Mosquitoes: The arctic is plagued by these pesky, biting insects in July and August. They are almost enough to drive a person insane. Bring a mosquito head net and insect repellent containing DEET. These items are sold in Greenland but I'm glad we bought them at home and not at the outrages Greenlandic prices. I paid $1.68 per mosquito head net at the Wal-Mart up the street from my house. Mosquito head nets were being sold at the equivalent of $14 in Greenland.
Sled Dogs: Greenlandic sled dogs are still used in winter but during the summer they are chained in large fields around town. They are the only breed allowed above the Arctic Circle in Greenland. These dogs are beasts of burden - not house pets. They are closely related to wolves and may bite if you come too close.
CITES Requirement: Common souvenir items in Ilulissat are rugs and clothing made from furs such as seal, fox, reindeer, and polar bear. There were also carvings (tupilak) and jewelry made from animal bones and tusk. Some of these items such as those made from walrus, polar bear, and whales are prohibited from being brought into the U.S. unless you show proof that the animal was not poached. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing these items, ask for a CITES certificate at the shops to verify the product will pass U.S. customs. There are some items made from certain species of whale that are flat out banned. The CITES documentation can help you determine which ones.
Dress in Layers: We visited Ilulissat in early July. I never needed more than a light jacket when walking around town; however, when out on boat trips, the wind coming off the icebergs and glaciers is near freezing. At those times, a fleece layer covered by a windbreaker is recommended along with gloves and a cap.
Language: The official language of Greenland is Greenlandic; however, since Greenland is a territory of Denmark, Danish is also widely spoken. Fortunately for us anglophones, most of the people I met either on the streets or at tourist locations spoke English fluently. In addition to Greenlandic and Danish, English is a required language in the Greenlandic school system.
Currency: The local currency is the Danish Kroner (DKK). There is an ATM machine at the bank in town that will dispense this currency but the ATM is only available during banking hours.
Credit Card Usage: I used my credit card for most purchases but I normally had to warn the merchants that my purchases require a signature as opposed to a PIN required by European credit cards. Although this caused confusion in many cases, most of the vendors eventually figured out the correct series of keystrokes to process my card. There was only one case where the vendor couldn't figure it out. I just used cash in that situation.
Seeing The Ice Fjord: The Ilulissat Kangerlua Ice Fjord is the main tourist attraction in Ilulissat. The local tour companies offer excursions that allow tourists to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site by land, water, and air. We saw it by hiking and by boat. It is quite spectacular. We didn’t do the helicopter ride because it was more expensive than we were willing to pay. However, we got a glimpse of the fjord from the air during our flight to Ilulissat. You can too if you get a seat on the right-hand side of the airplane when approaching Ilulissat from the south. Air Greenland flights do not have assigned seats, so make sure you are near the front of the line when boarding the plane to increase your chances of getting a good seat.