Getting there & away
Technically it would be possible to reach Siorapaluk, the northernmost settlement in Greenland, from Canada's Ellesmere Island - either overland across the ice, as Inuit outlaw Qitdlaq did in the 1860s - or by kayak, like Jon Turk in the 1990s. Either will be an epic adventure - read Jon Turk's book Cold Oceans before you decide to attempt it. Otherwise, unless you're on a cruise, command your own boat or have sledded in from the North Pole, the only practical way to Greenland is by air. Most options are from Copenhagen (Denmark), but in summer there are limited connections from Iceland plus a handful of charter flights from Canada and Germany - at least, in some years.
There are no ferries to Greenland. Royal Arctic Line cargo ships run roughly once a week from Aalborg (Denmark), but will not accept passengers. Yachtsmen should not underestimate the severity of weather conditions. Keep a careful eye on current DMI ice reports (www.dmi.dk/dmi/index/gronland/iskort.htm). Imray (www.imray.com) sells Arctic Pilot charts (NP11 for Greenland's east coast, NP12 for the west coast) and the Faroe, Iceland and Greenland pilotage publication.
Cruises are inevitably expensive, but - when you consider Greenland's often awkward and pricey travel connections - they don't necessarily cost much more than equivalent land-based tours. Prices vary enormously according to comfort levels and the number of stops. Be aware that ice conditions can force disappointing route changes.
Arrival in Greenland is remarkably low key. Passports aren't stamped, and you might not even notice that you've passed through customs at all. Before you do so, use the on-arrival duty-free shop to stock up on relatively cheap booze. It will make great presents even if you don't drink yourself.
Year-round Air Greenland flies from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq four times weekly and to Narsarsuaq weekly. In summer there are two extra services on both routes. Either cost Dkr3607 one way (around €485). Standard return fares cost double. However, various discounts are available for unchangeable advance-purchase returns and for families travelling together. Booking six months ahead can net a considerable discount. It's well worth signing up online for Air Greenland's email bulletins; these sometimes alert you to discounts of up to 70%.
Travelling from Copenhagen to Nuuk involves a change, and costs Dkr4285 via Kangerlussuaq and Dkr4955 via Narsarsuaq.
Kastrup Airport(www.cph.dk) is 9km from the centre of Copenhagen. Trains run every 20 minutes to the central station (approximately €3, 13 minutes). Copenhagen is globally well connected, notably by airline SAS (www.scandinavian.net), part of the Star Alliance, and throughout Europe by budget airline Maersk (7010 7474; www.maersk-air.com). UK-based EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies to Copenhagen from London Stansted, Bristol, Newcastle and Berlin. Curiously, Norwegian airline Wideroe (www.wideroe.no) has a booking engine which covers several other airlines (including Maersk and SAS) and can sometimes give better prices out of Copenhagen than the airlines themselves.
Another cheap way to reach Copenhagen is by using Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) low-cost flights from London Stansted to Malmö Sturup Airport (www.lfv.se). Malmö is in Sweden, but it's easily accessed from Copenhagen via the remarkable 16km Øresund tunnel-bridge link. Connecting Flybus 737 (€15, 45 minutes) takes you directly to Copenhagen central train station. Malmo Aviation (www.snalskjutsen.com) has seasonal bargain flights from Malmö to Glasgow, Nice and Stockholm.
Many passengers will be effectively forced to spend the night in Copenhagen. In the airport complex itself is a Hilton hotel (3250 1501; fax 3252 8528; www.hilton.com). If they bed down tidily, ultra-budget travellers with next-day flight tickets are permitted to sleep till 7am in the seating area opposite the airport's main left-luggage office (between terminals 2 and 3).
In Copenhagen city a great room-finding service is available at Use-It (3373 0620; www.useit.dk; 13 Rådhusstraede; 9am-7pm mid-Jun-mid-Sep, 11am-4pm Mon-Thu & 11am-2pm Fri rest of yr), which also offers free Internet. The tourist information office (7022 2442; www.visitcopenhagen.dk; 4A Vesterbrogade; 9am-4pm Mon-Fri & 9am-2pm Sat Sep-Apr, 9am-6pm Mon-Sat May-Jun, 9am-8pm Mon-Sat & 10am-6pm Sun Jul-Aug) can also help. It charges Dkr60 per booking but is conveniently close to the train station (facing the entrance to Tivoli) and also has an airport desk (3231 2447; terminal 3; 6am-midnight).
Twice weekly from mid-June till early September, Air Iceland fly into Narsarsuaq (South Greenland) from Reykjavík (Iceland). Paperless tickets can be booked online, though the website can be somewhat temperamental - if you don't get a confirmation message on the Step 5 page, don't panic. Send an email, and Air Iceland can organise the booking manually. The flights cost Ikr30, 000 (around €340) each way, but if you book well ahead and stay less than a month it's possible to get half-price bonus fares. If you wait till June to book a summer trip, there may not be any space left whatsoever, though those prepared to gamble can occasionally find last-minute bargains. Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavík to Kulusuk, and from Reykjavík to Nerlerit Inaat (Constable Point) once or twice weekly all year. The fare to Nerlerit Inaat is Ikr30, 000 one way. From Kulusuk only, it's possible to continue to the rest of Greenland, but only at considerable expense. The summer flights to Kulusuk allow you to make a token day return to Greenland, a possibility offered by many tourist agencies in Iceland.
Air Iceland flights leave from Reykjavík City Airport (code RKV; 569 4100), which is a walkable 1.5km from BSI, Reykjavík's bus terminal, or Ikr500 by taxi. From central Reykjavík or the youth hostel take bus No 5.
Don't confuse Reykjavík City Airport with Keflavik (Reykjavík International) Airport(code KEF; www.keflavikairport.com), where virtually all of Iceland's other international flights arrive. That's some 50km to the west. Bus transfers from Keflavik to BSI cost Ikr1100; they depart around 25 minutes after each plane arrives, even late at night.
Generally, the cheapest way to reach Iceland is to fly from London Stansted to Keflavik on low-cost airline Iceland Express(550 0600; www.icelandexpress.com), which has one-way fares as low as UK₤68, taxes included. Reaching Stansted from the rest of Europe is easy with a wide variety of low-cost airlines, whose fares are often cheaper than the train from central London. Iceland Express also has fares from Copenhagen to Keflavik for around €100. Iceland's national carrier, Icelandair (www.icelandair.net), has much more comprehensive connections to 16 European cities and five American destinations (Minneapolis-St Paul, New York, Boston, Baltimore-Washington and Orlando). It can prove cost-effective to fly transatlantic on Icelandair, using its Iceland stopover as an opportunity to visit Greenland. Icelandair's London-Keflavik fares have fallen considerably to compete with Iceland Express.
Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre (590 1500; www.visitReykjavík.is; Adalstraeti 2; 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat & 10am-2pm Sun mid-Sep-May, 8.30am-7pm daily Jun-mid-Sep) has a free booking service and an extremely comprehensive accommodation listing on its website. The airport bus from Keflavik will, on request, continue past several town-centre hotels to terminate at the superbly friendly and eco-aware City Youth Hostel (553 8110; www.hostel.is; Sundlaugavegur 34).
Keflavik airport stays open all night, but Reykjavík City Airport does not.
Great Canadian Travel (204 949 0199, toll free 0800 661 3830; www.greatcanadiantravel.com) operates a handful of summer charter flights between Canada and Greenland. In 2005 departures are 10 July and 17 July from Iqaluit (airport code YFB) on Nunavut's Baffin Island to Aasiaat (code JEG) on Disko Bay, with returns a week later (one way/return C$650/1440). In August 2004 there were three additional flights from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq via Iqaluit. Flight-only tickets are sold only as a fallback for seats not filled by the company's tour groups.
In 2004 Troll Tours (82 92210; www.trolltours.de, in German) operated direct flights between Frankfurt and Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) for the bargain price of €699 return. Sadly, these were dropped in 2005 but may be restarted in future years. Check the website just in case.
Greenland's main international airports are at Kangerlussuaq (code SFJ) and Narsarsuaq (code UAK; 665266). Departure tax is paid when purchasing tickets.
The only scheduled airlines licensed to serve Greenland:
Air Greenland (code GL; Greenland 343434, Denmark 3231 4223; www.airgreenland.com) The national carrier.
SAS (code SK; Denmark 7010 2000, Greenland 841030, UK 0870-6072 7727, USA 800-221 2350; www.scandinavian.net; hub Copenhagen) Not operating to Greenland at the time of writing, but plans future code-sharing with Air Greenland.