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Under The Midnight Sun: Iceberg Sightseeing In Ilulissat


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Jada Smothers



Welcome to Ilulissat, a picturesque town located on the west coast of Greenland. Known for its stunning natural beauty and unique geographical features, Ilulissat is a haven for adventure enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable experience. One of the main highlights of visiting this incredible destination is the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing sight of icebergs under the midnight sun.


Imagine a world where the sun never sets, casting its golden glow on a landscape dominated by towering ice formations. This phenomenon, known as the midnight sun, occurs during the summer months in high latitudes such as Ilulissat. It creates a surreal ambiance and provides ample daylight to explore the icy wonders that surround the area.


Ilulissat is home to the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, one of the most productive and fastest-moving glaciers in the world. As the glacier calves into the sea, it gives birth to massive icebergs that float gracefully along the Ilulissat Icefjord. These icebergs display a remarkable array of shapes and sizes, making them a captivating sight for visitors.


Now, you may be wondering how to best experience these breathtaking natural wonders. Fortunately, Ilulissat offers a variety of iceberg sightseeing tours, allowing you to get up close and personal with these majestic forms of ice. Whether you prefer a leisurely boat ride or an adventurous kayaking excursion, there is an option to suit every preference.


When planning your visit to Ilulissat, it’s important to consider the best time to witness the magic of icebergs under the midnight sun. Additionally, there are a few tips and guidelines to keep in mind for a safe and enjoyable iceberg sightseeing experience. So, grab your camera, pack your sense of adventure, and let’s dive into the world of iceberg sightseeing in Ilulissat!


Location and Background of Ilulissat

Situated on the western coast of Greenland, Ilulissat is a charming town that offers breathtaking views of ice-covered landscapes and the vast Arctic Ocean. It is located approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and is the third-largest town in Greenland, with a population of around 4,600.


The town is perched on the shores of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant glacier systems in the Northern Hemisphere. The icefjord stretches over 40 kilometers (25 miles) and is fed by the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This glacier produces massive icebergs that calve into the fjord, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors.


Ilulissat is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant Inuit traditions. The town serves as a hub for exploring the vast wilderness and immersing oneself in the unique Inuit way of life. Traditional Inuit practices, such as hunting and fishing, are still practiced by the local population, showcasing a deep connection to their ancestral roots.


Despite its remote location, Ilulissat is well-connected to the outside world. Daily flights from Reykjavik, Iceland, and other major cities in Greenland make it easily accessible for tourists. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a picturesque town, with colorful houses dotting the landscape and the sound of seagulls filling the air.


Exploring Ilulissat goes beyond iceberg sightseeing. Visitors can stroll through the narrow streets, visit museums showcasing Inuit artifacts, and sample local cuisine, which often includes fresh seafood and traditional Greenlandic delicacies like dried fish and smoked seal.


Additionally, Ilulissat serves as a gateway to further Arctic adventures. Visitors can embark on hiking expeditions, dog sledding adventures, or even witness the captivating Northern Lights during the winter months.


Now that we have a better understanding of the location and background of Ilulissat, let’s delve into the phenomenon of the midnight sun and its impact on iceberg sightseeing.


Midnight Sun Phenomenon

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in regions near the Earth’s poles, including Ilulissat. During the summer months, the tilt of the Earth’s axis allows the sun to remain above the horizon for an extended period, resulting in continuous daylight all through the night.


In Ilulissat, the midnight sun can be witnessed from mid-May to late July. This unique phenomenon bathes the town in a soft, golden light, creating a surreal and magical atmosphere. The sun hangs low on the horizon, casting long shadows and painting the sky with vibrant hues of pink, orange, and purple.


The extended daylight provides ample opportunities for adventurers to explore the magnificent icebergs of Ilulissat. Unlike regular sightseeing tours that are bound by daylight hours, the midnight sun allows for uninterrupted and awe-inspiring experiences throughout the day and night.


Imagine sailing through the Ilulissat Icefjord at 2 a.m., with the glow of the midnight sun reflecting off the pristine icebergs surrounding you. Or kayaking alongside these frozen giants as the sun hangs low in the sky, illuminating the arctic landscape. The midnight sun truly transforms the experience of iceberg sightseeing in Ilulissat into an otherworldly adventure.


Furthermore, the prolonged daylight allows visitors to spend more time capturing the beauty of the icebergs through photography. The soft light and extended golden hour provide ideal conditions for capturing stunning shots of these natural wonders.


It’s important to note that while the midnight sun provides extraordinary opportunities for iceberg sightseeing, it can also disrupt sleep patterns due to the constant daylight. Visitors should plan accordingly and make use of blackout curtains or eye masks to ensure a restful night’s sleep.


Now that we understand the impact of the midnight sun on iceberg sightseeing, let’s delve into the magnificent icebergs that grace the Ilulissat Icefjord.


Icebergs in Ilulissat

The Ilulissat Icefjord is renowned for its spectacular display of icebergs. These frozen giants, which originate from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, provide a captivating sight for visitors to Ilulissat. The icebergs come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, creating a mesmerizing landscape that is constantly changing.


What makes the icebergs in Ilulissat particularly unique is their often otherworldly formations. Some icebergs resemble towering castles, while others take the shape of intricate sculptures. The shifting light of the midnight sun casts ethereal glimmers on the ice, transforming them into sparkling jewels against the Arctic backdrop.


One of the remarkable aspects of iceberg sightseeing in Ilulissat is the sheer size and scale of these frozen behemoths. Although only approximately 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water’s surface, it still gives a sense of their majestic proportions. Some icebergs can reach heights of 100 meters (330 feet) and stretch several kilometers wide. Witnessing these massive ice formations up close is a humbling experience that truly showcases the power and grandeur of nature.


The icebergs in Ilulissat are not only a visual spectacle but also a testament to the dynamic nature of the environment. As the icebergs drift along the Ilulissat Icefjord, they gradually melt and reshape, creating an ever-evolving landscape. This constant transformation adds an element of surprise and wonder to iceberg sightseeing, as no two icebergs will ever look exactly the same.


Additionally, the icebergs play a vital role in the ecosystem of Ilulissat. As they melt, they release freshwater, which flows into the fjord and contributes to the rich biodiversity of the area. The nutrient-rich waters attract a wide variety of marine life, including whales, seals, and seabirds, making iceberg sightseeing in Ilulissat an opportunity to witness the interconnectedness of nature.


Whether you choose to admire these ice sculptures from the comfort of a boat tour or venture out on a kayak to navigate between the icebergs, witnessing the surreal beauty of the ice formations in Ilulissat is an unforgettable experience.


Now that we’ve explored the magnificent icebergs of Ilulissat, let’s dive into the various iceberg sightseeing tours available to visitors.


Iceberg Sightseeing Tours

To fully immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the icebergs in Ilulissat, participating in an iceberg sightseeing tour is highly recommended. These tours provide a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the frozen giants, offering a perspective that simply cannot be achieved from land.


One of the most popular ways to experience iceberg sightseeing in Ilulissat is through a boat tour. These guided excursions take you on a journey through the Ilulissat Icefjord, allowing you to marvel at the breathtaking ice formations from the water. You’ll sail past towering icebergs, witness occasional calvings, and listen to the melodic sounds of cracking ice as it echoes through the fjord. Boat tours vary in duration, from a few hours to a full-day adventure, providing ample time to explore the stunning landscapes and capture remarkable photographs.


If you’re seeking a more active and immersive experience, kayaking tours offer a thrilling way to navigate through the icebergs. Paddling through the calm waters of the fjord, you’ll have a remarkable vantage point to observe the ice up close. The tranquility and silence of kayaking allow for a truly intimate encounter with the icy wonders of Ilulissat. Kayaking tours are generally led by experienced guides who ensure safety and provide insights into the natural surroundings.


For those who wish to explore below the water’s surface, scuba diving tours provide a unique and unforgettable perspective. Equipped with the proper gear and guided by experienced professionals, you can dive into the crystal-clear waters of Ilulissat Icefjord, surrounded by towering icebergs. Witnessing the mesmerizing underwater world up-close, with the ice formations as a backdrop, is a truly extraordinary experience for certified divers.


It is essential to book your iceberg sightseeing tour with a reputable and environmentally conscious operator. These operators prioritize the safety of their guests and adhere to guidelines that protect the fragile ecosystem of the Ilulissat Icefjord. Additionally, they provide knowledgeable guides who offer insights into the geological and cultural significance of the area, enhancing your overall experience.


With a wide range of iceberg sightseeing tours to choose from, it’s important to find the one that aligns with your preferences and comfort level. Whether you opt for a leisurely boat tour, an adventurous kayak expedition, or an exhilarating dive beneath the surface, each tour promises a unique and unforgettable encounter with the icebergs of Ilulissat.


Now that we’re familiar with the various iceberg sightseeing tour options, let’s discover the best time to visit Ilulissat for an unforgettable iceberg experience.


Best Time to Visit Ilulissat for Iceberg Sightseeing

Choosing the right time to visit Ilulissat is crucial for experiencing the best iceberg sightseeing opportunities. While the town offers incredible natural beauty year-round, certain months provide optimal conditions for witnessing the awe-inspiring ice formations in all their glory.


The prime time to visit Ilulissat for iceberg sightseeing is during the summer months, particularly from June to August. This period aligns with the phenomenon of the midnight sun, when the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours a day, creating extended daylight and maximizing your time to explore the icebergs.


The months of June and July are particularly popular due to the milder temperatures and the abundance of daylight, allowing for comfortable excursions and longer viewing opportunities. The weather during these months is generally more stable, with clearer skies and calmer seas, making it easier to navigate through the icy waters and appreciate the beauty of the icebergs.


August also offers fantastic iceberg sightseeing conditions, and it brings the added advantage of a slightly quieter tourist season. As the summer comes to an end, the crowds begin to thin out, providing a more serene and intimate experience with the ice formations. Moreover, August offers the possibility of witnessing the beginning of the fall season, with hints of autumn colors painting the landscape.


It’s important to note that the shoulder seasons of May and September can also offer rewarding iceberg sightseeing experiences. May marks the start of the midnight sun phenomenon, and although temperatures may still be chilly, it allows for a unique opportunity to witness the transition of the frozen landscapes to the vibrant colors of spring. September, on the other hand, brings a sense of tranquility as the tourist season winds down, and the landscape begins to change into autumn hues.


It’s advisable to check with local tourism offices or operators for the latest updates on ice conditions and available tours during your chosen time of visit. They are well-equipped to provide information on the best opportunities for iceberg sightseeing based on weather patterns and the movement of the icebergs in the Ilulissat Icefjord.


Now that you have an idea of the best time to visit Ilulissat for iceberg sightseeing, let’s move on to some essential tips to ensure a memorable and safe experience.


Tips for Iceberg Sightseeing in Ilulissat

When embarking on an iceberg sightseeing adventure in Ilulissat, it’s essential to keep a few tips in mind to make the most of your experience while staying safe and respectful of the environment. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your iceberg sightseeing journey:

  1. Dress appropriately: The weather in Ilulissat can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to wear layers and dress warmly. Opt for insulated and waterproof clothing, including a good-quality jacket, pants, gloves, hat, and sturdy footwear. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a scarf to protect yourself from the harsh Arctic elements.
  2. Stay hydrated and nourished: It’s important to keep yourself hydrated, especially during physical activities like kayaking or hiking. Bring a water bottle and snacks to keep your energy levels up. Additionally, try local Greenlandic cuisine to experience traditional flavors and replenish your energy with fresh seafood delicacies.
  3. Follow safety guidelines: If you’re participating in a guided tour, listen carefully to the safety instructions provided by your guide. Follow their guidance when navigating around the icebergs and always use the provided safety equipment. Never venture out alone or without proper guidance.
  4. Respect the environment: It’s crucial to treat the fragile Arctic environment with respect. Avoid littering and dispose of any waste in designated areas. Keep a safe distance from the ice formations to prevent any harm to yourself or the natural structures. Remember that touching icebergs is discouraged as it can be dangerous and disrupt their delicate balance.
  5. Be prepared for sea motion: If you’re prone to motion sickness, consider taking appropriate medication before your trip, especially if you’re embarking on a boat or kayak tour. Although the waters around Ilulissat are generally calm, the movement of the boat or kayak may cause discomfort for some individuals.
  6. Capture the moment: Make sure to bring a camera or smartphone to document your iceberg sightseeing adventure. The landscapes and ice formations in Ilulissat are incredibly photogenic. Experiment with different angles and lighting to capture the essence of these majestic structures. You may also want to bring extra memory cards and batteries to avoid missing out on any incredible shots.

By following these tips, you’ll ensure a safe, enjoyable, and respectful experience while exploring the captivating icebergs of Ilulissat. Remember to check weather conditions and ice movement updates regularly and stay informed about any changes in local regulations or restrictions.


Now that you’re equipped with these helpful tips, it’s time to embark on your own iceberg sightseeing adventure in Ilulissat and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Embarking on an iceberg sightseeing journey in Ilulissat is a truly awe-inspiring experience. The combination of the breathtaking ice formations, the mesmerizing midnight sun phenomenon, and the unique Inuit culture make Ilulissat a must-visit destination for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


Ilulissat, with its stunning location on the west coast of Greenland, offers a front-row seat to witness the beauty of nature’s icy masterpieces. The towering icebergs of the Ilulissat Icefjord, born from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, showcase the power and grandeur of the Arctic landscape.


Whether you choose to embark on a boat tour, kayak through the tranquil waters, or dive beneath the surface, each iceberg sightseeing experience is a unique encounter that will leave you in awe. The continuously changing shapes, sizes, and colors of the icebergs create a sense of wonder and evoke a deep appreciation for the natural world.


Timing is key when planning your visit to Ilulissat. The summer months, with the mesmerizing midnight sun phenomenon, provide the best conditions for iceberg sightseeing. The extended daylight allows for uninterrupted exploration, picturesque photography, and a chance to witness the magic of the Arctic under the golden glow of the sun.


However, no matter the time of year, it’s essential to dress appropriately, follow safety guidelines, and respect the fragile environment of Ilulissat. Being prepared ensures a comfortable and responsible adventure that leaves a minimal impact on the stunning natural surroundings.


As you capture the beauty of the icebergs with your camera and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Arctic, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime. The combination of impressive ice formations, the midnight sun, and the captivating Inuit culture make Ilulissat a truly unforgettable destination for iceberg sightseeing.


So, get ready to be amazed as you sail through the Ilulissat Icefjord, kayak amidst the frozen giants, or dive into the crystal-clear waters surrounding the icebergs. Witnessing the majestic beauty of nature’s creations in Ilulissat will leave you with a sense of wonder and a profound appreciation for the power and magic of the Arctic.