Travelers looking to experience the authentic Arctic will be amazed by all that Greeland has to offer. The outdoors are a way of life in this country rich with natural wonders, otherworldly landscapes, and pure cultural experiences. From art appreciation and historical endeavors to discovering hot springs and hiking or kayaking through amazing scenery, Greenland has activities for visitors of any age and interest. You might even spot giant icebergs and local whales swimming in the scenic fjords.
The largest town in the southern area of Greenland, Qaqortoq, provides an ideal base for exploring the surrounding fjord region and breathtaking Greenlandic nature. Get ready for a true Arctic adventure and dive into these 11 things to do in Greenland.
Explore the Town of Qaqortoq
Although the city of Qaqortoq is the fifth largest in all of Greenland, the small town is easily walkable. Strolling the streets of the village center is the best way to discover its historical and cultural points of interest. Your city walk will likely take you to the Annaasisitta Oqaluffia, also known as The Church of Our Savior, which sits in the historic colonial district by the harbor.
For a contrast, visit the newer Gertrud Rasch’s Church, perched on the hill at the edge of the harbor. Admire the vibrant colonial-era houses that dot the beautiful fjord landscape of Southern Greenland.
Art enthusiasts will enjoy the scavenger hunt-style open-air exhibition throughout town called “Stone and Man.” Nordic artists crafted approximately 30 stone sculptures and carvings that are scattered throughout the city. This collaboration with Aka Høegh, a local artist, is one of the highlights for visitors to Qaqortoq.
Make sure to visit the famous fountain in the city center—its location in the main square makes it a natural gathering place and a highlight of any walking tour. Restaurants, cafes, and shops can be found here as well.
Wander the fish market for a glimpse into daily life and pick up a souvenir at the Sagalands shop, where you’ll find local goods and crafts.
Visit Viking Ruins
Kujataa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a sub-arctic farming area composed of three key sites where you’ll find ancient ruins that date back to the 10th century. The Vikings, or Norsemen, that settled in southern Greenland started a tradition of farming that is still employed today.
Hvalsey, a well-preserved church from a Viking settlement in the 12th century, is the most well-known site. Go back in time as you admire the stone walls of the church backed by gorgeous fjord scenery and imagine life when the Norsemen built and used this Christian church.
Another site accessible by boat or helicopter from Qaqortoq is Qassiarsuk, where the famous Viking explorer Leif Eriksson departed on his sailboat to discover North America. Here, you can see a reconstructed Viking longhouse and the first Christian church built in North America, Tjodhilde’s Church. Explore the intriguing Brattahlid ruins, where Erik the Red built his home within the Viking colony that he established in the 10th century. The settlement ruins are at the edge of the picturesque Tunulliarfik Fjord and make for a fantastic place to take photos.
Learn About Greenlandic Culture at the Qaqortoq Museum
Located in the center of town within the oldest building, the Qaqortoq Museum celebrates the history of Norse settlers with exhibitions containing Greenlandic art, photographs, and historical artifacts. Items such as Inuit boats, national dress and clothing, seal skins, and hunting equipment are on display in both permanent and temporary exhibits.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the museum is the guest rooms. These restored rooms once hosted the well-known American aviator Charles Lindbergh in the blue room and polar explorer Knud Rasmussen in the red room.
Take a Dip in a Hot Spring
There’s nothing quite like a dip in a warm hot spring when enjoying Greenland’s Arctic chill. Located on the island of Uunartoq, the springs are accessible by boat or flight within a half-day trip from Qaqortoq. The spring’s waters are heated by friction from the earth’s crust layer rubbing together, which warm the stone pool in the ground instead of creating volcanic activity like in other parts of the world. This particular hot spring is especially unique as it’s the only hot pool in the entire country warm enough to bathe in.
Lounge in the hot spring while gazing at the stunning mountain landscapes, arctic flowers, and passing icebergs. You might even spot whales as you soak. This is the perfect day trip to relax in natural surroundings.
Hike to Lake Tasersuaq
Accessible on foot from the city center, Lake Tasersuaq is a popular destination for hikers and kayakers. This local favorite was created by an inland ice cap and is a fishing source for the village.
An enjoyable six-mile loop trail skirts the perimeter of the lake and boasts views of the Arctic tundra and colorful Qaqortoq. You’ll walk alongside streams, wildflowers, native flora and fauna, natural pools, a waterfall, and the majestic Pinju Mountains in the distance. Make sure to bring your camera as this trail provides ample opportunities for jaw-dropping images to be captured.
Explore Fjords by Kayak
Experience kayaking where it originated: the Arctic region. Not only is it a cultural symbol for Greenland, but a method of transportation and an important tool for hunting and fishing that has been employed for hundreds of years in the country.
Kayaking through Arctic fjords is one of the most incredible things to do in Greenland. With Qaqortoq’s location perched in a network of fjords, the opportunities for kayak trips are abundant. In addition, kayakers will have the opportunity to view native wildlife up close and personal. Prepare for a jaw-dropping view as you spot seals, whales, icebergs, and birds along the way.
Go Fly Fishing for Arctic Char
The rivers in south Greenland are known for their rich population of Arctic char. This makes the region a premier destination for fly and spin fishing. Narsaq is a popular destination for fishing in the summer months. The Ilua River, sourced from a glacial ice cap, is another prime fishing destination. Crystal-clear waters and wild, unspoiled landscapes provide an adventurous fishing experience and is one of the best things to do in Greenland.
Try Local Cuisine
For a true taste of Greenlandic culture, make sure to try some traditional cuisine staples. Whale meat is a delicacy and can be cooked as steaks, or, if you’re more of an adventurous eater, try mattak (whale skin with a layer of blubber).
Taste one of the various ways that reindeer is prepared here, like in soup, as leg of reindeer, or as steaks. The national dish of Greenland, suaasat, is a thick broth of seal meat with onions and barley. Many of these types of meat are often dried and can be enjoyed in jerky form, too.
Musk ox is prevalent in Greenland, and while the fur is coveted and widely used for making coats and blankets, the meat is also a main ingredient for soup, steaks, and even served raw as tartare.
View Glaciers From Above
Seeing the fascinating landscape from above provides a real sense of the vast beauty of the Arctic region and is one of the top things to do in Greenland. Marvel at weaving rivers, green valleys, stunning fjords, small villages, mountain giants, and glaciers. Depending on the flight you choose, you’ll have opportunities to see historic Viking sights from above, as well as land in spots only accessible by air to explore on foot.
Land on a glacier for a bucket-list experience and try a drink of the freshest water you’ve ever had. Spot icebergs from above and get a different vantage point of Qaqortoq and other coastal fjord villages in the area. Soar past the impressive Killavaat mountain range as you gaze in wonder at some of Mother Nature’s best work.
Other possible highlights include the Sermilik ice fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Qassiarsuk and Igaliku, Tasermiut Fjord, and mountaintop landings. Many flights also stop at the Uunartoq hot spring for a relaxing dip amongst stunning scenery.
Hike Around Igaliku
In the sheep farming community of Igaliku, you’ll find many opportunities for hiking. Founded in the 1700s, this community is home to less than 30 people and is accessible by a passenger boat ride from Qaqortoq.
A variety of trails leave from the village, which serves as the perfect base for exploring. Whether you’re looking for a short walk or a longer, more challenging trek, Igaliku and the surrounding area has it all. Interacting with the friendly locals and experiencing the settlement’s farms are all part of the experience.
The most popular hike in Igaliku is the Lake and Plateau trail, where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista over the Qooroq Glacier and Tunulliarfik Fjord.
Go Whale Watching
One of the most awe-inspiring things to do in Greenland is to see whales in their natural habitat. Although approximately 15 species of whales have been known to swim in the waters around Greenland, fin, minke, and humpback whales are spotted the most often.
These beautiful ocean giants are a sight to behold in person. You’ll hear the whale spouting water first, then you’ll see the majestic beauty of the whale surfacing, to everyone’s excitement on board.
The fjords surrounding Qaqortoq are a whale-watching haven, making this activity a must-do for anyone interested in wildlife viewing. Sailing is an ideal way to see these animals playing, swimming, and fishing in the ocean waters.
Whale watching in this pristine fjord wilderness will grant you the opportunity of a lifetime to see them against a backdrop of striking scenery complete with icebergs and mountainous landscapes.
If you’re ready for an arctic adventure in unspoiled nature, Greenland is the perfect destination. A luxury cruise is a fantastic way to see the many awe-inspiring things there are to do in Greenland.
From culture and cuisine to hiking and whale-watching adventures, there’s something for everyone. Browse cruises to Greenland on our website and book your Arctic vacation today.