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Inspiration / Towns and settlements / Qaqortoq

Hot springs, agriculture and lots of ice. Your first impression of Qaqortoq is the pretty, multicolored houses on the slopes of the hill as the boat enters the harbor. Nearby, you will also find hot springs, art, Norse ruins, agricultural areas, and Greenland's only fountain.

Agriculture, norse ruins, hot springs, UNESCO World heritage and hiking

A river from a large, nearby lake runs through the center of Qaqortoq. The beautiful South Greenlandic town of Qaqortoq is situated in the South Greenlandic fjord system, and here you can experience the diversity that Greenland has to offer. It is a favorite destination for cruise ships because there are picturesque houses, good shops, and arts and culture. It is also South Greenland’s center for trade and education, and there are a lot of young people studying here.

Qaqortoq or Qaqqrtqq

Most people who are not Greenlandic have a hard time pronouncing the town’s name, but it’s not as difficult as a popular T-shirt once hinted at. On the T-shirt, it read ‘QAQQRTQQ,’ which sounds like when non-Greenlanders give their first try. But in fact, you just have to say ‘Gra-graw-dog,’ and then you’re well on your way.


The hot springs

On a good summer’s day, there are lots of kids playing by the river or bathing in the lake, which you find next to the town. If you are not completely into bathing in cold water, there is a unique opportunity to head down to the hot springs south of the town.

At the place called Uunartoq – ‘The warm place’ in Greenlandic – you can rest in one of the wonders of nature. Here, on this small island, 38 degrees hot water comes up from the underground (Celcius which is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). While large icebergs are flowing by in the fjord next to the springs, you can sit and relax and be happy that you decided to go into the water here instead of the lake in Qaqortoq.


Stone and man

As you walk around the town, you will notice the many works of art carved into stones in the town. Qaqortoq is the birthplace of one of Greenland’s great artists, Aka Høegh, and, some years back, she gathered a lot of other artists in the town. They were each allowed to make their mark on the town by making a work of art in stone. This means that there are 40 beautiful works of art around the town. See if you can spot all of them.

The square with the fountain

Qaqortoq is one of the only towns in Greenland that has a square. On the square, you find a beautiful fountain built in the so-called Igaliku stone. These stones are transported here from the nearby village called Igaliku. The square is surrounded by beautiful colonial houses that house everything from shops, a bakery, a Thai restaurant, and a museum.

You should visit the museum, and stroll past the old Church of Our Savior from 1832, which is located not far from the square. Next to the square, visit the local meat market, where you can buy the local foods. There are many exciting things you can put your teeth into if you want to cook for yourself.

Don’t miss a walk on Vatican Hill. Here, in the best American tradition, you will find half a car sticking out of the Rockhouse Inn. The name “Vatican Hill” has a special story. A somewhat bossy man used to live on this hill. His nickname was “the Pope” so, after a while, people started calling the street Vatican Hill and this name has stuck.


Sealskin furs and souvenirs

Great Greenland is located in Qaqortoq, and here they design and sew the beautiful furs that look great on women and men worldwide. Designers like Benedikte Utzon have made collections for Great Greenland, and they produce a lot of beautiful products here. It’s not just coats and jackets. They also produce bags, mittens, and many other accessories. At some fashion shows, they have even made very popular sealskin bikinis.

A view of Qaqortoq, the largest town in South Greenland
The Hvalsey church ruin near Qaqortoq in South Greenland

Hvalsey Church Ruin – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Qaqortoq is located in the area that the Norse called the Eastern Settlement. Only an hour’s sailing from the town you can visit Hvalsey Church Ruin, the best preserved of the many Norse ruins in Greenland.

Hvalsey Church was the setting of the last event we know about the Norse before their disappearance. The Icelandic Sagas tell us that, in 1408, there was a wedding in the church. Today, the Norse and Inuit ruins of South Greenland are UNESCO World Heritage.

Read more about UNESCO World Heritage in Greenland. 


At the agricultural research station near the town, Upernaviarsuk, they grow potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, and even experiment with strawberries and cucumbers. You will also notice that a lot of the house owners of Qaqortoq work hard on their beautiful, green gardens. On the whole, in summer, there is lushness wherever you look, whether planted by humans or stemming from the nature of Greenland itself.



You have many hiking opportunities in Qaqortoq. You can hike around the town which is getting bigger and bigger or take a walk to the mountain peaks nearby. If you want to go on longer trips, it is possible to hike to Igaliku, which is approximately a five-day-hike from the town. You can also sail (or fly by helicopter in the winter) to the neighboring town of Narsaq, where there is ample opportunity for beautiful walks in one of Greenland’s most beautifully placed towns.

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