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Things to do in Ilulissat on an Arctic West Greenland Holiday

Since 1992, the town of Ilulissat has actively promoted tourism and visitor numbers are gradually increasing at what is now considered Greenland’s most popular tourist location. World of Greenland is the town’s primary tourist company and offer a variety of ways for tourists to get close to the natural sights in and around Ilulissat.

Jakobshavn Glacier, Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay’s Icebergs

Everything in Ilulissat is centred around its star attraction, the Ilulissat Icefjord (Ilulissat Kangerlua in Greenlandic) and its magnificent icebergs emitting from the Jakobshavn Isbræ Glacier (Sermeq Kujalleq in Greenlandic).

The icefjord is one of the most spectacular sights in the world and, in a town where everything is expensive, it’s a relief that the most outstanding views are available for free with a walk to the icefjord’s edge.

From the centre of town, head to the old heliport and follow one of the three trails to the edge of the fjord. After a 15 minute walk, visitors will find themselves stood beside one of the planet’s most spectacular natural wonders. A walk alongside the icefjord is a must for any tourist visiting Ilulissat. The peacefulness and serenity is only broken by the occasional sound of cracking and calving ice.

The numerous icebergs scattered around Disko Bay can be viewed from various locations throughout the town. Standing at the water’s edge, it’s possible to gaze out at the huge protruding masses of white floating silently around the bay. However, tourists at the shoreline should be aware that the huge icebergs are renowned for flipping upside down in the water, causing mini tsunamis to surge towards shore.

Ilulissat Boat Trips

After tourism, the town’s second industry is fishing and the locals use their fishing trawlers to sail tourists around the bay giving them the unique opportunity to float amongst the icebergs.

World of Greenland offer a 2.5 hour boat trip sailing among the icebergs, taking visitors close to the entrance of the Ilulissat Icefjord where some of the icebergs reach the size of apartment blocks.

During the summer months, World of Greenland operate the same tour at night, enabling tourists to witness the gigantic blocks of ice changing colour as the midnight sun descends to just above the horizon.

Helicopter Tours Over the Ilulissat Icefjord

World of Greenland offers a unique opportunity to witness the Ilulissat Icefjord and Jakobshaven Isbræ Glacier from the air. The helicopter tours depart from Ilulissat town and fly over the bay, down the length of the icefjord and along the edge of the glacier. The tour gives passengers the chance to see both the calving glacier and the gigantic icebergs of the icefjord.

Before returning to Ilulissat, the helicopter will land on a mountain close to the icefjord where passengers can disembark and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Helicopter tours are available all year round (weather permitting) and the 1.5 hour trip costs approximately DKK 2,700.

Dog Sledding in Ilulissat

In a town inhabited by more sled dogs than people, it’s no surprise that the primary type of transportation during the harsh winter is dog sledge. Long before helicopters and aeroplanes arrived in Greenland, the sled dogs were used to connect distant Greenlandic communities.

Today they are still used as transportation during the winter months and are also available for tourists to experience life as a Greenlander. World of Greenland offer every conceivable length of sledge tours ranging from one hour to ten days.

For most tourists the two hour ride to a viewpoint over the icefjord is probably the ideal trip, giving not only a chance to experience life on a dog sledge but also the ultimate views of the Ilulissat Icefjord. However, for DKK 24,000, real adventurers can experience 10 days of wilderness on the once in a lifetime opportunity of the “long sledge-ride” to the Eqi Glacier.

Sledge rides are available between November and April and all sledge tours include an experienced sledge driver.

Visiting Ilulissat

There is no shortage of tours available in Ilulissat and, in summer months it is advisable to book well in advance.

However, tourists should remember that the helicopters, boats and dog-sledge rides are simply there to enhance rather than replace the real attraction, the Ilulisat Icefjord and its spectacular icebergs.

This special and unique place in the Arctic Circle, is the most popular tourist attraction in Greenland and, were it not for its remote location, it would surely be one of the most popular in the world.