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Wonders of Greenland

Summer in Greenland
Summer in Greenland. / Greenland Travel, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Although Greenland is the largest island in the world, its wonders and landmarks are surprisingly little known.

The middle part of the island is covered with an ice shield but the extensive, jagged "rims" of the island are very interesting. Here are found unique minerals and rocks, hot springs, endemic plants, ruins of old Viking buildings (the only true medieval European architecture in America!).

Most memorable is the breathtaking scenery of this northern land. Greenland offers harsh, rugged sights, but in the late spring the meadows are covered with millions of flowers – and in the south could be found even a small forest!

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Greenland

Geological wonders

Ilulissat Icefjord (Kangia)

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

A unique fjord with Sermeq Kujalleq glacier at its end. This is the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere flowing 40 m per day and producing many icebergs. Many icebergs are up to 1 km high and remain stranded in the fjord until pushed by the force of glacier again.

Ilulissat Icefjord
Ilulissat Icefjord. / Guido Appenzeller, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Ikaite tufa columns in Ikka Fjord


Almost unique phenomenon – submarine tufa columns created by cold seeps from submarine springs. Columns are formed of ikaite – an unstable mineral that disintegrates in temperatures above 6 – 7 ° C. In total there are more than 600 such columns up to 18 m tall.

Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord, Greenland
Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord / Screenshot from Youtube video, Jesper Kikkenborg
Kullorsuaq (Devil’s Thumb)

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

Spectacular, 546 m tall rock pinnacle.

Kullorsuaq - Devil's Thumb, Greenland
Kullorsuaq – Devil’s Thumb / Algkalv, / CC BY-SA 3.0
Elephant Foot Glacier

Northeast Greenland National Park

An unusual glacier – a giant poodle of ice. This near-perfect circular glacier has a diameter of 5 km.

Elephant Foot Glacier
Elephant Foot Glacier. / Jim Secosky modified NASA image, Wikimedia Commons / public domain


Very tall monolith resembling a very steep pyramid. This pinnacle rises more than 1 km tall above the surroundings.

Ulamertorsuaq and Ketil
Ulamertorsuaq (to the right) and Ketil (to the left). / David Stanley, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Maujit Qaqarssuasia (Thumbnail)


One of the tallest cliffs in the world, rising 1,560 m tall over the fjord. It reaches this height over a distance of some 860 m. Located in one of the most rugged mountain regions of the world. It is well possible that there are taller and steeper cliffs elsewhere in Greenland.

Uunartoq geothermal springs


Group of warm springs, the temperature of the water – 34 – 38 ° C. The only hot springs in Greenland where one can bathe – and actively used for this. Next to the springs stand the ruins of a monastery that was built around the 11th century.

Uunartoq geothermal springs, Greenland
Uunartoq geothermal springs / Svíčková, / public domain
Qorlortorsuaq (waterfall)


Reportedly the largest waterfall in Greenland, although this enormous island has countless very tall and often – powerful waterfalls that are not listed.

Ilimaussaq intrusive complex


Very unusual alkalic intrusion, 8 by 17 km large. Contains numerous unique types of rocks and many very rare minerals, uranium deposits, and large deposits of rare earth elements and other rare metals.

Tugtupite from Tunulliarfik Fjord, IlĂŤmaussaq complex
Tugtupite from Tunulliarfik Fjord, IlĂŤmaussaq complex. / GĂ©ry Parent, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0


The second-largest deposit of rare earth oxides in the world, also a very rich find of uranium. Minerals are enclosed in a unique rock named lujavrite, some minerals are fluorescent.

Villiaumitic lujavrite, Kvanefjeld
Villiaumitic lujavrite, Kvanefjeld. / James St. John, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Qeqertarsuatsiaat ruby find (Ruby Island)


Rich find of gem quality rubies and sapphires – gemstones are included in anorthosite rock.

Biological wonders

Qinngua Valley


The only forest in Greenland, with willows and birches several meters high. Valley has more than 300 species of plants. This is a place of unsurpassed beauty, with a clean river and tall, snow-clad mountains around.

Forested valley in Greenland, possibly - Qinngua Valley, Greenland
Forested valley in Greenland, possibly – Qinngua Valley / Visit Greenland, Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Ymer Island

Northeast Greenland National Park

Devonian sediments on this island have provided rich and very interesting finds of fossils belonging to early fishes and tetrapods. Here have been discovered fossils of Ymeria and Ichthyostega.

Ymer Island
Ymer Island. / Jerzystrzelecki, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Architecture wonders



Erik the Red’s estate, established at the end of the 10th century AD. Here most likely was built the first Christian church in New World – Þjóðhildarkirkja. This small chapel is reconstructed now. Another church was built in the 14th century, with tombstones and runes for Ingibjørg’s Grave. The best farmland in Greenland is here.

Reconstruction of Viking church in BrattahlĂ­Ă°
Reconstruction of Viking church in BrattahlĂ­Ă°. / claire rowland, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Hvalsey Fjord Church


Ruins of the oldest original church in the Americas, built in the late 10th century by Vikings. The church was built from enormous stone blocks, some up to 5 tons heavy. It fell into disuse in the 15th century.

Ruins of Hvalsey Fjord Church - the only remaining early medieval European structure in America, Greenland
Ruins of Hvalsey Fjord Church – the only remaining early medieval European structure in America / Number 57, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Ameralik Span


The longest span of overhead power transmission line in the world. The length of the span is 5,376 m, constructed in 1993.

Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility


An ionospheric and atmospheric research facility with more than 20 instruments. Most recognizable is the L band incoherent scatter radar with 32 m large antenna.

Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility, Greenland
Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility / Visit Greenland, / CC BY 2.0
Kingittorsuaq Runestone and cairns

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

Northernmost Viking site. On the summit of this small, rocky island in 1824 was discovered a Viking runestone that was located in the group of three cairns. Stone was engraved in the 12th or 13th century, part of this inscription has not been deciphered and might be a secret, coded message.

Moravian Brethren Mission House


Large historical building, constructed in 1747 from wood that was shipped from the Netherlands. Served as a center of the Moravian Brethren Mission in Greenland.

Moravian Brethren Mission House, Nuuk
Moravian Brethren Mission House, Nuuk / Algkalv, / CC BY-SA 3.0


This abandoned mining town developed around the only large find of cryolite in the world. Cryolite – an important agent in the extraction of aluminum – was discovered here in 1799, and mining took place from 1859 to 1987. Today natural cryolite is replaced with synthetic one.

Ivittuut - former cryolite mine, Greenland
Ivittuut – former cryolite mine / Visit Greenland, / CC BY 2.0
Bethel-kirken, Sisimiut

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

The oldest standing church in Greenland, built in 1775.

Bethel-kirken, Sisimiut
Bethel-kirken, Sisimiut. / David Stanley, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Paul Egede’s house in Qasigiannguit

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

The oldest surviving wooden building in Greenland, constructed in 1734 and moved to its present location in 1806. Now it serves as a museum.



Ruins of a homestead that was built by Vikings around 1000. This area contains many ruins of Norse buildings. Nearby are located some of the few plots of arable land in Greenland.

Old Sisimiut

Qaasuitsup (includes the Thule Air Base)

Group of historical buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, part of them brought from nearby villages.

Old Sisimiut
Old Sisimiut. / Greenland Travel, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Nuuk Cathedral


A red church building, constructed from wood in 1849.

Nuuk Cathedral
Nuuk Cathedral. / David Stanley, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

Trekking in Greenland: The Arctic Circle Trail

Greenland is a harsh environment, largely covered in ice, but it is also a fascinating place to explore, especially on foot in remote places, and in the summer months it can be surprisingly easy. A great way to do it is by tackling the Arctic Circle Trail – a splendid trekking route that fits neatly into one of the largest ice-free areas of West Greenland, 40-50 km (25-30 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland

For the last decade, Gretel Ehrlich has been obsessed by an island, a terrain, a culture, and the treacherous beauty of a world that is defined by ice. In This Cold Heaven she combines the story of her travels with history and cultural anthropology to reveal a Greenland that few of us could otherwise imagine.

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