A tour around the old harbor attractions in Reykjavik
In recent years the former industrial area has become one of the hippest areas of Reykjavik. With small shops, museums and some of the best restaurants, it attracts more and more tourists. Meanwhile, it is beyond national borders also known as an important cultural institution. In the meantime most of the fish processing companies have settled in the new harbor of Skarfabakki. Today, the old port is populated mainly by boats, which go for the popular whale watching or puffin tours. But from time to time you can still see one of the big fishing boats returning at the end of the day with their catch.
Sights and the museum mile
Grandi, the old harbor
Between Harpa and Þúfa, the green grassy hill, extends the old port area. Standing at the concert hall, it seems like a stone's throw to the opposite hill. However, it is almost a 1.9 miles walk and thus about 40 minutes to get there. The last mile runs through the industrial area of the fish processing company HB Grandi and is not particularly appealing. For ones who have a rental car, I recommend to use this and drive the last section directly to the parking slots in front of Þúfa.
The harbor entrance is marked by two yellow lighthouses on which anglers can often be found.
Harpa Concert Hall, Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
The best way to start a harbor tour is at the Harpa, the opera house and concert hall at the harbor of Reykjavík. The name was the winner of a competition which among other things was that the word should be easy to pronounce in most languages :). On one hand Harpa is the Icelandic word for 'harp' and on the other hand a month in the old Nordic calendar, whose first day simultaneously marks the first day of the summer and thus the beginning of the brighter season.
If you are traveling by car, you can park (fee is reasonably priced for European conditions) in the underground car park. Harpa, Miðborg, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland 64°09'01.5"N 21°55'56.2"W
For those interested, there are various guided tours through the opera house and concert hall. Otherwise, you can simply stroll through the shops in the futuristic building, let the exciting architecture work on you, enjoy the view of the bay and the opposite mountains or satisfy your hunger in one of the restaurants. Somewhat hidden in the 2 basement you will find Iceland in a Box: A Visual Tour. A 15-minute film designed for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, shown every 30 minutes.
800 m | 10 min
Volcano House, Iceland, Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík
"Hands-on" volcanism. The Volcano House offers free access to many different lava, pumice and ash from famous eruptions. Most of the exhibits, including the semi-precious stones, may be touched. In addition, you can watch a documentary about the two most famous Icelandic volcanic eruptions every hour.
Eyjafjallajökull 2010 – the day the earth stoodstill (or at least the day Europe didn’t fly…)
Westman Island 1973 – eruption in your back yard
Aurora Reykjavík -
The Northern Lights Center
600 m | 8 min
Aurora Reykjavík, Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
For those who visit Iceland in the summer or for those who had the misfortune in the dark season to miss the northern lights, Aurora Reykjavík offers an alternative. The exhibition is full of interesting information about the creation of the Northern Lights, Interactive Displays, a VR experience with 360-degree views of Northern Lights as well as information about taking fotos of northern lights and a 20-minutes film.
Tip: Save 10% on an online booking with the promo code AURORAREYKJAVIK
- Saga Museum
70 m | 1 min
Saga Museum , Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík
A small museum that illustrates the legends and history of Iceland in 17 exhibits. An audio guide leads through scenes with human-sized wax figures. At the end of the museum, you can dress up as a Viking with helmets, swords, chain mail and have your picture taken.
Tip: An interesting 'Making of' the museum
- Maritime Museum
140 m | 2 min
Maritime Museum - Schifffahrtsmuseum, Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík
For many centuries, fishing was one of the most important livelihoods of Icelanders. Fittingly, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is housed in a former fish-freezing facility. It includes, among other things, an exhibition on the cod wars, fish processing, various ship models and the historical development of the fishery. Outside at the pier next to the museum, there is the Coast Guard ship Óðinn, which can be visited 3 times a day (extra charge) with a guided tour.
Tip: When registering for the newsletter, you will receive a 15% discount on the entrance fee for the museum.
- Whales of Iceland
350 m | 4 min
Whales of Iceland, Fiskislóð 23-25, 101 Reykjavík
Whales of Iceland is an exhibition of life-size whale models. From the porpoise to the giant blue whale, all 23 species found in Icelandic waters are shown.
Tip: The museum runs an informative Blog , covering topics like"Do whales have hair?" or"Did you know that some Walmothers whisper with their calves" so as not to be discovered?"
750 m | 9 min
Marshallhúsið, Grandagarður, 101 Reykjavík
Marshallhúsið is a cultural center opened in 2017. It is home to the Living Art Museum as well as the Galerie Kling & Bang and the Studio Ólafur Elíassonwhich impresses with interesting, changing exhibitions. Art lovers will find out in advance which artists are currently being presented in the galleries.
300 m | 4 min
Þúfa, which is simply called Grasshooks, is a distinctive, round, artificially created hill in the old port of Reykjavik. The hill was designed by artist Ólöf Nordal. In 26 ft height is a small house in which (supposedly) fish are dried. Supposedly because at the time of my visit the narrow, spiral path to the top was closed because of the replanting. So I could not see the inside and the great view of the harbor, the surrounding mountains and the bay of Faxaflói for this time unfortunately.