Traditional culture and endless icebergs lie at the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet and across the Sermilik Fjord in the East Greenland settlement of Tiilerilaaq.
Tiilerilaaq has one Pilersuisoq supermarket that stocks a little of everything. You should aim to bring all your outdoor equipment with you, or it is usually possible to rent equipment from the local tour operators in Tasiilaq.
You are more likely to find souvenirs in Tasiilaq or Kulusuk, but some local craftsmen do offer their creations around town.
The crack of millions of icebergs dancing a slow ballet. The howl of Greenlandic sled dogs impatiently awaiting the winter. Colourful houses with rows of fish drying alongside freshly laundered clothing. These are the sounds and sights of Tiilerilaaq.
The settlement of Tiilerilaaq of hunters and fishermen still maintains its traditional ways but has also embraced its unique vantage point overlooking the Sermilik Icefjord and the Greenland Ice sheet. Comfortable huts and professionally guided tours allow visitors to explore the vast, unspoiled landscape that has still only been seen by a few.
Tiilerilaaq is a small settlement with a heliport and a harbor located 40 km. North of Tasiilaq. International visitors must first arrive at the airport in Kulusuk (direct flights from Iceland and Nuuk), and then choose one of several options for their onward journey.
In the summertime, local tour operators will sail you on the roughly 3.5 hour journey from Tasiilaq to Tiilerilaaq either through Sermilik bay or around the outside of Ammassalik Island. During winter, you can access the town by dog sled or snowmobile where you will cross a glacier and the frozen sea. On snowmobile the transfer is about 2-3 hours. The final option is a helicopter transfer between Kulusuk or Tasiilaq and Tiilerilaaq. These operate all year round and are occasionally the only way to get there.
The best times to visit are: June – September (sailing, hiking), and February – April (dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, heliskiing, cross country skiing, Northern Lights).
Tiilerilaaq is a small settlement where you can walk around. There are no other forms of transportation within the settlement limits.
For excursions in the area, the most common way to get around is with a boat or on foot (summer), and with a dog sled, snowmobile, or snowshoes (winter).
Accommodation in Tiilerilaaq is provided in several basic cabins that are designed for groups. They each contain a small kitchen, common room, and shared sleeping area, and many have incredible views over the Sermilik Fjord. It may also be possible to stay in the settlement's service building. For those who wish to camp, there is an area set aside near the heliport. Camping equipment can be hired from tour operators in Tasiilaq and Tiilerilaaq. It is not recommended to camp outside of town unless accompanied by a person with a gun, as polar bears have been seen near populated areas most years.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of Tiilerilaaq is its stunning location on the Sermilik Icefjord. Watching from your accommodation as millions of icebergs slowly dance their way down the fjord is mesmerising, and it can be difficult to drag yourself away for other adventures. But it is well worth the effort!
Hiking excursions around Tiilerilaaq during the long days of summer reveal glimpses of the Greenland Ice Sheet, an ever-changing view of the Sermilik Icefjord, hidden mountain lakes, and panoramic views over the other fjords that lead to the settlement. These and the Icefjord itself can be further explored from the water with a range of boat and kayaking tours. Seek out whales, catch your own dinner (remember to purchase a fishing license first), or sail to the great Greenland Ice sheet to go glacier hiking and dog sledding. You can even camp overnight on the ice.
During winter, dog sleds and snowmobiles are the main forms of transportation, proving traditional or adrenaline-fueled adventures for visitors and locals. Many dog sledding excursions include Tiilerilaaq as part of a multi-day round trip from Tasiilaq (approximately 30km separate the two destinations), though there is also the possibility of an overnight dog sledding trip specifically on the Greenland Icecap. Whether you choose to spend the night in the middle of nowhere or find yourself in the middle of Tiilerilaaq – remember to look up as a second ballet unfolds overhead in the colourful glow of the Northern Lights.
There are no restaurants in Tiilerilaaq. Most people visit via excursions with tour operators where all meals are included. Sometimes, a fishing pit stop can be planned in so that you can catch your own fresh dinner. If you are traveling independently, it’s possible to shop for ingredients at the small supermarket.