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Nuuk, the Capital of Greenland - The Complete Guide

What is the Capital of Greenland?

Are you planning a trip to Greenland? Whether you’re following your own itinerary or have a stop-over on an expedition cruise, be sure to reserve a few days for the capital city of Nuuk! There is lots to see, taste and try, and the scenery alone will make for an unforgettable experience. Whether you are a foodie, art-lover, outdoor fanatic, angler or simply enjoy getting to know local culture, Nuuk is the place to be.

What is the Capital of Greenland?

Imagine a quaint town nestled in a beautiful fjord, surrounded by pristine nature – that’s Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. It covers an area of merely 690km2 (266 square miles). As of 2023, the city has just a little over 19,000 inhabitants. Greenland, meanwhile, is a self-governing, autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. One third of its population resides in the capital. Nuuk is located just below the Arctic Circle and 3,534 km (2,195 miles) from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. The official languages are Greenlandic and Danish, but English is also widely used.

What is The Best Time to Visit Nuuk?

What is The Best Time to Visit Nuuk?

When to visit depends on your adventurous spirit and what activities you plan to do in and around Nuuk. Summers are ideal for hiking, fishing and exploring outdoors, but don’t let the winter temperatures put you off! Winters in Nuuk are magical. Go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and, with a bit of luck you, may even see the northern lights!

Winter and Spring in Nuuk

Don’t be afraid of the cold! Nuuk has a low humidity, so even temperatures below 0C (32F) feel less frigid. Find out what activities you can enjoy during a winter trip to the capital of Greenland:

  • Catch the northern lights. Your chances of seeing them are best from mid-September to mid-April, when the skies are dark. You can sign up for a guided tour or take your chances to explore on your own.
  • Hit the slopes. Nuuk and its surroundings offer a great selection of winter outdoor activities such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
  • Celebrate with the locals. In January, it’s a Greenlandic tradition for people to go door to door, demanding gifts. Imagine a scarier version of Halloween, as locals dress as scary as possible during the festival. Come in March for the Nuuk Snow Festival, where you can see impressive ice-carved sculptures.
  • Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Nuuk! Explore the quaint Christmas market (Inussivik Hall), Greenlandic music and buy some unique Christmas presents to take home. Ring in the new year with local Greenlandic cuisine (fresh fish and shellfish) and enjoy a mesmerizing fireworks display in the city.


Summer and Fall in Nuuk

Summer is the perfect time to visit Nuuk! With comfortable temperatures and extended daylight, visitors and locals alike are out enjoying the beautiful scenery. Find out what summer activities are a must-do when visiting the capital of Greenland:

  • See the fjords! Take a boat trip and sail into the fjords. Book a fishing trip or simply enjoy the landscapes.

  • Try hunting and gathering for yourself. It’s the perfect season to pick berries, herbs and mushrooms. Locals also use this time for fishing and hunting.

  • Explore the area on foot. Summer is the time for hiking! Join a guided tour or follow some of the well-marked trails around Nuuk.

  • Float and paddle at your own speed. Rent a paddleboard or kayak to roam the waterways around the capital.

  • Join the summer festivities. Celebrate Greenland National Day (June 21) with bonfires and locals in national dresses, join the colorful Nuuk city marathon (August/September), enjoy the local food festival with local produce in September, or come for the week-long Nuuk Nordisk Art Festival (September/October).

Summer and Fall in Nuuk

How to Get to Nuuk

Greenland is an island and outside of the cities there are no roads. There are only two ways to reach the capital of Greenland: by air or sea. If you decide to come by plane, choose Air Greenland or Icelandair. Another comfortable way to reach Nuuk is with an organized Greenland cruise.

Nuuk Flights

You can reach the capital of Greenland either with Air Greenland via transit in Reykjavik (Keflavik International Airport), or with a Billund or Copenhagen transit (Denmark). If you decide to fly to Nuuk from Copenhagen or Billund, note that you will have a stopover in Kangerlussuaq (Greenland), which is located around 318km (198 miles) north of Nuuk. Icelandair flies directly to Nuuk from Reykjavik Domestic Airport (Iceland). Consider packing lightly, especially if you want to do some shopping in Nuuk. The weight limit on Flights to Greenland is 20kg (around 44 lbs.) and strictly enforced. Weather permitting, you may face flight delays, so we recommend booking travel insurance and planning enough time for transit in Reykjavik and Copenhagen. Generally, flights during the summer seasons are more expensive, while around January you may be able to get the best deals.

Nuuk Arrival Information

Once you arrive at the international airport in the capital of Greenland, you have several options on how to get into town. You can either hire a taxi to get to your accommodation, have your hotel send an airport transfer, take the public bus #3 (pay in cash on the bus), or pick-up your rental car (if you booked this option). In case you are an avid walker and don’t have mountains of luggage with you, try to walk! It’s only around 5km (3 miles) into the city.

Arriving by Boat to Nuuk

If you visit Greenland as part of an expedition cruise, you’ll likely dock in the capital of Greenland. You may only get a day to explore the city, unless you are embarking or disembarking in Nuuk. If you have the time, we highly recommend adding a few days to your trip to explore Nuuk and its surroundings. If you travel from late August, you may also see the northern lights. Travelers arriving from other parts of Greenland may use the ferry (operated by the Arctic Umiaq Line), which transports passengers twice a week between Qaqortoq (South Greenland) and Ilulissat in northern Greenland).

How to Get to Nuuk

How to Get to Nuuk

Walking Around Nuuk

Nuuk isn’t that big and even the laziest walker can get around on foot. While the outskirts of Nuuk are hilly, the central areas are comfortably flat for leisure walks. It’s safe to walk on the roads, as cars usually give way to pedestrians, but you can also venture through residential areas using small stairs and pathways.

Biking in Nuuk

If you visit the capital of Greenland during the summer months, why not try biking? With the center of the city being rather flat, you won’t lose your breath while exploring. It gives you the freedom to move at your own pace and venture further out of the city. There are several bike rentals in Nuuk; for example, Pikkori Sports offers rentals for around 200 DKK (30 USD) a day.

Nuuk’s Buses

Nuup Bussii (the local bus company) is a cheap and comfortable way to get around the capital. Look for large yellow buses and green bus stops in town. You can buy your ticket at the kiosks in town and on board the bus.


Nuuk taxis are comfortable, but rather expensive. You may need a taxi for airport pick-up and drop-off and there are several taxi companies in town such as Taxagut or Nuuk Taxa. Note that around 8am and 18pm (during peak times) you may have to wait longer to get a taxi. A cheaper alternative, depending on your plans in Nuuk city, may be buses or even a rental car.

Renting a Car

If you have seen the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (starring Ben Stiller), you know that renting a car (red or blue) is a great way to get around the capital of Greenland. If you plan to explore extensively and aren’t a great walker, renting a car may be the best option to move around town. There are several rental companies located at the airport and even those located in town may offer airport pick-up and drop-off services.

Water Taxis

Outside of Nuuk, you won’t find an established road system. If you want to explore beyond the city limits, the best way to get around is on water. There are various option of water-based taxis: for six or 12 passengers, closed and open cabins. Choose from various tours to see the Nuuk Fjord or cruise around Sermitsiaq Mountain. You can also book a charter and create your own itinerary.

Nuuk Flights

Where to Stay in Nuuk

Where you’ll be staying in the capital of Greenland depends on your personal expectations and budget. Unless you are visiting Greenland as part of a cruise, in which case you’ll spend the night in your ship cabin, you will need a place to stay in town. Nuuk offers everything from 4-star hotels to guesthouses and hostels. You can even find platforms that will help you stay with local families or rent self-catering apartments in the city (check booking.com or Airbnb). Check out our top picks of accommodation options in Nuuk:

Nuuk Seamen’s Hotel:

A family-style hotel only 15 minutes by foot from the city center. This place also has its own cafeteria where visitors and locals come to grab a bite (the menu changes every week). You can choose from various room categories (Superior, Standard and Standard Plus).

Hans Egede Hotel:

This 4-star hotel is located in the center of Nuuk and at 140 rooms is the largest hotel in town. It also features two renowned restaurants on its grounds: Sarfalik and Hereford Beefstouw, as well as a Skyline Bar with beautiful views over Nuuk.

Hans Egede Express Hotel:

It’s the newest hotel addition in town. As an eco-certified 3-star budget hotel, it offers several room options (including family-style rooms), with a small café in the foyer.

Inuk Hostel:

Enjoy one of the best views in town! The hostel offers several cabins with rooms and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. There is also a great café on the territory where you can enjoy delicious meals and great coffee.

Hostel Vandrehuset:

This hostel offers private rooms, as well as multi-bed rooms with a shared kitchen, living room and bathroom facilities.

Nuuk Arrival Information

Where to Eat and Drink in Nuuk

After a long day of exploring, you may want to recharge your batteries and grab a bite to eat. Don’t miss out on the culinary highlights of Nuuk! The capital of Greenland features many different restaurants for every taste. Check out our top five eateries in town:

Cozy, local, home-style.

Head to Nuuk Seamen’s home cafeteria for a hearty home-style meal and a chat with locals and other visitors. The menu changes weekly, so check out the menu board for your favorites and make sure you try their great coffee and homemade bread! This place is also a family-style hotel, only 15 minutes by foot from the center of Nuuk and a two-minute walk to the harbor and ferry terminal.

Dine with the best views.

A little outside the Nuuk center, but worth the trip! Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at Café Inuk with spectacular views of the Nuup Kangerlua Fjord. The menu changes seasonally and offers a Sunday brunch buffet. Check their facebook page for current opening hours and updates, or call ahead of time, as this place may also be booked for private events.

Meats and more

Beef, reindeer, sheep and musk ox are on the menu at Hereford Beefstouw at the Hans Egede Hotel restaurant. Enjoy high-quality meat cuts, as well as seafood, paired with a comprehensive international wine selection.

Greenlandic elegance, flair and food.

At Sarfalik, also part of the Hans Egede Hotel, you can try local products Brasserie-style, paired with an extensive selection of champagne, wines and beers. Inspired by French and Italian recipes, this place makes for a perfect dinner in style. Did you know that Sarfalik is the Greenlandic word for polynya? Polynyas are large open water areas surrounded by sea ice, like Arctic oases. The unfrozen waters attract fish and marine mammals. Greenland features many polynyas, usually near settlements, which provide optimal hunt and catch opportunities.

Go international.

Had enough of the local food? Then try one of the world cuisine restaurants in Nuuk. Get a pizza at IGGU, an American-style burger at Bone’s, or Thai delicacies at Charoen Porn. And if you need a cold one after a long day exploring, stop by Godthaab Bryghus and try their tasty beers.

Bonus tip:

A special shout out to all Michelin star foodies! The famous restaurant Koks prolonged its temporary location in Greenland through summer 2024. While this one is not actually located in Nuuk, but Ilimanaq, real gourmet travelers may be tempted to take a cruise or flight to Ilimanaq to sample the signature-tasting menu featuring local produce, meats and seafood.

What to See in Nuuk

What to See in Nuuk

Greenland tourism is not only about incredible nature experiences. A visit to the capital of Greenland is a must. Get to know the unique feel of a modern city and Greenlandic culture. There are lots of interesting things to see in Greenland’s capital and most of them are within walking distance from each other.

Greenland National Museum

Take a tour through Greenland’s culture and history, starting from prehistoric days to modern life. Some of its artefacts date back to 2400 BC. You can also see 15th century mummies of the Qilakitsoq people and colorful outfits of the Inuit on display. During the summer months (June 1st – September 15th) the national museum welcomes visitors every day from 10am-4pm. Winter hours are from 1pm-4pm, every day except Mondays.

Nuuk Art Museum

Explore historical and contemporary art exhibitions about Greenlandic culture throughout the years. But in the capital of Greenland art is not confined to museums, but scattered all around town! The museum also offers a self-guided audio program called ArtWalk that will lead you to 20 points of interest around downtown Nuuk.

Katuaq Culture Center

The unique architecture of Nuuk’s cultural center was inspired by the northern lights, featuring a wavy façade of glass and wood. This is the perfect place to get to know local culture! Check the current event schedule of the cultural center before your visit. You can enjoy events with Greenlandic music, poetry readings and various exhibitions, as well as Nuuk’s cinema and a cafe with Greenlandic produce.

Colonial Harbour

It’s not only the departure port of many boat tours and excursions, but also the oldest part of Greenland’s capital city. Here you’ll find museums, cafes and colorful historical houses. During the summer you can enjoy a stroll along Nuuk’s small beach or enjoy a cup of coffee near the waterfront. Take a walk at the harbor and you can also find a Lutheran church built in 1849, with its iconic red clock tower, which was added in 1884.

Hans Egede House

This is the oldest house in Greenland and was built in 1728 by Norwegian Lutheran missionary Hans Egede. It features a vegetable garden and is now a venue for state events and receptions. Look for a yellow (lower level) and red (upper level) European-style house. You can also find a monument of Hans Egede above the Nuuk Cathedral in the old part of the city. From here you get great views of the harbor.

Activities In and Around Nuuk

Activities In and Around Nuuk

Boat Tours

If you visit Nuuk, you’ll quickly understand why a boat tour is the perfect way to explore the area. The beautiful capital of Greenland is located in the Nuuk Fjord (Nuup Kangerlua Fjord), the second largest fjord system in the world. The Nuuk Icefjord, Sermitsiaq Mountain (1,210m or 3,970ft) and charming settlements such as Kapisillit, Qoornoq and Kangeq are part of this fjord system and key attractions of the Nuuk area. Boat tours to each of these destinations will take around three to seven hours. There are also other day tours such as whale watching, puffin safaris, northern lights boat excursions and deep sea fishing adventures (group and private tours). Got a little more time to spare? Consider a multi-day boat cruise to explore West Greenland, offering scenic hikes, cabin experiences and glamping. Companies like Guide to Greenland and Nuuk Water Taxi offer various excursions for all adventurous tastes.

Stand-up Paddleboarding and Kayaking

Visiting Nuuk in summer not only gives you warmer weather to enjoy the area, but is also the best time for water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding! From May to September, you can rent equipment from operators such as the Nuuk Water Taxi at the Colonial Harbour and explore either solo or with a personal instructor. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Join a guided kayak and paddleboard tour to Nuuk Fjord, where you can paddle amid icebergs and even spot whales!


Hiking around Nuuk starts right in the suburbs. Choose your day-hike adventure from various marked trails that will lead you around the mountains Quassussuaq (Lille Malene) and Ukkusissat (Store Malene). Looking for spectacular views of the capital city and the iconic Sermitsiaq Mountain? Summit Quassussuaq for the best views in the area! While summers are best for hiking, you can also explore on foot in winter. Try snowshoeing or cross country skis and enjoy a wonderful winter adventure.

Scenic Flights

Get a bird’s-eye view and see Nuup Kangerlua Fjord (Nuuk Fjord) from above! A helicopter flight will treat you to the best views and you can even land near the summits of iconic peaks (such as Sermitsiaq Mountain) and the Nuuk Icefjord. Short flightseeing tours over Nuuk start at 30min and summit landing tours usually last around two hours. Want to see the incredible pastel colors of Nuuk’s sunsets? Book a twilight flight and enjoy breathtaking views of the beautiful landscapes.


Catch your own dinner! Nuup Kangerlua Fjord is a dream for anglers. Fish thrive in the cold waters of the Nuuk Fjord and you can find various species depending on the season. You can expect cod, Acadian redfish, trout and Ammasat, a small fish that can be shoveled into your boat. Master the art of longline fishing or catching crab. Did you know that you can combine helicopter flightseeing with fishing? Book a private charter and try a heli-fishing tour, which will take you to remote and inaccessible rivers around Akia, a flat area rich in wildlife.

Traveling Around Nuuk

You don’t need a car to get around the city. If you visit Nuuk, you can rely on the local bus system, taxis or simply just walking anywhere you need to go. The city center is very compact and most attractions are within walking distance from each other. For example, the distance from Nuuk center (the tallest building in Greenland) to Colonial Harbour is around 1km (0.6miles), which is around 15 min by foot.

Traveling Around Nuuk

Interesting Facts About Greenland’s Capital Nuuk

It’s just below the Arctic Circle.

At only 240km (150miles) south of the Arctic Circle, you can experience all the magic of the Arctic right in the city. It’s also a great place to see the northern lights during the winter months (September to March)

It’s one of the smallest capital cities.

Nuuk’s population reached around 19,000 in 2023. Compared to this, the total Greenlandic population is currently 56,643.

Icebergs in the city.

Not many capital cities in the world give you the chance to see icebergs floating by.

Powered by clean energy.

Most of Nuuk’s energy comes from hydropower generated by the Buksefjorden plant around 56km southeast of the city.

I’m a prisoner…get me out of here!

Most law breakers in Nuuk enjoy an open prison system that allows them to go about their normal lives from 6.30 am until 9.30 pm each day. It wasn’t until 2019 that the first fully closed prison started to operate in Nuuk, keeping some groups of prisoners permanently on its territory, while others continue enjoy the freedom of leaving during daytime.

There’s a campus in Nuuk.

If you’re looking for a unique student experience, consider getting your degree in Nuuk! With only a few hundred students, the university offers courses in English, Danish and even Greenlandic. Not ready to fully commit? Exchange students are very welcome and that way you can get a unique study exchange in one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth.

Not quite the world’s northernmost capital…

Since Greenland is technically a constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark, Reykjavik in Iceland (and not Nuuk) is officially the world’s northernmost national capital.

It’s never too late for coffee!

When in Nuuk, do as the locals do and enjoy your coffee after dinner. You’ll be pleasantly surprised – the recipe (a Greenlandic tradition) features whipped cream, whisky, Kahlua and a shot of Grand Marnier set ablaze just before serving. If that doesn’t warm you up after a day out in the Arctic, then what will?

Inuit culture is all around the city.

While locals also speak Danish and English, the Greenlandic language is the official language and 90% of the Greenlanders are Inuit. Meet the locals at a so-called Kaffemik, a traditional open-house event where people drop in and out and enjoy coffee and tea.

Nuuk is home to the oldest house in Greenland.

Norwegian missionary Hans Egede built the house in 1721 and you can still visit it near the harbor. For a while the Hans Egede house served as the residence of Greenland’s prime minister. It’s now an official governmental event location.

Shop until you drop – only since 2012.

Nuuk’s first shopping mall and its first underground parking lot only opened in July 2012. Take a stroll in the pedestrian mall and look for shops of local artisans.

All roads lead to…nowhere.

You can drive and ride public buses within the city, but you can’t drive out of Nuuk. There is no road system between cities in Greenland.

Interesting Facts About Greenland’s Capital Nuuk


Can I See the northern lights in Nuuk?

You can see northern lights in Greenland’s capital of Nuuk between September and March. For the best sightings, we recommend you board a cruise to East Greenland.

What’s the temperature in Nuuk?

While during the summer you can expect a comfortable 10C (50F) during the day in the city, winters are colder with an average temperature of -9C (16F). On the Greenland ice sheet, the temperatures are much lower than in the capital of Greenland at around -20C (-4F) to -31C (-24F) depending on the exact location.

When can I see the midnight sun in Nuuk?

As Nuuk is located a bit below the Arctic Circle (on the southwest coast of Greenland), you may have to move further north to fully enjoy the midnight sun. Still, if you visit Nuuk during the summer months (late-April to late-August), it never gets completely dark.

What’s the currency In Nuuk?

Greenland uses the Danish Krone as its official currency. You can also find ATMs in Nuuk. Check with hotels, restaurants and shops beforehand if they accept credit cards (most places accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard, but not all do).

Does Nuuk have a post office?

Yes, Nuuk has a post office from which you can send mail and postcards.

Where do cruises depart from in Nuuk?

Larger freight ships and cruise ships dock at Port Nuuk. Fjord cruises and water taxis depart from Nuuk’s Colonial Harbour,

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