The high season to visit is in summer from June to September.
When most people consider visiting Greenland for real, a quick trawl of the internet points them to Ilulissat in Disko Bay. Practically, it is one of the easiest destinations to visit as it is where tourism is most developed. In town, there is a wide array of accommodation, restaurants, shopping and tour opportunities to choose from. It also has all of the magical nature the country has to offer in the contrasting seasons – dog sledding, northern lights, the midnight sun, whales, and of course, icebergs. Its drawcard is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ilulissat Icefjord.
For anyone who does further research about this place, it is clear that there are two main seasons to visit – summer and winter. Summer is by default what beckons most tourists. The lure of spouting whales, hiking and kayaking under the midnight sun are rather tantalising and, as some say, otherworldly. And it is relatively easier these days to fly in via Denmark and Iceland.
While it does not quite host the masses of Iceland, Ilulissat has its own version of a peak season during June to September. Hotel rooms book out like hotcakes when the midnight sun shines. Ilulissat in summer also means more tourists, peak season prices and maybe most surprisingly, mosquitoes in July. So if you would like to experience Greenland when the calendar is clear of mosquitoes and there are less tourists, try any other time.
Here is a secret for you – Ilulissat might be even better in the winter. For one, there are less tourists. For another, there are definitely no mosquitoes or other tiny critters. The stunning silence of a thick snowy terrain, speckled by a few howls of the Greenlandic dog, is an experience everyone should try at least once in their lives. In the earlier centuries, too much ice in the sea made it risky to sail near Greenland when temperatures dropped. Planes have enabled travel during this formerly inaccessible time.
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During summer, Hotel Arctic offers the full tasting experience that Greenland has to offer from fresh seafood to land animals like reindeer and musk ox.
• On Monday there is a Greenlandic buffet in Restaurant Ulo
• On Thursday there is a Greenlandic bbq on the terrace
Try the Express Tour and see 3 highlights of Greenland in 4 days, including the Ilulissat Icefjord. Or consider a long weekend during winter with Greenland Travel.
You can reach the Disko Bay area by plane and cruise. Air Greenland flies to Ilulissat via Copenhagen and Keflavik Airports. Cruising during summertime is also a popular method of exploring the bay!
For those seeking something even more unique, try visiting Ilulissat in December and January. This is the darkest time of the year, but you will probably be surprised that there is still light and how everyday life can be. These events are worth experiencing:
• Celebrate the New Year overlooking the ice fjord. Greenland Travel offers a New Year package where one celebrates new beginnings overlooking the icefjord.
• The Return of the Sun in early January is also a cultural event where the locals gather to watch the first peep of the sun in many months. There is no specific tour created for this event but it is a special occasion for the locals.
The most popular time to visit Ilulissat in winter is during February to late April. Daylight returns to what most of the world would consider ‘normal’ hours, and the northern lights still brighten the night sky. After a few months of thick snowfall, the white terrain is also ideal for dog sledding and ice fishing.
Spread your wings in Disko Bay! Consider diversifying your trip and spending a few days in the following places:
• Ilimanaq offers a settlement experience with a touch of luxury. While you can try and live life like a local in this small community, you can also retreat to the Ilimanaq lodge.
• Oqaatsut is a typical settlement in Greenland within easy reach of Ilulissat. One can either hike 22 kilometres from town or take alternative transportation to reach this charming place.
• Eqi glacier – this huge iceberg producing glacier is worth in the very least a visit, if not an overnight stay!
• Aasiaat is a historical town that can be reached via the coastal ferry Sarfaq Ittuk, Disko Line boat transfer and Air Greenland flights. Pods of whales have been seen from the coast, and there are many sailing adventures to be had. Aasiaat becomes a cross-country skiing haven in the winter.
• Qeqertarsuaq is full of natural wonders and the only place where there is a chance of dog sledding in the summer.