Travel Guide

Greenland vs Iceland - Explore the Irony in The Names Yourself

27 Oct, 2021


Does this Irony really exist? It was till when, that you believed that Iceland has Ice and Greenland is Green?

A look at both the islands on the globe will force you to question - What went wrong with their names?

There are interesting tales to their names. 

As per the sagas of the Icelanders, the country got its name from a Viking, Hrafna-Floki, who travelled to this place from Norway with his family. When he arrived (about in 800 A.D), the place felt like a Paradise to him, with impressive flora and fauna.
But when winters arrived, the unprepared settlers struggled to survive the harsh climatic conditions. They waited for the spring desperately, only to leave the place. But before leaving Floki climbed up a mountain and saw a fjord, full of icebergs and gave the country its name- Iceland! Where in reality, Iceland has beautiful green landscapes with only a permanent 11 percent of icecap.

Talking about Greenland, the island was discovered by Erik the Red, who was exiled from Iceland on grounds of murdering three people during a feud. He arrived on the island in 982 A.D and found it suitable to settle.
The reasons why he named the place Greenland were, the period when he arrived there the place was actually green (there is scientific evidence based on the ice cores and fossil data, that temperatures in Greenland were higher back then). Moreover he wanted to make the place sound attractive to settlers, so that more and more people could come and join the settlement there.

Clearly Iceland was named by a Viking who saw only a small area filled with ice and gave it a conjuring name. While Greenland was named as a marketing scheme to attract settlers. 

Do they now find a place in your travel list?

Well if the rumors and the facts revolving around these two places have not triggered enough curiosity to include them in your travel list yet, they will be in a while, before this article ends. Keep reading!

Iceland- ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’

Unspoiled wilderness and majestic landscapes, Iceland has nature in abundance. Rivers, lakes, mountains, volcanoes,  glaciers, and caves, you can breathe and smell every landscape you have once studied in your geography books. With natural phenomenons like the Midnight sun in the summers and Northern Lights in the winters, Iceland is a pro at stealing the show in every way possible! Your trip will be all the more full of fun, if it is carefully planned, especially if it is your first time travel abroad.

If you plan to land in Iceland, do not miss out on…

1. Reykjavik

Image Credit: Photo by Einar H. Reynis on Unsplash

The capital city, which is located in southwestern Iceland, accommodates 60 percent of the total population of the country. It is home to world class viking museums, art galleries and shopping centres. The famous Hallgrimskirkja Church attracts tourists, not only does it give an insight into Iceland’s culture, but by taking a lift to the top, you can get the best of the city’s panoramic view.

2. Vatnajokull National Park

Image Credit: Image by Vilve Roosioks on Pixabay

This park is built around Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatnajokull Glacier. It boasts of encompassing 14 percent of the country, and is the largest national park of Iceland. The southern territory of the park, Skaftafell, is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts. You can climb up the Vatnajokull glacier, explore the volcanic craters or enjoy the geographical features including lakes and beautiful waterfalls.

3. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Image Credit: Photo by Shadman Sakib on Unsplash

Reynisfjara beach is one of the most mesmerizing black sand beaches on the planet. No wonder, why the dramatic landscape was chosen to film some of the best scenes of the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones. 

The distinctive colour of the sand (caused due to volcanic activity), the blue Atlantic waves, and the basalt sea stacks off the shorelines , gives this landscape an extraterrestrial touch! A picture-perfect location though, tourists are advised to be careful as the waves here are violent.

4. Thingvellir National Park

To the east of Reykjavik, the Thingvellir National Park has an impressive history dating back to the 10th century when the place was a site of Icelandic Parliament. The Thingvellir Church and the ruins of the old stone shelters will enlighten you with the cultural heritage of Iceland. You can take in the best natural sights here.

It has a special geographic location, in a rift valley, which was formed by the separation of two tectonic plates. So when you are in this park, you are actually walking between two continents. You can literally see the edge of North America when you enter through Reykjavik, and just a drive to the other side, you will see the edge of Eurasia. Bewildered? No better way than to explore it yourself!

5. Blue Lagoon

Image Credit: Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash

A tourist’s dream, Blue Lagoon is the place where you can come in harmony with nature, and allow nature’s powerful forces to heal you from inside out! A potent natural resource, blue Lagoon has geothermal water rich in silica, microalgae and minerals and is believed to have several health benefits. 

The natural hot water bath is a bioactive wonder which will definitely relax your mind, body and soul. 

6. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Image Credit: Image by efranciswork on Unsplash 

Southeast of Iceland, this glacier lagoon is filled with ice bergs which break away from Vatnajokull Glacier. The icebergs which melt and get polished by the waves drift to the beach resulting in breathtaking ice sculptures. 

The stunning beauty of the lagoon and these ice sculptures on the black sand of the Diamond Beach makes Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon a popular tourist attraction. You can book a tour boat to soak in everything this place has to offer.

7. Gullfoss

Image Credit: Image by Benjamin Alexander on Pixabay

Gullfoss or the Golden Falls is an incredible exhibition of nature's superpowers. The Langjokull glacier, in West Iceland is where Gullfoss originates. The waterfall cascades twice before falling down into a canyon, at phenomenal flow rates. 

Falling in the route of the Famous Golden Circle route, the power, sound and grandeur of the waterfall will leave you awe-inspired.

Engage yourselves in these activities to reap the best out of your Vacay!

Image Credit: Image by darren quigley on Pixabay

Activities you must explore

1. See the Northern Lights

The natural phenomenon Aurora Borealis, popularly known as the Northern Lights will leave you spell bound. Witness the skies get illuminated by the magnificent display of the green Northern Lights ( it occurs at dark clear nights between September to April).

2. Whale Watching and Bird Watching

Join in Whale and Bird Watching excursions to marvel at the unique wildlife of Iceland and its waters. There are daily tours which depart from the Old Harbour in Reykjavik. Besides the magnificent whales, you will be able to spot other marine animals like the harbours porpoises, white-peaked dolphins, basking sharks and sea birds like gulls, gannets and many others.

Image Credit: Photo by Rozemarijn van Kampen from Pexels

3. Caving

The unique geographical location of Iceland in the Mid-Atlantic ridge, makes it a perfect location for adventure lovers to explore the caves. Interestingly, Iceland is one of the few places where you can enter a magma chamber. Do not miss the opportunity to witness the surreal geological phenomenon!

4. Motorized Adventures

Credit goes to the diverse and unique terrain of Iceland, you can indulge yourselves in adrenaline fueled engine-based activities. Choose from interesting options of ATVs, Jeeps, Snowmobiles and Snow-cats and get set to explore the mountains, glaciers, beaches and rivers.

5. Helicopter Tours

Get an aerial view of Iceland’s pristine remote locations by booking yourself a Helicopter tour. Participate in heli-skiing to explore the making it to the untouched slopes of Icelandic mountain terrains, an adventure you can boast about later!

Image Credit: Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

6. Hiking

The hiking trails of Iceland have no competition. You can explore nature trails or choose a more challenging one, Iceland has everything to offer- the mountains, rugged coastlines, lava fields, waterfalls, hot springs and glaciers. 

7. Ice Climbing

Experience Ice Climbing at the Svinafellsjokull glacier to come in terms with Iceland’s untamed nature. There are guided tours from Reykjavik which are led by trained professionals. Hardy adventurer? This opportunity is for you!

8. Cultural Festivals

The cultural festivals organised all the year round, makes this destination more happening. The festivals celebrate the rich art and culture of Iceland. So a great way to immerse yourself and get a deep insight of Iceland.

Does this make Iceland your dream destination

Greenland - The Arctic Paradise

Here, everything is for the ones who can tackle the Extreme! Greenland will offer you a travel experience which no other place on this planet can! This gem of the Arctic has been a secret keeper of nature’s grandeur, since ages. From breathtaking landscapes to pristine wilderness, you will be amazed at every sight of this otherworldly destination.

If you plan to land in Greenland, do not miss out on…

1. Nuuk

Image Credit: Photo by Ken Mathiasen on Unsplash

The capital city of Greenland, is a perfect place to experience the urban vibes of Greenland. With a population of 18000, Nuuk is home to almost one third of Greenland’s population. You can indulge yourself in shopping, skiing and whale watching. 

The Greenland National Museum is very popular among tourists, as it showcases how life was here, years ago. The museum also exhibits well preserved mummies of women and children which were discovered in 1978. A tour in the museum will give you an insight of Greenland’s rich and unique past. 

Enrich yourselves with the legends and traditions of Greenland exhibited by the local artists and musicians.

2. Ilulissat Ice Fjord, Western Greenland

Image Credit: Photo by Tina Rolf on Unsplash

The diverse landscapes, wildlife, massive icebergs coming from Sermeq Kujalleq, the fastest flowing glaciers will leave you awe-inspired. Ilulissat Ice Fjord has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004 and a popular tourist attraction of Greenland. 

Do not miss out to visit the Ilulissat Art Museum to explore the artifacts from the ancient Eskimo settlement.

3. Tasiilaq Town, Eastern Greenland

With only 1985 inhabitants as of 2020, Tasiilaq is one of the World’s most isolated settlements. The town is worth exploring, credits to the green valleys, majestic mountain peaks, icebergs, the breathtaking panoramic view and the friendly people. 

The town is a Hiker’s Paradise, especially in summers when the landscape is a stunning contrast of green (due to green meadows) and white.

4. Uunartoq Hot Springs in South Greenland

The Island of Uunartoq in southern Greenland is popular among tourists for its Hot Springs. An awesome place with waters having the perfect bathing temperature, here you can unwind and relax. 

Immerse yourself in the waters of the hot spring, let go of all the stress and experience the unusual sights of icebergs floating around, the majestic mountains dominating the landscapes and the serenity in the air.

5. Qaqortoq Museum

The Museum is located in southern Greenland in the town of Qaqortoq. The museum showcases the history and culture of the Norse settlers. You can also access the reconstructed ‘Blue Room’ and ‘Red Room’, where Knud Rasmussen- the famous explorer and Charles Lindbergh- the American Aviator, respectively stayed.

Deep dive into the history of art and culture of this offbeat travel destination, by strolling in the Qaqortoq Museum. You will immediately realise the incredible adapting ability of humans to settle and survive in harsh climatic conditions once you are here.

Engage yourselves in these activities to reap the best out of your Vacay!

Greenland has the potential to turn an adventurer’s dream into reality. 

1. Arctic Circle Race- You can participate in the 160 kms long, the world’s chilliest and the toughest cross country Ice Race in Sisimiut. The race is run usually in between March and April.

2. Northern Lights- Experience the stunning light show of the skies in between September and April (just like in Iceland). There are guided Northern light tours in the towns of Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Kangerlussuaq. 

3. Dog Sledding- Experience Dog Sledding, a classic way to explore and traverse the snow packed landscapes of Greenland. 

4. Boat Tours- It is the best way to come in sync with the sky, the sea and the land. The view of the fjords laced with ice bergs, whales, the rare sea birds, and the mountains will give you a bespoke experience.

5. Climbing and Mountaineering- A perfect mountain destination, Greenland will give you an experience which no other place can. Get into the mountains, explore the Stauning Alps in Northern Greenland and the Watkins Range for a thrilling mountaineering experience.

6. Cross Country Skiing- Navigate the winter landscapes on your skis, to explore the mountains and valleys of Greenland. Truly a must try sport for adventure enthusiasts.

7. Cold Water Diving- Fuel your adrenaline by diving deep into the waters of the Arctic. The unique flora and fauna, the ship wrecks, and the icebergs under the sea surface will give you a diving experience which you will cherish for a lifetime.

Take an Icy Green Chill Pill!

Whether you choose to travel to Iceland or Greenland (or both), one thing is for sure, you won’t starve for adventure! 

No matter how long or short your vacation is, give yourself a day just to relax, to shed off the fatigue caused by a power-packed stay at either of the thrilling destinations! 

You will have great stories to tell after exploring the two lands of contrasts. So get all your moments captured and share them with the world. What if we told you that there is an exclusive platform dedicated to preserve your precious travel memories, chronologically?

Experience Voyapic, the one of a kind, traveller’s app, where you can create your travel logs, keep them private or share them with the world. Create new memories here or upload moments from the past scattered in your phones and laptops, all in one place at - Voyapic: Your Travel Showcase. 

27 Oct, 2021