Iceland vs. Greenland: Which Should You Visit?

Iceland and Greenland are first-class destinations and should be on the agenda for any travel enthusiast. 

They share some similarities, like their weather and adventurous terrain, and both countries have unique characters, cuisines, histories, and cultures. But, they are very different places. 

Today, we explore the rich wonders of both Iceland and Greenland so that you can decide which Arctic vision fulfills your desires.

Related: “Ultimate Travel Guide to Vietnam”

Outdoor Adventures

Traveling to Iceland and Greenland is heaven on earth for outdoor lovers and adventurers. Both countries offer a ton of opportunities for hiking, paddling, and diving. 

Hiking in Iceland offers a variety of diverse terrain and hiking challenges like the Glymur waterfall, trekking on glaciers, and walking along the spine of dormant volcanoes. Explorers can also visit the abandoned village of Hesteyri in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. 

If you’re an animal enthusiast, you can go horseback riding across Iceland’s beautiful landscape. 

However, if you prefer kayaking and fishing, Greenland has some of the best spots to enjoy those activities. Who wouldn’t want to cast a line in Narsaq by the Ilua River and take their chances at catching an Arctic char?

You can also kayak along the lake and plateau trail of the Tunulliarfik Fjord and take in the gorgeous sight of the Qoornoq Glacier.

Natural Wonders

Iceland and Greenland are renowned for their amazing natural wonders. Iceland has stunning black sand beaches, glaciers in abundance, waterfalls, mountain ranges, and volcanoes. 

It also has relaxing hot springs which are perfect for soaking your muscles after a long day of adventuring. 

Iceland also offers explorers unique diving and snorkeling experiences. In Iceland, you can swim and snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in the clear, cool waters of the Silfra Fissure. 

Similarly to Iceland, Greenland sports stunning mountains, icebergs, waterfalls, and fjords. The landscape is vast and unspoiled by industry. Their waterfalls and glaciers are known for having the cleanest drinking water in the world.

If you choose to visit Greenland, we recommend going for a hike to Qaqortoq’s Lake Tasersuaq. The lake is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and is easily accessible from the village. You could also explore the fjords of Greenland by boat or kayak. If you’re lucky, you might spot some whales on your journey.

Cultural Experiences

Greenland and Iceland both have histories marked by Viking explorers; however, you’d be remiss to assume that their cultures, histories, and languages are the same. In Iceland, Icelandic is the official language most people speak. In Greenland, people speak Greenlandic. However, most people in both countries also speak English. 

If you choose to visit Iceland, you’ll have the opportunity to discover interesting facts about Viking heritage, and the legends tied to folklore. We recommend you visit Reykjavik and explore the myriad of museums that highlight the rich history and culture of Iceland. 

Greenland’s historical focus is on the Inuit people and various indigenous groups. Their museums, like the Qaqortoq Museum, explore the cultural activities of these groups, like hunting, and fishing. 

We recommend you check out the Red Room and Blue Room, learn all about the history of Norse settlers, and check out ancient artifacts like kayaks, traditional huts, and harpoons.

Wildlife Encounters

Whether traveling to Iceland or Greenland, travelers will be exposed to a vast array of wildlife. You’ll be able to learn about different animals, see their natural habitat and, if you’re lucky, you could go whale-watching. 

The main difference between Greenland and Iceland is that in Iceland, you’ll be able to head out on a boat and see all of the whale species that inhibit the Icelandic waters. In Greenland, you have the option of viewing the whales from the safety of the shore. Greenland also offers a large variety of whale species, like the Humpback, minke, orca, and pilot. 

The Icelandic horse, puffins, sheep, and Arctic foxes are among the other species found in Iceland. We recommend visiting Sudavik, a tiny fishing community in the Westfjords area, where you can learn about Iceland’s Arctic fox population through a series of displays at the Arctic Fox Center.

Musk ox, seals, and even polar bears can be found in Greenland. While kayaking the fjords surrounding Qaqortoq, you may see seals and Arctic species such as the white-tailed eagle, Atlantic puffin, and cormorant.

Weather and Seasons

While both Iceland and Greenland are known for their harsh winters and chilly temperatures, however, Iceland tends to be slightly milder. We recommend visiting in the summer season, especially if you’re hoping to enjoy the great outdoors. No matter what time of year you go, we do recommend packing warmly.  

If you opt for visiting in June, you’ll enjoy the stunning midsummer season where the sun barely dips below the horizon. A trip in September could allow you to see the amazing Northern Lights. 

Iceland receives more rain than Greenland, with spring being wetter than summer, feeding the many waterfalls. Iceland may also be incredibly windy.

Greenland has a mostly dry climate with little humidity. Don’t expect to sit on the beach either; instead, bring walking boots and waterproofs and be prepared to encounter the elements.

Accessibility and Infrastructure

The accessibility and convenience of travel between Greenland and Iceland will influence your decision. For those interested in seeing the sites on their own, Iceland is the best option due to its efficient road network, albeit distances might be deceptively long.

Greenland is significantly more isolated and lacks the road infrastructure that Iceland has between communities. In Greenland, most people travel by boat or plane between locations. It’s doubtful that you’d be able to hire a car here.

Budget Considerations

Which is more expensive? Greenland or Iceland? Although neither is a cheap vacation, a trip to Iceland is likely to be less expensive.

Tour fees, food, and lodging are comparable in both nations, but because Iceland has more options, you’re more likely to find low-cost lodging or a cheap lunch there.

And transportation expenses are unquestionably greater in Greenland. Greenland is costly to get to and around, but Iceland is well-served by inexpensive flights and offers good value public transportation once there.

So, if you’re on a tight budget, we recommend Iceland.

When you travel somewhere after planning for a long time, you’re bound to create memories. To hold on to these memories, you need to make sure you commemorate and celebrate the day with the people you went on the journey with. 

Having a personalized plan to spend those special moments will create a lasting impression on you that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. So, get as creative as you can and make the day as memorable as possibl

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