Highlights of Greenland | Ilulissat

Ilulissat West Greenland ice fjords

Highlights of Greenland | Ilulissat

According to the Financial Times, Greenland’s Avannaata region, which covers the town of Ilulissat, is as big as France but only has 11,000 people. It is said be home to almost as many sled dogs as people.

But travellers are flocking to this small town. The ice sheet that covers 80 % of Greenland and which helps moderate the planet’s temperature “by reflecting the sun’s energy back into space” is rapidly melting, but a surprising benefit of warming temperatures is an economic boom in the town of Ilulissat. As home to Greenland’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ilulissat Icefjord, which runs from the Greenland ice sheet south to Disko Bay, it has become a popular tourist destination. Awaiting travellers who visit Greenland and Ilulissat are whale watching, dog sledding, Greenland halibut, and a cruise to view the icebergs. Alongside this sudden town activity within Greenland tourism is Greenland’s recognition of the devastating effects of global warming (read more here), and its continued push for responsible and sustainable tourism.

Ilulissat Greenland
View overlooking the town of Illulisat, Greenland.

History of Ilulissat

Ilulissat was originally founded as Jakobshavn, named after the Jacob Sørensen Severin, a Danish merchant who held a trade monopoly on Greenland from 1733 to 1749. In 1741, he built a trading post in what is now Ilulissat. The town has a Zion Church built in the late 18th century, and which at the time was the largest man-made structure in Greenland.

Ilulissat is a Greenlandic word for “icebergs”, and icebergs definitely are the highlight for a trip to Greenland’s third-largest city.

Iceberg, Greenland, Ilulissat Icefjord
Icebergs in the Disko Bay at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord.

The Ilulissat Icefjord that has been inscribed on UNESCO’s heritage list since 2004 is an incredible collection of icebergs that have calved from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier into the sea. This glacier is one of the most active glaciers in the world, and has been studied by climatologists and other scientists for more than two centuries. If you are traveling to Greenland by air, you’ll see the Icefjord from the window of the airplane. You can see the glaciers up close by hopping on a boat.

In the summer, you can go on a cruise or boat trip to see the humpback whales and other whale species residing in Disko Bay. Travellers can also go dog sledding in Qeqertarsuaq whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery in the area. Dog sledding in Greenland is the traditional way of transportation of winter, but can be enjoyed by visiting travellers, if the weather permits.

Humpback whales near Ilulissat among the icebergs
Humpback whales near Ilulissat among the icebergs

When you plan a trip to Ilulissat there is a variety of amazing accommodation to choose from, from an apartment accommodation to a five-star hotel. Ilulissat also aims for visitors staying in town to think about the environment and sustainability. It may difficult not to, while watching gigantic icebergs drift away on the coast.

Articles about Greenland published by Odyssey Traveller.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Greenland.

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