largest town, Tasiilaq, create a serious contender for the best cross country skiing destination in the country.

Tour operators such as Travellodge Greenland and Icelandic Mountain Guides together operate multi-day adventures in the region, bringing skiers from Tasiilaq to locations along the Sermilik Ice Fjord and further into the backcountry to the village Tiniteqilaaq, where less than 100 people live a life based on subsistence hunting.

Trips in this area are supported by dogsleds or snowmobiles, and skiers stay in huts along the way, some of which are in locations with nothing short of incredible views.

The added bonus is that you will be so far off the grid of the industrially lit world that the dark skies glow not just with frequent northern lights but also with more stars than most people will ever get to see in their lifetime.

  • The airport village Kulusuk and East Greenland’s largest town Tasiilaq are the main adventure gateways in the region.
  • The Ammassalik region has 3 hotels: Hotel Kulusuk near the airport on Kulusuk Island, and Hotel Angmagssalik and Hotel Red House in Tasiilaq. Add to this several smaller lodge- and hostel style accommodations, including the Travellodge Greenland houses in Tasiilaq.
  • Tasiilaq has about 2,000 inhabitants and all regular shopping- and service facilities, a museum and souvenir shops.
  • Just like Tasiilaq in the East, Ilulissat is a hub for winter experiences in the West, and you can do both dog sledding, snowmobiling, Ice Cap hikes, snowshoeing and many other things there.
  • Ice Cap crossings require special permits obtained from the Greenland Self Rule government.

From everyday skiers to extreme ice cap crossings

Day trips for both beginners and more advanced skiers are available in Ilulissat where the mountain guides from PGI Greenland offer a selection of shorter cross country ski trips, most of which can’t avoid the spectacle that is the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord and the icebergs in the Disko Bay.

And you will meet cross country skiers everywhere in Greenland. Trails often cut straight through town, even in the capital Nuuk, a well groomed cross country trail has seen infrastructure built around it with small tunnels and a bridge to make room for one of the most favored pastimes in the country.

A lot of us ski every day, and you will be surprised by how many small towns even have an illuminated cross country trail for those deep winter nights in December and January. Also, expect to see anyone from 3 year old kids to Arctic Circle Race winning athletes sharing the trails a sunny Saturday afternoon.

At the more extreme end of the spectrum skiers plan for years and prepare for months to cross the Greenland Ice Sheet, taking about a month to traverse the world’s second largest glacier with pulkas, often charting a route between Kangerlussuaq in the west and the tiny village of Isortoq in East Greenland.

These are highly specialized trips, but they are within the reach of more and more adventure travelers who chose to sign up for a commercial trip with a designated tour operator.