The iceberg town Ilulissat means icebergs in Greenlandic, and the town has a beautiful location at the mouth of the 56 km long ice fjord that is filled with enormous icebergs from the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere, Sermeq Kujalleq.
Charming sled dog town
In Ilulissat, which is also known as Jakobshavn, there are 4,500 people living today and at least 3,500 sled dogs, which underlines the importance of the dogsled as a means of transport even in a large modern town. The harbour is full of fishing boats and trawlers that bear witness to the great importance of fishing for Ilulissat. Tourism is also an important business for the town and a great variety of excursions are on offer where the focus is on nature and culture. Ilulissat is a charming town where the coloured wooden buildings on the hills blend with the modern buildings in a close interaction between human life and wild nature. The many dog sledges parked outside the houses speak for themselves. This is not a motion picture set. It is a town where traditional Greenlandic life is lived. With dog sledges as a natural part of the transport network and with lots of activity in and around the harbour where numerous dinghies constantly enter and leave on their way to and from fishing close to the huge icebergs. The town has a museum in the birthplace of the polar explorer Knud Rasmussen, there are shops with Greenlandic handicrafts and sealskin garments of modern design and there are cafes and restaurants if you would like to try some local delicacies.
The biggest icebergs end up getting stranded at the mouth of the ice fjord at a depth of 225-250 metres, and they do not work free until the tide is sufficiently high or until they are so eroded that the iceberg’s centre of gravity is altered. The Ice Fjord, which is close to Hotel Arctic, was included on UNESCO's World Heritage List at the 28th of The World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2004. And not without reason. The Ice Fjord contains one of the biggest and most active glaciers in the world. Its 3,000 square kilometre area advances at a rate of 20 metres per day. The glacier "calves" about 10 % of the inland ice that is pressed out into the sea from Greenland and there is nothing in the whole world that resembles it. All this means that the Ice Ford - off Ilulissat - is like a park full of sculptures constantly changing. Shapes, colours and sounds from the ice mountains are hard to forget - you are an eyewitness to a totally enchanting natural phenomonen. It's a big world out there and at Hotel Arctic you get really close to it, while enjoying inviting and warm surroundings. Read more about the Ice Fjord - and see photos and film by clicking this link
Rich cultural history
Just a couple of kilometres from Ilulissat the idyllic Sermermiut valley lies out towards the ice fjord. In 1727 it was Greenland’s biggest settlement and home to more than 250 people. Excavations have subsequently revealed that for thousands of years the beautiful valley has at various times been home to all of the cultures that have lived along the west coast of Greenland.
How do I get to Ilulissat?
Air Greenland has daily flights to Ilulissat from the international airport in Kangerlussuaq. Some departures to Ilulissat include a stopover at other towns on the coast. Air Iceland has nonstop flights from Reykjavik Domestic airport to Ilulissat over the summer.
If you wish to visit other towns on the coast from Ilulissat you can also sail to these destinations on Arctic Umiaq Line's passenger ships. There are also cruise ships that call at Ilulissat for periods lasting up to several days. Local crossings in Disko Bay take place on Disko Line's ships.