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Greenland defies description with the bright colours and stark landscapes

If you are looking for a brisk break from the hustle and bustle of city life, look no further than Greenland. Though it is the largest island in the world and plays host to a number of unique experiences, this snowy northern getaway only sees about 60,000 visitors a year. If you are looking for a holiday filled with outdoor adventure and breathtaking sights, enjoy our list of the top 10 must-not-miss experiences in Greenland.

10. Sail through the Ilulissat Icefjord

Get this experience before it is gone: the narrow waterway of western Greenland is currently filled with icebergs. Sail through this passageway surrounded by ice as tall as skyscrapers to experience the natural beauty and power of the north. The ice looks best during the ‘golden hours’—the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset.

9. Farm your dinner

Greenland is not exactly a foodie paradise. Because of the harsh climate and low tourist volume, the island does not have many restaurants. But if you are looking for a gourmet getaway, try guest farms like Ipiutaq. Staying in a home guest cottage gives you the opportunity to meet locals and eat as they do.

8. Marvel the world’s largest national park

Northeast Greenland National Park covers more than 970,000 square kilometres and is inhabited by polar bears, walruses, musk oxen, Arctic foxes and reindeer. To view these magnificent animals is not easy, though: the park is remotely located and requires either arrival by ship, air or through the extremely remote settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit (population: near 500).

7. Watch whales

If spotting humpback whales is on your must-see list, visit Greenland in the northern summer months. Greenland prides itself on allowing whales to live free and wild in the waters, which means whale watching trips are more exciting, but also more regulated. The best place to see whales is South Greenland. Disko Bay is famous for its whale concentration.

6. Trek to Viking country

Erik the Red was the man responsible for naming this ice-covered island, Greenland. Today his effort to create an exile city are commemorated at the ruins of Brattahlid, in the modern-day town of Qassiarsuk. The house of Erik the Red, as well as his wife’s church, has been preserved from their 10th century origins.

5. Camp on ice

World of Greenland Arctic Circle is a company that gives intrepid explorers the chance to see the northern mass of the island. Camp for a night on the ice cap (part of the 80% of the country perpetually covered in a thick sheet of ice) and partake in day activities of hiking through ice, glacial rivers, lakes and waterfalls.

4. Fly

Flying is the only way to get a true view of this majestic country. Many companies sell trips in small fixed-wing aircrafts that give breathtaking views of the ice. Because of Greenland’s remote nature, inter-city travel is difficult, and often flight or boat travel is required. Best places to see from above include the edge of the ice cap near Kangerlussuaq and the ice fiord Kangia in Ilulissat.

3. Behold the Northern lights

Dress warmly and grab a cuppa to view the Aurora Borealis from September to April. One of the greatest locations for viewing these coloured night lights is the airport settlement of Kangerlussuaq. The city has more than 300 clear nights each year.

2. Mush a dog

The Inuit travel method of choice, dog sledding is a fun and exciting activity for the thrill-seeker in your group. If you visit Greenland in the winter, you can rent a dog-sledding tour and ride for a few hours or a few days. Spot polar bears and seals and finish at a hot spring.

1. Brave the Arctic Circle Race

This experience is not for most—but if you are strong-willed, fit and a little crazy, the Arctic Circle Race is for you. The 160 kilometre-long cross-country adventure race takes place in Sisimiut and is known as the world’s toughest cross-country race. While pushing yourself through this incredibly tough skiing challenge, you can experience all the beauty Greenland has to offer.

No matter which arctic experience you choose, Greenland is sure to be a unique holiday experience. Before you go, use our tool for comparing travel insurance plans to ensure you get the cover you need to sit back, relax and explore the extreme adventures Greenland has to offer.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Susanna Valkeinen; cropped from original