Narsarsuaq is located within the Eastern Settlement of southern Greenland's Kujalleq municipality, approximately 62 miles (100 kilometres) north of Cape Farewell at the head of the Tunulliarfik Fjord, and just 3.7 (six kilometres) from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Narsarsuaq is an area of pristine natural beauty with a stable, sunny climate, and characterised by a beautiful, deep fjord, ice cap, icebergs, mountains, and exquisite valleys with lush and varied vegetation.
Narsarsuaq is located within the Eastern Settlement of the Greenlandic Norse, and was first visited by fearless Icelander Erik the Red in 982. He established a farm on the opposite bank of the Tunulliarfik Fjord in Qassiarsuk, a nearby sheep-farming settlement and site of the first Christian church in all of North America. Other Norse Vikings settled here during the 10th-15th centuries, and their ruins from the dot the hills around Narsarsuaq. Modern Narsarsuaq was founded as an American airbase in 1941 named 'Blue West 1'. Thousands of planes used this airbase en route to the battlegrounds of Europe, and a hospital was erected on the airbase to deal with the casualties of Normandy. Today, Narsarsuaq remains the junction for air traffic in-and-out of South Greenland.
Narsarsuaq's role in World War II can be explored through a visit to the Narsarsuaq Museum. Cultural and historical sites in-and-around Narsarsuaq are infused with centuries of Norse and Inuit influences, and include Norse Viking ruins and medieval farms. In Igaliku is the ruins of Garðar, once the religious heart of 12th-century Norse Greenland. Qaqortoq is home to Colonial buildings, the Old Church, and reconstructed traditional stone-and-peat Inuit huts. Hvalsey, located near Qaqortoq, is the site of Greenland's largest, best-preserved Norse ruins in the area known as the Eastern Settlement, or 'Eystribyggð'. Across the fjord from Narsarsuaq is the sheep-farming community of Qassiarsuk, which boasts the reconstructed longhouse of Erik the Red and Thodhildur's Church, Northern Europe's first church.
The residents of Narsarsuaq are a small, yet close-knit band of approximately 160 dedicated people who think far beyond the boundaries of their South Greenland village. Nearly everyone here plays a vital role towards ensuring that Narsarsuaq is a welcoming beacon for international guests. Locals tend to everything from the airport and cruise harbour to the hotels, museum, youth hostel, grocery store, nurse station, cafés, and shops. At the height of the summer, Narsarsuaq has quite a global atmosphere, as it hosts world travellers who often outnumber the Greenlanders.
Narsarsuaq's exquisite natural splendour is ideally-suited for a wide array of popular outdoor excursions during your visit. Land-based excursions include hiking trails through lush hills, Valley of Flowers, back-country and Norse ruins along the deep fjord, bird-watching in search of eagles and hawks, mountain-biking, glacier-climbing, and flight-seeing over the deep valley, Greenland Ice Sheet and fjord waters dotted with turquoise icebergs. Narsarsuaq's scenic coast is a fine launching-point for a variety of water sports, including sea-kayaking, fishing, boating, sailing, and whale-watching in the inlets of the fjord system and nearby Qooroq Icefjord, home of the famed South Greenlandic blue icebergs.
Due to its compact size, Narsarsuaq can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Narsarsuaq
The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Pier..
Shopping opportunities in Narsarsuaq include souvenirs, handicrafts, honey, maps, and postcards at souvenir shops, the Narsarsuaq Hotel and Tourist Office. The city also has a grocery store, Pilersuisoq, which mainly sells dried reindeer meat to eat whilst hiking or camping. The local currency is the Danish Krone.
Narsarsuaq's rich, volcanic soil and cold, clean coastal waters offer a wealth of mouth-watering selections from the land and sea. Among the many Greenlandic favourites are musk ox, whale meat, reindeer and lamp meat, birds, fish, including cod and char, local berries, and suaasat, a traditional soup and the national dish of Greenland. Popular local restaurants include the Narsarsuaq restaurant and Blue Ice Café.
Narsarsuaq's city and historic treasures are easily accessible on-foot, by coach or boat. The city centre features historical buildings, shops and renowned local landmarks, the Narsarsuaq Hotel, museum, youth hostel, grocery store, nurse station, cafés, and shops.
This small museum pays homage to the American servicemen and women stationed on the American Air Force Base here in World War II. Featured are pictures, letters, equipment, weaponry, and other artefacts and information about the base and its operation. The museum also includes a room with stuffed birds of the region, along with information about the local flora and fauna, regional culture, and history of the Inuit and Norse.
An easy climb up Signal Hill offers breath-taking panoramic vistas over the fjord, harbour, beach and icebergs.
Located on the lower slopes of the Mellemlandet Ridge near the Narsarsuaq Airport, this unique, 37-acre (15-hectare) Arboretum Groenlandicum features a live collection of trees and bushes from the Arctic and alpine tree-lines of the entire Northern Hemisphere. Included are 110 plant species, along with varieties of boreal taiga trees such as Siberian larch, lodgepole pine, white and Sitka spruces, and various bushes. Many individual trees are tagged or otherwise marked. The plantation currently has more than 50,000 trees of various provenances.
Blue Ice Explorer
Blue Ice Explorer offers private boating, hiking and fishing tours around Narsarsuaq, and unparalleled access to the stunning highlights of southern Greenland. Sail icy fjords, visit historic sites, experience the hospitality of a Greenlandic family, and explore the towns, villages, sheep farms, and settlements of Narsaq, Igaliku and other picturesque locales.
Igaliku is located southeast of Narsarsuaq on a peninsula jutting off the mainland, and near the eastern shore of upper-Tunulliarfik Fjord. Igaliku is best-known for the ruins of Garðar, once the religious heart of 12th-century Norse Greenland. The area was at the very heart of the eastern settlement, and has been extensively archaeologically excavated since the 1830s. There are several historical graves here, although most have not presently been identified. The settlement includes a general store, church with a congregation building and the Atuarfik Igaliku School.
Located approximately 52 miles (about 84 kilometres) from Narsarsuaq, Qaqortoq offers a unique opportunity to explore the history, culture and lifestyles of Greenland. Highlights include the Town Square, local markets, Arctic Café, 'Bench of Love' on Vatican Hill, Great Greenland Furhouse, Colonial buildings, Qaqortoq Fountain, sculptures, Old Church, and reconstructed traditional stone-and-peat Inuit huts.
Formerly known as Brattahlid, picturesque Qassiarsuk is only a 20-minute boat-ride away from Narsarsuaq. Erik the Red settled in Qassiarsuk in 982 A.D.; from here, his son Leif Eriksson set out to sea and landed on the shores of America in 1000 A.D. Visit the reconstructed longhouse of Erik the Red and Thodhildur's Church, Northern Europe's first church. Nearby is the Tasiusaq Sheep Farm, a small, beautiful site with a lovely view of the inland ice cap on the distant horizon.
Hvalsey is located near Qaqortoq, and is the site of Greenland's largest, best-preserved Norse ruins in the area known as the Eastern Settlement, or
Illerfissalik Mountain is located in Vestgrønland, within walking distance from Narsarsuaq and adjacent to the scenic Flower Valley. An exhilarating climb up the mountain offers splendid views of the imposing Narsarsuaq Glacier and its surrounds.
Narsarsuaq's pristine natural beauty and diverse topography combine to create a wonderful array of outdoor activities, including nature-watching, hiking, bird-watching, ice-climbing, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, flight-seeing, and more. The city's picturesque fjord and teeming coastal waters are replete with floating icebergs, and ideally-suited for sea-kayaking, whale-watching, fishing and boating.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.