I have wanted to go to Greenland for a very long time. Unfortunately, flights and activities, or expedition cruises are way over my budget. It seemed difficult to do both Western and Eastern Greenland in one trip. That is why when a rather inexpensive (less than $100 a day for 16 days) cruise to western Greenland became available I decided to go for it. It is a small taste of Greenland but an enjoyable one. Hopefully one day I will return to explore the eastern side, the ice shelf, and spend more time overall.
I managed to find peace and nature in each of the three towns for most of the day by hiking. Once you get past town there are no roads or infrastructure. These hikes allowed me to be alone in nature for most of the day. There was still time to look around the towns in the afternoon after most people had returned to the ship.
Below are the descriptions of the hikes and walks and photos to help you gauge what you can see and the difficulty of trails. I was there in late August 2019. I updated it in 2023 to include maps and to correct an error in naming that was pointed out to me.
How I spent the days in Nuuk, Qaqortoq, and Nanortalik
Nuuk- Hiking Lille Malene and exploring town
There is now a pier! The ship docks about a mile downhill from town.
I walked into town and went straight to Bank Nordik to withdraw Danish Krones. The ATM did not have a fee. My bank does not charge a fee.
I caught bus number 3 towards the airport. This cost 15 DK paid to the driver, change is provided. More on buses and their timetables here http://bus.gl/en/ It is a scenic ride. I got off the stop before the airport as it was the start of the trail on maps.me. This part was a bit confusing. The trail was not well marked, I walked past a dump and the construction site. I followed along on maps.me managing to find and stay to the trail most of the time.
I was going to head inland cutting right at the first fork but I missed the turn and continued onto Paradise Valley. I am glad this happened. The views along this part and up the valley were some of my favorite. After Paradise Valley, the trail became very evident as it went up the Quassussuaq. The rest of the route was relatively simple to follow.
Moving inland you have more wonderful scenery and freshwater lakes and streams. Supposedly the streams are clean enough to drink from.
There were no other hikers for the first 2.5/3 hours. I passed the ship’s hiking tours coming in the opposite direction after the freshwater lakes.
The last bit is downhill in this direction. The trail becomes more popular with local runners and you find yourself exiting behind a suburb in the Asiapak area. I then walked downhill to the bus stop. I waited for about 20 minutes for Bus #1 which also cost 15DKK payable to the driver and took the bus back into the town of Nuuk. The entire hike, walking from the ship, waiting for and taking buses on both ends, and the hike with lots of stops and some missteps was about 6 hours.
Back in Nuuk, I walked around visiting the old harbor area and museum. I visited the cultural center and other spots. I ended the day at the bar near the Godthaab Bryghus. Here I had a nice, but expensive ($13USD) Arctic Hunter beer.
Tip: if you walk north through the neighborhood down lisaajap street to the west of the hill with the statue of Hans Egede you can get some nice photos of the colorful houses.
Google fi: I did not have the ability to call but did have LTE data throughout my time in Greenland.
Qaqortoq – Hiking Lake Tasersuaq, Exploring ridge behind town, Looking around town.
Hiking Lake Tasersuaq
This hike is straightforward. There is a trail about 6 miles long around the lake that is easily accessible from town. This is a tender port so try to get off early to make the most of the day and get ahead of any hiking excursions.
I recommend walking the lake counterclockwise. This is the way the excursions go so if you start before them you will be alone. The way to get to this side of the lake is unpleasant and has quad bike traffic, rubbish piles, etc. Additionally the hardest part of the entire hike is close to the beginning in this direction. After you reach the end of the lake the last few miles are flat and easy.
After the first uphill climb, you can see into the fjords a great place to stop and admire the scenery.
When you get to the small waterfall at the other end the difficulty lessens.
With some long stops to take in the scenery this hike only took around 4 hours.
Tip: If you do not think you can make the climb or do not want such a long hike walk the east side of the lake for as long as you wish and come back the same direction.
Hiking the ridge behind town
I then walked around the harbor and up the hill to the southwest of the port. This was not planned. We had time and could see a viewpoint on maps.me.
Going uphill past colorful houses to the marked viewpoint at the end of a culdesac. Here you see a trail. The trail is not marked on the map but is rather obvious. It is basically straight up to the ridge. I then walked along the ridge following cairns to a large cairn on the other side and made my way back down from there.
The views were fantastic. You can see the town, the mountains and vast nothingness inland, and the fjord.
By this time most of the crowds had dispersed from the square and I was able to walk the harbor and take some photos of various artworks and houses.
Nanortalik: Hiking up Quassik Hiking along the water and walking around town
Hiking up Quassik
The big hike planned for this day turned out to be very steep but rather quick.
Once again I was on the first tender off the boat. Walking north of the tender dock past the cemetery and near the quarry you find the trailhead for Quassik. The trail is steep but well marked. You can easily explore the ridge with fantastic 360-degree views from here. You come back the same way.
This took approximately 3 hours including lots of time at the top.
Walking along The water outside of town
I walked a couple of miles on the trail along the waterfront. You have to go over a small hill past the cemetery to get to the trail by the water. The first mile or so is flat and easy, you are walking near the water with good scenery. We even saw a fox! This is the easiest walk in the three towns we visited .
From the fjord trail, you can walk back towards town cutting west before the cemetery and follow a nice flat trail through the outskirts of town near a lake used for drinking water. This has some nice views looking back on the mountain and gives you different scenery.
I then went by the large boulders to the open air museum. I was rather tired after all of this but the line to go back was long . I checked out some grocery stores and shops. The one by the yacht mooring had an atm. I ended up getting a beer and finding a scenic place to sit and enjoy a last bit of Greenland before catching the last tender back.