JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH LASSE KYED FROM NUUK, GREENLAND!
Lasse is an adventure guide, blogger and photographer for Guide to Greenland. He is based in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Their website GuideToGreenland.com exists to help people find things to see and do all over Greenland. He is passionate about showing how beautiful Greenland is, and how exciting it is to travel around in such a remote destination.
Greenland is world’s largest island and 80% of it is covered with permanent ice. There are 16 towns in the country but it is not possible to drive between the towns and settlements because there are no roads outside them. Greenland along with Faroe Islands is a part of the kingdom of Denmark but have autonomous self rule.
Nuuk, the capital and only city of Greenland is the largest in the country but small by world standard. With a population of 18,000 it is the most populous city in Greenland.
What is the best time to visit Nuuk and why?
That’s difficult, I would say that there are two optimal times to visit Nuuk. One is in the middle of summer, when life is buzzing the weather is great and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the fjords, go hiking, looking for icebergs, fishing and so on.
The other is in the late fall, late September, October and November because that’s when it’s dark enough for northern lights, and the winds shift getting a lot of icebergs out of the fjord right to the city shore line.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Nuuk?
The city is pretty small, you can walk most places or just go with the city bus. If the weather is right you can also rent a bike and ride your way around the attractions of Nuuk. The most favoured transport is boats though so that you can go explore nature.
Air Greenland is an excellent airline that covers virtually every inhabited corner of the island. Since the towns are not connected by roads, you can fly too to your destination.
What are the top three must visit places in Nuuk?
Nuuk is pretty small, but we’re close to the wilderness. It’s greatest attraction is the wonderful array of outdoor adventures around it. I would recommend going sailing and hiking such as:
Nuuk Fjord & Glacier Cruise : Nuuk fjord is the second largest in the world. Sailing to the Nuuk ice fjord which is about 2-3 hours of sailing away, is a mesmerising ride under the open sky. Enjoy the waterfalls, spot humpback whales and see the Narsap Sermia glacier which flows directly into the fjord. Just the vast nature with icebergs floating by is a wonderfully bliss experience. For further information check this guide by GuideToGreenland.
Hike to the top of Ukkusissat (2493 ft tall) : Ukkusissat means “soapstones” in Greenlandic. The best season to hike Ukkusissat is summer. It’s a steep hike that takes around 5-6 hours, I would recommend going with a guide, as there is only one path which is safe. The hike offers excellent 360-degree views over Nuuk and the fjord area, as well as the mountains behind Nuuk. Check out this photo guide on hiking Ukkusissat for more information.
Qooqqut is a summer residence about an hour of sailing away from Nuuk. It is an abandoned settlement in the Nuuk Fjord, 26 miles away from the city of Nuuk. It is rich in herbs, arctic thyme and berries. They have an amazing restaurant there, huts on rent and excellent hiking opportunities. Qooqqut can only be reached by a boat and is quite popular for it’s annual Nature festival which takes place in early September. It is a two-day festival which celebrates music, family, and nature. There are also workshops and games for children.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Nuuk?
You can literally drive around the entire town in less than an hour. You have to go by boat to explore nature. I recommend going on a fish’n’dish tour where you go fishing and literally give the fresh fish to a chef in a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. The main export products of Greenland are prawns and Greenland halibut.
There are pretty good hiking opportunities as well, there are 2 small mountainsnearby, which you can ascend easily as long as you stick to the trails.
If you have more time/days in hand, try Sarfaq Ittuk, the coastal ferry which is run by Arctic Umiaq Line. It is a spectacular nature experience. The Sarfaq Ittuk sails between Qaqortoq (South Greenland) and Ilulissat (North Greenland) but it’s also possible to embark/disembark at one of it’s various stops. It takes 4 nights northbound and 3 nights southbound for a full journey. Try this two night voyage from Nuuk to Ilulissat on Sarfaq Ittuk for a more local experience.
What is the best time of the year to spot Aurora Borealis?
You can see northern lights as early as late August all the way until may, but I would say the best is either November or March and April. You can see the lights no matter where you are in the city but getting away from the light pollution is obviously better, you can drive to the edges of town in less than 20 minutes.
What is the most celebrated holiday/event of the year in Nuuk?
The most celebrated holidays/events are Christmas, New Years, and the National day on the 21st of June. National day is one of the most festive dates on the calendar of Greenland. In Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, 240 km south of the Arctic Circle, the sun is in the sky for 21 hours making it the longest day of the year. Also known as Ullortuneq, if you are in Greenland on June 21, you are in for a treat. Greenlanders celebrate this day by dressing in the national costume, walking in parades and coming together as a community.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Nuuk?
The most loved food is the food we catch ourselves, we pride ourselves in hunting and fishing, and you can easily go on a fishing tour, catch a bunch and go straight to a restaurant which will prepare the fish for you. It doesn’t get fresher than that! Another excellent delicacy is dried fish, which you can find in any grocery store.
The national dish of Greenland is a meat soup called Suaasat, it is a soup based on meat, rice and onions. The national dish is with seal, but you can use, reindeer, muskox, whale or even seabirds.
When it comes to sweets, I’d say we’re big fans of cake and icecream, try and find a cheesecake with the local berries, it’s delicious!
Are there any popular markets in Nuuk which tourists must visit?
There are usually flea markets every Saturday during the summer in the local community house. But on any sunny day you’ll find people selling all kinds of things on the street outside the large grocery store of Brugsen, right in the middle of city center.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Nuuk?
There are several souvenir shops, selling handicrafts of pearl jewellery, handknitted wearables, and carved figures in bone called Tupilak. They are handmade using Reindeer Antler. Tupliak is the name for a summoned spirit which is either a protector or the one that brings harm.
I can highly recommend finding something in musk ox wool as it is some of the warmest and softest wool in the world. Nuuk also has some excellent ceramic and glass art and crafts.
Which are the best streets in Nuuk worthy of taking a stroll on?
The oldest part of town is called Nuutoqaq, it’s right by the ocean, where there’s a sculpture of the mother of the sea, there are several museums, cafés and activities by the water and the municipality is currently building a boardwalk along the coastline, which will make it an even nicer area to explore.
If you’re here for a few days you can walk the entire city, but Nuutoqaq is definitely the place to see while you’re here.
Do you suggest any shows on music, culture or art performed by the locals?
We have the national theatre here in Nuuk, if you’re lucky there will be an excellent show you can catch there or at the cultural centre called Katuaq. The design of the centre is inspired by waving northern lights and the play of light on ice and snow.
I would also suggest you go learn about the national costume at a place called Kittat, just next to the National Museum. You can also visit the handicraft workshop and witness locals carving figures out of bone and rock. Find more information on Kittat here.
If you can, find an event with drum dance, it’s a rare thing to see these days but it’s very interesting to see and listen to.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Nuuk?
The Colourful Nuuk app is fairly new, but they’re constantly working on making it better, it helps you find points of interest, places to eat and events happening near you.
Maps.me is an app which will help you navigate around, it’s a map that works offline and has several points of interest embedded in it.
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