Holiday Areas, Greenland
Most vacation areas of Greenland are on the west coast, which has the mildest climate. Prominent features of coastal towns are fishing vessels and small, gaily painted wooden houses. Icebergs move into the sea from the coastal waters.
Narsarsuaq in southern Greenland is a base for walking tours; information about these can be obtained from tourist offices and hotels. Excursions to sights in the vicinity include those to ruins of the period 985-1500, including the Hvalsey Viking Church, to the inland ice and to fishing settlements. There is also a South Greenland Program which includes a stay in Narsaq, Qaqortoq/Julienehåb and Nanortalik. Nanortalik is a busy place, especially in early summer when seals swim along the coast. A visit to the museum in the Old Town is recommended, and popular excursions include those to the mountains near Nanortalik and the islands off the coast with their colonies of birds.
Nuuk/Godthåb, population 13,000 and the capital and administrative center of Greenland, is a popular place with visitors. The town has a number of schools, specialist shops and cafes.The Local Museum is of interest; it contains a collection of hunting equipment, kayaks, carvings and Viking finds, and also mounts exhibitions of geology, applied arts and folk art. Visitors will also be interested in the mummies of women and children which were found in 1978 in the grave of Qilakitsoq near Uummannaq; they are so well preserved that some of the facial tattoos and the various colors of the material of the 15th C. clothes are still recognizable. Note Hans Egede's house in the Old Harbor.Nuuk is the atarting point for tours of the Godthåb Fjord, one of Greenland's most beautiful regions. Here there is a mild climate, with grass and flowers growing on the cliffs; fishing is possible.
On the west coast north of Nuuk lies Sisimiut, a fishing port with a wharf. East from here at the end of the fjord lies Kangerlussuaq/Stromfjord, with Greenland's major airport. Between Nuuk and Sondre Stromfjord walking tours (including a visit to the inland ice) are organized and in winter there are safaris on skis. To the south, near Manitsoq, there is a ski center.
Disko Island lies off the west coast of Greenland, and Disko Bay is to the south of the island. Qeqertarsuag/Godhavn, the largest place on Disko Island, was once a base for whalers. Nearby the University of Copenhagen has set up a research station with the aim of studying biological and ecological conditions in the Arctic.
On Greenland's Disko Bay lies Ilulissat/Jacobshavn, a section of coast where huge glaciers "calve", meaning that icebergs break off from them and float out into the coastal waters. Holidaymakers can watch this natural spectacle. The Danish explorer Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen (1879-1933), the son of a pastor, was born in Jacobshavn; the family's wooden house is now a museum.
For a long time few visitors came to the eastern side of Greenland because of the severe climate. Today, however, Tasiilaq/Ammassalik is the destination of short trips from Iceland. In addition to the impressive landscape visitors will find some beautiful traditional handicrafts.
Greenland National Park
There are only two towns on the east coast of Greenland. Near the second of these, Ittoqqortoormiit/Scoresbysund, stretches the world's largest National Park, covering an area of 972,000sq.km/375,000sq.mi, or more than Great Britain and France combined. Examples of almost all Greenland's fauna are to be found here - polar bears, musk-oxen, walruses, sea-lions, foxes and numerous birds.
Greenland - Northwest & Thule
In 1910 Knud Rasmussen and Peter Freuchen founded a trading post in northwest Greenland and named it after the legendary island of Thule, which is said to have existed north of the British Isles. The U.S. air base of Dundas, which was set up on the site of the old trading post during the Second World War, has since been extended. The village of Thule (Greenlandic Qaanaaq) was moved north in 1953 to Murchison Sound, 200km/120mi to the north, because the noise of aircraft disturbed the seals and birds on which the Eskimos depend for their living. Present-day Greenlanders are in the main descendants of the Thule Eskimos.From Thule Rasmussen undertook seven expeditions into the Arctic where he investigated the various Eskimo tribes and researched their myths and legends especially those relating to their mutual interests. In 1921-24 he crossed the American Arctic as far as the Bering Strait. "Knud Rasmussen Land", in northern Greenland, is named after him; he died in Copenhagen in 1933.The Hvalsund Fiord in Thule is now a cruise ship destination.