Photo: Kedardome/Shutterstock

Traveling to the Northernmost City in the World Is a Lot Easier Than You Think

by Morgane Croissant May 21, 2024

The world is a very big place, but advancements in the field of air travel have made it a lot easier to visit every nook and cranny of it, even the most remote. Case in point: Qaanaaq, Greenland, is as remote as it gets, yet you can get there relatively easily.

Qaanaaq, Greenland, the northernmost city in the world.

Photo: Kedardome/Shutterstock

Located in the northwest of Greenland, this city of around 650 people came to be in 1953, when two settlements in the area were moved to Qaanaaq for the construction of the US air base known as Pituffik Space Base (formerly known as Thule).

While it is very small, Qaanaaq is considered a city, unlike Longyearbyen in Svalbard, which is located at a higher latitude but is recognized as a settlement. (Longyearbyen’s latitude is 77.8750° N while Qaanaap’s is 77.4670° N.)

Qupanuk Olsen, the woman behind Q’s Greenland, a social media channel all about the world’s largest island, recently traveled to Qaanaaq. To get there, she simply flew with Air Greenland from Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, to Ilulissat on the western coast, and then to Qaanaaq. The trip of about 745 miles requires spending around four hours in the air in a twin-engine turboprop airplane.

Unsurprisingly, there is a very limited number of flight per week to and from Qaanaaq from Ilulissat and Upernavik, the two airports in Greenland that provide connections from Nuuk.

To get to Nuuk, however, is a lot easier, although it currently can only be done directly from Copenhagen in Denmark or Keflavik in Iceland. Starting in June 2024 and until October 2024, seasonal flights between Iqaluit, Canada, and Nuuk, Greenland, operated by Air Greenland, will provide the only direct commercial air link between North America and Greenland. (After all, Canada is only 103 miles from Greenland.)

While Olsen is Greenlandic, she had never visited the northernmost city in the world until now. Through her Instagram posts, she takes us all around Qaanaaq while she tries out local food such as fermented narwhal meat, goes dog sledding, and meets local Inughuit people.

The people of Qaanaaq still rely on ancestral traditions for their survival, such as fishing and hunting with dog sleds and kayaks. They also speak a Greenlandic dialects that’s used only by a few hundred people: North Greenlandic, AKA avanersuarmiutut.

If you plan to visit Qaanaaq, just remember that, because it is so far above the Arctic Circle, for five months out the year, in the summer, the sun never sets; and for 3.5 months out of the year, in winter, the sun never rises above the horizon.

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