One of the best hotels in town for rest and relaxation is Hotel Arctic. It also happens to be the world’s most northerly four-star hotel, right on the edge of the spectacular Ilulissat Icefjord. As some of the rooms at the property are dated, it’s important to book a newly renovated Umiaq category room with dreamy views of Disko Bay and floating icebergs. You can also book igloos at Hotel Arctic but they are only available a few months of the year, typically post April. Wi-Fi is available in all rooms but be prepared for a digital detox when you are out and about. The hotel also provides a free shuttle service from Ilulissat Airport and to and from town every hour – this is a safe and reliable option to get around town as a solo female traveller. Another great feature is being able to check in for your Air Greenland flight at the hotel reception.
Info: Hotel Arctic.
A Taste of Greenland
While most foodies travel to the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, you can still tuck into Greenlandic staples such as halibut, muskox, reindeer, lamb and salmon at both restaurants at Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. Restaurant Ulo, which has a summer terrace, and Café Ferdinand offer great fusion fare. In town, mingle with the locals and head to Kangia Café for customised salads and sandwiches. For unobstructed views of Disko Bay and delicious Greenlandic and authentic Thai dishes, visit Restaurant Icefiord. If you’re vegetarian, check out Café Hong Kong, which serves casual Asian food with many vegetarian options. Don’t be afraid to dine alone here, people are so friendly and you are bound to make friends during your meals and along the way.
Info: Kangia Café (Kussangajaannguaq 13, Ilulissat 3952, Greenland)
Café Hong Kong (Nuisariannguaq 9, Ilulissat 3952, Greenland)
Go off the radar
There are so many ways to make the most of your time in this breathtaking town depending on when you visit. In the summer go midnight sailing amongst the icebergs, fly over the glacier front, hike to the old Sermermiut settlement for incredible views of Ilulissat Icefjord, or go whale-watching. But look out for mosquitoes – there are plenty around this time. Mid-September to late April is an ideal time to visit for snowshoeing in the Arctic wilderness, sunset sailing next to spectacular ice formations and hundreds of birds and spotting the Northern Lights amongst so many other exciting adventures. Be sure to experience Inuit culture in Ilulissat by dog sledding, which has been a mode of transportation and hunting for the past 5000 years. Ride over the ice floor at sunrise, listen to nothing but the panting of sled dogs and their faint howls and paws hitting the snow as you traverse the mind-blowing Arctic wilderness. For those days when you want to take it slow, indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy one of Ilulissat’s magnificent sunsets from the terrace at Hotel Arctic or go for a stroll around town and admire the colourful homes and shop for traditional crafts. I visited during the winter and never once felt uncomfortable on any of the tours, in fact, I made quite a few friends. To be honest, you will be too busy being awe-struck by Ilulissat’s natural beauty to worry about anything else.
Info: The two best tour operators in Ilulissat are PGI Greenland and World of Greenland.
Air Greenland flies from Copenhagen and Reykjavik to Ilulissat via Kangerlussuaq (stopover) in Greenland. Don’t forget to look out of your aircraft window before you land – what you will see, will blow you away.