An Inconvenient Trip (No Longer)


Not long ago, Americans traveling to Greenland had to fly from North America over the world’s largest island to land in Denmark, where they would change planes, then fly halfway back to where they had started to finally make landfall. The routing more than doubled the time required to get to Greenland. Returning home required doing the route in reverse.

Recently, however, Air Greenland put the Arctic island nation at North America’s doorstep, with direct flights from Baltimore to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland’s largest airport, where a sign points to the North Pole, 3 hours, 15 minutes north.

Leave bustling Baltimore to land in Greenland fewer than five hours later. From Kangerlussuaq, it’s a little more than 20 miles to the vast Greenland Ice Sheet, which covers (for now, at least) 80 percent of the island. And it’s only a short flight to Nuuk, Greenland’s largest city (population 15,000). Or if you prefer to stay above the Arctic Circle, board a short flight to plant your feet in Sisimiut (pictured).

Here, and elsewhere in Greenland, you’ll find Arctic wildlife (Polar Bears sometimes show up in towns), mountains domed by snow and the glow of the Midnight Sun and an authentic Inuit culture. Dine on reindeer, or at Nuuk’s modern Hotel Hans Egede sample muskox beer.

Greenland is a land of contrasts. In one Greenlander’s home, CNN aired on a large flat-panel television (every Greenlander seems to own one), while the large living-room window looked out on a landscape that hasn’t changed since theVikings were here a millennia ago.

No roads connect the villages in this self-governing Danish province. But flying isn’t the only way to travel from village to village. You can travel by ship — on Hurtigruten’s brand new Fram, built specifically for cruising Greenland.

Expeditions from eight to 15 days are offered May through September.

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