To visit Greenland, you need both a sense of adventure and a sizable budget, and the same applies to its accommodations. This is not the place to go if you’re looking for upscale resorts or lavish spas; many hotels are quite basic, aside from a few standouts for which you’ll pay top dollar, even though they probably wouldn’t qualify as particularly luxurious hotels elsewhere. Prepare to spend more than you’d expect even at bare-bones hotels.
If you’re watching your pennies, hostels are a better option, and there are also a variety of B&Bs, guesthouses and a few more unique offerings.
Most Greenlandic towns only have a small handful of hotels to choose from, which is one reason you’ll pay so much even for basic rooms. There are no five-star hotels here, but Greenland is home to the world’s most northerly four-star property, Ilulissat’s Hotel Arctic. The rooms are well appointed with modern Scandinavian furnishings, and many look out over the spectacular ice fjord.
The Hans Egede Hotel, another four-star option, is a business-class hotel right in the center of Nuuk with recently renovated rooms. A buffet breakfast is included in the rate.
Three-star hotels are more common, including the Seamen’s Home chain. Its three properties in Nuuk, Sisimiut and Aasiaat offer clean, no-frills rooms in convenient locations. (Note that the “economy” rooms have shared bathrooms and therefore don’t share the property’s overall three-star rating.)
Internet access is very expensive in Greenland, so expect to pay extra for Wi-Fi at most hotels. However, breakfast is often included in the nightly rate.
Greenland Hotel Resources:
Bed and Breakfasts and Guesthouses
Greenland has a few small guesthouses and B&Bs where travelers can stay in a more intimate environment than a standard hotel. As with hotels, the level of luxury varies from one property to the next; you may find yourself in a cozy private cottage or in someone’s humble spare room. A home-cooked breakfast is almost always included.
The Igdlo Guesthouse in Narsaq, for example, has basic single and double rooms; the rates include linens and breakfast. Head out to the terrace for sweeping fjord views.
Greenland Guesthouse Resources:
There are a handful of hostels located throughout Greenland, and although the term “hostel” is commonly associated with young backpackers, they are often a good option for older travelers on a budget as well. While dorm rooms are always the cheapest option, many hostels have private single and/or double rooms, usually with shared baths. You can save even more money by making your own meals in the communal kitchen. Hostels are often identified with the Dutch word vandrehjem.
Popular hostels include Old Camp and Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel, both near the airport in Kangerlussuaq; Ilulissat Hostel, which may be looking a little worn these days but is the most affordable option in beautiful Ilulissat; and Sisimiut Youth Hostel, which offers a family room (with a double bed and two bunk beds) in addition to dorms and double rooms.
Some hostels are only open during the summer months, so check ahead. Certain properties take only cash or charge a fee if you pay with a credit card. Sheets and towels often cost extra.
Greenland Hostel Resources:
When it comes to renting a home or apartment, you’ll have fewer choices in Greenland than in many other parts of the world. In fact, we barely found any options at all on several popular vacation rental websites that we checked.
The exception was Airbnb, which offers several intriguing rentals, mostly in Nuuk. Read the listings carefully; in some cases you’ll be renting out an entire home or apartment, giving you plenty of privacy and full access to kitchen facilities for making your own meals. In others, you’ll be staying in someone’s spare room, trading seclusion for the chance to meet and interact with locals in their home.
As with any rental, it’s a good idea to read reviews from previous guests (if available) and reach out directly to the host to make sure you feel comfortable with him or her before arrival. It also can’t hurt to have a hotel or hostel in mind as a backup plan in case your rental doesn’t work out.
Greenland Vacation Rental Resources:
Aside from farmland in southern Greenland, you can camp just about wherever you’d like around the country. If you’re doing so independently, however, be sure to keep Greenland’s changeable and often harsh climate in mind; pack plenty of warm, waterproof clothing.
Greenland’s tourism website, Greenland.com, encourages travelers to look for signs of rock falls before choosing a campsite, and not to place tents too close to the water line; not only do tides naturally rise and fall, but in certain areas you also need to look out for unexpected tidal waves sparked by calving glaciers.
Another thing to watch out for: mosquitoes. They’re plentiful (and annoying!) during the summer months in many parts of Greenland. Insect repellent is a must, and mosquito netting can help too. Polar bears are a much more dangerous threat. They’re rarely seen in southern and western Greenland, especially in the summer, but it’s wise to consult with the local tourist office about the risks before you set out.
There are various huts in remote areas of Greenland that are used primarily by hunters. These are extremely basic but offer more shelter than tents. Again, consult with the local tourist board to help you find these.
Your safest option is to work with a local outfitter that can help you arrange a camping/hiking trip, such as Nanu Travel or Pirhuk, both in eastern Greenland.
Unique Greenland Lodging
If you’re looking for somewhere a little different to stay, consider Glacier Lodge Eqi, an ecolodge overlooking the Eqip Sermia glacier. The boat ride from Ilulissat includes a two-hour stop right in front of the glacier to watch it calve. A number of hikes can be arranged from the lodge, including an overnight trip to the inland ice.
Also in Ilulissat are the Hotel Arctic’s aluminum “igloos,” which offer views of the icebergs in Disko Bay. They have all the comforts of the hotel’s other rooms (including, most importantly, heat!), but they’re more fun.
Unique Greenland Lodging Resources:
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