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Visitors Guide to a Greenland Holiday in Ilulissat, Disko Bay

Located high above the Arctic Circle, on the west coast of Greenland, the town of Ilulissat is known for its star attraction, the Ilulissat Icefjord. Tourists travel around the globe to visit one of the world’s most stunning sights.

Getting to Ilulissat

Despite Ilulissat being Greenland’s most popular tourist destination, getting there can still be expensive. With no roads into or out of the town, Ilulissat can only be reached by sea or air.

As with all Greenlandic towns, Ilulissat is located on the coast and has a port suitable for both ferries and cruise ships to dock. Arctic Umiaq Line is the Greenlandic ferry company transporting freight and foot passengers along the west coast of Greenland. In the summer months the company’s only boat sets sail from Nuuk each Friday and reaches Ilulissat on the Sunday before returning the same way.

Visitors from Europe can fly from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq with Air Greenland, or from Reykjavik to Nuuk with Air Iceland. The town of Ilulissat has a small airport with Air Greenland offering frequent flights to and from both Kangerlussuaq and Nuuk. In the summer, Air Iceland also began operating direct flights twice a week from Reykjavik to Ilulissat, during the months of July and August.

Due to the extreme weather experienced in this area of the world and the lack of air traffic control, it is not unusual for flights to be cancelled, sometimes for days, whilst the weather clears. It is always advisable for tourists travelling to Greenland to ensure they allow sufficient time in case of travel delays.

Hotels and Budget Accommodation in Ilulissat

Due to its isolated location, Greenland is expensive and it’s not surprising that staying in a town which relies on the tourist industry isn’t cheap. However, budget travellers can find affordable accommodation by either camping or staying at the youth hostel. The hostel is basic by European standards and offers simple accommodation including beds and pit toilets.

For the more affluent traveller, there are several hotels to choose from with Hotel Hvide Falk and Cab-Inn Hotel both offering rooms overlooking the icebergs in Disko Bay.

Hotel Icefjord comprises of both hotel rooms and one-bedroom apartments. The hotel itself is located within the town of Ilulissat offering rooms with a view of the bay. The self-catering apartments are located 1.5km from the hotel and include a bathroom and kitchen.

Hotel Arctic

For those requiring a bit more luxury, Hotel Arctic is the world’s most northerly 4* hotel. Perched on a hillside, offering unrivalled views of the icebergs below, the hotel is located a 10-15 minute walk from the town centre and operates an hourly shuttle bus.

With rooms ranging from standard rooms to suites, the hotel offers the ultimate luxury in Ilulissat and also incorporates a restaurant, bar and 5* conference centre.

The hotel also caters for guests looking for a more Nordic style of accommodation, with its five aluminium igloos, located at the end of a wooden causeway a short walk from the hotel. The igloos are fitted with home comforts such as TV, radio, heating and bathroom and offer superb views of the icebergs in Disko Bay.

Visiting Ilulissat

A visit to the west coast of Greenland may not be top of most people’s holiday lists and those who do investigate the possibility of a Greenlandic holiday are frequently deterred by the expense and inconvenience of getting to such an isolated part of the world. However, with frequent flights from Denmark and Iceland and accommodation to suit both budget backpackers and affluent tourists, a visit to Ilulissat isn’t as hard as many people expect.

No matter how arduous the journey, or how expensive the holiday, it’s hard to imagine anyone who has set eyes on the giant icebergs of the Ilulissat Icefjord leaving disappointed.