What Is Greenland Like in Summer? Here's Why You Have to Visit This Breathtaking Country

Despite oft-cold temperatures, there are thriving flora throughout the country.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jun. 17 2024, Published 1:04 p.m. ET

Colorful houses are pictured at sunset in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.
Source: iStock

Amid a climate crisis that is causing unexpected patterns of behavior in Greenland's animals, as well as uncommon weather and ice sheets melting in surprising areas of the country, it is imperative to witness the breathtaking beauty of Greenland and protect its natural resources before it is too late.

If you're planning a trip to Greenland this summer, you'll want to heed this guide to stay safe, stay respectful of the land, and enjoy the miraculous beauty around you.

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With Greenland losing nearly 300 billion tons of ice melt annually, here's why you should plan a visit as soon as possible so that you can experience the wonders of the country and learn how to protect them.

The Aurora Borealis is pictured above an iceberg on the coast of Greenland.
Source: iStock
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What's Greenland like in the summer? The temperatures are relatively cold.

The best advice to prepare for your summer trip to Greenland is to dress in layers.

Per Visit Greenland, you may experience any of four climate classifications depending on where you visit throughout the country: the cold desert climate, the cool summers of the boreal forest, the cold summers of the polar tundra climate, and the "perpetual frost climate" of the polar ice sheets.

Average temperatures in the summer are about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the south of the country, per Visit Greenland, temperatures may approach 70 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity.

According to Secret Atlas, wildlife such as musk oxen, arctic hares, and reindeer are more visible in the summer as the flora flourishes with the melting snow.

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Rain is fairly rare in Greenland, too, per Secret Atlas, which notes that the Sahara Desert experiences more rainfall per year than the Arctic Desert.

According to Greenland Travel, the country lives up to its name in the summertime, with stunning greenery throughout portions of the country. It's a tourist-friendly season due to the ample opportunities for outdoor sports and exploring.

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Is it always cold in Greenland?

It depends on your perception of cold, but it isn't always bone-chilling freezing in Greenland during the summer — especially with rising temperatures throughout the Arctic.

The dry winds that are characteristic of the summer season mean you'll find more people in t-shirts than you'd expect for such a generally cold country the rest of the year, per Greenland Travel.

Per the Climate Change Knowledge Portal, the summer months experience about four inches of precipitation. In the southwest part of the country, where most residents live, the average summer temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at their peak.

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What to do in Greenland in the summer:

You'll find many a social media adventurer in Greenland touting dog sledding as an activity, but we much prefer activities that honor the land and afford us a chance to witness the beautiful flora at our own pace.

Nordic Visitor recommends a summertime cruise in Greenland to view stunning glaciers — you might even spot a narwhal!

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If that's less your pace, kayaking through "glistening blue rivers that traverse glaciers" sounds like the most breathtaking activity imaginable. If you're into hiking, Visit Greenland's hiking guide notes that hikes are sometimes referred to as "walks" and "treks," so be sure to prepare accordingly for your intended adventure before you visit.

Per Quark Expeditions, you can also see the Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, beginning in late September.

It's critically important to learn about the history of the country, of which Vikings are intertwined and from whom the Greenland name reportedly originated, per the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Also, as Nordic Visitor explains, "nearly 90% of Greenlanders [are] of Inuit descent," and there are many museums and opportunities to appreciate the Indigenous culture's art, culinary customs, and ways of life.

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