Travel Guide North America Greenland Western Greenland Ilulissat



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Ilulissat, formerly Jakobshavn is the largest city in the municipality Qaasuitsup (Greenlandic: Qaasuitsup Kommunia) and the third largest in Greenland. Located 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in the Disco Bay, at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord, the city is Greenland's most popular tourist destination and a perfect starting point for many excursions.

Ilulissat is at the mouth of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The town is next to the sea filled with icebergs from the most active glacier in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq. Excavations show that people have inhabited the area for thousands of years, and it was once the largest town in Greenland. The town is also known for having almost the same number of sled dogs as people: the town is home to 4,600 people and nearly 3,500 sled dogs. Ilulissat is birthplace of the explorer Knud Rasmussen.



Sights and Activities

Ilulissat Icefjord

The Ilulissat Icefjord is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of a few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea. It has assumed great importance, due to increasing concerns around climate change. The ice fjord is located on the west coast of Greenland about 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The Sermeq Kujalleq is one of the fastest (19 metres per day!) and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier has been studied for more than 250 years and this has helped to develop the understanding of climate change and icecap glaciology. This natural phenomenon is an absolute highlight of Greenland.


There are two museums in Ilulissat. The first is the Ilulissat Museum; which features exhibitions showcasing the life and expeditions of the explorer Knud Rasmussen. The second is the Inuit Art Museum; which features many different paintings from Greenland, Faroese and Denmark, with the most notable by Emanuel A. Peterson.

Ilulissat Museum (Knud Rasmussen Museum), Nuisariannguaq 9, ☏ +299 94 36 43, ✉ [email protected]. Open M-F 10-17. Local historical museum, features exhibition of Knud Rasmussen, the famous Danish explorer. Adults 35 kr, children under 15 free.
Ilulissat Art Museum, Aron Mathiesenip Aqq. 7, ☏ +299 94 44 43, ✉ [email protected]. Su-Th 1PM-4PM. Features paintings by Emanuel A. Petersen and other Greenlandic, Danish and Faroese artists.


The sea surrounding Ilulissat is full of icebergs, mainly because of the proximity of the town to the Ilulissat Ice Fjord. the most active glacier in the world. The giant icebergs can be admired from shore or in local boats. These massive icebergs slowly drift out of the mouth of the fjord on their journey to the Atlantic.


If you walk south from the camping ground you will reach the coast at the mouth of the icefjord. West of Kællingeklippen you will be high above the water, but walking around to the east side you can climb all the way down to the water and sit and watch the nature in all its magnificence.
Attending a kaffemik (coffee gathering) is the best way to meet some of the locals, and they will be happy to invite you to one. Ilulissat and the surrounding settlements are all great places to score an invite to one of these, and the local tourist offices can help you attend one of these local social traditions.
The Ilulissat region is a great area to explore at sea, you can travel to either the nearby settlements or sea the fjord and all of the icebergs in it. Travelers can also sail to Disko Island and see the majority of Disko Bay on the journey.
No winter or spring trip would be complete without a dogsled ride. Tours from one hour to ten days can be arranged with tour companies in town. Each sled will hold one or two passengers, not including the driver who will sometimes run alongside, sometimes ride on the back, and sometimes jump on to sit in front of you. Lyngmarks Glacier on Disko Island is the only place in Greenland where travelers can dog sled in the summer. Many local hunters will take tourist along with them on their dog sleds. The best way to arrange this is through the local tourist offices in Ilulissat.
There are many good hiking trails in and around Ilulissat. Travelers can hike through the mountains and around the lakes in the valley to the site where traces of the first humans in Greenland over 4500 years ago have been found.
The Arctic palerfik is the ceremonial last dog sled trip of the winter season in Iluissat (before the sun gets too strong and snow starts melting), and takes place in March or April. Made up of a hundred sleds, each pulled by ten dogs, it's a terrific parade to witness for many travelers.
In the summer, Arctic midnight orienteering competitions are held in the midnight sun. This is an official Arctic championship and an unofficial Greenlandic championship held annually.



Events and Festivals

  • The National Day of Greenland is held on the 21st of June each year - the lightest day of the year - as a celebration of Greenland's traditions and cultural heritage. People often dress in national costumes to mark the occasion.
  • The Arctic Palerfik is a 3-day dog sledding trip in Ilulissat. Over 100 sleds, 200 participants and 1,000 sled dogs take part in this annual event held in April.
  • Return of the Sun - January’s return of the sun after several weeks or months of constant darkness is a major cause for celebration in Greenland. Although the exact day varies throughout the country, each local community celebrates the occasion with plenty of coffee, sweets, music, and special family togetherness. Ilulissat families and schoolchildren drive dogsleds to Holms Hill, known as Seqinniarfik in Greenlandic, and sing songs to greet the returning sun.



Getting There

By Plane

Ilulissat Airport (JAV IATA). About 3 km (2 miles) from the center of town. Passenger service (as of 2018) is provided by Air Greenland and Air Iceland Connect. Air Greenland flies domestically from Kangerlussuaq, Qaarsut, Aasiaat, Nuuk and Upernavik and internationally from Reykjavík-Keflavík. Air Iceland Connect has flights from Reykjavík Airport (the domestic airport, downtown).

By Boat

Arctic Umiaq Line sails to Ilulissat from South and West Greenland if the waters are safe.
Disko Line sails around Disko Bay for other destinations. There are no roads outside communities. To get between communities, you have to go by air or boat. Disko Line operates scheduled boat transport among the settlements and communities on Disko Island and along the coast. They also offer a series of packaged and custom tourist boat tours.



Getting Around

You can walk around, or get a cab, if you're going to or from the airport, which is located a bit out of town. However, most hotels will pick up and drop off guests at the airport. The Hotel Arctic, which is furthest from the center of town, offers regular van service to the city center (although it's only a 20 minute walk should you prefer to go on foot.)

Watch for dogsled yield signs. Dogs are kept in many places around town, and sleds have right-of-way. They are fast and quiet, with dogs fanning out in front each on individual ropes. Pedestrians and vehicles both must beware.




Restaurant Icefjord, Jørgen Sverdrupip Aqq. 10, ☏ +299 94 44 80. Meals avg 129 kr.
Restaurant Mamartut, Sermermiut Aqq. 4, ☏ +299 94 51 00, ✉ [email protected]. Open M-Sa 11:30-23:00. Offer a Greenlandic Buffet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the summer months, usually through September. Main courses avg 190-250 kr.
Restaurant Hvide Falk, ☏ +299 94 33 43. Offers a Greenlandic style buffet with lots of seafood. There is also, unexpectedly, a room set aside for Thai cuisine. Take away food is available, prices start at 85 kr.
Cafe Iluliaq, Fredericiap Aqqutaa 5, ☏ +299 94 22 42. Cafe inside of the Cab-Inn. Breakfast is included in the hotel stay.
Cafe Ferdinand (c/o Hotel Arctic), Mitarfimmut Aqq. B1128, ☏ +299 94 41 53, ✉ [email protected]. Dinner is served from 18:30-21:00. This cafe has views of the Disko Bay's gigantic icebergs, and serves cakes, coffee and tea during the day, and dinner in the evening. The cafe turns into a bar after 22:00. 85-275 kr.
Restaurant Ulo (c/o Hotel Arctic), Mitarfimmut Aqq. B1128, ☏ +299 94 41 53, ✉ [email protected]. Daily 05:00-10:00, 12:00-24:00, 18:00-21:00. Restaurant with views of the Disko Bays gigantic icebergs. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant serves as much local food as possible, such as musk-ox, reindeer, Greenland halibut, arctic hare, ptarmigan, wolfish, mussels, sea urchins and redfish. Herbs are collected in the fells, including sheep sorrel, knot weed, mountain sorrel, lousewort, northern marsh yellers, common mouse ear and knotted pearlwort. 75-595 kr.




Ilulissat is the place in Greenland with most accommodations/hotels, but due to the increased popularity, it is recommended to make reservations in advance.

Hotel Arctic, Mitarfimmut Aqq. B1128 (Right on the edge of the Ilulissat ice fjord), ☏ +299 94 41 53, ✉ [email protected]. The world’s most northerly 4-star hotel with a 5 star conference centre. On-site restaurant, café & bar. Free of charge shuttle bus to/from the airport and city center. Standard singles from 1,200 kr, A few rooms with no view go for 770 kr.
Hotel Avannaa, ☏ +299 94 40 02, ✉ [email protected]. Hotel rooms are spacious with private bathrooms, each has its own tv. There are also some mini kitchens so that guests can cook their own food. Prices vary with the season: high season single room: 885 kr, double room 1115 kr.
Hotel Hvide Falk, Napparsimaviup Aqq. 18, ☏ +299 94 33 43, ✉ [email protected]. Singles from 1,015 kr.
Hotel Icefjord, Jørgen Sverdrupip Aqq. 10, ☏ +299 94 44 80, ✉ [email protected]. Singles from 1,050 kr in high season, considerable discounts the rest of the year.
Ilulissat Youth Hostel (c/o World of Greenland), Marralinnguaq 49, ☏ +299 94 33 77, ✉ [email protected]. Small hostel in town, guests must provide their own towels and bed linens. Sleeping bags are ok. There are 43 twin rooms available. Single 400 kr, double 500 kr.
Hotel Arctic - Igloos (Hotel Arctic), Mittarfimmut Aqq. B1128, P.O. Box 150, ☏ +299 94 41 53, ✉ [email protected]. The igloo cabins are inspired by the classic Inuit igloo in shape and design but instead of ice they have an aluminum frame to insure comfortable and modern facilities like any other hotel room - but the atmosphere is totally different. The igloos are situated on the edge of the Ilulissat ice fjord with views of the Disko Bays gigantic icebergs. The Igloos are connected to the Hotel Arctic by a boardwalk on the cliffs.

View our map of accommodation in Ilulissat



Keep Connected


Thanks to undersea fiber optic cable links to Europe and broadband satellite, Greenland is well connected with 93% of the population having internet access. Your hotel or hosts (if staying in a guesthouse or private home) will likely have wifi or an internet connected PC, and all settlements have an internet cafe or some location with public wifi. Ask around if you need help finding it.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Greenland is 299.

Tele Greenland is the only telephone and internet provider. Mobile phones have coverage in all larger villages, including 3G internet access. The mobile phone system in Greenland is GSM 900/1800, and with the exception of one or two settlements the system covers all the inhabited areas of Greenland. Note that roaming charges are international (as Greenland is outside the EU), and much higher than someone from EU would pay inside EU.


Post Greenland is the company responsible for postal service in Greenland. It has reliable services, but as you might imagine, it takes a while for your letter or postcard to arrive. Post offices can be found in all major communities in Greenland. Business hours are typically Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:00pm. Mail from Greenland takes about four to five days to reach Europe.


Accommodation in Ilulissat

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Ilulissat searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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This is version 14. Last edited at 13:16 on Oct 30, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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