Getting to and from the trail
If you are coming to Greenland specifically to hike the Arctic Circle Trail, it is easiest to start in Kangerlussuaq as it is possible to fly there directly from Copenhagen with Air Greenland (there are no direct international flights to Sisimiut). Upon arrival in Sisimiut, you can then either fly back to Kangerlussuaq and Copenhagen or, with a bit of forward planning, meet the once/week ferry – the Sarfaq Ittuk from the Arctic Umiaq Line – as it calls into Sisimiut harbour on its northwards journey to Ilulissat.
This would also allow you to visit the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage listed Icefjord as part of the same trip to Greenland and then return home from Ilulissat to Copenhagen (Air Greenland – transiting in Kangerlussuaq) or Reykjavik (Icelandair – directly). Of course, it is possible to do the reverse as well, catching the ferry from Ilulissat to Sisimiut on its southbound journey, hiking to Kangerlussuaq and then flying directly out of there.
There are a few options for where to start the Arctic Circle Trail:
- Those who want to hike from the icefield to the ocean will need to get themselves out to Point 660 – something that can easily be arranged through Albatros Arctic Circle. The bonus is you can also experience the massive Greenland Icesheet before setting off across the Arctic tundra.
- An alternate starting point is the incredible Russell Glacier, to which Albatros Arctic Circle, Kang Mini Tours and the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel all offer transfers.
- Or you can head out directly from Kangerlussuaq. The trail actually starts 16km away at Kellyville, so if you would prefer to avoid hiking this distance along a dirt road, contact Albatros Arctic Circle, Kang Mini Tours or the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel about a transfer. You can also organise a transfer with adventure guide Adam Lyberth or Arctic Ice Tours.
You simply follow the main road (Aqqusinersuaq) away from the Harbour all the way to its end and then just keep walking. By the time you reach the end of the road, the red ½-sun markers (a nod to the Greenlandic Flag) that identify the route will have started.
in Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut
Both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut have several options for accommodation.
Hotel Kangerlussuaq is located within the airport terminal itself and is the most comfortable accommodation in town. It has a variety of private rooms available ranging from singles/doubles through to family rooms and suites. Polar Lodge and Old Camp are both operated by Albatros Arctic Circle and offer great accommodation with shared bathrooms, a kitchen, a common room and breakfast included. Polar Lodge is located 100m from the airport terminal while Old Camp (which also has dormitory accommodation) is 2km away and housed in refurbished barracks that were originally used by US military personnel. For budget travelers, the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel offers private rooms as well as the cheapest dorm room accommodation in town, and “day pass” facilities (access to the kitchen, bathrooms and living rooms between 10am and 10pm) for those who prefer to wild camp on the outskirts of town or pitch a tent outside the hostel.
In Sisimiut, Hotel Sisimiut offers high quality private accommodation as well as an extensive range of tours, a fine dining restaurant, souvenir shop and a sauna! Hotel Søma Sisimiut also offers souvenirs, comfortable private accommodation and a very popular cafeteria. Operated by the same folk as the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel, the Sisimiut Youth Hostel functions in the same way and offers the same services. ISI4U hostel provides cheap accommodation along with a fabulous view over the harbour. It offers free WiFi and private rooms with a shared kitchen, bathroom and living room.
For those who wish to spend more time in their tent, there is a campsite with shower and toilet facilities in Kangerlussuaq, located just behind Polar Lodge. You cannot book a pitch in advance, as the gentleman who runs the site is sometimes out trekking, but it’s close to the airport so it’s worth popping by to have a look. Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds as such in Sisimiut (despite what online maps may indicate), but as in all of Greenland, you can free-camp on the outskirts of town. If you are wanting to indulge in a shower and “proper” cooked meal at the end of your trek, take the Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut Youth Hostels up on their “day pass” option.
Where to eat
in Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut
As a last meal before heading out into the wilderness, or for your first “real” food in over a week, both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut have several options.
In Kangerlussuaq, you don’t have to go far to find a wide variety of food to suit your budget. The airport terminal is the hub for eating, hosting the fine-dining Restaurant Kangerlussuaq as well as a cafeteria, the Isikkivik café and the Green Bar/Naapiffik. Over on the ‘other side’ of town, you can grab some hearty Thai food or a muskox pizza at Nordlyset bar. However, if you do feel like venturing further afield, the Restaurant Roklubben, located 5 km from town on the shores of Lake Ferguson, offers the best Greenlandic dining experience with amazing views.
In Sisimiut, if you want to eat where the locals eat and a large, relatively inexpensive meal, head to the cafeteria at the Hotel Søma Sisimiut. There is a “special of the day” alongside their fixed à la carte menu offering everything from burgers to BBQ chicken to ribs. Important tip: arrive before 6pm, as that is when work finishes at the harbour and the line for food stretches out the door. They stop serving dinner at 7:30pm on the dot.
If you are looking for more of a fine-dining, celebratory meal, try the Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie at Hotel Sisimiut. Even better is to time your arrival in town for the “Traditional Greenlandic Buffet” they offer every Saturday night. For the adventurous foodie there is Mattak (raw whale skin), whale or seal blubber, and seal soup alongside a host of other fresh and dried seafood. Or if you prefer your meat sourced from the land, there is usually reindeer, musk ox and lamb with vegetables and Greenlandic potatoes. The exact menu is dependent on what the hunters have caught, but it is guaranteed to be fresh and a different experience for your tastebuds!
For lunch or a snack, there are several other options in town including the café at the Taseralik Cultural Centre, Café Naapiffik (the newest cafe in town), Café Sisimiut (which also serves asian food), Pizzaria Amigo, the JZ bakery (a favourite among the locals), or the small cafés in the Pisiffik and Brugseni supermarkets.
The Airport Terminal
→ Cafeteria at Hotel Søma Sisimiut
→ Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie (at Hotel Sisimiut)
The small cafés in the Pisiffik and Brugseni supermarkets
Supplies for the trail
in Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut
Currently, most trekkers bring much of their food and equipment with them to Greenland. However, both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut stock supplies for hikers and you can purchase dried trekking food, other food for the trek, insect repellent/head nets, and gas at either end of the trail. Shopping local helps the municipality to keep the trail clean and safe, as some financial resources are put towards this.
In Kangerlussuaq, the Pilersuisoq supermarket just across from the airport terminal has the widest variety of food, insect deterrents, basic camping and fishing gear, and stocks of dried trekking food and gas cannisters. Other options are the Kang Mini Market which is located on the other side of the runway (dried trekking food, fuel), Albatros Arctic Circle which is located at Polar Lodge and Old Camp (maps, fuel) and Ishuset located just outside the terminal building (fuel).
In Sisimiut, there are two large supermarkets (Pisiffik and Brugseni) which sell a wide variety of food mostly imported from Denmark. Dried fruit and nuts, biscuits, muesli/protein bars, insect deterrents, very basic camping gear and gas are all usually on offer. Gas, dried trekking food and some camping gear can also be found at the Stark hardware store or the Sirius boat store. Down at the harbour, Spar Piniutit and the gas station both usually sell supplies and equipment. If you need a new backpack, new outdoor clothing or waterproofing agents, Sisimiut Sport is your best bet. Hotel Sisimiut also usually has a good supply of gas. There’s also Sisimiut Outdoor, which has a good range of outdoor equipment.
What to do with gear you
don’t want to take hiking
If your Arctic Circle Trail experience is part of a longer trip, you may be carrying items that you don’t want to take on the trail but will need afterwards. You have two options for what to do:
- Leave it at your hotel if you are returning to the same place after the hike. The Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel, Hotel Søma Sisimiut, Sisimiut Youth Hostel and Hotel Sisimiut all offer storage for their guests free of charge. In Kangerlussuaq you can also rent a locker at the airport for 40 DKK/day, or leave your gear at Kang Mini Market for around 25 DKK/day.
- Post it to the other end of the trail. There is a Telepost office in both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut. For a surprisingly reasonable price, you can post your item to the other end of the trail and have the Telepost there hold it for you until you can collect it. It usually arrives within 2-3 days (so before you will), and to get an idea of price, use this online calculator.