Popular Things to Do in Ilulissat
Food and Drink in Ilulissat
Ilulissat sits on a cliff overlooking a sea filled with spectacular icebergs, so why not pick a restaurant with windows on the waterfront? Unless you're at the far end of town, that should be a piece of cake.
Rustic with a View: Hong Kong Cafe serves both the familiar (hamburgers for about $6.50) and the new (whale curry for $12.60). If you're not feeling adventuresome, you can always order chicken or beef curry off the English menu. The cafe is open 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon - 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Casual Snacking: The Hotel Hvide Falk (White Falcon) is perched on a bluff overlooking the harbor. You can grab a pizza to go from $11 (small) to $18 (large).
Greenlandic Buffet Experience: Both the Hotel Hvide Falk and the Hotel Arctic (newer, nicer and on the opposite side of town) offer typical Greenlandic buffets. Check first, as these feasts don't happen every day. The Hotel Arctic's Restaurant Ulo serves their feast on Monday evenings. A few of the specialties you'll find are musk ox soup, "mattak" (whale fat), shrimp, scallops, marinated salmon and halibut, steamed catfish, smoked whale, reindeer and lamb. The price for the meal runs about $45.
Best Overall: Seeing icebergs from the ship is amazing. Seeing them up close from a small fishing boat is breathtaking. When the little boat shuts off its engine, you can hear the bergs rumble and crack. There's a chance of spotting seals and whales, too.
Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip: Climb into a helicopter for fabulous views above the polar icecap and the icebergs.
For Active Travelers: Hike to the Sermermiut settlement to see what remains of the gravesites of Greenland's first inhabitants over 4,000 years ago. A bonus of this excursion is a presentation about Greenlandic sled dogs.
Taste Sensation: A Greenlandic buffet is a feast of local, unusual fish fare, plus meats like reindeer and musk ox. If you want to be sure of getting a chance to eat like a native, book the group excursion.
Don't Miss in Ilulissat
Icebergs: The town's claim to fame is ice. You don't have to go on a tour to see the huge bergs. Just walk to any high viewpoint, and you'll see them. If you want to get up close, your ship and every local tour office offers trips out to the ice in small boats.
Museum: Displays in the Knud Rasmussen Museum show typical Greenlandic dress and tell the town's history. Ilulissat was founded in 1741 as a trading post. Whale blubber and train engine oil (from whales) were shipped to Copenhagen in exchange for coffee, tobacco and guns. Moving to the present, shrimp, halibut and tourism are the main industries. The museum occupies the large red house where Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen was born in 1879. Open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., weekdays; 1 - 4 p.m. Sundays. Entrance: 25 DKK (about $4.65).
Souvenir shopping: For sealskin mittens, jackets, boots and toys, check out the shop in the small, unnamed red building between Spar Bank and a shop called Sara. For high-quality crafts and souvenirs, don't miss the shop with the big sign that reads "Greenland Tours, Elke Meissner." The owner, Elke Meissner, speaks excellent English and is a wealth of information about the town and local activities.Historic site: The ancient settlement of Sermermiut was first inhabited more than 4,000 years ago by the Saqqaq people, who were the first people to migrate to Greenland. The Dorset culture moved in around 500 B.C. What you'll see here are the remains of 18th-century houses and ancient pre-Christian graves. You can walk to Sermermiut. Allow about two hours.
Art: A collection of Greenlandic art can be seen at the Emanuel A. Petersen Art Gallery. The paintings, mostly by Danish artist Emanuel Petersen, depict local scenes, which means icebergs, ships and Inuit people. The photography exhibit, in particular, is worth the visit. Open Tuesday - Friday, 1 - 4 p.m. Entrance: 25 DKK (about $4.65).
Grocery shopping: Pisiffik is a general store selling food, clothes and housewares. It's interesting to see reindeer chops in the freezer next to the halibut. Best of all is the large selection of wine. At around $20 a bottle you may want to stock up for the ship, as long as they allow you to bring alcohol onboard.