Gateway to the climbing, hiking and sailing paradise of the Tasermiut Fjord, Nanortalik is also a rich fishing ground with an impressive local museum.
Nanortalik has a well stocked Brugseni supermarket as well as a smaller Pilersuisoq.. You should aim to bring all your outdoor equipment with you.
To buy souvenirs, visit Nanortalik Tourism Service where they have a large selection to choose from. You may also be able to find some items at the museum, especially books about Greenland.
With vertical walls that tower over intricate fjord systems and “sikorsuit” sea ice lurking just outside the harbour during the spring, Nanortalik has more in common with East Greenland than the rest of South Greenland. Rock climbers and mountaineers from around the world are drawn to the granite peaks of the nearby Tasermiut Fjord, while hikers and kayakers mount multi-day expeditions to explore the unparalleled beauty of the harsh rock that rises straight up from reflective waters.
But Nanortalik is more than just a magnet for extreme adventurers. It is home to the most comprehensive local museum in the country, some of Greenland’s very few forests, comfortably organised camping in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and is close to one of Greenland’s few hot springs where you can relax with an unprecedented view of tall mountains and icebergs.
Nanortalik is located on a small island of the same name near the mouth of the Tasermiut Fjord. To get there, visitors must first arrive at the airport in Narsarsuaq and then take a helicopter or boat transfer to the town. Alternatively, you can join one of several international cruises that call into port during the summer.
The best times to visit are: June – September (sailing, hiking, kayaking, mountaineering, fishing).
Nanortalik has accommodation in the form of modern hotel rooms, hotel apartments, and bring-your-own sleeping bag hostel-style shared spaces. It is also possible to pitch your tent outside the hostel and pay a fee to just use the amenities. If you wish to free-camp outside of town, we recommend that you know how to protect yourself or are accompanied by a person with a gun, as polar bears have been sighted near populated areas in most years.
Nanortalik is the gateway to the spectacular Tasermiut Fjord and mountains that offer a wide range of adventures to suit all adrenaline levels. Sailing trips are the most relaxed way to enjoy nature’s masterpiece, gliding past the sheer mountains that tower over Klosterdalen (Monastery Valley) and all the way to glaciers that spill down from the Greenland ice sheet near Nanortalik. It is also possible to enjoy an overnight sailing trip where accommodation is provided in comfortable pre-arranged tents and a dinner made from Greenlandic ingredients is served around a campfire.
Other sailing trips from Nanortalik will take you to visit one of Greenland’s few forests, small settlements hidden between the jagged peaks of the Cape Farewell waterways, and the Uunartoq hot springs, where 38-degree Celsius water relaxes muscles and keeps you warm despite icebergs floating nearby.
For a more active holiday, multi-day kayaking and hiking expeditions offer the chance to explore and take in this spectacular landscape in more detail. Experienced backcountry hikers and kayakers can chart their own adventures but must be equipped with safety equipment, including emergency beacons and defense against the king of arctic wildlife, the polar bear. However, there are also many professionally organised expeditions from Nanortalik that take care of everything for you, cover all the highlights of the area, and typically last between 5 days and two weeks.
Expeditions can also be arranged for experienced climbers and mountaineers who want to tackle some of the tallest climbing walls in the world. While Ulamertorsuaq (also known as Ketil Mountain, 1500m) is the most commonly climbed, there are also unique climbing possibilities in almost all the fjords around Nanortalik.
Exploring Nanortalik Island itself, there are several day-hikes that leave directly from town. Climbing to the top of Qaqqarsuasik (Big Mountain / Storfjeldet) or Quassik (Raven Mountain / Ravnefjeldet) for breathtaking views over the island can be done guided or independently. Or you can visit the ruins at Sissarissoq, where Nanortalik was first established, by walking along the coast. Keep a sharp eye out as you hike because there are usually plenty of whales (especially Minke whales) close to Nanortalik during the warmer months.
Back in town, the area around the old colonial port is almost unchanged from when it was built and presents an authentic and well-preserved experience of a 19th century Greenlandic settlement. Ten of its buildings now operate as showrooms for the Nanortalik museum, with exhibitions ranging from traditional seal fat production, healthcare and medicinal plants, Viking clothing, radio communication, traditional vessels like the kayak and umiaq, and the famous shipwreck Hans Hedtoft that disappeared into thin air. Although you can visit the museum independently, the best overview can be obtained as part of a city walk, which also introduces you to other areas of town and can be extended to include a kaffemik and/or traditional Greenlandic dinner with a local family.
No matter what you end up doing, the waters around Nanortalik are teeming with fish. River fishing and salt-water fishing are a part of life in Greenland, so purchase a fishing license and join the locals in catching trout, salmon, halibut, catfish, and cod for your dinner.
If you would like a night out in Nanortalik, you have one of two options. The Hotel Kap Farvel Restaurant serves hearty 2-course dinner for those that order the night before, and Cafe 44 is the place to go for a drink and live music.