Anybody planning a visit to Iceland's capital city is likely to stumble upon a lot of talk about Grandi. Reykjavík's historic harbour area has been booming lately. Think hip restaurants, boho boutiques, museums and cafes. It's popular with locals and visitors alike—an area of open spaces significantly more peaceful than the central tourist area around the busy Laugavegur street.
So many of the buildings here were refurbished remnants from the fishing industry. As the locals say, you're more likely to see artists, architects and chefs here now than sailors. Be sure to come with an empty belly—and expect to eat well in Grandi!
Here are some of Grandi's highlights:
Grandi makes a superb place to walk and wander. Start on the waterfront around the Harpa (Reykjavík's famous opera house) and walk west, admiring views of Mount Esja across Faxafloi Bay to the north. You'll pass the docks for whale-watching and puffin tours.
For decades, this café on the old harbour has been the first place fishermen go when they step back on dry land. Broad windows look out at the boats and they're known for their breakfasts, brunches and smørrebrød light sandwiches. Since 1935, this "Coffee Wagon" (as the name translates) was the hangout of choice for dockworkers, vagrants, sailors, wanderers and anybody else who likes a good cup of coffee.
Tucked inside old boat repair shops, you'll find a surprising range of shops and boutiques to explore, each with a bent for something unique. There's a high-fashion boutique, a deli-butcher shop, a chocolate factory, a bistro-brewery, a goldsmith, a cheesemonger, a Japanese teahouse, and Valdis, the hit ice cream shop, just to name a few.
In Grandi, you have your pick of some of the best. The Maritime Museum, the Saga Museum, Whales of Iceland and Aurora Reykjavík are all right here.
This new street food hall is comfortable, interesting and a must-visit for foodies. It is located in the Iceland Ocean Cluster, which is part of the most innovative area in town, celebrating Icelandic culture and industry. There are nine 'street food' concessions, each with a unique style, representing cuisines as diverse as Korean kimchi tacos to barbecued Icelandic lamb. There's also a mini wine bar, a lax and champagne bar and a place to sample all kinds of that legendary Icelandic yogurt, Skyr. You'll probably have to come at least twice!
Starting in summer 2019, you'll be able to include an unforgettable visit to the ground-breaking attraction that is FlyOver Iceland, where you'll experience a stunning presentation of Iceland’s natural forces at work and then take a 'flight-ride' above some of Iceland's most remote and stunning landscapes.
A former fish meal factory now houses an art museum, the studio of renowned Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson (he designed the exterior of Harpa) and the sleek and very trendy Marshall Restaurant+Bar.
Finish your visit with a stop at this unique outdoor art piece at the far end of the cape. It's a small round hill with a summit-top homage to the old tradition of wind-drying fish. The artist behind it, Olof Nordal, wanted it to be a place for peace within the city. You can look back across the old harbour to Harpa, where your outing started. In the Icelandic alphabet, it's written "Þúfa" alough it's "TH-OO-FHA".