Endless outdoor adventure and both traditional and modern culture exist side-by-side at the end of the Arctic Circle Trail in Sisimiut.
Sisimiut has two large supermarkets (Brugseni, Pisiffik) in the main part of town, as well as several smaller convenience stores in other parts of the town.
For a wide selection of souvenirs, your best options are the Hotel Sisimiut, Hotel Sisimiut Seamen’s Home, and Mersortarfik Panigiit (which specialises in sealskin products and Greenlandic minerals). Alternatively, you can buy directly from the artisans at the Artisan workshop, Savituut, in the harbour, or at the Qiviut (musk ox wool) Sisimiut store near the museum.
Although Sisimiut has a range of camping and outdoor equipment available, it is best to bring as much as possible with you. The best places to shop are Sisimiut Outdoor and Sisimiut Sport, though limited and basic camping supplies can also be found in Sirius Greenland, Stark and the two large supermarkets.
Nature beings. This phrase cut to the core of Sisimiut’s reputation as Greenland’s adventure travel hub. Its wide valleys and steep mountains entice hikers and cross-country skiers from around the world, drawing them to its spectacular backcountry with the promise of unrivaled views and freedom to roam through the UNESCO World Heritage listed Aasivissuit – Nipisat area.
Beyond the wilderness, Sisimiut is the second-largest city in Greenland and a contrast of modern culture and ancient traditions. Travel as the Inuit did and experience Greenland’s unique sled dog culture by day, then swap your sealskin outerwear and dress up in your best outfit to attend a modern artistic performance at the Taseralik Culture Centre in the evening.
Sisimiut is located just above the Arctic Circle on the west coast of Greenland. There are no direct international flights, so you must first fly to either Kangerlussuaq (from Copenhagen) or Nuuk (from Reykjavik), and then onto Sisimiut from there. If you are already in Greenland, you may be able to find a flight from Ilulissat, Aasiaat, or Maniitsoq that touches down in Sisimiut en-route to elsewhere.
If you would prefer to travel by sea, you can catch the Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry that has a weekly round trip from South Greenland to Disko Bay along the west coast. Or, for an more all-inclusive experience, Sisimiut is one of the key cruise ship ports in Greenland.
With an enormous backcountry to explore, Sisimiut is a year-round destination – especially for outdoor adventurers. The best times to visit are: January – April (dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, northern lights), June – October (hiking, kayaking, boat tours, fishing), May and October – December for off-season conferences.
Sisimiut also hosts 3 big events each year. The Arctic Circle Race (March) is often regarded as the toughest ski race in the world, Arctic Sounds (April) celebrates music from Greenland and other Arctic nations, and the Arctic Hiking Festival (July) offers several ways for casual to keen hikers to explore the backcountry wilderness near town.
The main areas of Sisimiut that are of interest to visitors are stretched out along a single road that climbs fairly steeply from the harbour. Walking is the most common way of getting around, but you can also rent bicycles, call a taxi, or catch the bus that loops through most of the town and calls past each stop every 20 minutes.
For excursions in the area, the most common way to get around is with a boat (all year) or on foot (summer). In winter, you can rent skis and snowshoes, or travel with dog sled or snowmobile if you want to explore further afield.
"Sisimiut has several options and styles of accommodation available, including comfortable hotel rooms, modern apartments, hostels with shared facilities, and private rentals. All are within walking distance from the core shopping precinct of Sisimiut. There are no designated campgrounds, but it is possible to wild camp on the outskirts of town."
Gateway to an enormous backcountry of glacial valleys and mountains, it is not surprising that Sisimiut is a haven for hikers during the summer and cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and dog sledders during the winter. This reputation is further cemented with the town hosting both the Arctic Hiking Festival (July) and the Arctic Circle Race (March) – two of the largest outdoor sporting events in Greenland each year.
You don’t have to be an athlete, however, to enjoy the pristine wilderness. Sisimiut has several well-marked hiking trails that range from only a few hours (Palasip Qaqqaa – the mountain behind the airport – is the most popular) to the multi-day, 160km long Arctic Circle Trail that stretches all the way to Kangerlussuaq. You can also undertake this epic journey in winter on a dog sled, snowmobile, or even a fat bike (a bicycle with fat tires designed for snowy conditions).
If you prefer a shorter winter excursion in Sisimiut, there is a wide range of dog sled and snowmobile tours to choose from, including snowmobiling to the top of downhill ski runs on Alanngorsuaq Mountain for an amazing view over Sisimiut. Alternatively, you can strap on snowshoes and blaze your own trail through the powdery snow. This is a great way to reach the outskirts of town for the best views of the Northern Lights (though you can also see them from in town).
For those to prefer to be on the water, during summer there are boat excursions from Sisimiut to UNESCO sites and abandoned settlements (such as Assaqutaq), as well as specially designed whale watching tours. Alternatively, try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or paddling a traditional Greenlandic kayak. You can even go kayaking during the winter in Sisimiut.
Fishing and big game hunting are both integral to life in Sisimiut and there are opportunities for visitors to join locals and learn about Greenlandic sustainable practices. Purchase a fishing license and take a boat trip to catch cod, wolffish, halibut, or snow crab. Discover one of Sisimiut’s untouched streams where Arctic Char and Salmon abound at the right time of year. Or join a registered hunting trip (permit included) to stalk caribou (reindeer) and musk ox during the allowed seasons.
Although Sisimiut is a magnet for outdoor adventurers, there is plenty to keep you occupied if you are after a more relaxed experience or you are taking a rest day.
By far the best way to learn about Sisimiut and its surrounding area is to join one of the guided city walking or e-bike tours. Your guide will introduce you to interesting details that you would otherwise overlook, explain the importance of sites and objects, and answer all of your questions – including about Greenland in general.
However, if you are unable to join one of these tours, there are a couple of town walking tours available from the Hotel Sisimiut. These will lead you into areas that you probably wouldn’t explore for yourself, and they offer a 1 sentence summary of each point of interest.
Whether you join a tour or create your own walking adventure, the Sisimiut Museum will be a key stop along the route. It is made up of several buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries that have been relocated to create a historic precinct near the harbour. Don’t forget to explore the open-air exhibitions that lie between the buildings as well as those that are located inside.
For a very different museum experience, venture out to the KTI Secondary School to browse Greenland’s largest rock and mineral collection. Samples from all over Greenland (and other places in the world) are featured in well-lit display cases located in one of the common areas within the school.
The large, red Zion Church that sits prominently above the harbour is one of the iconic buildings of Sisimiut. While it is an impressive building to view from the outside, try to attend a mass so you can see the gorgeous wooden interior with sealskin artwork. Please remember to be respectful and avoid taking pictures during church services.
The Taseralik Culture Centre is another must-visit location while you are in town. As the cultural hub for Sisimiut, it hosts art exhibitions, live performances (including open mics – fancy getting on stage in Greenland?), and the latest new release movies in its cinema. You can also simply sit and enjoy a cake and coffee with one of the most amazing views in town.
Finally, for the ultimate indulgence, unwind at the Arctic Spa at the Hotel Sisimiut. Raise your core temperature in the sauna, step outside into the brisk Arctic air to rapidly cool down, then lower yourself into a “”Wildness Bath”” hot tub kept at the perfect temperature for relaxation. Alternatively, enjoy the bubbles in a different type of hot tub experience at the Hotel Seamen’s Home Sisimiut.
Sisimiut has a wide range of options for eating out, including fine-dining, fast food, cafeteria-style dining, and cafes serving everything from pastries to Thai food. The traditional Greenlandic buffet is one of the best in the country and a perfect way to experience several local dishes at once.