In theory, there are endless hiking opportunities in Greenland because the land is free and open for all to use without having to worry you are crossing someone’s private property. For those who want to follow a trail that is at least semi-trodden, here is a nice selection of common hiking routes, by town.
Ilulissat‘s majestic icebergs form the backdrop for the ancient Sermermiut settlement, 1 mile (1½ km) south of the town. Learn about Greenlandic people’s lives and customs before the arrival of the Europeans—see the ruins, kitchen middens and feel the permafrost with your own hands. You can do the brief hike in 2 hours easily.
At Eqip Sermia, the hike starts from the cottages and continues around the small lagoon at the glacier’s southern end. The lagoon is particularly famous for its huge flocks of geese during the breeding season. The trip continues up the impressive glacial deposit with breathtaking views down into the glacier’s enormous crevices just a few yards from the trail. This is also an opportunity to view a large portion of the 75-yard (70 m) tall glacier face and watch its awe-inspiring calvings.
A longer hike that offers many different types of landscapes is the route that follows in the footsteps of Paul-Émile Victor, where—in the late 1940s and early 1950s—track vehicles and an old cableway carried supplies for Victor’s famous expeditions. In fact, some of his machinery is still there. It takes about 10 hours to hike the route and the level of difficulty can be said to be extreme.
In the Arctic Circle region, one of Sisimiut’s most popular hikes is Palasip Qaqqaa (Priest Mountain). It can take up to 2 hours to get to the summit, which offers unbelievable vistas of the town and Kangerluarsuk Tulleq (First Fjord). The last couple of years have even offered sightings of muskoxen.
Nasaasaaq is the landmark of Sisimiut. It peaks at an elevation of 2,572 feet (784 m), boasting breathtaking views of the town, the mountain landscape, the sea, the polar circle and the alpine Itilleq Mountains to the south. Duration: 4–6 hours.
Nuuk also has some popular hiking routes. Hiking Quassussuaq (Little Malene) is pretty simple: It takes 4-6 hours and as long as you have Little Malene on your right all the way around, you will never get lost. If you are looking for a shorter easy hike but still want a fantastic view, hiking up to the top of Little Malene is an absolute must. It takes about 3 hours. If you have 7 hours to kill, another option is to hike to the peak of Big Malene. Be aware that this hike is a medium/hard difficulty level.
In South Greenland you will find the 16 km long hiking route from Igaliku up to a plateau with a view of Qooroq Ice Fjord. The route will take you through birch vegetation, patches with bare rock formations and finally to the barren “moonscape” with timeworn rocks and stones. The hike is medium difficulty.
In Tasiilaq, East Greenland, you will find the hike through the Valley of the Flowers. It is an easy hike that follows the river’s meandering course through the lush valley. The valley has both large and small lakes that are particularly amenable to hikers. The duration of the hike is 2-3 hours.