In Novem­ber 2023, we were drawn to the far north for the first time, and I real­ly do mean the very far north. Our friends Andrea and Har­ry had booked a short trip to Ilulis­sat in West Green­land with Green­land Trav­el in late fall and asked us if we want­ed to come with them, which we quick­ly agreed to. The best pic­tures from the trip can be found in my gallery, here fol­lows a more detailed report about the trip.


As you can eas­i­ly imag­ine from my pre­vi­ous trav­el reports, I have always pre­ferred trips to warmer climes, so this trip was com­plete­ly new ter­ri­to­ry for us. We start­ed by inform­ing our­selves inten­sive­ly about the coun­try, peo­ple and cli­mate and became more and more curious.

Greenland and Ilulissat

Green­land is the largest island in the world and a polit­i­cal­ly self-gov­ern­ing part of Den­mark. On Wikipedia you can find:

“The entire Green­landic inte­ri­or is cov­ered by an ice shield that rests on a basin that is part­ly below sea lev­el. It makes up four-fifths of the land area. The ice-free coastal areas cov­er around 410,000 km² and are there­fore slight­ly larg­er in area than Ger­many. Esti­mates of the total area of Green­land vary between 2,166,086 km² and 2,486,000 km².”

To give you an idea of its size, Ger­many has an area of just 360,000 km². Despite its size, Green­land only has around 56,000 inhab­i­tants - rough­ly the same as the pop­u­la­tion of my home town of Willich.

Ilulis­sat is locat­ed in the west of Green­land near Disko Island and is one of the best-known Green­landic towns - but there aren’t very many. The Ilulis­sat Ice­fjord, which flows into Disko Bay and was declared a UNESCO World Her­itage Site in 2004, is locat­ed slight­ly to the south. The Green­landic word Ilulis­sat means “ice­bergs” and the name speaks for itself.

The city is locat­ed next to the ice fjord of the same name, which is fed by the Ser­meq Kujalleq glac­i­er. Ser­meq Kujalleq is one of the most active glac­i­ers on earth. It advances about 30 meters fur­ther into the fjord every day and gigan­tic ice­bergs reg­u­lar­ly break off from it, a process known as “calv­ing”. These then slow­ly drift by in front of Ilulis­sat. It is said that around 10% of the North Atlantic ice­bergs orig­i­nate from here. The ice­berg that sank the Titan­ic is also said to stem from here.

With around 4700 inhab­i­tants (and around 3000 sled dogs), Ilulis­sat is the third largest town in Greenland.

Why travel to Greenland in November?

So not only did we head to the cold far north, the trip also took place in late fall. Ilulis­sat lies north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle, which means that the sun does not rise there from the begin­ning of Decem­ber to mid-Jan­u­ary. The day length dur­ing our trip in Novem­ber was only about 5-6 hours. The sun rose only slight­ly above the hori­zon. This actu­al­ly result­ed in a fas­ci­nat­ing light mood - the sun­rise merged almost seam­less­ly into the sunset.

How­ev­er, the real rea­son for this rather late vis­it was our sec­ond goal: we were hop­ing to see the North­ern Lights.


First of all, we need­ed to stock up on polar-appro­pri­ate cloth­ing. Air Green­land only oper­ates flights to Green­land from Reyk­javik or Copen­hagen. We there­fore took the oppor­tu­ni­ty and planned to spend a few days in Copen­hagen after our stay in Green­land. On Novem­ber 1st, 2023, our first flight was via Düs­sel­dorf with SAS to Copenhagen.

November 1st, 2023 - Flight to Copenhagen

The time had final­ly come. Our daugh­ter Luise took us to Düs­sel­dorf air­port ear­ly in the morn­ing, where we met up with our trav­el com­pan­ions Andrea and Har­ry. Check-in was a breeze and after a cof­fee at the air­port, our plane to Copen­hagen took off on time. After a pleas­ant flight, we checked into our room at the “Com­fort Hotel Copen­hagen Air­port”, which is locat­ed right next to the airport.

As our con­tin­u­ing flight to Green­land is sched­uled for the next day, we took the metro for our first vis­it of Copenhagen’s down­town area. Here are some brief impres­sions of our first trip to Denmark’s capital:

After a nice din­ner in the city and a cock­tail in the hotel bar, our first day in Copen­hagen came to an end.