Sailing among the Northern Lights

8 days in three towns and on the coastal ship

You can never get enough of the northern lights. Even the locals in Greenland rush outside when the beautiful light is dancing across the sky, though they can watch it as often as they want to in the wintertime. It is beautiful and breathtaking. On this tour, you can combine one of our popular round trips in Greenland with northern lights sightings.

We have put together a special trip where you can experience the northern lights here, there, and everywhere. We will take you to three of the most popular destinations in Greenland. Along the way, we will try flying with a propeller aircraft and sail for a few days with the coastal ship that sails along the west coast of Greenland. We will stay at centrally located hotels with nice views and enjoy delicious food prepared with delicious Greenlandic ingredients.

Three popular places in Greenland
In Ilulissat, you will experience the world-famous Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In the capital of Nuuk, you get a taste of city life and Greenland’s cultural history. In Kangerlussuaq, you can walk on the Greenland Ice Sheet. As a bonus, you can also stroll through Greenland’s second-largest town, Sisimiut, when the coastal ship docks there. And, all along the way, we have the best conditions to experience the northern lights.

Northern lights on land and at sea in Greenland
The northern lights can be seen when there aren’t any clouds at night in a dark sky. Usually, there will be plenty of stars at the same time as they sparkle when you see them in the Arctic. The very special thing about this trip is that we will sail along the coast of Greenland where the only light for miles around will come from the ship itself. Therefore, it is very dark all around us in the evening and at night.


  • Walk ON the Greenland Ice Sheet
  • See the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ilulissat Ice Fjord up close
  • Go in search of Arctic wildlife
  • Experience the capital Nuuk
  • Sail along the dramatic coastline and among gigantic icebergs
  • Watch the Northern Lights dance in across the sky


  • Flight Copenhagen – Kangerlussuaq
  • Flight Kangerlussuaq – Copenhagen
  • Flight Kangerlussuaq – Nuuk
  • Flight Ilulissat – Kangerlussuaq
  • Coastal ship Nuuk – Ilulissat with MS Sarfaq Ittuk
  • Transfers to/from hotels and excursions
  • 3 nights in a cabin on the coastal ship with a private bath/toilet
  • 1 night at Hotel Kangerlussuaq with private bath/toilet
  • 3 nights at Hotel Arctic with private bath/toilet
  • Breakfast
  • Full board on the coastal ship from Saturday morning to Monday morning (excl. beverages)
  • Welcome dinner in Kangerlussuaq (excl. beverages)
  • Farewell dinner in Ilulissat (excl. beverages)
  • Food and beverages onboard the flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and the return flight
  • Guided town tours in Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Ilulissat
  • Guided hike to Sermermiut by the Icefjord
  • Ice Fjord Centre
  • Dog show in Ilulissat
  • Tour guide
  • All flight/transportation taxes and fees known to Greenland Travel at the time of publishing
  • 20 kg of checked baggage and 8 kg of cabin baggage

Not included

  • Meals not listed above
  • Travel Insurance
  • Excursions (we recommend pre-booking our Excursion Package)

Day program

Ellen Fjellanger Schmidt
Day 1:
Flight Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and optional excursion to the Greenland Ice Sheet

We fly from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq with Air Greenland and, after a pleasant flight of about 4½ hours, we land in the middle of the Greenlandic tundra in Kangerlussuaq. In clear weather, you’ve already gotten your first glimpse of the ice sheet which is just 25 kilometers from the settlement.

Because of the time difference, we land at about the same time as we left, so we have almost a full day available to us here. Hotel Kangerlussuaq is located at the airport, and the tour guide makes sure that everyone gets their luggage and will be settled in their rooms. Then we have a welcome meeting where you get an overview of the Kangerlussuaq area.

After the welcome meeting, it is the time for excursions for those who have purchased the excursion package. We recommend that you add an excursion package to your trip which includes the most popular excursions, though it is also possible to explore on your own.

Excursion to the Greenland Ice Sheet, Point 660 (optional)

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the world’s second largest ice cap, and it covers 80% of Greenland. It is a unique experience to stand on the ice sheet. The trip to the ice cap is also spectacular in itself.

We drive from Kangerlussuaq on a bus that looks like a monster truck bus. This way, we will easily get through the hilly terrain. We drive through an Arctic desert, and there is a likelihood that we will experience the area’s wildlife such as caribou, hares, foxes, and musk oxen.

At a distance, we see the impressive Russell Glacier which rises on the horizon. Our ultimate goal is Point 660, 37 kilometers from Kangerlussuaq, and located 660 meters above sea level. The bus stops at the edge of the ice, and we walk the last stretch up on to the actual ice cap. Now you will be standing on the largest glacier in the northern hemisphere!

After dinner you will be driven home to the hotel.

Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland
Day 2:
Flight Kangerlussuaq - Nuuk, sightseeing tour and departure by coastal ship

After breakfast at the hotel, we fly from Kangerlussuaq to Nuuk. We fly with one of Air Greenland’s bright, red Dash 8 aircraft. The trip lasts about 50 minutes along the west coast of Greenland. Just before we land in Nuuk, we pass the landmark of Nuuk, the Sermitsiaq mountain.

We also fly over the stunning Nuuk fjord system, which is the second largest in the world. When we land in Nuuk, we’ll collect our baggage and go to the center of Nuuk.

City tour of Nuuk, Greenland National Museum

Nuuk has about 17,500 inhabitants, which is significantly more than just two decades ago. Entirely new neighborhoods have been added since the year 2000. Although Nuuk is a busy place in a Greenlandic context, nature is never far away. We go on a city tour in Nuuk’s old center, and the first stop is the National Museum.

Greenland’s National Museum houses many relics, but the most amazing are without comparison the famous mummies from Qilakitsoq. They were found in North Greenland outside the town of Uummannaq by two brothers who were out hunting. They found eight freeze-dried and unusually well-preserved mummies under a rocky outcrop. Four of the mummies are now at home at the National Museum and provide a fascinating insight into the ancient Inuit culture in Greenland.

We continue our round trip of the old town. We visit the statue of Hans Egede, overlooking the old colonial harbor, the fjord and the islands that separate Nuuk from the Davis Strait. Then we move on to the beautiful building of Katuaq, the Cultural Center of Greenland, whose facade is shaped like the northern lights.

Experience Nuuk on your own. Shopping and culture

The rest of the afternoon, you are on your own to explore Nuuk. There are cafés and restaurants and many shopping opportunities. You’ll find a great selection of shops offering Greenlandic handicrafts and Greenlandic design. Nuuk is the best place to look for original Greenlandic design since the selection here is greater than in the other towns in Greenland. However, you can also find unique and beautiful things in Ilulissat.

Departure by the coastal ship Sarfaq Ittuk and sailing northward

When the day draws to an end, we board the ship Sarfaq Ittuk. Departure is at 9 PM. Ahead of us are two days aboard the ship bound for Ilulissat. The coastal ship sails up and down the west coast and is very popular among the Greenlanders. When the ship docks in coastal towns, you will experience happy reunions when the locals pick up their long-awaited friends and family.

The northern lights on the starboard

We head out in the evening and, if it is a cloudless night, there is a good chance to see the northern lights from the deck. There is something special about Greenlandic nature. It’s rough and rugged, but also beautiful, and you will quickly feel like you are a part of it.

If it is too cold on the deck, you can also see the northern lights from the panoramic lounge. However, we can already reveal that it is not the same to see the northern lights from the inside. This time of the year, it is cold to be outside on a ship, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. Pack your warm clothes!

Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland
Day 3:
At sea with landing at Maniitsoq and guided town walk

In the morning, we dock in Maniitsoq.

In Maniitsoq, we have a 3½-hour stay, so we have time for a town tour, often referred to as the Venice of Greenland in tourist brochures. That’s an exaggeration, but there are indeed many bridges in Maniitsoq.

Maniitsoq is a town with lots of personality and attractions. To experience a great town view, you must climb one of the many staircases in Maniitsoq. After walking 470 steps up to the “Eiffel Tower” (Sakkortusaavik), you’ll get an amazing 360-degree panoramic view! However, if you are not walking well on stairs, other options exist to see beautiful sights.

We then continue with the ship further up the coast of Greenland.

At around 10 pm, we arrive in Sisimiut. We’ll be here until 10:30 am tomorrow, so there will be time for a city tour.

Nordlys over Grønland - Fotograf: Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland
Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland
Day 4:
Town walk in Sisimiut and back at se

After a night’s sleep on the ship, you can look forward to the breakfast buffet in the ship’s cafeteria.

Ashore in Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut

We now go on a guided town walk of Sisimiut. Sisimiut, Greenland’s second largest town has just over 5,500 inhabitants. There is a cozy atmosphere and an authenticity that is particular to Sisimiut. The town is surrounded by steep mountains, and the view is beautiful.

At this point, we have crossed into the Arctic Circle, and we are in ‘Dogsled Country’. This means you will hear a lot of howling dogs. It’s exciting, intense, and a bit like travelling back in time when we all relied on animals to transport us around.

We do not have not a lot of time in Sisimiut, but enough time to get an idea of the town in the hilly landscape.

Aboard Sarfaq Ittuk, our journey north continues. Tonight, once again, we go on deck and gaze at the sky, hoping that the weather gods are with us and gives us lots of life-affirming northern lights. The name of our tour comes from this part of the journey; as we sail north along the west coast of Greenland, we hope to see lots of northern lights along the way.

Per Arild Struksnes
Day 5:
Arrival in Ilulissat. Sightseeing tour and hike to Sermermiut Valley at Ilulissat Ice Fjord

As Sarfaq Ittuk approaches Ilulissat, there will be many more icebergs in the water. Very large icebergs. They are significantly larger in the Disko Bay, and in the coming days, icebergs are at the core of our activities. Along with northern lights, of course.

Accommodation at Hotel Arctic

Upon arrival in Ilulissat, we are picked up and driven to Hotel Arctic. Hotel Arctic lies on the outskirts of Ilulissat with a view of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord. The Ice Fjord was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004.

Today, Hotel Arctic is becoming a part of Ilulissat town. However, this has not always been the case. Until recently, it was located outside town, but as Ilulissat is one of Greenland’s four growth centers, the town has expanded and now includes the 4-star hotel. The other growth centers in Greenland are Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Qaqortoq.

Once you’ve got your room, we will have an information meeting to learn more about the town and the many excursions that are available in this exciting area. If you have purchased the excursion package, you have five excursions to look forward to. If you have not purchased the excursion package, there are still two exciting excursions included in the trip, and you can always go exploring on your own.

Cultural town walk 

After the information meeting with the tour guide, we go on a town walk where you get the opportunity to get to know Ilulissat. The tour guide gives you an introduction to the history and culture of the area. We also pass by the town’s museum which is housed in the world-famous polar explorer Knud Rasmussen’s birthplace. We see the old colonial houses, the almost 250 years old Zion Church and the city’s iconic and vibrant harbor.

Hike to Sermermiut and Ilulissat Ice Fjord

Beautiful icebergs provide the setting for the old settlement of Sermermiut 1.5 kilometers south of Ilulissat. For 4,000 years, different Inuit cultures lived in the settlement and, today, you can still see some of the remains, which indicate their presence.

Hear the story about the life of the Inuit people and their traditions before the Europeans came to Greenland. On this hike, we pass “Kællingekløften (Old Women’s Gorge)” with its interesting history. We will also enjoy the magnificent view of the Ice Fjord, before heading back again. During the hike, there will be time to talk about flora, fauna, geology, and not least, the story behind the omnipresent ice.

We will also visit the Ice Fjord Centre.

Restaurants in Ilulissat

There are many restaurants in Ilulissat and, at Hotel Arctic, there are two really good ones. They both come with excellent views of the ice fjord, and the food is of international standard, prepared with tasty Greenlandic ingredients. You’ll also find several restaurants in town.

In the evening, we recommend that you go out on the hotel’s terrace and look at the northern lights. You may use the hotel’s back door and walk down to the five aluminum igloos next to the hotel. They are situated on a small hill right above the water’s edge so, while watching the northern lights above you, you can also hear the waves below you, creating the perfect soundscape!

Ruth Gundahl Madsen
Day 6:
Visit sled dogs or optional excursions: Sailing on the Ilulissat Ice Fjord.

After breakfast, we head towards the outskirts of town where the sled dogs reign. Here you can learn about life as a sled dog which is quite relevant in this city where thousands of dogs are waiting for winter so they can take their human owners out on traditional dogsleds to go hunting and exploring in the backcountry.

Ilulissat on your own

After our visit to the dogs, you have the opportunity to see more of the town on your own. There are some crafts shops and also a workshop where the artists are busy with their artwork. You can also take a break at a café before you find a place to have dinner.

For those who have purchased the excursion package, an exciting excursion is on the menu.

Boat tour to Ilulissat Ice Fjord (optional)

Sailing among the icebergs at the mouth of Ilulissat Icefjord is easily the most popular excursion in Greenland. On this excursion, we sail in a small boat towards the fjord where huge and beautiful masses of ice are stuck on a sandbar. They are stranded until they are melted enough and can move on or if a big wave will lift them and push them out of the fjord.

The boatmen know the area and are always sailing responsibly. They know the ice and know where the most impressive icebergs are found. At this time of year, the sun sits low in the sky so there will be some fine shading on the ice. Remember to bring your camera.

Northern lights and dining

You are free to make your own dinner plans this evening. The tour guide will be happy to go with you to see the northern lights again.

Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland
Day 7:
Ilulissat on your own or optional boat trip to the Oqaatsut settlement

On your last day in Ilulissat, you can enjoy the town and its surroundings. If you have purchased the excursion package, you will go on an excursion to the beautifully situated settlement Oqaatsut north of Ilulissat.

Boat trip to Oqaatsut (optional)

Oqaatsut is a small village, beautifully situated approx. fifteen kilometers north of Ilulissat. The settlement was originally called Rodebay, as it was home to Dutch whalers for centuries. Even today, a whale is occasionally pulled ashore in the old settlement.

Oqaatsut has approx. 45 inhabitants and its own school, church, and grocery store. The school and the church are conveniently located in the same building, and it does not take a lot of effort to transform the school into a church on Sundays. Oqaatsut is especially known for its restaurant, H8, where a delicious meal of local ingredients is served.

On this excursion, you sail out from Ilulissat, and approx. half an hour later, you arrive in Oqaatsut. First, we go on a village walk, and then you will be served a delicious lunch in H8 (excluding drinks). Afterward, you will have time to walk around the village or in the surrounding area before the trip goes home again.


At night, you will have a lovely farewell dinner in the hotel’s amazing restaurant (drinks not included).

After dinner, and for one last time, we put on our warm outdoor clothes on and go out in the area outside the hotel to watch for the northern lights. Hopefully, the lights have been our lovely companions in the past week, and now it’s time to say goodbye. We whistle towards the sky, thus (according to tradition) encouraging the northern lights to flutter a little extra. It usually does.

David Trood - Visit Greenland
Day 8:
Flight from Ilulissat to Copenhagen via Kangerlussuaq

With your minds filled with experiences from the land of the fantastic northern lights, we fly via Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen, where we arrive in the evening. We can guarantee you that you go home with your heart filled with memories that will stay with you longer than other holiday memories. At least, that’s what our other guests usually tell us afterward.

On the flight from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq, you will see Ilulissat Ice Fjord from above. The flight lasts about 45 minutes, and you can see parts of the route that you sailed earlier this week.

In Kangerlussuaq, there is a brief stay before you board Air Greenland’s Airbus and fly to Denmark.


You arrive late in the evening in Copenhagen, and for those living outside of Copenhagen, we recommend an overnight stay. Copenhagen is a wonderful place to visit. It is easy to travel between the airport and the town center. Please do not hesitate to contact us for accommodation in Copenhagen.







Hotels on this tour

Hotel Kangerlussuaq

The Hotel Kangerlussuaq is located as centrally as possible, in the airport building itself, so you have to pick up your luggage and carry it to the reception to check in. All rooms are spacious and have a view of the so-called Kitchen Mountain or views of the town and the surroundings.

The hotel has a restaurant and a very famous cafeteria, which is the meeting place for all the inhabitants of the area and the 220,000 passengers who pass through Kangerlussuaq every year.

Hotel Kangerlussuaq
Tankeqarfiup aqq.
3910 Kangerlussuaq

M/S Sarfaq Ittuk

The ship was built in 1992 and was modernized and extended in 2000. She now has a length of 73 meters and a width of 11 meters. With an engine of 2000 HP, the ship has a max speed of 13 knots. The crew is 22 people. The ship has a café, a lounge with panoramic windows, a playroom, and a hospital clinic in case of injuries and acute illness on board. The ship’s capacity is 274 passengers.

The cabins are designed for 1-4 people. Each cabin is approx. 9.9 square meters (approx. 321 square feet) and contains a table, a chair, a wardrobe, and 220-volt sockets. There is an en suite bathroom and toilet, and bed linen and towels are included. All cabins are exterior cabins and have sea views.

The cabins are located on decks 3 and 4. You will be allocated a place of accommodation upon boarding. You will not be staying with strangers; only with those with whom you are booked.

Safety onboard
Sarfaq Ittuk (the coastal ship) is designed for sailing in polar waters and holds the highest safety standards.

Hotel Arctic

Greenland’s most famous hotel is Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. It is located with a fantastic view of Ilulissat town, Ilulissat Ice Fjord, and Disko Bay. Hotel Arctic is the world’s northernmost 4-star hotel, and on top of that, the hotel features a 5-star conference center. The hotel is located just outside the town, approximately a 15-minute walk from the town center (app. 1.5 km from the central intersection in town).

The hotel has two great restaurants, and the large terrace outside the restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while the sun shines its golden glow at midnight over the icebergs at Ilulissat Ice Fjord.NOTE: The hotel offers airport transfers, but there are not transfers in connection with excursions or such.

Hotel Arctic
Mittarfimmut Aqq. B-1128
3952 Ilulissat

Excursions (Optional purchases)

Practical Information

Flight schedule (local times)

  • Departure from Copenhagen 10:00 AM
  • Return flights arrive in Copenhagen 9:00 PM

Please note that departure times are subject to change by the airline.

Guaranteed departure

The tours with departure on September 26 and October 10, 2024 are guaranteed.

Guide language
The tour guide speaks English and Danish on departures September 26 and October 10, 2024.

Packing List
Find the packing list for your trip here.

Baggage included
20 kilos of checked baggage and 8 kilos of cabin baggage (max. dimensions of cabin baggage: 55 x 40 x 23 cm).

Travelers with reduced mobility and wheelchair users
We do not recommend this tour for people with reduced mobility and wheelchair users. Greenland Travel’s advice regarding difficulty levels on our excursions is intended for travelers who are not disabled. We are always happy to provide you with information on the suitability of the trip, taking into account the specific needs you may have. Please note that our advice is not based on medical knowledge, and ultimately it is YOUR responsibility to decide if a tour is right for you.

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Sailing among the Northern Lights

8 days in three towns and on the coastal ship

Explore Greenland and the Northern Lights with Greenland Travel. This highly popular round trip takes you to the three most popular places in Greenland and includes a coastal boat trip.

4.085 EUR
per person in double room
September to October  | 8 days  | 7 nights Travel id: 9049 Departure from Copenhagen
Optional experiences
Ice SheetIcebergsWhalesafariCulture

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You are always welcome to contact us if you have any questions regarding your trip or if you need advice or guidance.

We strive to respond to inquiries within 24 hours on weekdays.

You can call us at: +45 3313 1011