Greenland Is Not for Sale, but Here’s How You Can Visit Anyway

Aug 16, 2019

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According to several reports, President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in buying Greenland from the Danish government. And while Greenland, in a statement released on Friday, has explicitly said that the country “is not for sale” — the biggest island in the world is still a great destination to visit for a fall getaway.

Located northwest of Iceland, Greenland is huge and largely empty. It has fewer inhabitants than the Financial District of Manhattan, spread over 860,000 square miles, an area more than three times the size of Texas. In that enormous expanse, much of it inaccessible to the regular visitor, you will find remote retreats, intense outdoor experiences, stellar views of incredible wildlife including — but not limited to — polar bears, walruses, and views of the Northern Lights, glaciers and icebergs.

Nuuk, Greenland northern lights
The Northern Lights dancing over Nuuk, Greenland. (Photo by Kell B. Larsen / Getty Images)

 

Often compared to its neighbor, Iceland, Greenland differs mostly in how truly remote it is. As of July 2018, there were only 57,691 residents living in the autonomous Danish territory, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. And statistics collected by Visit Greenland show that only about 100,000 people visited in the entire year in 2018. That’s a lot fewer visitors than go to New York in one day.

When you factor in the sprawling expanse of Greenland, you can think of it as a solid alternative choice to Iceland if you want to head somewhere north for a very, very quiet vacation. Just keep in mind temperatures. In August, the historic average is 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Getting to Greenland won’t be all that easy, though. The easiest way to get there from the US is actually by first flying to Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s counterintuitive to fly further east than Greenland to then backtrack westbound,  but Reykjavik (KEF) has the most air connectione to Greenland’s small airports. (You’ll probably be paying cash for your ticket, as Iceland doesn’t offer many great points & miles options, so use one of the best credit cards for airfare purchases.)

After the collapse of Icelandic low-fare airline WOW Air, low-cost options to Iceland are fewer. Flights for September to October to Reykjavik are generally pricing between $450 and $700 from major US cities. From there, fly to Kangerlussuaq Airport (SFJ) on Air Greenland, which will cost you generally an additional $1,000. Keep your window shade up during the flight if you’re traveling at night — there is actually a good chance that you’ll spot the Northern Lights on your way

Flight prices aside, once you arrive in Greenland there is a decent selection of accommodations. The Igloo Lodge, for example, houses guests in state-of-the-art metal domes equipped with everything you need (including deer skins, sleeping bags and a petroleum lamp) to keep warm through those Arctic Circle evenings.

If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can book several Greenland hotels via the Chase Travel portal. Or book those hotels with cash your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card  to get 2x points per dollar spent.
Greenland hotels with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
For a truly “no-frills” option, consider the Ittoqqortoormiit Guest House, located on Ittoqqortoormiit island off the coast of East Greenland. It once sold stays for a $1 a night. Their rates have since gone up, of course, but you can reserve a room on Hotels.com. Just makes sure you’re using the best credit cards to book!

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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