Sailing among 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.

Highlights

  • Walk ON the Inland Ice Cap
  • 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

Included

  • 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
  • 2 nights in a cabin on the coastal ship with a private bath/toilet
  • 1 night at Hotel Kangerlussuaq with private bath/toilet
  • 4 nights at Hotel Arctic with private bath/toilet
  • Breakfast
  • Full board on the coastal ship from Saturday morning to Sunday lunch (excl. beverages)
  • Welcome dinner in Kangerlussuaq (excl. beverages)
  • Farewell dinner in Ilulissat (excl. beverages)
  • Sandwich on the excursion to Sermermiut at Ilulissat Icefjord (4-5 hours)
  • Food and beverages onboard the flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and the return flight
  • Guided city tours in Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Ilulissat with English-speaking local guide
  • Guided hike with English-speaking local guide to Sermermiut by the Icefjord incl. sandwich
  • Dog show in Ilulissat
  • Admission to museums
  • Tour guide (The tour guide speaks English on departures 30 September and 14 October)
  • 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

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.

There’s no refund if you cancel upon arrival to 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 where we deposit our baggage at Hotel Hans Egede.

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!

Day 3:
At sea with a call in Sisimiut and a guided town walk

After a night’s sleep on the ship, you can look forward to the breakfast buffet in the ship’s cafeteria. In the morning, the ship docks in Maniitsoq and Kangaamiut, two of the towns along the coast. We are not able to go ashore, but from the deck, you get a glimpse of the  the life in the two towns.

Ashore in Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut

At 6 PM, we reach Sisimiut, and here we will go on a guided town walk. 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. We pass the town hall, and we also experience the old, original buildings from the colonial era, now lovingly restored.

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.

Day 4:
Arrival in Ilulissat. Sightseeing tour and visit to the sled dogs

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 accommodated at 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 with a visit to the sled dog area

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.

After the tour of the town, 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.

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!

Day 5:
Hike to Sermermiut Valley at Ilulissat Ice Fjord

After a wonderful breakfast buffet at the Hotel Arctic, we head out on a trip to Ilulissat Icefjord. We will be picked up from the hotel and driven to the top of the Sermermiut Valley. Today, you will need your hiking boots.

Hike to Sermermiut and Ilulissat Ice Fjord

We are going on a five-hour hike along the Ice Fjord. We walk at a steady pace, but the terrain is uneven in some places, and we do not recommend this trip if you are physically disabled. However, you can come along at the start of the excursion and consider how long you wish to continue. The first part of the trip is quite easy.

We begin our walk at the old quarry on the outskirts of Ilulissat. Subsequently, we pass Seqinniarfik, Holm’s Hill where, every year on January 13, the townspeople go to welcome the sun after a few months without sun.

Here we enjoy our lunch before we reach the vantage point at Nakkaavik (Kællingekløften).

The story goes that, in the old days, if there was famine the elderly people went out here and threw themselves into the sea so as not to be a burden to the community and to ensure that there was enough food for the next generations. Here we have a view of Ilulissat Ice Fjord and the huge amounts of ice and icebergs that float along the fjord.

The hike ends at a footbridge, built after the site became a world heritage site and we walk past the former Inuit settlement, Sermermiut. Before Ilulissat became a colony, this place was the most populated place in North Greenland.

Northern lights and dining

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

Day 6:
Ilulissat on your own or optional excursions: Sailing on the Ilulissat Ice Fjord and Inuit Legends

Today you can do explore the area on your own. For those who have purchased the excursion package, two exciting excursions are on the menu. For those who have not acquired the tour package, it is possible to book onto the excursions (if space is available).

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.

Back in Ilulissat, you can enjoy the town. We recommend a trip to the small art museum.

Inuit Legends – Legends and myths (optional)

The evening offers an exciting excursion. We go to a peat hut or a tent on the mountain. Here you are invited to wrap yourself in hides and blankets and get comfortable. Your tour guide will now tell you about the legends and myths that have been told for generations in the winter months when people had to stay indoors.

Inuit culture, the original religion, and the Inuit relationship to nature’s special phenomena are the focus of this excursion. We spice up the stay in the hut with tastings of traditional Greenlandic food. There is also an opportunity to taste Greenlandic coffee, which is certain to warm you up!

If there is heavy snow in the mountains, we use snowshoes to get to the hut. Then it becomes almost expedition-like, but everyone can participate. Of course, during our stay at the hut or in the tent, we keep an eye on whether the northern lights dance across the sky outside.

Day 7:
Ilulissat on your own or optional boat trip to the Ilimanaq 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 Ilimanaq south of Ilulissat Icefjord.

Boat trip to Ilimanaq (optional)

Just a generation ago, the majority of the Greenlandic population lived in small villages dotted as pearls on a string along the coast. Today, the majority of the population lives in towns, but the villages are still here. Some are abandoned, others are still full of life.

One of these is Ilimanaq, located just south of the Ice Fjord. Only 50 people live here, but the new Ilimanaq Lodges at the outskirts of the settlement has breathed new life into the community, along with fishing, of course. As with all populated places in Greenland, fishing is very visible, and it is by far Greenland’s largest industry.

Ilimanaq has some of the oldest colonial buildings in Greenland and is also known for the fine trout caught in the area of Tasiusaq behind the settlement. We leave from the port of Ilulissat. The trip takes about an hour each way, and then you have 2-3 hours to walk around and enjoy life in a genuine Greenlandic settlement. We will bring packed lunch for the trip to Ilimanaq and coffee and tea will be served on the boat.

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.

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.

Copenhagen

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.

Map

Kangerlussuaq

Nuuk

Sisimiut

Ilulissat

Kangerlussuaq

Sailing among Northern Lights

8 dages rundrejse til Kangerlussuaq, Nuuk og Ilulissat

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.

from
3.045 EUR
per person in double room
Oct 2020 - Oct 2021   | 8 days  | 7 nights Tour no: 9049 Departure from Copenhagen Guaranteed departure | incl. tour guide

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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.

Please notice

Departures on September 23 and September 30, 2021, are guaranteed departures.

The departures on October 7 and October 14, require a minimum of 10 participants to be guaranteed.

Guide language

The tour guide speaks English and Danish on departures September 30 and October 14, and German and Danish on departures September 23 and October 7. 

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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Can we help you?

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