The largest city in Greenland, Nuuk is the cultural and economic center of the country. Explore the picturesque colonial harbor with its quaint old buildings and the newly renovated market where locals sell their daily catch. Greenland’s history comes alive in the National Museum, and its culture thrives in the Nuuk Museum of Art and the Katuaq Cultural Centre. Nuuk’s extensive fjord system is home to many whales, and the area is also populated by seals, reindeer, arctic foxes, arctic hares and ravens.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Drive through Greenland’s diminutive capital, which nestles at the head of a fjord, and trace the town’s history through its marquee attractions.
After departing from the pier, you will soon find yourself in downtown Nuuk, the world’s smallest capital and Greenland’s biggest town. Nuuk means “headland,” a reference to its location at the tip of a peninsula at the mouth of an extensive fjord system.
Missionary Hans Egede officially founded the city in 1728, although Inuits, Vikings and various other groups had lived here on and off for about 4,000 years. It’s still a captivating historical setting. As you drive around town, pausing every so often for photos, you will see landmarks that include the Parliament, the University of Greenland and Katuaq, a cultural venue whose modern design was inspired by the magical play of light on the ice and snow.
The National Museum occupies several buildings around the colonial harbor, where a statue of Egede overlooks the sea. Other prominent historical buildings include Nuuk Cathedral. Consecrated in 1849, it was constructed with so-called half-timbering, a technique where the timber frame was filled with soapstone and talc. That was later covered with the red paneling seen today.
You will also drive through Nuuk’s neighboring suburbs, which include Nuussuaq and the more contemporary Qinngorput district. Regardless of where you travel, the craggy mountains provide a majestic backdrop as you return to the pier.
Please note: This tour is panoramic in nature and walking is at the guests’ discretion during photo stops. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the bus and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Warm clothing; cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.
Discover how Inuits have long used kayaks on hunting expeditions and how this specially made watercraft has become synonymous with their culture.
Without venturing far from the pier, you will watch a local Inuk demonstrate some of the remarkable maneuvering techniques that Inuits have used when hunting at sea in kayaks. These vessels are made for the open water and the unforgiving arctic environment. In fact, each kayak is constructed specifically for the owner, so it has just the right balance and fit.
The first Inuit kayaks were constructed with the precious few available materials, such as driftwood from Siberia, sealskins and sinew. Today, kayaks are typically made of fiberglass. Even so, the design hasn’t changed much and still has to be precise, as the cold arctic seas could be fatal if the kayak capsizes.
That’s why it is so important for hunters to know how to flawlessly execute a “roll,” where they can quickly right their kayaks if they turn over in the sea. Incredibly, Inuit hunters can perform the maneuver without getting a drop of water inside.
During the kayak show, you will watch a highly experienced Inuit kayaker demonstrate the “roll” and various other essential maneuvers. After all, Inuits still use kayaks to hunt. In fact, in certain areas of Greenland, narwhals can only be hunted from a traditional kayak with hand-thrown lances and spears.
Following the kayak show, you will return to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 30-minutes of easy walking/standing. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with walking difficulties are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Warm clothing; cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Get a firsthand account of what it’s like to live in Nuuk by visiting a local family and asking about some of the landmarks you’ve seen during your walk to their home.
After walking from the pier, you will soon enter the oldest part of Nuuk, the world’s smallest capital and Greenland’s biggest town. Nuuk means “headland,” a reference to its location at the tip of a peninsula at the mouth of an extensive fjord system.
Missionary Hans Egede officially founded the city in 1728, although Inuits, Vikings and various other groups had lived here on and off for about 4,000 years. The town slowly developed around the colonial harbor, where a statue of Egede now overlooks the sea. Nearby stands the National Museum, a venue you may wish to later visit on your own as the museum’s interesting collection includes ancient dog sleds, kayaks and several remarkably preserved Inuit mummies that are about 500 years old. During your walking tour you will also pass the Mother of the Sea. This seaside statue depicts an Inuit legend which at low tide is fully visible, but at high tide nearly completely covered.
Still, the most meaningful way to learn about the Greenlandic culture is to visit a local family in their home. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget because Greenlanders are typically friendly, open and eager to share their life stories. Over coffee and cake, you will discover what it’s like to live in Nuuk and cope with the harsh winter weather. Feel free to ask about the culture and customs, as your hosts welcome questions.
After visiting, you will walk back to the pier where your tour concludes.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 45-minutes of easy to moderate walking and it may be standing room only during your visit to the local home. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with walking difficulties are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Warm clothing; cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Tour sequence may vary.
Cruise into a nearby fjord to look for humpback whales, which usually frequent these waters to feed and often breach the surface in acrobatic displays.
After boarding a boat at the pier, you will cruise north through the Davis Strait and into the beautiful Nuup Kangerlua fjord, which stretches nearly 100 miles, making it the longest fjord in this part of Greenland. As you approach uninhabited Sermitsiaq Island, you are sure to notice the saddle-shaped mountain rising from the island’s heart. In fact, the mountain is so large that you may even glimpse parts of it from Nuuk.
When the weather warms and the snow and glaciers melt, a waterfall usually thunders off the mountain and into the crystal-clear waters of the fjord below. It’s quite the sight, as is the wildlife that typically frequents this area. There is no telling what will appear, but you can expect to see frolicking seals, soaring eagles and perhaps humpback whales.
If they are present, the whales will no doubt steal the show, especially if they leap from the water and land with a tremendous splash. Scientists think whales breach the water to clean pests from their skin. However, they may do it just for fun.
Another highlight is seeing the whale’s massive tailfin, called a fluke, rise out of the water, so keep your camera ready. A humpback whale weighs as much as 40 tons and grows up to 60 feet in length, so if one’s in the area, it will be easy to spot. After approximately 90-minutes cruising the waters, you will head back to the pier.
Please note: This tour takes place on a boat and is mostly seated. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with walking difficulties are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of ability to enter and exit the boat. Those who suffer from motion sickness should take necessary precautions. Warm clothing; cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes with a non-slip sole are recommended. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed and the tour’s operation is subject to prevailing weather conditions.
Enjoy an exhilirating hike up Quassussuaq Mountain, following a trail that offers spectacular views of Nuuk and the fjords beyond.
A short drive from the pier brings you to the foothills of Quassussuaq Mountain, which overlooks Nuuk, the world’s smallest capital and Greenland’s biggest town. The hike will begin at a relaxed pace and before long you will enter the unspoiled terrain so prevalent in this part of the country.
Expect the views to be spectacular as you ascend and gaze out over Nuuk, which means “headland.” From your elevated vantage point, you will understand why it was so named: the city sits at the very tip of a peninsula at the mouth of an extensive fjord system.
The hike up Quassussuaq, also known as Little Malene, offers an ever-changing landscape. You will pass streams and small lakes and see the ski resort near Nuuk’s airport. There will be plenty of short breaks to enjoy the scenery. After a while, you will stop for a picnic style sandwich lunch at one of the prettiest spots on the mountain.
During your lunch break, there will be time to relax, stroll about at your leisure, and take note of the lay of the land. Nuuk clings to the hills below and beyond lies beautiful Nuup Kangerlua fjord, which stretches nearly 100 miles, making it the longest fjord in this part of Greenland. You may also spot the saddle-shaped mountain that dominates uninhabited Sermitsiaq Island.
Following lunch, you will hike down into Qinngorput, the most contemporary and newly built suburb of Nuuk. There, you will rejoin your coach and drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 4 1/2 hours of moderate to strenuous hiking over natural terrain that includes uphill and downhill travel. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with walking difficulties. ONLY GUESTS IN GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION WILL BE PERMITTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TOUR. Warm, layered clothing; cap; sunglasses; and a bottle of water from the ship is recommended. Flat, comfortable boots or hiking shoes are mandatory. There are no restroom facilities available during the hike.