Kangerlussuaq is a small village with only 541 residents living there. They have a supermarket, some souvenirshops, a church and Nordlyset, where you can find both thaifood and pizza. There’s also Roklubben, a restaurant outside of the village but you need wheels to get there. They have a yellow American schoolbus that they use for public transportation and the people living are friendly.
I went to Kangerlussuaq and Greenland in search of something special. Something different. And honestly, I did expect to see lots of snow. So imagine my surprise when I didn’t see snow at all. Well, at least not in the village. But there is both snow and ice within reach. And that mystical creature also known as the muskox.
I spent a weekend in Kangerlussuaq together with my friends Sofia and Katarina. It was the first stop during our Nordic Roadtrip that took us to Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. None of us really knew what to expect to find in the small village on the westcoast of Greenland. But we were pleasantly surprised with our experience there and Greenland is definitely a country that we all could go back to.
During our days there, we hiked in the lush countryside where we also met a few muskox. And we ate lunch in complete silence out in the middle of nowhere. We drove on the longest road in Kangerlussuaq to get to the Ice Cap where we got to experience something truly unique. And we visited Russell Glacier where there’s a huge ice cave and a waterfall. Yes, this is Greenland! And that country is so much more than just snow and ice.
What to do in Kangerlussuaq
Experience the Ice Cap
Kangerlussuaq offers very easy access to the Greenland Ice Cap, via a 25 km dirt road.
There’s different tours that will take you out on the ice. But to be able to fully experience the Ice Cap, you should do a longer tour. Apparently most people never venture more than 200 metres onto the Ice Cap which is a shame. You’ll miss out on a true unique experience where you’ll be able to see a truly unique landscape with valleys, hills, waterfalls and rivers.
We did the longer tour and it was amazing. Unfortunately, I had to stop by the camp. Yes, there is a camp where you can actually spend a night. But Katarina and Sofia ventured on for another hour and got to experience an ice cave as well. They say that anybody who can walk for 3 hours, can do this tour at any time of the year.
Camp on the Ice Cap
Camping can be fun but it’s definitely something out of the ordinary to camp on the Ice Cap. After you’ve walked in the footsteps of some great explorers, you’ll set up your tent on the ice. Our there, you’ll experience complete silence and if you go during wintertime – be sure to stay up late so you can witness the northern light lit up the sky!
And if you go during summer, don’t forget to bring something to cover your eyes with – the midnight sun will light up the sky 24/7.
Hike your way into the landscape
You don’t need to sign up for a tour to go hiking. Nature is just around the corner! But we did a guided hike to Garnet Rock and had a blast. The hike takes about 8 hours in total, with transport both there and back to Kangerlussuaq. You’ll eat lunch in the middle of an amazing landscape and hopefully you’ll see a muskox or two. We saw quite a few. If you do the hike to Garnet Rock, you’ll be able to bring home some garnet too.
You can do a shorter expedition during the day or opt for a longer one that lets you explore the Greenlandic wilderness for 3 days. I haven’t done this as we went during autumn. But I would definitely like to do a longer expedition. It sounds like a lot of fun, don’t you think?
Take a scenic flight or chase the Northern Lights
There’s more to experience in Kangerlussuaq and you can read more about the different excursions at World of Greenland – Arctic Circle.
Where to eat
You won’t find an abundance of choices to eat in Kangerlussuaq. But honestly, you’re not really visiting because you’ve heard so much about the food. There is a thai/pizza place called Nordlyset that most of the locals seems to go to. There is also Roklubben, which is located outside of Kangerlussuaq. We had dinner there twice – from the a’la carte menu and a Greenlandic buffet. It’s a bit pricey and for me, the fish I ordered didn’t quite measure up to the price. But the Greenlandic Buffet was nice and there was plenty of choices – do try the local specialities!
I tried reindeer, whale and muskox.
Where to stay
World of Greenland – Arctic Circle offers accomodation in Polar Lodge or Old Camp, where we spent our 3 nights. There’s also a hotel in the same building as the airport, Hotel Kangerlussuaq.
How to get to Kangerlussuaq from Iceland
Air Iceland operates direct flights from Keflavik International Airport during the summer season. The flight is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Fun facts about Kangerlussuaq
Kangerlussuaq was founded in 1941.
Kangerlussuaq means “big fjord” and shares the name with the rest of the 170km fjord it rests on.
The Arctic Circle crosses the fjord at its halfway point.
Is Greenland on your bucketlist? If not, you should definitely add it!