What to see and do in Nuuk
Places to visit in Nuuk
There are lots of things to do and see in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Sitting at the mouth of a gigantic fjord in the southwest, Nuuk balances commerce and culture with its fresh air and breathtaking views.
Nuuk boasts cozy cafes and restaurants, a cinema, a shopping mall, and hotels, and there's a cultural charm that almost makes you forget you’re standing close to the Arctic Circle.
For a solo adventure that’s not to be missed, climb up to the colonial harbor (Kolonihavn) where a statue of Hans Egede stands. Egede, a Danish-Norwegian priest, founded Nuuk in 1728. The views from the top of this harbor are among the most stunning in the city.
The name Nuuk means 'the headland', given to the town due to its position at the tip of a large peninsula at the mouth of a gigantic fjord complex. This also makes it the perfect place from which to go exploring.
Tours and activities from Nuuk
Fjord tours in Nuuk are particularly popular. The iconic Sermitsiaq (Saddle Mountain) is 1210 meters (3970 ft) tall and sits on an island in the fjord, with its summit visible from most places in the city.
On a whale safari, you can get close to the humpback and minke whales that visit the fjord waters from early summer to the onset of fall. In addition, helicopter trips to the ice sheet and Norse ruins are popular excursions, as are visits to the old settlements by boat.
Winter sports fans won’t be disappointed either by the excellent range of activities on offer, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
Lots of local Greenlanders also offer Nuuk tours which let you explore more of the city itself.
Arts and culture in Nuuk
A Greenlandic man, Aron from Kangeq, is famous for producing more than 300 works of art portraying the folk stories, history and culture of Greenland.
He came to be known as “the father of Greenlandic painting” and set the tone for the town of Nuuk to be an artistic haven.
The work of local artists and designers can be found in interesting boutiques and souvenir stores in the town.
Besides art, there's also a vibrant nightlife on weekends in the local bars and discos, and there’s even a local brewery, giving the town a lively feel.
Museums and other cultural sites
A visit to the Greenland National Museum is highly recommended. It is found in the old part of town and offers a big-picture understanding of the archaeology, recent history, people, and arts and crafts of Greenland over 4,500 years.
The Nuuk Art Museum is well worth a stop and has established an Art Walk where you can discover artworks on a route between the museum and the colonial harbor.
History lovers will enjoy a trip to the Nuuk Fjord Settlements, which can be viewed at the open-air museums of Qoornoq and Kagneq. The Local Museum in Nuuk, called Nuutoqaq, hosts many changing exhibits of items donated by local families.
Meanwhile, the design of the beautiful Katuaq Cultural Centre is inspired by the landscapes of Greenland. Today it serves as a venue for art exhibits, concerts, conferences, and film screenings.
Nuuk in the summer
While there is arguably no bad time to visit Nuuk, the summer is the most popular season to travel to Greenland.
During summer, temperatures rise and you can experience the wonder of the midnight sun. Wildlife sightings are more frequent in the summer and it’s a better time for activities such as exploring the fjords, kayaking, and fishing.
However, visiting Nuuk in the short, shoulder seasons of spring and fall is also a good option. These months offer plenty of activities while prices for flights and hotels tend to be lower due to being outside of the peak tourism period.
Planning a trip to Nuuk from December to March, or June to September, is therefore a popular choice for tourists who want to experience Greenlandic weather and activities in their prime seasons.
Nuuk in the winter
Due to the frequent sub-zero temperatures, it may surprise you to learn that Nuuk is just as popular in the winter months as it is in the summer.
In the winter, the long polar nights and the Northern Lights are the main attraction, and they make regular appearances from September to April. Activities such as hiking and skiing are also popular in the winter.
Despite the freezing weather, Nuuk never feels as cold as you’d expect due to the low humidity. This means that it feels warmer than places like Reykjavík or Copenhagen even though it is actually colder.
With flights to Nuuk offered year-round, it’s easy for travelers to explore this natural wonderland in whichever season they choose.
Exploring the city on foot
Nuuk is one of the world’s smallest capital cities, home to only around 18,000 inhabitants.
Because of its size, you can easily get around on foot.
Explore the streets lined with colorful buildings and houses, the reason for the city’s nickname “Colorful Nuuk”.
The city center is mostly flat but be prepared for some hills once you venture outside the main downtown area.
Transport in Nuuk
Buses are a popular travel option in Nuuk. The Nuup Bussi is the city’s modern bus system which can get you almost anywhere in Nuuk for low fares.
You can easily buy tickets with cash on board. But if you’re sticking around for a while, it may be worth buying a travel voucher from a kiosk. Bus timetables are displayed at each bus stop and also published online.
There are taxis in Nuuk but it’s good to be aware that they are the most expensive mode of transport.
To explore further afield, and to add a bit of adventure to your journey, consider taking a water taxi that offers stunning views of the fjord.