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Norse ruins, blue icebergs & Arctic foxes: What to do on a cruise to Greenland

Greenland cruise vacations serve up a unique blend of rugged wilderness and cultural charm, with far from the madding crowd a guarantee. Here’s what to do on a cruise to Greenland in 2023.

Greenland cruises may not get the same hype as voyages to the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, but adventures in this off-the-beaten-track northern land are hard to beat.

Think majestic fjords, towering mountains and serene Arctic waters amidst breathtaking untouched beauty. Talk about getting away from it all!

Despite the remote location, there is still plenty to do and see on a Greenland cruise, whether you seek adventure or culture.

What to do in Narsarsuaq

Narsarsuaq [above, left] is a small settlement located in southern Greenland, known for its picturesque natural beauty and historical significance.

The area is home to the renowned Narsarsuaq Airport, a former U.S. Air Force base during World War II, which now serves as a gateway for travelers exploring Greenland’s wonders by plane.

To find out more visit the Narsarsuaq Museum where you can also learn about the cultural heritage of Greenland. Or, to go back further in time, head to Brattahlid, the site of Erik the Red’s Viking settlement where you’ll find well-preserved Norse ruins.

Of course, the real highlights of a Greenland cruise port of call are the natural ones – and there are oodles of Mother Earth’s marvels to soak up here.

Take a boat sightseeing tour excursion to the Qooroq Fjord, thanks to which you can get up close to the famous blue-hued icebergs which are created as chunks of ice calve off the massive glacier at its head. Watch the giants float gracefully in the fjord’s crystal-clear waters against the backdrop of rugged mountains and relish the surreal and ethereal atmosphere.

Fancy more messing around in boats on your Greenland cruise? Experience the incredible beauty of the Prins Christian Sund by kayaking through its narrow channels; you’ll encounter majestic icebergs, wildlife and spectacular scenery along the way.

For exploration on foot, take a guided tour to witness the awe-inspiring Greenland Ice Cap up close. Marvel at the vast expanse of ice and learn about its significance in shaping the landscape.

Alternatively, why not discover the delightful Flower Valley (Blomsterdalen) on a hiking adventure? Enjoy the vibrant colors of the Arctic flora, cascading waterfalls and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

No matter what adventure you opt for, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for animals on a cruise to Greenland! The waters near Narsarsuaq are frequented by several whale species, including humpback whales, fin whales and minke whales, and multiple seal species live here too.

Bird species are abundant as well, including puffins [above], eiders, Arctic terns, and a variety of seabirds, while the Arctic fox [below, right] is an iconic resident. The latter can occasionally be spotted in the wilderness around Narsarsuaq and exhibits a beautiful white or blue-grey coat during winter, blending with the snowy landscape.

What to do in Qaqortoq

Qaqortoq [above, left] is also on the southern coast. The fourth-largest town in Greenland, it’s known for its charming buildings adorned with intricate murals. Expect a lively cultural scene, with an array of art exhibitions, music festivals and traditional performances that showcase the fascinating Inuit culture.

Be sure to explore the town itself and stroll amid the bright buildings. Check out the Stone and Man sculpture park, featuring an impressive collection of stone sculptures created by local artists. There’s a museum here too, where visitors on cruises to Greenland can learn about local traditions, the Inuit way of life and the town’s colonial past.

For further history, embark on a boat tour to the nearby Hvalsey Church ruins, located in the scenic Hvalsey Fjord. This well-preserved medieval Norse church is a significant historical site, offering insights into the country’s Viking history. You’ll be a pro by the end of your vacation!

To get out amongst nature, take a boat trip to the nearby Iceberg Alley, where you can witness the mesmerizing sight of massive icebergs floating along the coastline. Alternatively, hop into a kayak and explore the fjords’ calm waters.

If you’d rather stretch your legs on Greenland cruises, how about a hike to the viewpoint above Qaqortoq to enjoy panoramic vistas of the town, fjords and surrounding landscapes? The trek rewards you with stonking views that showcase the natural beauty of the area.

Talking of rewards, indulge in the local gastronomy by trying traditional Greenlandic dishes while you’re on a Greenland cruise in 2023. Greenlandic shrimp and various seafood delicacies offer a unique culinary experience – perfect for those seafaring tales when you return home.

Published 05.30.23