Red boat sailing past iceberg in Disko Bay in the summer - off the western coast of Greenland.

Can You Drive To Greenland?

Updated by Sasha Yanshin on March 17 2023

Greenland is seen by many as the last unexplored frontier and if you're a fan of extreme road trips where nobody else dares go, you might naturally wonder whether you can actually drive to Greenland.

It is impossible to directly drive to Greenland from Canada or any other country. There are no roads or bridges, and, although the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay freeze in the winter, it is an extremely dangerous journey stretching hundreds of miles.

Read on to find out exactly why you can't drive to Greenland if you are thinking about making a trip there and what other ways you can reach Greenland.

Can you drive to Greenland?

Greenland is a large island located in the north Atlantic between Canada and Iceland and if you look at the map quickly, you'd naturally think there may be a way to drive from Canada to Greenland.

At the southern end of Greenland, it is separated from Canada by the Davis Strait of the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay but the northern part of Greenland does get a lot closer to Canada's Nunavut region.

Map of Canada and Greenland showing how the Baffin Bay and Davis Strait separate the two.
Greenland is separated from Canada by hundreds of kilometers of sea.
Peter Hermes Furian/

There are two key problems with trying to reach Greenland by car.

The first is that you have to drive across water. Both, the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay are fairly big, and Greenland is about 300km away from Canada's coast at the closest point and much further away from mainland Canada.

There are no bridges, ferries or tunnels and there is no way to cross over from one coast to the other.

If you go further north, the distance shortens to just 20km from Ellesmere Island in northern Nunavut, but here you run into the second problem.

There is no way to get from mainland Canada to these extremely remote islands.

There are thousands of kilometers of remote ice-covered islands across the Queen Elizabeth Island chain and rough seas on the way to Ellesmere Island at the northern tip.

And there are no roads, bridges, ferries or any other means of getting up there.

At the nearest point where Canada and Greenland are separated by about 20km of water, you are around 900km from the North Pole.

Can you drive from Canada to Greenland over ice?

Because the northern parts of Greenland are so close to the North Pole, the seas between Canada and Greenland do freeze over the winter.

And technically you probably could drive across the sea ice during the peak of the winter months although the ice does melt in the summer.

Baffin Bay is not a popular shipping route because the northern route past Canada and Alaska passes further south following Canada's Baffin Island coastline.

Typical Greenland village on the coast with ice-covered mountains in the background.
Greenland's coastal villages are very pretty, but you won't be able to drive there.
Jonas Tufvesson/

But in reality, it is virtually impossible.

First - although the sea does freeze over, you have to drive several hundred kilometres along the ice across the Davis Strait and I don't know about you, but I don't fancy getting stranded in car miles from the nearest bit of land in freezing water should the ice crack.

You could maybe drive across ice north to drive mostly on land and only do short stints over the water.

But that would mean having to drive much further - probably around 1,000 to 2,000 km along wilderness, rough terrain and ice.

And even if your vehicle is equipped for it and you manage to stop in the few remote settlements along the way, you'll still need to carry a big load of fuel along with you.

And that fuel is going to be heavy and carrying a load of heavy weight attached to your car across long stretches of ice is not a great idea if you want to make it to the other side.

In 2007, Top Gear attempted to drive to the North Pole from Canada.

They started out in Resolute, which is already in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, miles from mainland Canada and unreachable by car in the first place.

And they got nowhere near the North Pole - they only managed to cover around 300 miles because of very rough terrain, ice breaking and the extreme conditions despite having a large support crew, bespoke vehicles and fuel on demand.

Is there a ferry from Canada to Greenland?

There are no ferry routes or other means of getting your car over from Canada to Greenland easily.

Greenland has a very small and dispersed population and no large cities so there are no popular commercial routes operating.

The Nuuk industrial Harbour in Greenland where freight ships transport goods to and from the island.
You could ship your car over in a container to a port like the Nuuk Industrial Harbour, but it wouldn't make much sense.
Lasse Jesper Pedersen/

Having said that, Greenland does get its goods and imports delivered mostly by sea. In theory you could ship a car in a container to Greenland from the United States, Canada or Denmark.

Greenland is formally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, so there are established regular shipping routes if you are trying to get your car across from Europe.

Be prepared for the cost to be very high because this is not a common thing to do and remember you'll need to ship your car all the way back as well.

Can you drive around Greenland?

The biggest reason why you probably don't want to ship your car to Greenland or even consider attempting to drive to Greenland is that you won't be able to get around Greenland even if you do get there.

Greenland's terrain comprising of mountains, snow and fjords.
Greenland's terrain of deep snow, treacherous ice, mountains and fjords make it impossible to drive outside the small settlements.

Greenland's terrain is incredibly inhospitable and there are no roads connecting the various settlements along the coast.

The land is extremely rugged with mountains, glaciers and fjords.

The sea ice is treacherous and unreliable for long journeys.

Although there are small hamlets dotted all around the coastline, Greenland's population is only around 56,000 people so the population of each village is small and there are only a few local roads in each settlement that aren't connected to the rest of Greenland.

If you want to visit Greenland, you absolutely should - it is a beautiful country with beautiful culture and fantastic people, but you are far better off getting a flight and leaving your car at home.