Ice and a massive glacier near the start of the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland

Sailing to the Nuuk Icefjord

By
Verified Local

The Nuuk Fjord system is the second-largest in the world. It is a beautiful waterway that features tall mountains, a handful of small settlements (only one of which is permanently inhabited), and the opportunity to spot whales during the Summer months. Read on for a description of my ~160km journey to the end of the Nuuk Fjord where icebergs are born.



After several weekends of miserable weather, I was super-excited to head off under almost-blue skies towards Sermitsiaq, Nuuk’s iconic mountain.

View from the front of the boat heading towards Sermitsiaq mountain on a boat tour to the Nuuk Icefjord with Guide to Greenland
Almost all boat tours in the Nuuk Fjord head in the direction of Sermitsiaq

We were not the only ones heading out 

Following another boat into the Nuuk fjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
Sailing past Sermitsiaq into the Nuuk Fjord

and the relatively mild temperatures (compared with my previous winter excursions into the Nuuk Fjord) encouraged us to sit outside for unobstructed views of the spectacular mountains that line the fjord. 

Two passengers sitting on the front deck admiring the mountains of the fjord on a boat tour to the Nuuk Icefjord with Guide to Greenland
The best position in the boat on a gorgeous day!

Icebergs in the Nuuk Fjord

There has been a lot of iceberg activity around Nuuk recently – probably due to the very warm Spring we are experiencing. We came across several large icebergs along the way and our captain, Claus, took us for a loop around the biggest one.

Passenger taking a photo of a large iceberg on a boat tour to the Nuuk Icefjord with Guide to Greenland
Icebergs are always amazing – no matter how many you’ve seen
A large iceberg with mountains in the distance on a boat tour up the Nuuk Fjord with Guide to Greenland

A stop by Qoornoq

Our sailing route took us past the small, abandoned settlement of Qoornoq. Yes, I know it doesn’t look abandoned, and it isn’t – in Summer. The families of the people that used to live in the village have maintained the buildings for Summer cottages, and many spend at least part of the warmer months in Qoornoq. During winter (when I last visited), it looks completely different!

The colourful houses of Qoornoq on a boat tour up the Nuuk Fjord with Guide to Greenland
Some of the colourful houses of Qoornoq
Passing the old Qoornoq fish factory on a boat tour up the Nuuk Fjord with Guide to Greenland
Qoornoq’s fish factory used to sustain the village before the whole settlement was abandoned

After floating and taking in the view near Qoornoq so we could enjoy a 20-minute coffee-break, we continued voyage deeper into the fjord. Large icebergs became more prevalent, and a solitary mountain marked the entrance to the icefjord.

Approaching the entrance to the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
The sentinel of the Icefjord

Claus sailed us in for a closer look 

Passenger watches as we approach the mountain at the entrance to the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland

to reveal a waterfall hidden within a crevasse

Waterfall falling from the mountain at entrance to the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
I love hidden waterfalls like this

and huge numbers of sea birds nesting in the cliffs.

Sea birds nesting in the cliffs of the mountain at the entrance to the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
There were thousands of sea birds nesting in the cliffs of this mountain

The Nuuk Icefjord

Given how early it was in the season (beginning of May), we couldn’t sail too far up the icefjord itself before encountering more ice than our captain was comfortable in navigating.  In particular, while there may have been a route through the ice on the way in, he was very conscious that the ice could close behind us and block our way out.  

Packed ice in the water the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
We were on an ice-strengthened boat, but not an icebreaker. Better to be safe than sorry!

Still – the views were amazing, and I clearly have to come back at the end of Summer so I can get up closer to the massive glacier we could see in the distance.

Ice and a massive glacier near the start of the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
Not too far into the Nuuk Icefjord, and you can see one of the many glaciers that produce all the icebergs

There was almost no wind when we first arrived, and I had a field day taking pictures of near-perfect reflections of icebergs and the sky in the pristine glacial water.

Pyramid iceberg reflected in the water the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
Iceberg reflections
Sky and iceberg reflected in the water the Nuuk Icefjord on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
Sky reflections
Mountain at the entrance to the Nuuk Icefjord and icebergs reflected in the water on a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
Mountain reflections

While we were busy clicking and drinking in the views, Claus appeared with a table and lunch for us!  Al fresco dining in a  pretty amazing lunch spot I have to say!

Having lunch in the front of the boat on a tour to the Nuuk Icefjord with Guide to Greenland
Awesome lunch spot!

In total, we spent just over an hour eating, chatting and enjoying the silence and serenity of this very special part of Greenland. 

Heading home from the Nuuk Icefjord

We started the long journey back once the breeze found us, and it wasn’t too long before we were sailing against quite a strong headwind.  So much so, that Claus decided to sail home via a different, but equally stunning branch of the fjord system.

Impressive shapes of the mountains of the Nuuk fjord on a boat tour to Kapisillit with Guide to Greenland
Amazing shapes
Looking back along the wake of the boat at the impressive mountains of the Nuuk fjord on a boat tour to Qooqqut with Guide to Greenland
In every direction

We were welcomed home to Nuuk by bright blue skies, colourful houses and Lille and Store Malene – that two mountains that sit directly behind Nuuk and are extremely popular for hiking during the Summer and snowshoeing / cross-country skiing during the Winter.

Colorful houses of Nuuk with Lille and Store Malene in the background as seen from a boat tour with Guide to Greenland
The colourful houses of the suburb of Nuussuaq with Lille Malene (Quassussuaq) and Store Malene (Ukkusissat) in the background.

I can’t wait for the next opportunity to head back into the fjord to explore!

Explore the Nuuk Fjord for yourself

If you are planning a trip to Nuuk, I recommend reading the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk.

You should definitely get out on the water with one of the many fjord tours on offer.  There are options that are based solely around the scenery (like this one that I did), and others that include fishing (some also have professional chefs cook whatever you catch for your lunch!), visiting an abandoned village, or experiencing life in a small Greenlandic community.

A million thanks to Claus, Nuuk Water Taxi, and my fun travel companions for an incredible trip!

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