From Iceland — The Summertime Charm Of Reykjavík’s Old Harbour

The Summertime Charm Of Reykjavík’s Old Harbour

Published June 30, 2023

The Summertime Charm Of Reykjavík’s Old Harbour
Photo by
Art Bicnick

It’s easy to spend an entire day in Grandi

It’s summer. Some of us may be counting down the days until our trip abroad, while others are coming to terms with the fact that life is too damn expensive and there’s no way we can  afford to jet off to a country where the season is imbued with such novel attributes as sunshine and warm weather. Fear not, fellow broke local, there’s plenty of fun to be had right here at home. That’s especially true if “home” is anywhere near Grandi.

Located on the west side of Reykjavík’s old harbour, Grandi is an intriguing mix of big box warehouses and converted fish processing facilities. When you’ve tired of exploring Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, it’s just the central seaside retreat you need to feel like you’ve (almost) gotten away from it all. Here’s how the Grapevine would spend a day in Grandi.

Our morning would start at Kaffivagninn. Opening in 1935, it claims to be Iceland’s oldest restaurant. We haven’t corroborated that fact, but we can attest to it having an epic patio. Clinging to the rocky harbour wall and overlooking the docked boats, Kaffivagninn is the ideal spot to start the day with a strong cup of coffee. Order from their breakfast menu if you get there before 11:00 or jump right into the main menu to enjoy some classic Icelandic staples while breathing in the crisp sea air.

Fuelled up and caffeinated, it’s time for some culture. A straight shot down to the end of Grandagarður will take you to Marshallhúsið, which conveniently houses the Living art Museum, Kling og Bang, i8 Gallery and Stúdíó ólafur Elíasson. Meander, wander, take in the exhibitions on at the time of your visit (with the calibre of these spaces, they’re going to be good no matter when you roll up). If you skipped the prescribed stop at Kaffivagninn, you could also tuck in for a sumptuous bite at Italian restaurant La Primavera, which is always *chef’s kiss*.

If the high brow offerings of Marshallhúsið aren’t your squad’s cup of tea, the Maritime Museum might be. It’s a fun, interactive exhibition for all ages, but particularly for those accompanied by young humans. Go on a scavenger hunt through the museum’s expansive exhibitions to find specific fish on a mural, spot old-timey nautical instruments and more. Visitors can also dress up like sailors for a photo-op and try their hand at operating a forklift.

If you’re not all funned out by this point, walking one street over will deliver you to FlyOver Iceland where you can – well – fly over Iceland. Not literally, but this 4D video experience gives you the experience of soaring over some of the country’s more iconic and picturesque locales. Sick of Iceland? The theatre usually runs experiences of flights over other geographic locations, including Canada and the western United States. 

You’ve seen a lot and walked a whole bunch by this point. You deserve some ice cream. Back on Grandagarður you’ll find Valdís, with its tubs overflowing with colourful frosty confections. Take a number, wait your turn and choose your flavour combinations wisely. Does Lú kex really go well with mint chip? We’re not so sure. If you’re brave enough to try it, let us know.

Congrats, you’ve spent an entire day on Grandi and spent (slightly) less than an international vacation.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!