The Snæfellsnes Peninsula may only be a 90 kilometre stretch, but is a microcosm of Iceland, boasting a huge array of landscapes and dramatic features.

Visiting Greenland From Iceland

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Visiting Greenland From Iceland

Is it possible to visit Greenland during your trip to Iceland? Which tour opportunities and packages include a trip to Greenland? And what links, if any, do Iceland and Greenland share? Read on to find out all you need to know about visiting Greenland from Iceland.

Approximately three quarters of Greenland is covered by the largest permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica. A mere 1,210 km east, Iceland is a temperate and green country in comparison, with only 11% of the land comprised of glaciers.

Despite Iceland’s snow-laden winters, many people notice a discrepancy when considering the choice of names for both countries.

Should Iceland and Greenland swap names?

Visiting Greenland From Iceland

According to one story, a group of Vikings rebelled against the Norwegian monarchy, forcing them to flee the country by boat. Enroute, they stopped at Iceland.

Quickly discovering the island to be habitable with its breezy summers, rich fishing grounds and wealth of timber, the rebels sent false word back to Norway claiming their landing grounds was harsh, barren, little more than ice. To further deter reinforcements, they stated a larger, more distant island was a lush paradise.

In short, this decision appears to have been clear bait-and-switch tactic. Unfortunately, as so often is the case, the legend is false.

A classic Viking ship, closely resembling those used by early setters to Iceland.Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Bruun Rasmussen.

Instead, this widely circulated rumour is little more than a simple and ingenious tale that simplifies the far more complex process that was the discovery of Greenland.

In truth, the Norsemen did not arrive to Greenland until Erik the Red in A.D. 982, approximately 100 years after the settlement of Iceland. Touching on grains of truth, Erik really was fleeing Iceland after murdering three people, but was blown dramatically off-course.

To attract other settlers to this newfound country, Erik reported that the island was perfect for habitation. To stress this point, he named it Greenland; medieval marketing at its best! In all fairness, it is likely that Greenland was far grassier in A.D. 982, especially the southwestern corner of Greenland which sits at a southern latitude below even Iceland. To this day, successful sheep farms continue to operate in the area.

Visiting Greenland From Iceland

Of course, not everyone calls the island Greenland. Greenlanders themselves refer to their island as Kalaallit Nunaat, which means “Land of the People” in the Inuit language.

Due to the ever-impending dangers of climate change, a large percentage of meteorologists believe that in the near future, the names will make more sense. With the slowing down of the Gulf Stream, Greenland will continue to experience warmer temperatures and the melting of ice, while Iceland will experience the polar opposite; pack ice and even longer, darker winters.

Why visit Greenland?

Visiting Greenland From Iceland

Greenland is a land of staggering, ethereal and dramatic scenery, the likes of which can be found nowhere else on earth. While Iceland’s landscapes are commonly regarded as some of the best scenery on earth, Greenland’s breathtaking smoky mountains, iceberg-filled fjords and sweeping plateaus make for a fierce contender.

Greenlandic culture is just as inspiring, having much in common with the Inuit tradition, from which most people are descended. Ice fishing and dog-sled races, for instance, are both still popular among the local people.

Most inhabitants still hunt given to supplement their diet or provide skins for boats and attire. Animals such as walrus, seals, caribou and narwhal are still essential to the Greenlandic cuisine, especially in the northwest region known as Thule.

A Greenlandic hunter. Credit: Wikimedia. Creative Common. Will Hybrid. 

This is reiterated by the Greenlandic government themselves, who state;

"Hunting is the heart and soul of Greenlandic culture.... Hunting is also very important from a cultural perspective. In a society such as Greenland, which for centuries was based on subsistence hunting (until about 50 years ago), hunting is still of great cultural importance. Irrespective of the fact that most live like wage-earners in a modern industrial society, many Greenlanders' identity is still deeply rooted in the hunting."

Over recent years, Greenland has become more and more of a tourist destination, offering spectacular hiking trails, photographic opportunities and unbeatable adventure.

Given its isolation as the world’s largest non-continental island, Iceland makes for the perfect jumping off-point, with flights from Keflavik International Airport to both Nuuk (Greenland’s capital) and Ilulissat in Disko Bay.

What tours can I take to Greenland?

Thankfully, visitors to the northernmost corners of this planet will have the opportunity to combine their holiday to Iceland with a trip to Greenland.

Below are two examples of the most prized tour options available. Don't hesitate to come aboard! 

Greenland Sailing | 10-Day Photography Workshop

The towering summits of the mountains of Ofjord in East Greenland.Credit: Greenland Sailing | 10-Day Photography Workshop

It’s time to charge the batteries, pack extra memory cards and ready yourself for the adventure of a lifetime with this 10-day sailing trip photographing the unreal landscapes of Greenland.

After a night discovering the many cultural charms of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, you will travel from the domestic airport to Constable Point, East Greenland—a 2-hour flight. Upon arrival, you will board the expedition schooner, Donna Wood, and sail to the scenic village to Ittoqqortoormiit.

Here, you’ll have the opportunity to capture the colourful houses and local fisherman, perfect for an authentic, documentary-style portfolio.

Icebergs off the coast of the Bear Islands in Greenland, with steep coastal cliffs looming behind the fog.Credit: Greenland Sailing | 10-Day Photography Workshop

The next few days, you will be preoccupied photographing the icebergs of Scoresby Sound, the fjords of Milne Land and the wildlife of Hare Fjord, including Arctic foxes, snow hares, stoats, eagles and musk-oxen.

Day 6 and day 7 are focused on the dramatic mountains of Øfjord, as well as the 200 m (650 ft) basalt stacks that tower nearby. You will also embark to the nature reserve, Bjørneøe, anchoring beside the Bear Islands to turn your lens towards the seabird colonies of the North Atlantic.

Your final day in Greenland will be spent travelling the Arctic Riviera, an archipelago filled with the largest icebergs of the expedition.  

8 Day Summer Package | Iceland in Depth with a Greenland Day Tour

East Greenland is a land of enormous table-top mountains, plunging fjords, and giant icebergs in summer.Credit: 8 Day Summer Package | Iceland in Depth with a Greenland Day Tour

Day 4 of this tour package provides a chance to visit Greenland, specifically the small island village of Kulusuk. Here, you will have a guided tour of the area, paying special attention to the local architecture and way of life for Kulusuk’s three-hundred or so residents.

You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the village museum, providing unprecedented insight into the region’s history and Inuit culture. In the evening, you will return on a short flight back to Reykjavik.

The previous days will be spent in Iceland, first discovering the Snæfellsnes Peninsula—often referred to as “Iceland in Miniature” thanks to its eclectic range of natural attractions—as well as the Golden Circle trail.

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula may only be a 90 kilometre stretch, but is a microcosm of Iceland, boasting a huge array of landscapes and dramatic features.

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, comprised of Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal valley and the mighty Gullfoss waterfall.

After your return to Iceland at the end of Day 4, you will spend the following days exploring the picturesque South Coast, complete with its enchanting waterfalls, unique black sand beaches and gorgeous, ancient sea cliffs.

Enroute, you’ll stop at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, known as “The Crown Jewel of Iceland” thanks to its heavenly blue icebergs, still waters and the unbelievably beautiful surroundings of Vatnajökull National Park.

This tour is also available, with adjustments, as seen below:

Have you visited Greenland? Have you experienced both Iceland and Greenland during the same trip, or are you planning on doing so? Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below. 

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