Today the old harbour is alive with restaurants, museums, coffee and ice cream shops, but in the past it was alive with the bussle of work in the fish industry. The harbour was full of boats and ships of all sizes. Men and woman carried baskets of fish back and fourth, unloading them onto the harbour. The pugnent smell of fish that hung over the town, was refered to by the locals of the smell of money.
The harbour was a social meeting place where people came together to work and mingle.
It was here, that they shared stories of the sea and rejoced when the catch was good, but it
was also a place of much sadness when boats did not return home during bad weather.
Times have changed, with fewer boats in the old harbour and less activity around the fishing industry. Today, sightseeing boats are usually more prominant. People still gather here, looking for a cultural experience.
The harbour has kept it‘s charm and romance.
During the long summer months of July and August, people gather to catch Mackerel.
It is possible to spend a whole day exploring the harbour area as there is so much to see; conveniently all in walking distance.
Starting from the impressive modern Harpa concert hall and conference centre, which is quite the focal point
of the harbour. One can enjoy the architecture from the outside, but the views from the inside are worth the trip.
Daily guided 30 min. tours are available.
The Icelandic search and rescue association is situated next to Harpa. It is here that all Icelandic seamen are trained in sea rescue. It´s located in an old ship that used to be a ferry.
All year round cruise ships can be seen docking directly across from Kolaport. Kolaport is Reykjavik´s indoor market where new and second hand goods are sold. The fish and food market within Kolaport is very popular. There you can find both Asian and traditional Icelandic products. The market is open on weekends.
The old baiting sheds on the old harbour were used by those who prepared and baited the line for fishing boats. They were also used to store fishing equipment and salt. Today the sheds house shops, restaurants and museums.
On a beautiful evening we recommend taking a stroll along the shoreline, pass the old harbour and the dry dock. The dock can accomodate some of Iceland´s largest fishing boats, where they are repaired and painted. After a short walk you will come to to Granda. One of the best fish freezer factories, HB Granda is situated here.
Vikin Maratime Museum is housed in a former fish factory in Granda. The museum´s exhibition shows the development
of Icelandic fishing industry and coast culture through the years. It is possible to go aboard and explore the old Coast Guard Óðinn,
which is docked next to the museum. Guided tours are available 3 x per day, were you can learn about it´s important history and
the role it played in the cod war.
Across from Vikin is Valdís, a very popular ice cream shop that sells home made Icelandic ice cream in a variety
of flavours, as well as sorbet and vegan options. Personally, I recommend their Twix and Oreo/Strawberry ice cream.
To start or end your day we recommend Höfnin, a restaurant with a perfect view of Reykjavík harbour.
They offer delicious fish dishes made from top quality Icelandic fish. This is a family run company which
is housed in an old fishing booth.
Kopar, a popular restaurant next to Höfnin, also has a lovely view over the harbour and really good food.
Messinn serves a fish buffet for lunch every day, but if fish is not for you and you are looking for a quick take away then Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar may be what you are looking for. Their hamburgers are made of 100% Icelandic meat.
There are many museums near the harbour. One of them that we highly recommend is Aurora Reykjavík: The Northen Lights Exhibition. There you can learn about the history of the northern lights, legends, stories about them and much more. They can also arrange northern light trips.
Along the harbour is the chocolate factory Omnom, which is available in most shops and supermarkets.
If you enjoy cheese, Búrið is the shop for you. It sells a large variety of cheese, cured meats, jams, buscuits and so much more.
The cake shop 17 Sortir, translated as 17 Sorts, literally sells 17 sorts of cakes per day. They do not have the same kinds from day to day, so you will be pleasantly surprised. They also sell vegan, gluten free and sugarless cakes.
There are shops in the area that sells home made woolen products.
One of my favorite places, with a beautiful view and interior design is the
Bryggjan Brugghús restaurant,
bar and brewery. They have a brewery on the premises and offer a beer
course which takes an hour. It is interesting, informative and lots of fun, and their
food is delicious too.