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48 hours in Nuuk

 Photo – Magnus Biilmann Trolle, Visit Nuuk

Have you always dreamed of combining your love for the Arctic with an adventure in an abandoned fishing settlement?

Do you have a strange longing for creepy and abandoned places in absolutely stunning nature? Then Nuuk certainly has the place for you!

Kalaallit Inuit, Greenlandic Inuit, have been nomads for thousands of years pre-colonisation, so abandoned and historic settlements are regularly located throughout the great vastness of Kalaallit Nunaat. However! Nordafar offers a very different take on the whole “abandoned settlement in Kalaallit Nunaat” category.

Nordafar was a place of industrial fishing created by Norwegians (Nor!), Danes (da!) and Faroese (far!), which also explains the very name of the place. Nordafar was built in the 1920’ies, thrived especially in the 50’ies and 60’ies but was then declared bankrupt in the 80’ies. What a rollercoaster huh?

When we set out on our journey to explore Nordafar, it was a beautifully clear day.

As we approached the abandoned settlement, we couldn’t quite believe our eyes – Nordafar looks like the movie set of a scary movie. The way some of the buildings are hanging halfway into the sea and everything was in total decay really set the mood for the next hour and a half.

We got on land and very quickly our bodies caught up with our eyes and realised, that this place, Nordafar in 2022, is literally falling to pieces and we had to be careful with our steps.
It is super important to move with caution and to be safe rather than sorry when visiting Nordafar. But it is also a beautifully eerie and strange experience.

The houses are extremely well built and although there have clearly been visitors on destruction missions, the actual construction of the houses is impressive. It is incredible to see the different layers of wallpaper in some of the houses, how well bright yellow and pink paint has lasted throughout the years and the remains of receipts dating back to 1982 just lying out in the open.

There was a part of me that grieved the destruction of Nordafar as I was walking around trying to imagine the lives of the fishermen, the traders and the families living there.

I spoke to a friend who had visited Nordafar in the 90’ies and he told me that everything had been in order and it looked like it had just recently been left. That’s sadly not the case anymore, but it does go to show that even when a place is abandoned – it still changes.

There’s also the extremely impressive industrial part of Nordafar. There is massive machinery completely rusting up and chalkboard systems, that show us how busy Nordafar must’ve been during its thriving period. It’s a powerful experience to see how much work they put into Nordafar.

Nordafar in conclusion is certainly worth a visit. You absolutely have to be careful walking around and do bring a lunchpack. There’s nowhere to buy any food in Nordafar!
It’s a place that feels like a museum – but the plot twist is you have to make all the stories up as you go along.

If you are interested in an adventure to Nordafar, we used Nuuk Water taxi, and if you want to read about more boat operators visit our tour operator page


Kuluk Helms

Performing artist, poet, nuummioq