Have you ever wondered how a true Arctic travel experience is like? Now you can embark on a journey with us to colourful Nuuk; the capital of Greenland, which is the biggest island in the world! Here are our recommendations on where to eat, sleep and hang out.
Greenland. The world’s biggest island almost completely covered by ice. Officially belonging to the kingdom of Denmark, but self-governed since 1979. With a population reaching around 57.000, it’s also the least inhabited country in the world.
Through time, Greenland’s location has created somewhat of a debate on whether it belongs to Denmark or North America, but it remains attached to Denmark and Europe in general, at least on a political level - and it’s been that way for almost a thousand years, when the Vikings first came here.
Some might argue that Nuuk doesn’t really represent Greenland; that you need to travel up the coast to Illulissat or Sisimiut to explore the true Arctic landscape and get to meet the Inuits. While this is partially true, Nuuk deserves a highlight due to its representation of what’s regarded as ‘the future of Greeland’. The city’s slogan ‘Colourful Nuuk’ couldn’t be more befitting for a growing capital where all sorts of nationalities and cultures are melting together. It’s the blend of traditional Greenlandic culture and modern initiatives like new infrastructure, contemporary architecture and art that makes this place so special. Nuuk is also very supportive of entrepreneur’s, and the city council offers extensive help to locals, who wish to make a difference and gently push Greenland in the right direction: forward.
While I could write pages about Greenland as a travel destination, I’ll continue by focusing solely on Nuuk. Cause there’s plenty to see and do in the colourful capital 🙂
How to get there?
Of course it’s possible to sail, but most travelers get to Greenland by plane. Air Greenland offer direct flights from many destinations to Kangerlussuaq, where you need to change to a regional flight, which takes you to Nuuk Airport. The entire journey takes approximately 5,5 hours from Copenhagen Airport, but if you wish to travel the other way, to Canada, you’ll need to get to Kangerlussuaq, from there to Copenhagen, and from Copenhagen to Toronto. A bit of a journey despite to short distance.
Once you’re in Nuuk, it’s easy to get to the city center. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes by car, and there are plenty of taxi’s in front of the small airport.
Where to stay?
While this is obviously a matter of taste and budget, I’d definitely recommend the city’s only four star hotel, Hans Egede. Not only does the hotel offer an award-winning conference center (hence its popularity amongst companies and international conference guests), there are also two restaurants (one of them being Sarfalik; a splendid gourmet restaurant) and a cocktail bar over-looking the scenic snow-covered mountains. Hotel Hans Egede offers both regular single rooms, double rooms and apartments.
Hedonists, or anyone craving a bit of extra luxury on their journey, can book the so-called ‘Margrethe suite’ - a 180 m2 apartment over-looking the fjord and named after HM the Queen of Denmark. If you fancy panoramic views of the beautiful harbor and fjord of Nuuk, this is where you should stay. And chances are you might even spot a horde of playful Greenlandic whales and floating icebergs.
Where to dine?
If you wish to engage in the local kitchen, book a table at Sarfalik at Hotel Hans Egede. Here you can enjoy pilot whale and seal, amongst other things, prepared in a very delicate way. Bear in mind, though, that the taste is rather different (!) than what you might be used to, but do give it a try.
At the Cultural Center of Katuaq, you can indulge in delicate food made by local ingredients. Cafétuaq, as it’s called, is open daily from 11-21 (with exceptions).
One can also find a number of chain-based restaurants and cafés scattered around the city center.
Finally, I can highly recommend a trip to Nuup Kangerlua if you wish to catch your own lunch! Approximately one hour from Nuuk, you can catch a red fish or cod from the depth of the beautiful fjord - and have it prepared and cooked for you. A truly unique experience. Somehow, a meal just tastes better when you catch it yourself! Contact the tourist board for more information.
What to see?
If you’re getting bored in Greenland, you might wanna ask yourself why you came here in the first place. Cause this country is so full of natural beauty that you don’t need any to-do-lists. If you’re in Nuuk, though, chances are you might want to pay a visit to the local art museum and connect with the locals to learn more about the history. I can give my warmest recommendations to the National Museum of Greenland, which is located by the harbor in Nuuk. Highly engaged guides, modern facilities and thousand-year-old artifacts makes this experience an unforgettable one. Don’t forget to check out the 500-year-old Qilakitsoq mummy’s (a Mother and her baby), who are so well-presrved it looks like they past away just recently.
Nuuk Art Museum is also worth a visit if you want to get familiar with local painters and historical art (there’s an impressive collection of hand-carved figurines). On www.greenland.com you can get a lot of useful information about tours and packages, e.g. fishing tours in the fjords, how to experience a so-called ‘kaffemik’ (coffee and cake party with locals) and hiking.