Narsaq is thought to be the place where Eric the Red first settled before moving to Brattahlíð (now Qassiarsuk). Narsaq is home to the Landnám homestead – one of the oldest Norse ruins in the area and whose footprint is still clearly visible near the centre of town. You can also hike for a couple of kilometres and visit the remains of a church at Dyrnæs not far from Narsaq, though you’ll have to use your imagination to identify the structures.
A visit to the Narsaq museum may help as one of its permanent displays tells the story of the Viking settlement of South Greenland. Housed in some of the town’s oldest buildings, the museum also showcases information on more recent local history, and hosts travelling exhibitions each year.
A living room from the old days in the Narsaq Museum. Photo – Peter Lindstrom
Geology enthusiasts might also want to start at the museum to view rocks and minerals (including the rare Tugtupit) that have been found in the area. There is a permanent exhibition on the Dyrnæs-Narsaq mineral complex for which Narsaq is famous, and it’s always a good idea to know what you are looking for before heading into the hills to see what you can find.
If rocks are not your thing but you enjoy hiking, the mountainous backcountry around Narsaq is perfect for discovering unbeatable views, hidden lakes, and pristine rivers that are ripe for fishing (remember to buy a fishing license before you begin). If you are visiting during May, you can even join the exodus of local people to one specific river where the aim is to catch the first Arctic char of the season.
A man fly fishing in the Narsaq backcountry. Photo by Mads Pihl
The most popular hikes are to the top of the two mountains that rise directly behind Narsaq – Tasiigaaq and Qaqqarsuaq – and out to Narsaq Point (Nuugaarsuk) with its unobstructed views up the Tunulliarfik Fjord towards Narsarsuaq. Long-distance hikers also have the option of trekking to Qassiarsuk – a 60km journey through a UNESCO World Heritage-listed countryside of sheep farms, green river valleys, raw mountains, and ice-filled fjords.
If you would prefer to get out on the water, join one of the sailing trips that take you to explore the ice. A short iceberg safari will take you for a close-up view of those that have been calved off nearby glaciers, or travel to the glaciers themselves in a half-day excursion that also takes you past bird cliffs and a scenic waterfall. The waters around Narsaq are rich with marine wildlife including whales, seals and salmon – so keep a sharp eye out as you sail.
Iceberg spotted on iceberg safari in Narsaq. Photo – Aningaaq R. Carlsen
However you choose to spend your day, it almost has to end with a cold, locally-brewed beer. The small Greenlandic brewhouse Qajaq draws some of the water it uses from ancient, pure water icebergs and carefully selects local ingredients to create unique lagers, ales, and “Bock” beers under the guidance of American and German brewmasters. While Qajaq beer can now be found throughout Greenland, go straight to the source while you are in Narsaq.