How to get from Down Under (Australia) to Up Over (Greenland)

Photo: Steve Pearce Photography – An Aussie who travelled to East Greenland!

How the heck do you get from Australia to Greenland? Well you certainly can’t walk there!

I’ve planned to write this for a veeeeeeeery long time, so that I could just send this link over each time a friend asked how to get here without really meaning it. Yes, if you are reading this, you might be one of those ‘friends’…. =) Getting to Up Over from Down Under isn’t going to be cheap, but the flight isn’t as expensive as you might imagine it to be. Here’s what I recommend!

STEP 1: WHAT’S YOUR END GAME?
In this case, the best way to work is backwards. Your final destination should influence how you travel to Greenland, because there aren’t always that many flight routes each week trafficking this big island. For example, do you want to travel to East Greenland or West Greenland, South Greenland or North Greenland? Are you going in the summer time or the winter time? Obviously, there are more flight routes in the summer time.

  • If you want to go to East Greenland, then there are many options from Iceland.
  • If you want to go anywhere else, Denmark might be your preferred option, although Iceland also provides some flight paths.
  • Kangerlussuaq is the main airport hub in Greenland. From there you can fly anywhere. There is a very convenient flight from Copenhagen with Air Greenland there.

Research what you want to see before, and then this will help you to decide how to travel.

STEP 2: THE LONG HAUL FLIGHT
For an Australian to travel to Greenland they have to get to Europe or North America first. It’s gonna be a long trip, so the direction you fly should depend on where you want to see. Personally I think the most direct route is to fly from Australia to Copenhagen, and then onwards to Greenland.

  • Australia to Europe: Including a stopover in Asia, one will need to travel at least 25 hours to get to Europe. The end destination should either be Copenhagen or Iceland. Getting to Iceland directly is not very cost-effective, so the few from Down Under who I’ve met in Up Over have flown to London and then over to Iceland on a cheapie ticket.
    A flight costing A$ 1600 return is really cheap. If you find anything below A$ 2000 you’ve got an alright deal. For the record I’ve never flown for anything over A$ 1900.
  • Australia to North America: The other alternative is to travel the other way around the world, and fly to the USA. From a few destinations like Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago and so on, it is also possible to get to Iceland or Copenhagen. It makes sense to go via Iceland if you’re coming from the USA. The flying hours will be shorter than if you go to Denmark, and then you fly directly to Greenland. The only thing is that the flight route between Iceland and Greenland is rather volatile. The flight is always cancelled due to storms between the two countries – make sure you get comprehensive insurance. In Greenland many use Gouda Travel.
  • TIP: It’s ok to buy single air tickets to and from Greenland. I don’t think it is much more expensive if you just buy a one-way ticket as opposed to a return. This way, you can consider flying in from one destination and flying out of another. Let me give you this ‘real-life’ example.

POPULAR ‘AFFORDABLE’ FLIGHT ROUTES:

  1. Sydney – London – Iceland – Greenland (Ilulissat) and back again.
    A girl who is travelling here contacted me on my blog. She really want to go to Greenland, but can only afford to visit one place (you will see why….)
    Sydney to London return – A$ 1600 (Qantas)
    London to Iceland return – A$ 300 (Easy Jet)
    Iceland to Ilulissat return – A$ 1700 (Air Iceland)Total: A$ 3600
  2. Sydney – London – Reykjavik (Iceland) – Ilulissat via boat to Nuuk (Greenland) – Reykjavik and back again.
    I recommended two routes to my brothers: one with the world heritage siteofIlulissat (ICEBERGS!), and one without. They kinda have no choice but to come to Nuuk! Note that you could probably find a similar ticket via Copenhagen insteadofReykjavik if you’re early enough. If you’re looking for less legs, going via Denmark saves you one trip.

    The trip with Ilulissat includes a 1.5 day transport boat trip from Ilulissat to Nuuk on Arctic Umiaq Line. It’s pretty cool, because you also get to stop by three other cities (Aasiaat, Sisimiut and Maniitsoq) for a short but decent amount of time.
    If you choose the cheapest seat, you’ll be sharing space in the downstairs galley. It will set you back about 2000 DKK, or A$ 400. I will be going to Ilulissat in July, and I’ve opted for the four-bedder cabin since we are four travelling together. That costs 3165 DKK, or A$ 650, but it means you can close the door and have a bit of privacy.

    These quotes are about 6 months in advance:

    With Ilulissat including boat trip
    Sydney to London return – A$ 2000 (Cathay Pacific)
    London to Reykjavik return – A$ 300 (Easy Jet)
    Reykjavik to Ilulissat – A$ 800 (Air Iceland)
    Ilulissat to Nuuk via ferry – A$ 400+ (Arctic Umiaq Line)
    Nuuk to Reykjavik – A$ 450 (Air Iceland)

    Total: From A$ 4000 including all transfers

    Without Ilulissat
    Sydney to London return – A$ 2000 (Cathay Pacific)
    London to Reykjavik return – A$ 300 (Easy Jet)
    Reykjavik to Nuuk return: A$ 810 (Air Iceland)

    Total: From A$ 3100

  3. Sydney – Copenhagen – Narsarsuaq – Nuuk – Ilulissat – Copenhagen – Sydney  
    A lovely couple stayed with us while in Nuuk, the second stop in a big trip around Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands. They really wanted to see South Greenland so they started off there. This is the shortened version of the trip.
    Sydney to Copenhagen return – A$ 1600 flight (Finnair)
    Copenhagen to Narsarsuaq or Nanortalik – about A$ 650 (Air Greenland)
    Narsarsuaq or Nanortalik to Nuuk –  A$ 370+ (Air Greenland)
    Nuuk to Ilulissat via ferry – A$ 400+ (Arctic Umiaq Line)
    Ilulissat to Copenhagen – A$ 470+ (Air Greenland)
    Total: A$ 3490
  4. Brisbane – London – Reykjavík – Kulusuk (East Greenland) and back again.
    Aussie Photographer Steve Pearce did a personal creative project all the way in East Greenland. Over 16 days he skied 300 kilometres through frozen fjords and nature. He also took Easy Jet over from London to Iceland.
    Brisbane to London return – A$ 1400 (Emirates)
    London to Reykjavik return – A$ 300 (Easy Jet)
    Reykjavik to Kulusuk return – A$ 700 (Air Iceland)Total: A$ 2400


AIRLINES:

For Europe:
These are the airlines I’ve taken before to Europe which have been offered the best deals. My best deal to date has been my one-way ticket from Sydney to Copenhagen with Singapore Airlines – A$ 800, 30 kilos baggage, 24 hours flight (that’s pretty damn short!). WOO!

Getting to Greenland/Iceland:

Australian Travel Agents specialising in the Nordic areas:

Well there you go, some information about Greenland. Is that really expensive? I guess so…we haven’t even started calculating expenses like accommodation, day tours and food yet. But you’ll hopefully experience something totally unique and memorable.
I should mention that there are some affordable accommodation options, though not many. One day in the distant future I might write a post about a few cheap places I’ve heard of…If you have any tips to share, or would like me to write about something in particular, please do tell!
PS Did anyone get my lame joke? Up Over? Haa haa… I think that’s a keeper!!

5 thoughts on “How to get from Down Under (Australia) to Up Over (Greenland)

  1. Pingback: Winter break at Kangi Ski Center | The Fourth Continent

  2. Pingback: How to Get to Greenland | Adventures of a Polarphile

  3. Pingback: Team Greenland to Alaska – Arctic Winter Games, 2014 | The Fourth Continent

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