Nuuk

Nuuk is the capital of Greenland and was founded in 1728 by a missionary named Hans Egede. The first settlement he established was in the Isle of Hope, an inlet near the peninsula where the present town is now located.

With a population estimate of around 16,000, Nuuk is among the least populated capitals in the world. Where the town ends, the roads cease to go, and beyond is a field of rock and ice that stretches on forever.

Nuuk is where the old embraces the new, and there are great sights to see in town. It is home to the University of Greenland, and the Katuaq and the National Museum serve as repositories of Greenlandic culture and heritage.

Past the old buildings along the colonial harbor, including a cathedral built in the 1800s, is the great marketplace. This is where the catch of the day is sold, and for a keen observer, it is where the real Greenland begins.

Sisimiut

With an ice-free harbor even in winter, and an airport serving the northern settlements, Sisimiut is regarded as Greenland’s gateway to the Arctic Circle.

The town was inhabited by various peoples in its history. The Saqqaq established their first settlement 4500 years ago. Next to arrive were the Dorset people from Canada. Finally, the Thule, who came with their sophisticated tools and weapons, thrived in the region longer than the two earlier tribes. The remnants of their culture are preserved in the Taseralik Cultural Center, which is a place to visit in town.

Aside from having the second oldest church in Greenland, Sisimiut’s closeness to the ice fields makes it a popular destination for dogsledding.

Narsarsuaq

The great fertile plains of Narsarsuaq have always been ideal for farming. For this reason, generations of Norsemen settled in the area. They left behind splendid ruins of longhouses and a replica of Greenland’s first Christian church in Brattahlid.

The great Viking explorer Erik the Red also had an estate here.

Narsarsuaq appeals best to hikers. Glaciers can be reached by foot through a scenic flower valley. If you have a penchant for geology, keep an eye out for crystals. Minerals appear in abundance and can be found between layers of rock.

Kangerlussuaq

Kangerlussuaq was once home to an American airfield with a cryptic-sounding name, Bluie West 8. After the airfield fell into disuse, Bluie West 8 was turned over to the Greenland home government in 1990. Nowadays, the most advanced airport in the country serves as a staging area for dozens of personnel manning scientific stations and remote posts scattered along Greenland’s eastern expanse.

Kangerlussuaq’s clear skies and relatively stable weather make it an ideal place for dogsledding. With the airport town just a stone’s throw away from the western edges of Greenland National Park, pack some camping gear and provisions for a night or two, the spectacular northern lights await.

Nanortalik

The southernmost town in Greenland boasts of scenic fjords, woodlands that bloom in summer, and polar bears that occasionally pass through the town’s fringes in search of food.

There is much to see in Nanortalik, including a wooden church built in 1916, an open-air museum preserving an ancient Norse settlement, and dozens of sheep farms that actually exist in Greenland.

However, the biggest reason for globetrotters, especially mountain climbers, to descend to Nanortalik, is scaling up mountains whose steep peaks and vertical walls of Tasermiut Fjord could put even the professional climbers to shame.

 

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