7 things to do in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

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Our selection of the best things to do in Kangerlussuaq will help you make the most of your time in this remote corner of the world

At first glance, the lonely settlement of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland might not seem much more than a necessary stepping-stone for travellers en route to Ilulissat, Greenland’s most popular tourist destination.

However, Kangerlussuaq‘s modesty somewhat masks what lies beyond. This little town of 500 souls is actually a gateway to some of the most spectacular scenery found in the extremes of the planet.

Brace yourself, for this slipshod town conceals some fantastic mini and not-so-mini adventures.

Things to do in Kangerlussuaq

Whether you’re passing through to trek the Arctic Circle Trail like me or en route to Ilulissat, our selection of the best things to do in Kangerlussuaq will help you make the most of the time you have.

1. The ice sheet at Point 660

Seasons: Year-round

The most popular thing to do in Kangerlussuaq is to visit the ice cap. Generally thicker than 2km (3km at its thickest), the Greenland ice sheet covers approximately 80% of the land surface of Greenland and is the world’s second largest body of ice. Only the Antarctic ice sheet is larger.

things to do in Kangerlussuaq greenland ice sheet
Atlas & Boots The Greenland ice sheet is the second largest body of ice in the world

I joined an Albatros Arctic Circle bus tour to the ice sheet and there are smaller 4WD options available. I arranged with the driver to drop me off near Russell Glacier on the way back. I camped for the night near the glacier and then hiked to Kangerlussuaq the following morning.

For more information, read my post on visiting the Greenland ice sheet and Russell Glacier.

2. Russell Glacier

Seasons: Year-round (excluding Dec-Jan)

watching the wall while visiting the Greenland ice sheet and Russell Glacier
Atlas & Boots A wall of ice at Russell Glacier

Extending westwards from the ice sheet is Russell Glacier, also referred to as ‘Reindeer Glacier’. This active glacier advances approximately 25m every year and is skirted by the fresh meltwater outflow from the adjoining ice sheet. 

Most tours to the ice sheet pause at a couple of viewpoints. To get the best of the experience, however, I thoroughly recommend making an overnight trip of it and spending a night at one of the finest campsites in the world.

For more information, read my post on visiting the Greenland ice sheet and Russell Glacier.

One of the best campsites in the world while visiting the Greenland ice sheet and Russell Glacier
Atlas & Boots One of the finest campsites in the world

3. Climb Sugarloaf Mountain

Seasons: Spring to autumn

the view from sugarloaf looking beyond Kangerlussuaq
Vojtech Jirka/Shutterstock The view from Sugarloaf Mountain

It may not offer quite the same iconic panoramas as its namesake in Rio de Janeiro, but Greenland’s Sugarloaf makes for a great half-day hike from town. The distinctive steep-sloped hill stands watch over the route between Kangerlussuaq and the ice sheet and makes for an excellent viewpoint.

At the summit, there are views inland towards the icecap or looking beyond Kangerlussuaq to the fjord and even the distant Maniitsoq Ice Cap.

The trail leading to the summit of the 353m (1,158ft) peak begins around 8km from town. Hikers can either walk the dirt road out of town or arrange for a taxi to drop off and/or collect them from the trailhead.

4. Scenic flight

Seasons: Spring to autumn

A scenic flight over the ice sheet
Vadim Nefedoff/Shutterstock A scenic flight offers unparalleled aerial views

If you’re short on time, a scenic flight is a great option. Located away from the coast and enjoying more than 300 days of clear sky a year, Kangerlussuaq is known for its (relatively) good weather conditions.

Offering unparalleled aerial views of the surrounding landscape, Kangerlussuaq is a growing hub for scenic flights. The most popular and shortest flights to the ice cap and Russell Glacier start at 25 minutes from DKK1,250 ($190 USD) per person with AirZafari.

There are longer routes which take in wildlife and sweeps of the blue lakes and Paradise Valley nature reserve. There is also an option to explore northwards to the Ilulissat Icefjord UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5. Dog sledding

Seasons: Winter only

huskies and dog sledding hings to do in Kangerlussuaq
Atlas & Boots How can anyone resist?

If you’re a dog person, then like me you’ll leap at the chance to meet Arctic sled dogs. I met huskies in Tromso in Norway during an Aurora husky hike, an experience that still makes me beam every time I watch (and re-watch) this silly video.

Dog sledding tours in Kangerlussuaq are far more demanding than my evening in Norway, but also far more dramatic. Making use of the frozen winter fjord close to town, dog sledding tours can be anything from a short two-hour excursion to a three-day expedition to Sisimiut.

6. Ice camp

Seasons: Spring to autumn (March-October)

Ice camping on the glacier Things to do in Kangerlussuaq
AAC The best way to experience the ice sheet is on an overnight ice camp

If you have time, the best way to experience the ice sheet is on an overnight ice camp and trekking experience. This mini-expedition follows in the footsteps (albeit very briefly) of legendary explorers such as Fridtjof Nansen.

After arriving at Point 660, campers hike a few kilometres across the icecap where they set up camp for the night. Mini-explorers must pitch in to make their hot drinks and evening meal, before enjoying a night under canvas in one of the most distant and secluded campsites in the world.

7. Northern Lights

Seasons: Autumn to spring

northern lights seen from Kangerlussuaq
Dan Bach Kristensen/Shutterstock The northern lights seen from Kangerlussuaq

Kangerlussuaq is located around 50km to the north of the Arctic Circle and, as mentioned, enjoys more than 300 days of clear sky a year. The reliable weather combined with its position as a transport hub in Greenland, makes it one of the best places in the world to see the famed Northern Lights.

The best time to see the lights are during the darker months of September to April when the days are shorter and the Northern Lights appear at their strongest. Albatros Arctic Circle runs a number of Northern Lights excursions.

Things to do in Kangerlussuaq: the essentials

What: Things to do in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Where: In Kangerlussuaq, I stayed at the basic but clean Polar Lodge (DKK795 / $120 USD) when I arrived and then camped at the nearby campsite during my second visit for DKK60 ($9 USD). Other options include the Kangerlussuaq Hotel located in the airport and the Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel.

During my overnight trip to the ice sheet and Russell Glacier I camped at a spot known as Israndsdalen close to Russell Glacier. Nearby is a picnic area with some eco-toilets positioned along a trail leading back to the main road.

When: The best time for trekking in Greenland is from June to August when the weather is at its warmest and the days are longest (never-ending at times). August and September see the temperatures drop and overnight snow arrive. That said, many tours run year round.

How: Most tours can be easily booked through the most popular tour operator in the area, Albatros Artic Circle. There are several smaller outfits providing more personalised tours for smaller groups and with customisable itineraries.

Guide to Greenland and the Visit Greenland website are good places to find operators who cover all the best things to do in Kangerlussuaq.

I flew to Kangerlussuaq from London via Copenhagen in Denmark. Air Greenland essentially have a monopoly on domestic flights to further destinations. Book via Skyscanner.

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If you’re planning on hiking in Kangerlussuaq, the Cicerone Guide to Trekking in Greenland is the ideal companion and covers many of the above things to do in Kangerlussuaq.

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