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Region: Western Greenland
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Visit Nuuk Greenland

Visit Nuuk Greenland

Sisimiut GreenlandNuuk, (Danish: Godthåb translated: "Good hope") is the capital of Greenland, the northernmost capital in North America and the largest city in Greenland. Located on an island in the Nuuk Kangerlua fjord, the city lies on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea and on the west coast of Sermersooq. Nuuk is the largest cultural and economic center in Greenland. Foreign cities closest to the capital are Iqaluit and St. John's in Canada and Reykjavik in Iceland.

Nuuk is the seat of government for the Sermersooq municipality. It has a population of 15,469 (as of January 2010), making it one of the smallest capital cities in the world by population.

the cathedral and the Mother of the Sea
The area near the colonial harbour in the old quarter of Nuuk is a good place to start. The statue of Hans Egede stands on a hilltop looking out over Nuuk and the sea. From this hilltop there's a lovely view of the Nuuk fjord and Nuuk town, with Nuuk's cathedral just below. Pop into the cathedral if the door's open.

Down in the water, right next to the Nuuk cathedral, is the beautiful 'Sassuma Arnaa' (Mother of the Sea), a granite figure which is visible above the surface of the water at low tide and which disappears below the waves at high tide. The Mother of the Sea is one of the most famous legends in Greenland - she watches over the animals that are fished and hunted, and if she's not satisfied with the way that people behave, she gathers all of their potential prey in her hair at the bottom of the sea so that there's nothing left to catch.

west Greenland Nuuk Hans EgedeNuuk Tourism, Hans Egedesvej
At the end of the colonial harbour lies Nuuk Tourism, which is a combined tourist information office, tour operator and souvenir shop. Nuuk Tourism has a weekly calendar with a range of excursions in and around Nuuk, and offers a number of sailing trips and hiking trips. In the same building you'll find Father Christmas' café, which is a pleasant place in which to enjoy a cup of coffee. During the summer the view from the little terrace at the café is unrivalled, and when sitting gazing out to sea during the summer, you may be lucky enough to spot some whales.

The colonial harbour of Nuuk is also the venue for a visit to the excellent little national museum, Nunatta Katersugaasivia, which occupies a couple of the old buildings. The main building has a fine exhibition of national costumes, tools and other historical artefacts and is also home to the Qilakitsoq mummies - 6 women and 2 children who were found close to Uummannaq.

The Qilakitsoq mummies
Qilakitsoq mummies Nuuk Greenland The mummies are displayed in a small room at the back of the exhibition and are a somewhat overwhelming sight. They're incredibly well-preserved and look almost frighteningly lifelike. Other buildings contain dogsleds, kayaks and an exhibition of the Norse settlers in South Greenland. Take the long flight of steps from the old coloured wooden houses back up to the centre of Nuuk and walk past the brand new modern blocks of flats and out to the older blocks of flats from the 1970s. You can extend your walk to the residential area in Myggedalen and up the hill of Inspektørbakken. The overall route gives you a good impression of Nuuk's history.

The supermarket and the 'board'
west Greenland Nuuk supermarket Brugsen You can finish your afternoon with a trip to the supermarket to buy provisions and to explore. In many ways, the large Brugsen supermarket looks like any other well-stocked Danish or European supermarket and you can buy just about everything from fresh flowers to organic coconut milk and sushi rice. What makes a trip to the supermarket a particularly Greenlandic experience are the local specialities - reindeer salami, musk ox steak, seal, whale blubber and other delicacies which you don't find at home. The vacuum-packed musk ox and reindeer sausages make a fun souvenir that can survive the journey home if correctly packed. Right next to Brugsen is Nuuk's new 'Board' - the place where local fishermen and hunters sell their catch. It's a good place to look for fresh fish, seal, birds and, depending on the season, reindeer and musk at very reasonable prices.

Sarfalik Restaurant and places of culture
Qilakitsoq mummies Nuuk Greenland Sarfalik means a place with strong currents and is an excellent example of a restaurant of international standard. The gastronomic currents merge at the restaurant's location on the top floor of Hotel Hans Egede Nuuk, where exciting fusion dishes are served with Greenlandic raw ingredients in a new and alternative interpretation. The menu changes regularly and is in itself part of the experience, since it features short stories and Greenlandic idioms such as 'he who eats until he bursts cannot be saved'. Indeed, you have to be careful at Sarfalik, as you can soon find yourself eating more of the excellent food than you'd meant to, whilst enjoying the view of the town and the fjord in the background.

If you have more energy following dinner, there's a wealth of good cultural attractions in Nuuk, regardless of whether you want to enjoy film, music or theatre. The house of culture, Katuaq, has an excellent cinema showing Greenlandic and foreign films, as well as putting on regular theatre performances and concerts featuring both local and international bands. Hotel Hans Egede, Godthåbshallen and the multi-activity hall, Inussivik, are also concert venues, the former also often hosting lectures or special events - keep an eye out for the posters that appear throughout the town or get hold of the weekly newspaper, Nuuk Ugeavis. Do´t forget the Northern light - the Aurora Borealis around the Arctic Circle

Short hikes in the fells

west Greenland Nuuk hiking The afternoon can be spent on a hike in the fells. There are plenty of good opportunities to get out into the countryside without the need for much preparation. A very manageable hike is on or around the fell called Lille Malene. Although the hike isn't technically difficult, you should take it seriously and make sure that you're accompanied by others. The weather can change rapidly in Greenland - also in Nuuk - so take several layers of clothing with you even if the sun's shining when you set off. If you don't feel comfortable going on your own, there are organised hikes - you can get more information at Nuuk Tourism. If you're in Nuuk while there's snow, then you can also go skiing. Take the bus out to the airport where the ski centre is located and spend the afternoon on the slopes enjoying fine views of the fjord.

On the way from the Nuuk out to the airport you'll pass both 'Ilisimatusarfik' (University of Greenland) and 'Pinngortitaleriffik' (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources). Both are on your right-hand side on the way out to the airport and are housed in attractive modern buildings. If you're passing on a weekday, then it's well worth looking inside and having a closer look at the architecture at the country's only university.

Nuuk Greenland wild LifeSailing trips in the fjords behind Nuuk
If the weather's good, you mustn't miss out on a sailing trip on the fjord. An enormous fjord complex, which is ideal for sailing trips, surrounds the town. There are a huge range of possibilities, depending not least on how long you wish to sail for. One of the options is a full-day trip to the Icefjord, where you zigzag through the fjords between turquoise growlers all the way up to the glacier. The numerous icebergs and the sheer glacial wall make a spectacular sight.isbjorn.jpg

Away from civilisation
In addition, there are shorter sailing trips which also give a feeling of getting away from civilisation and out into the wilderness. After only a few minutes' sailing time, Nuuk disappears from view, and instead you see only the steep mountainsides towering up and their reflections in the water. During the summer there are also really good chances of spotting whales in the fjords. The curious and playful whales are a quite unique experience which you shouldn't miss out on. Fishing is also an obvious activity when you're out on the fjord - you're almost guaranteed a catch if you sail out with one of the locals, who know exactly where the good fishing spots are. In such cases there's no need to stand with a rod and line for hours on end - just attach a hook to your line and after only a few minutes you'll almost certainly be pulling a cod or a redfish out of the water.

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