How did the early settlers feel when they arrived at the Sermermiut area near the Ilulissat Icefjord some 4,000 years ago? Were they just as infatuated by the beauty of the area, or was it the easy access to fish and seal that appealed to them? Whatever the reason, the place has always been popular, and deservedly so.
The Ilulissat Icefjord is an utterly incredible sight and you owe yourself the opportunity to experience the Icefjord in all possible ways. You have travelled far to experience this place, which has definitely earned its listing as UNESCO world heritage, so you should strive to make the most of your visit. Hike to the old Sermermiut settlement, experience the Woman's Ravine and take a look at the ice from land. Walk around town and see the giant icebergs by the estuary of the fjord. Sail out to the estuary and observe the massive lumps of ice at close range. Do it again in the evening where the midnight sun gives the ice a stunning golden hue. Download map with hiking routes here.
Ilulissat is home to a large number of sled dogs and the dogsled culture is highly cherished here. The many local fishermen use dogsleds when they go out on the Icefjord and load their sleds with large Greenland halibut. The sled is a useful tool just like it has been for more than a thousand years. Fortunately, it is also possible to go on dogsled rides when the fishermen are not out on the fjord. The rides can be short, lasting just a few hours, or you may want to embark on longer rides lasting several days, allowing you to experience life as it has been lived for centuries. With some degree of modern comfort, however, so that you will live long enough to share your experiences with whomever is going to listen.
Knud Rasmussen's birthplace and the Church of Zion
In terms of culture, Ilulissat is an inspiring town. This is where Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen grew up, and his birthplace has been turned into a museum, which is certainly worth visiting. Knud Rasmussen was born here in 1879. Just across the street, the Church of Zion is located. The brown wooden church with the massive icebergs in the background is one of the most photographed churches in Greenland. Moreover, Ilulissat has an interesting art museum.
The harbour and the food
The harbour is the heart of the town. Not only in terms of location, but the place is buzzing with life from early morning. Further up the hill, away from the harbour, you will find the Board – a local outlet of the hunters' and fishermen's catch. It is always interesting to have a look at what you might be having for dinner later.
Speaking of food, Ilulissat has quite a few restaurants. The two restaurants at Arctic Hotel offer exceptionally good food, as the kitchen is led by Jeppe Ejvind Nielsen who has been awarded best chef in the country three times. The food here is simply excellent, and it is served alongside an incredible view. The hotel is perfectly situated, allowing you to look across the town itself and, not least, to the estuary of the Icefjord.
Hvide Falk Hotel offers a weekly buffet of Greenlandic specialties. Worry not, though, the buffet is tourist friendly, meaning that you will not be exposed to the rarest of delicacies – those that are best described as an acquired taste.
Local arts and crafts
There are many places that allow you to see and buy Greenlandic arts and crafts, and the selection in Ilulissat is huge compared to that of other towns. Here, many stores and tourist offices sell unique souvenirs and art objects – from tupilaqs and skin items to locally inspired memory sticks. Let your Ilulissat adventure being at our subsidiary World of Greenland and find out more about all your options.
Guide to Ilulissat
This guide is our very short complimentary guide to Ilulissat with a few tips on things to do and see, which you should not miss out on while in Ilulissat.