Last Updated on by Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone
Have a trip planned to Greenland? But wondering how to make the most of your visit while still sticking to your budget? Then read on for 9 money-saving tips for Greenland travel!
Greenland easily ranks as one of my favorite places on the planet.
Between its untamed, rugged environment….
…its boundless ice sheet stretching thousands of miles in all directions…
…and the lonely, remote beauty of its mountains, glaciers, and tundra landscape….
…there’s truly no other place in the world quite like it.
But if you’ve done any sort of research on “how to plan a trip to Greenland,” then you’ve probably noticed one thing: Greenland travel does *not* come cheap.
The reality is that with the high costs of flights, accommodation, and excursions, a trip to Greenland – no matter how spectacular – isn’t exactly easy on the wallet.
Nevertheless, based on our experiences during two separate trips to Greenland, we found that there are a few steps you can take to ease some of those costs.
Which brings us to the topic of today’s article with 9 tips for traveling to Greenland on a budget.
But before we get there, I know you might be wondering…
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How much does a trip to Greenland cost, anyway?
Of course, your final Greenland trip expenses will depend on the destinations you choose to visit, what activities you plan to take part in, and your travel dates.
But to give you a ballpark of some of the “minimum” costs you can expect, I’ve listed out a breakdown of our personal trip costs below.
Given that we tend to be pretty budget-conscious travelers, these costs are based on the cheapest options we could possibly find for our flights, accommodation, and the excursions/activities we wanted to do.
While there may be limited room for cost savings when it comes to your flights and accommodation (though you’ll find tips below for that!), you can certainly reduce your costs by cutting back on the number of excursions and activities you partake in.
But as you can see in our list of trip costs below, we set aside a significant budget for paid tours, excursions, and activities in Greenland that we were unable to do independently.
Since we were unsure if we’d be able to come to Greenland again (and since we’d already paid so much to get there!), we made the decision *not* to skip out on certain experiences just because they were more than what we’d usually spend.
So, we did our best to budget accordingly and save up in advance of our trip. But the choice of how much you spend on these types of activities is ultimately up to you!
Without further ado, here’s that breakdown of our trip costs in Greenland (note that DKK stands for Danish Kroner, as Greenland is a Danish territory and uses the same currency):
- Roundtrip flight from Copenhagen to Ilulissat with an overnight layover each way in Kangerlussuaq = about 450 euros each (note that this is NOT the standard flight price; the average is closer to 700+ euros)
- Accommodation at the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel for our overnight layover each way = 275 DKK per night in the cheapest dorm room available, plus 250 DKK for checking in outside the reception hours (yes, the fee for this is almost the same price as the room…it’s annoying, but our flight was late and we didn’t have a choice!)
- Day trip to the ice sheet in Kangerlussuaq (which I would HIGHLY recommend if you have a long enough layover in Kangerlussuaq…see tip #5 in our article here for more on this) = 695-995 DKK, depending on the length of your tour
- The cheapest possible accommodation we could find in Ilulissat (a homestay) = 1,000 DKK per night, divided between the two of us
- 3-hour boat trip to the Ilulissat icefjord (a true must-do if you’re in Ilulissat!!): 695 DKK
- 3-hour kayak trip among the icebergs in Ilulissat: 995 DKK
- Full-day adventure starting in Ilulissat that included a boat trip, a hike to a waterfall, and a visit to a settlement: 1,450 DKK
- Food: we only ate at the grocery store…so our costs were low enough here that we didn’t take notes of the final number 🙂
Our trip total (per person) for a 6-day trip to Greenland including roundtrip flights from Copenhagen, two nights in Kangerlussuaq, three nights in Ilulissat, and a generous number of paid excursions and activities = 9,695 DKK (about 1,300 euros)
It’s worth mentioning that we didn’t take any internal flights or other forms of domestic transportation (like the ferry) within Greenland. Domestic travel can be quite expensive, so do make sure to factor it into your budget if it’s part of your Greenland itinerary.
And if you’re not in Europe, then make sure to factor in the cost of your flight to Copenhagen, as well.
(P.S. If you’d like to see a bit more about the tours we did in Ilulissat that I mentioned above, take a look at our article here: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Ilulissat)
All that said…let’s get on to the tips!
9 tips for visiting Greenland on a budget
1. Book your trip as early as possible.
There’s a reason that this is tip #1 in this article here and in my other article: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Ilulissat, Greenland’s ‘City of Icebergs.’
And my reason is simple: it’s one of the most crucial pieces of advice I can give to anyone planning a trip to Greenland.
For one, you’re going to want to secure your bookings – for your flights, accommodation, and excursions – early so they don’t book out (which happens often if you’re visiting a place like Ilulissat during high season).
But beyond that, booking early can really help you save on costs, especially when it comes to grabbing the more budget-friendly accommodation options before they sell out.
To give you some context, we booked our most recent trip to Greenland (Ilulissat) 9 months in advance and still had trouble finding reasonably-priced accommodation.
2. Set flight alerts.
Apart from accommodation, your second biggest expense will likely be your flight to Greenland, usually from Copenhagen via Air Greenland or from Iceland via Air Iceland (as of now, these are the only two airlines serving Greenland).
On average, roundtrip flights will cost you 600 or 700+ euros.
However, our own trip to Greenland was initially inspired by an unexpected Google Flight alert notifying us of a Copenhagen-Ilulissat flight in mid-September for just 400 euros.
We realized that we likely weren’t going to see a price like this again, so we jumped at the opportunity and got ourselves tickets ASAP.
In other words, it is possible to find some flight deals to Greenland with a bit of patience and flexibility!
3. Consider visiting during Greenland’s “shoulder” season.
Throughout Greenland, the peak travel season is during the summer months of June, July, and August. Predictably, this period is also one of the most expensive times of the year to travel to Greenland.
To be fair, there are very compelling reasons to visit during the summer: more predictable weather, more reliable transportation, and the availability of most activities and excursions.
Personally, we weren’t interested in visiting during the “off” season because we knew transportation could get tricky and that the cold and limited daylight hours would make the activities we wanted to do impossible.
However, we found mid to late September – just a few weeks after the peak season had ended – was just about perfect.
Not only were we able to find a more affordable flight (which would be nearly impossible during the summer), but we were able to avoid most of the summer- and cruise-season crowds. Plus, our timing still allowed us to enjoy all the activities and excursions we had in mind, as most tour companies would be closing up shop in October.
4. Consider taking a Greenlandic cruise.
Although we flew directly to Ilulissat for our most recent trip to Greenland…for our first trip to this stunning island, we actually went by cruise ship from Copenhagen!
And truthfully? The reason we chose to travel this way is because we stumbled upon a great deal that was by far the cheapest way for us to travel to Greenland. After all, the price we paid for the cruise included:
- Roundtrip transportation to Greenland from Copenhagen
- Transportation between several destinations within Greenland (Nuuk, Qaqortoq, and Ilulissat). Given the absence of roads between coastal towns as Greenland is some 80% ice, domestic transportation in Greenland can be quite difficult and expensive…so this was a pretty significant perk!
- Accommodation for the entire duration of our trip
- All our meals
- 3 bonus stops in Iceland for us to enjoy along the way 🙂
So, if you come across any Greenlandic cruises that pique your interest…I’ll leave it up to you to do the math and see how the final costs stack up!
(It’s worth mentioning that, unfortunately, our cruise ship couldn’t dock in Ilulissat as there was too much ice in the bay. We still had a great time on our cruise and this only led us to return to Ilulissat for another spectacular trip…but do keep in mind that surprises like this are part of the adventure in a place like Greenland!)
5. Skip the restaurants and eat at the grocery store.
As a Danish territory, you’ll find Danish prices (or higher) when eating out in Greenland.
Thankfully, we found that every town’s “big” supermarket would have a generous supply of fresh, pre-prepared, and budget-friendly meals (5 euros or less) that we ate instead.
(Note that you can also reduce meal costs by staying in accommodations with free breakfast or when participating in full-day excursions that include lunch, which most will.)
6. Consider “alternative” forms of accommodation, like the hostel in Kangerlussuaq or a homestay in Ilulissat.
Unfortunately, budget accommodation options are quite limited throughout Greenland.
While there used to be a hostel in Ilulissat, I believe that Kangerlussuaq – a town that will likely be your point of entry into Greenland as it houses the island’s largest airport – is currently the only town with a hostel. (Meaning Kangalussuaq may very well be the cheapest option for accommodation in all of Greenland as a result!)
So if you’re on a budget and have an overnight layover in Kangerlussuaq (something we highly recommend…and which you can read more about in tip #5 in our article here!), then definitely take a look at the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel here.
Note that you’ll have to email the hostel directly to reserve your bed. And that they are *very* strict about charging you the fee if you arrive for check-in beyond the normal reception times.
In Ilulissat, we managed to find a homestay option on Agoda. But those are few and far between (and still cost us $150 per night).
Occasionally, you can find camping options. But they are limited and are still priced quite high, particularly if you have to rent gear that can withstand the Arctic conditions.
7. Don’t forget to enjoy the free hiking trails.
While there are tons of amazing paid excursions and activities in Greenland (such as visiting the ice sheet or kayaking among icebergs), if you’re on a budget, it’s worth exploring some nearby hiking trails for a day of cost-free adventure.
Although you can hike just about anywhere in Greenland, here are some of the trails we did ourselves and enjoyed:
- Ilulissat: take a peek at our article here for details on the must-do hikes in Ilulissat
- Nuuk: Quassussuaq hill behind the airport (you’ll hike directly under the ski lift…so you really can’t miss it!)
- Qaqortoq: the Lake Tasersuaq trail, just a short walk from the town center
Note: weather conditions in Greenland can change quickly, so make sure you’re prepared. Thankfully, all the trails listed above are near towns and very easy to follow, so no extensive preparations are needed.
8. If you’re comfortable, think about including some independent multi-day hiking and camping adventures.
If you have your own gear, are confident in your fitness level, and are well-prepared for the challenges of the Greenlandic wilderness, then an independent hiking/camping adventure could be a budget-friendly way to explore.
However, I want to emphasize that you need to be very confident in your abilities before setting off, given Greenland’s incredibly harsh, isolated, and rapidly-changing environmental and weather conditions.
9. If you’re looking to travel between coastal destinations, take a look at the weekly public ferry.
As I mentioned above, traveling within Greenland can be as much of a challenge as reaching Greenland in the first place.
With the majority of Greenland covered in ice and no road connections between coastal towns, your choices are limited to flying or taking a boat (assuming the fjords are frozen over yet!).
Unsurprisingly, domestic flights within Greenland are often quite expensive. However, there is one passenger ferry that provides an alternative.
The ferry, known as Sarfaq Ittuk, is operated by Arctic Umiaq Line and makes stops in 12 locations along Greenland’s western coast.
I haven’t taken the ferry myself, but you can find more information about the ferry, including stops, schedules, and ticketing, here.
I do want to point out that the ferry service is still pretty costly and only runs once a week. But if you plan to travel extensively within Greenland, then it may be worth comparing the cost of the flights and seeing if the ferry could be cheaper overall. Plus, it would be a beautiful (and unique) way to travel!
And that’s it!
Do you have any other questions about visiting Greenland on a budget (or just visiting Greenland in general)? Or have you already been and have any tips to add?
Let us know in the comments area below and we’ll get back to you!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!
Planning your next trip?