48 Hours in Greenland: Icebergs, Colorful Houses and Fjord Adventures
48 Hours in Greenland: Icebergs, Colorful Houses and Fjord Adventures
A real dream for any traveler, Greenland is one of the most remote and mysterious countries on Earth. We got lucky enough to visit it in September and were absolutely stunned by this untouched country and its colorful capital Nuuk.
From the vast beauty of its beautiful landscapes to the joys of fishing your own dinner, through the discovery of ancient settlements and the cutest houses in the world, here’s our full guide to 48 Hours in Greenland.
Big Malene and Little Malene hikes
Icebergs and fjords
Nuuk Water Taxi boat tours
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“But how do I even get to Greenland?”
Despite the fact that Greenland is a quite remote destination, getting there is a piece of cake. With Greenland Air flying direct from Copenhagen and Reykjavik, we recommend spending a few days in the beautiful Danish capital either before or after your trip. Take the time to explore cute Nyhavn, Tivoli Gardens and the hip neighborhood of Norrebro. Our pick for the best hotel is the amazing Radisson Collection Royal Copenhagen, right in the center of town, just around the corner from the main train station and directly across the street from Tivoli Gardens.
How to get to Greenland: Air Greenland
Where to stay in Greenland: Hotel Hans Egede, right in the center of Nuuk
Get around Nuuk: Local bus system Nuup Bussi
Safety in Greenland: Greenland is very safe, we had no issues at all
More information: Visit Greenland
Favorite Travel Gear: Eastpak luggage/day bags
48 Hours in Greenland | Day 1: Downtown Nuuk, Colorful Houses and Big Malene
The little Greenlandic capital city of Nuuk is an absolute must-do when visiting Scandinavia and Northern Europe.
After our arrival in Nuuk and check-in in the Hotel Hans Egede, we headed off to discover downtown Nuuk and the beautiful colorful houses we’ve seen in so many pictures.
Since Nuuk is small, we did all of downtown Nuuk on foot, from our hotel, which we highly recommend.
Currency: Danish Krone (DKK)
Language: Greenlandic and Danish (English is spoken in touristy places)
Time change: UTC -2 March through October
UTC -3 November through March
SIM Card provider: Zain
Best time to visit: Arctic summer lasts from June to September
Dresscode: Better to plan some layers!
We started off visiting the Nuuk Cathedral, which is a tribute to the Christian influence on the nation, since the Inuits had different beliefs before Denmark settlements. The Cathedral is built in a similar Lutheran style compared to Icelandic churches - really worth the visit and an iconic landmark in little Nuuk!
Right next to the Cathedral, we visited the Nuuk National Museum and Cultural Center, which taught us a lot about Greenland, since in true Jeff and Anne fashion, we came without knowing much! Greenland has a long history of settlements, from the first Inuit settlers to the Danish in the last two centuries and this museum gives a much more in-depth history lesson than we were expecting!
Dating back to around 1475 AD, the oldest human remains found in Greenland are from Inuit mummies - we saw them in the museum, and warning, they’re quite chilling, insane how something that old can be so well preserved!
A little walk from the museum you will find the famous Kolonihavn area, with its collection of wooden Inuit traditional houses, with an urban landscape filled with an amazing array of bright colors, from deep yellow to bright orange, from neon green to electric blue. What a view!
Tip: The best spot for taking photos of the colorful houses is at the hill at the end of Isaajap Aqqutaa street in Nuuk. Coordinates: 64.180736, -51.747073
In the afternoon we attempted the summit of Big Malene, located in the most popular outdoor region of Nuuk, Quassussuaq.
The 2,493-foot-tall (761m) Store Malene/Big Malene is a solid hike up to the peak, offering a great view of Nuuk, Akia (Nordlandet), Sermitsiaq and the Kangerluarsunnguaq Fjord with its spectacular glaciers.
All hiking trails are marked, the Big Malene being recognizable with its orange markings on the rocks alongside the trail.
You can take this hike with a guide, which we would recommend, however we attempted it on our own, which only added to the fun.
In dry weather, the ascent is pretty straightforward, albeit fairly difficult, but we attempted it with fog and rain and had to stop half way through due to too many slippery rocks. But we will be back, we said!
As you probably know, we aren’t the most experience or even skilled outdoors folk, but we can’t stop trying new things, new adventures and new challenges! We don’t travel with any special equipment, just our Eastpak day bags to represent #teambackpack, used basketball shoes, a protein bar, TEP wireless device, a good book and a lot of water - just like middle school but way cooler, huh? Check out our “What’s in our backpack?” article for more detailed information.
Tip: Use promo code “WHATDOESNTSUCK” to save 30% off renting your own TEP wifi device - good in over 100 countries!
48 Hours in Greenland | Day 2: Little Malene, Qooqqut Nuan and Fjord Adventures
Since we couldn’t climb all the way up to Big Malene, we decided to go back and hike Lille Malene/Little Malene, around the same spot and offering impressive views of Nuuk, Akia, the surrounding regions and the spectacular sea.
This time, we followed the green markings on the rocks, hiking around the lake for a couple hours, and with much dryer weather! This hike is more flat and easier for the casual hiker.
Tip: The water in the streams is clean and drinkable! Bring a mug or bottle to scoop the water up with.
These two hikes are really the best outdoors trails to follow if you don’t have a car around Nuuk - accessible via bus number 1 from downtown Nuuk for 16 krones each (about $2.5), stopping in Qinngorput and heading from there. Our hotel had a hiking map of Nuuk which was also very helpful!
We took 2 boat tours during this trip, both with Nuuk Water Taxi in an open boat, with full life suits (watch the video!).
The first tour was an amazing fishing and eat-your-own-fish boat tour, bringing us an hour boat ride away outside of Nuuk in Qooqqut Nuan to fish our dinner. We both caught fish in less than a minute in 65-meters deep water (brrr) and were brought to the unique restaurant in a tiny settlement for them to cook it for us. Can’t beat it! The dinner was delicious, complete with soup, steamed and fried fish and rice, potatoes and vegetables.
The other boat tour we did was the Fjord Adventure – Open boat tour. Taking us around Nuuk for a couple hours, we got to see icebergs from up close, as well as marine life. You get a chance to see whales, seals, fulmars and whitetipped eagles as well if you’re lucky!
Nuuk Water Taxi offers another tour that we wanted to do but missed out on because it was fully booked, the Icefiord Hike and Kapisillit Settlement. This boat tour takes you 2,5 hours away from Nuuk to the Fiord, to hike up to the plateau overviewing the Icefjord and see Kapisillit – the last permanent settlement in Nuuk Region. We really recommend you to do this and book in advance, in order to see the glaciers, fiords and even more icebergs and wildlife- not to be missed!
We were so shocked at all we were able to see in Nuuk during just 48 hours that we’re thrilled to be starting to try and plan a winter trip back to explore other parts of this amazing country and see all the magical nature and wildlife it has to offer during the different seasons.
Definitely a more off the beaten path destination, Greenland will remain one of our top picks for hidden gem destinations going into 2019 and if you love nature, silence, stunning views and nature that will remind you about the good in the world, book your trip now!
So that sums up our 48 Hours in Greenland!
Let us know below if you have any questions or recommendations for our next visit!
The inland ice or ice sheet has an area of 1.8 million km2 – the equivalent of about 7% of all the fresh water on earth, estimated to a 7 meters rise in sea level worldwide if the ice sheet melt.
In Greenland lives about 55,000 Greenlanders, of which 90% of these live in 16 towns, and the rest in small settlements.
Greenland covers 2,175,600 km2 - the same size as France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined.
There are 16 major towns, each with surrounding settlements. None of the towns or settlements are interconnected by roads.
Words that are commonly known and used across the world - such as Igloo (dome-shaped house of snow) and Kayak (small narrow boat) - originate from Greenlandic words (Igdlo and Qajaq).
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