Conquering Nuuk in 48 hours

Located 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Nuuk is an outdoor wonderland.

Located 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Nuuk is an outdoor wonderland. At the foot of twin mountains, rows of brightly colored houses dot the landscape. Voyagers looking for some Greenland tourism will surely find it, albeit not in traditional neon sign-lit touristic fashion.

While the capital is certainly more urban than it was in the past, Nuuk is nowhere near as cosmopolitan as its Scandinavian capital counterparts, partly because of its frigid location. But don't let that deter you. This capital of the world's largest island packs everything from whale-watching to hiking. Or take to the museums and sharpen the senses. Home to approximately 17,000 inhabitants, the city is frozen over with mass appeal. 

Day One

Hike the mountains

Hiking connoisseurs flock to the twin peaks of Quassussuaq and Ukkusissaq, also called Lille Malene and Store Malene. On Hurtigruten excursions, you'll take the gorgeous 5-mile hike along the Mount Lille Malene, where the expedition leader will provide information about the surrounding nature and wildlife over the course of the hike as you soak in the vistas. There is a lunch break and a time to enjoy the fresh springwater. Skiing and snowshoeing can be experienced here too, depending on the season. Hiking maps are also available for Store Malene.

Go art gazing

Nuuk has two museums: Nuuk Art Museums and the Greenland National Museum. Housed in the old Adventist Church of Nuuk, the Nuuk Art Museum showcases the private art collection and handicrafts of the late contractor Svend Junge. You won't be able to miss this building either, it's the yellow wooden establishment with a tower. The highlight is the large colored nature depictions made with oil paint and golden frame by Emanuel A. Peterson. Though the art offers little description, it makes you think a bit harder about its enticing ambiguity. 

National Greenland Museums and Archives, established in the 1960s, stands as one of the first museums in the country. It packs collections of archeology, history and handicraft, including material from the Danish National Museum. Visitors will find a window into Greenland's cultural heritage. It was not until 1991 that the building merges with the Archives, creating a central depository of the country's culture profile that date back to the early 1700s.

Toast with microbrews

Billed as Greenland's largest microbrewery, The Godthaab Bryghus has a variety of beers on tap. Try the Moskusbajer, a 7 percent-alcohol brew made with a special, top-fermenting yeast, or the Classic, which is the beer that's claimed to have inspired all Danish breweries. The restaurant also serves delicious, steaks, burgers. But if you want to step outside your comfort zone, the muskox and reindeer are lip-licking good.

Day Two

Explore Qornok

An abandoned fishing island, Qornok is a visual buffet, boasting stunning views of snow-capped peaks and shimmering waters. Although there is nothing particular to see here, the island serves as a charming retreat with a small church, attended only by cottage guests. Relax and skip rocks, or just let the world slow down around you.

Swing by the Nuuk Cathedral

The Nuuk Cathedral was built in 1849, though the red building with its spire remains a prominent site on the city's skyline. Inside, you'll find a paneled interior with two big brass candelebras at the altar, which were a gift from the Church of Norway. There's also a bronze bust of Jonathon Peterson, who was a writer of eminent writer of psalms and talented organist. On the hill above the church lies the Statue of Hans Egede. During National Day celebration, large crowds will gather around the church to celebrate. 

Catch a movie or performance at Katuaq

Katuaq is the award-winning culture center that hosts everything from the latest Hollywood releases to local concerts. Designed by  Schmidt Hammer Lassen, the international architectural group, this L-shaped venue contains two auditorium, the larger one seats more than 1,000 people while the smaller holds roughly 500. There's also a cafe where you can grab some quick grub. The Nuuk Center, the country's first shopping mall, is conveniently located next door. 

Good tips: Nuuk has a public city bus that runs across the city. 

Call to +299 321 321 or +299 36 36 36 for Nuuk's 24-hour taxi service.

A few travel tips

When visiting Nuuk, keep these things in mind:

  1. Don't go swimming in Cirkussoen, which is the drinking water lake in Qinngorput, a district of Nuuk.
  2. There's no selling alcohol after 1 p.m. on Saturday or at all on Sunday.
  3. The bus ticket expires after 1.5 hours, even though it doesn't say it on the ticket.

At the end of 48 hours exploring Nuuk, voyagers on Greenland tourism will enjoy a good understanding the country's capital.