Once a maritime and fishing precinct, the Old Harbour now buzzes with restaurants, cafés and tour boat operators.
Reykjavík’s Old Harbour is the perfect place to start your visit to Iceland. Wander along the quay through quaint lanes and past renovated fishermen’s sheds that now house galleries, cafés and tour operators.
To observe nature, choose from a number of whale- and puffin-watching excursions that leave from the harbor. There are also a variety of fishing expeditions, some of which will barbecue the fish for you to eat on board. Be warned; the seas can be rough and there will be very few people sailing if you go out in the winter months. If you prefer to stay on dry land, visit The Cinema or the Volcano House. Throughout the day, both screen films on Iceland’s fascinating natural history.
To see Reykjavík on foot, join a walking tour, a great way to discover the city’s main sights and to pick up some quirky insider knowledge along the way. Most tours start at the harbor. While some are free, you may be expected to tip your guide at the end. Alternatively, simply amble along the Old Harbour quay and check out the jumble of boats, from tiny, colored sailing boats to old whaling vessels.
For those who love to shop, there are several galleries and craft shops as well as plenty of places to buy souvenirs. The area is also known for its excellent restaurants and cafés, many of which have stunning views over the harbor and the ocean beyond. Taste the seafood fusion dishes or order an Icelandic hotdog. This new Nordic cuisine is a far cry from the traditional local fare, such as pickled ram’s testicles or putrefied shark, but more likely to please your palate.
Heading east, stroll into Reykjavik’s New Harbour where you can watch boats being built. The sudden transition from the picturesque Old Harbour to the modern one is striking. Walk a little farther to see the ultramodern Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre. From Reykjavik’s Old Harbour, take the Sculpture and Shore walk, stopping to admire the city’s most popular public artwork, the Sun Voyager.