Greenland is the last frontier where robust nature reigns most powerful. The expansive backcountry literally knocks at the back door, and urban sprawl has not plagued these pristine mountains and lakes. Greenlanders often say that even though we build our homes next to the nature – and there is plenty of life and vibrancy in the town limits – our hearts are always happiest in the great outdoors. Come hiking in Greenland to experience a country that loves the nature just as much as you do.
“The entire 11 days we saw about 5 people. That is something that makes it interesting – to be in a region where there are very few people!”
BREATHE THE ARCTIC
Hiking in Greenland evokes a sense of freedom that reaches an unparalleled magnitude. As you follow hiking trails flanked by bold rock formations and purple Arctic flowers, you realize that Greenland’s mighty nature stands before you, unaltered by humans, just as it has for thousands of years. With any thoughts of stressful schedules and crowded streets falling away, you are free to hear the sounds of silence and to absorb the Arctic calm. You can just breathe in Greenland.
On a more literal note, ice is all around you when hiking in Greenland, and it radiates the smell of the Arctic. It is sweet and energizing; if ‘cold’ had a scent, this would be it! Whether you are trekking near the Greenland Ice Sheet, camping alongside a glacier, or sitting on the hillside marveling at iceberg-filled waters, the smell of the Arctic makes hiking in Greenland exceptional.
The most popular mountains for hiking in Greenland are 300 – 1300 meters tall and can be accomplished in a day trip.
- East Greenland has the tallest mountains in Greenland. The tallest is near Ittoqqortoormiit, called Gunnbjørn Fjeld (3700 meters).
“Hiking on the Arctic Circle Trail was surprisingly easy. There was no chance for me to lose my way because the route was very easy to find.”
HIKING TRAILS FOR EVERYONE
Greenland is the size of Western Europe yet the entire population can fit inside one singular football stadium. The amount of open backcountry is immense, so the odds of finding suitable hiking trails, or making your own, are well in your favor.
Hiking in Greenland comes in all intensity levels, and there are plenty of hiking trails for the long distance trekker and the casual day-hiker both. Follow low elevation routes for a few hours to give yourself plenty of time and ease to take in the Arctic ambience, or extend the trip a bit and hike from inland clear out to the coastline.
For those who want to add a few shots of adrenaline and an incredible panoramic view to their hiking adventure in Greenland, take an ascending route to the top of a mountain. As you climb higher and higher, watch as your campsite or boat anchored in the water shrinks to a small dot, yet the wide, cloudless sky overhead comes so close you could touch it.
One of the longest marked hiking trails is the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut (160 km). Hikers typically take 8-9 nights to complete the trail.
Maps of hiking trails can be found in tour offices and in some book stores. See an overview of the existing hiking maps here.
There is no privately owned land in Greenland. You are free to hike anywhere you wish, but be respectful of surrounding people and land.
- Follow the Leave No Trace mountain code and carry all trash with you for the duration of your hike.
South Greenland has an incredible system of hiking trails that link towns and villages to each other and link you to Greenland’s Viking history. Ruins of Nordic farms and churches pepper the entire region and greet you as you traverse South Greenland’s lush green hills.
The Arctic Circle Region is a fine place for trekking with one of the best marked hiking trails leading from the Greenland Ice Sheet all the way to the west coast. In less than two weeks you can traverse every lake and landform in the region!
The Ilulissat Icefjord in North Greenland is a spectacular site to experience on foot. Hike along the edge of the Icefjord or set up camp next to one of the nearby glaciers. We promise that the sight and symphony of icebergs will be imprinted on your mind for years to come.
For a completely different view, go hiking in East Greenland where the mountains are taller and the landscape is more dramatic than much of the west coast. Near Tasiilaq, reach the tops of the mountains just behind town or take the scenic route through the Valley of Flowers.
Before you get into the back country and begin exploring, here's our tips for hiking.
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