Sisimiut Travel Guide
On the edge of the largest stretch of ice-free land in Greenland, Sisimiut is the country’s adventure capital. Its enormous backcountry provides endless opportunities for visitors to embrace their inner Nature Being and explore the tundra of the Arctic Circle region.
|Name:||Sisimiut means “the residents of the place with fox dens”|
|Founded:||1764 at current location|
|Activities||ATVs, biking, city tours, boat tours, dog sledding, hiking, fishing, kayaking, northern lights, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, spa & sauna experiences, stand-up paddleboarding, whale watching|
|Sisimiut Photo Gallery|
Why you should visit
- It is protective of its sled dog culture and has managed to reverse the general trend of the declining dog population. In recent years, the number of dogs in the town has actually grown.
- It forms one start/end point for Greenland’s most famous long-distance hiking trail – the Arctic Circle Trail
- It is the snowmobiling hub of Greenland. There are more snowmobiles in Sisimiut than there are in the whole of the rest of the country.
- It lies just north of Greenland’s 3rd UNESCO World Heritage listed area – Aasivissuit-Nipisat: an inuit hunting ground between ice and sea
- It is home to the Arctic Sounds festival – one of the largest music festivals in Greenland
- It is home to the Arctic Circle Race – the toughest ski race in the world
- It is Greenland’s second-largest city and has a very different in character to the capital, Nuuk
A year round destination, it has several accommodation options and well-organised tour operators offering a wide range of activities for visitors.
We encourage you to explore the full range of options below, check out the Sisimiut section of our media database for more images, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@destinationarcticcircle) for the latest news.
How to get to Sisimiut
|International Flights||1) Copenhagen -> Kangerlussuaq -> Sisimiut (Air Greenland)|
2) Billund -> Kangerlussuaq -> Sisimiut (Air Greenland summer)
3) Reykjavik/Keflavik -> Nuuk -> Sisimiut (Air Greenland or IcelandAir + Air Greenland)
|Domestic Flights||Direct flights from/to Nuuk or Kangerlussuaq (most often), and occasionally through Ilulissat, Aasiaat, or Maniitsoq|
|Passenger Ferry||Sisimiut is one of the ports along the route of the Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry that does a weekly loop from Qaqortoq to Ilulissat along the west coast of Greenland|
|Cruise ships||Several cruise ships call into Kangerlussuaq each season|
Once you have arrived, you can either walk, call a taxi (+299 52 08 44), or catch the city bus around town. Note: the bus does not go to the airport.
Read more about transportation options in Destination Arctic Circle.
The below are mean temperatures for Sisimiut in degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that maximum temperatures can be much hotter, and minimum temperatures much colder – especially when wind chill is factored in.
|Av Max (C)||-8.4||-10.3||-8.4||-2.0||4.0||9.0||11.6||10.7||6.8||2.0||-2.3||-5.2|
|Av Min (C)||-14.5||-17.0||-15.5||-8.9||-2.2||1.9||4.3||4.5||1.5||-3.2||-7.6||-10.7|
Visitors to Sisimiut can expect very cold winters (down to -35C) and relatively mild summers. However, over the past few years we have experienced increasingly abnormal and unstable weather conditions so it is not unusual for temperatures to rise as high as 18C during the summer and for it to rain more often.
We recommend watching the following videos to understand what you should pack for your trip to Greenland. And remember to bring sunscreen and sunglasses, even if you are planning a winter visit.
Where to stay
- Hotel Sisimiut – private rooms, family room, suite, apartments, private bathrooms spa/sauna
- Hotel SØMA Sisimiut – private rooms, family room, private bathrooms, spa/sauna
- ISI4U – private rooms, shared bathrooms, shared kitchen and common area
- Sisimiut Youth Hostel -private rooms, dorm rooms, shared bathrooms, shared kitchen and common area
There are also accommodations in Sisimiut on Airbnb
Where to eat
- Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie: Sisimiut’s high-quality restaurant with a wide range of dishes
- Hotel SØMA cafeteria: A local favourite with well-priced, hearty meals in a casual setting
- Café Taseralik: Sit and enjoy a pastry and cup of coffee, or a light meal at the Cultural Centre while looking out over Sisimiut’s lake
- Nana’s: Takeaway only Thai cafe
- Café Sisimiut, Café Jasmine: Thai cafes that also offer sit-down seating and other fast food options
- JS Bakery – the only sole-purpose bakery in all of Greenland that offers popular sandwiches and plenty of cakes and pastries. Another local favourite.
- Sisimiut Harbour Grill and Pizzaria: pizza, hot dogs, and burgers
What to do in Sisimiut
All year round
While Sisimiut has plenty of outdoor adventures to keep visitors occupied for a week or more, if the weather is bad or you are having a rest day, make sure you indulge in one of the town’s Arctic Spas and check out the following.
The Sisimiut museum is located near the harbour in the old part of town. Several buildings dating from the 1700s and 1800s house exhibitions detailing the history of the Sisimiut area and of Greenland in general, as well as an interactive exhibition that explores Inuit beliefs vs Christian religion in Greenland.
Just up the hill is Sisimiut’s impressive Zion Church. It is usually locked, so if you are in town on Sunday you should take the opportunity to experience a Greenlandic service in its stunning, wooden interior.
For those who love geology, Greenland’s largest mineral museum is located in the foyer of the KTI technical college. It might feel strange to walk into a school when you are not a student or teacher, but it is a public place and it’s your best chance to see rocks and minerals from all over Greenland.
Sisimiut’s Cultural Centre – Taseralik – is also a must-visit while in town. There is almost always an art exhibition, it regularly screens the latest movie releases (original language with Danish subtitles), and its cafe has one of the best views in town. You may be lucky to have your visit coincide with a concert or other performance (if so, you should definitely attend), or there is a regular Open Mic night on the 3rd Friday of each month. All are welcome to listen and/or perform!
Winter / Spring (Jan – Apr)
With more snowmobiles than in the rest of Greenland put together, Sisimiut is the centre for snowmobiling in the country. Most tours are designed for people who have never snowmobiled before or who have only been a few times, though it is possible to rent snowmobiles on your own if you have more experience and wish to explore further afield.
If you’d prefer a quieter, more traditional option, there are several dog sledding trips available from Sisimiut. Tours range from a few hours to several days (including the classic 3-day trip along the Arctic Circle Trail to reach Kangerlussuaq) and give you a real taste of how the Inuit used to travel during the winter. Don’t hesitate to take a dog sledding trip. By doing so you actually help us sustain this ancient form of transportation.
Sisimiut is also a major centre for cross-country skiing in Greenland. The city grades more than 30km of track each year and hosts the annual Arctic Circle Race in March/April. This 3-day race is widely regarded as the toughest ski race in the world thanks to bitingly cold conditions and the fact that competitors have to camp and look after themselves for the duration of the event.
Of course, if this sounds too challenging, you can simply hire skis and explore the graded or ungraded backcountry at your own pace. You can also hire snowshoes or join a snowshoeing tour if you would like to learn more about the area from a local guide.
For those who love music, you should plan your winter visit to coincide with the Arctic Sounds music festival. Held every April, it features artists from Greenland, other Nordic countries, and Inuit Nunaat, and is one of Greenland’s largest music festivals.And, if you are here during winter, don’t forget to look up. The Northern Lights often shine brightly overhead whenever it is clear, though for best views – you should head out of town.
Summer / Autumn (Jun – Oct)
Once the snows melt, the extensive backcountry around Sisimiut is prime for hikers who are keen to explore on foot. There are several marked trails around town, or experienced hikers may want to embark on the ~170km long Arctic Circle Trail – Greenland’s most famous long-distance hike.
The other option is to take to the water. For those who prefer an active vacation, there are kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding trips available from Sisimiut – no previous experience required.
But if you are looking for a more relaxed adventure, join one of the many different boat tour options. You can visit the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq (and hike back from there if you wish), wander around one of Greenland’s still functioning small settlements, explore UNESCO sites, or go wildlife spotting on a sea safari. There are also dedicated whale watching tours where you spend most of your time in the vicinity of these majestic mammals and where your captain will get you as close as safely possible for the best views.
Fishing is the other key summer activity in Sisimiut. Head out to sea with a handline in search of cod or redfish, or a long line to plumb the depths for Atlantic wolffish and halibut. From July – September, sea-run Arctic Char return to the pristine rivers around Sisimiut to spawn. They tend to be quite large (up to 5kg) and give a great fight for fly fishers and anglers wanting to test their skill.
Sisimiut Tour Operators
Sisimiut has several tour operators that offer a wide range of experience and that can cater for individual visitors or groups of guests. Explore all their offerings below.