Iceland Mag

8 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Culture

The Grandi harbour area: From industry to culture

By Sara McMahon

  • Grandi harbour area 1. Valdís ice cream parlour. 2. Kaffivagninn. 3. Steinunn design. 4. Kaffi Retró. 5. Búrið delicatessen. 6. Víkin Maritime Museum. 7. Saga Museum. 8. Northern Lights Centre. 9. Kría. 10. Hús Fiðrildanna. 11. Farmers Market. 12. Coocoo's Nest. 13. Ellingsen. 14. Bónus. 15. Krónan. 16. Nettó. 17. Þúfan/The Hillock.

Up until recently, the Grandi harbour area was limited to anything “fishy.”. However, over the past couple of years, the area has evolved into a fantastic conglomeration of restaurants, shops, museums and IT businesses, as well as fishing boats and baiting huts. Grandi is literally teeming with life. There are small fishing boats regularly coming in to harbour to land their catch; and then there´s the dry dock where bigger trawlers are being repaired. The scenery isn't half bad either— there´s the panoramic view out over Faxaflói bay and Mount Esja rises majestically in the distance. The invigorating smell of the sea, the views, eateries, boutiques, cultural activities, and the hustle and bustle of this fashionable part of town make it an ideal place for a leisurely stroll.

 

Restaurants:

Coocoo’s Nest (Grandagarður 23). A small family-run business that opened last year and offers a lovely selection of dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant has become known for their sourdough pizzas and friendly atmosphere. They also serve organic coffee and “aperativo,” which is the Italian equivalent to happy hour.

Kaffivagninn (Grandagarður 10). This small and unpretentious café probably has one of the best views in all of Reykjavík. The café was founded in 1983 and catered to fishermen who’d drop by for coffee before, during, and after work hours. Recently, husband and wife Guðmundur Viðarsson and Mjöll Daníelsdóttir bought the coffee shop and offer a simple breakfast and lunch menu.

Valdís (Grandagarður 21). This wildly popular ice cream parlour is located in one of the old baiting sheds by the harbour. Gylfi Valdimarsson, a chef who lived in Denmark for a decade, serves homemade Italian-inspired gelato and sorbet in freshly baked ice cream cones. The parlour was an instant hit - and understandably so! The ice cream is ridiculously tasty! However, be prepared to queue for your treat because Gylfi’s ice cream truly does bring the boys, and everybody else, to the yard.

Café Retró (Grandagarður 14). This is a typical Icelandic café. Its interior is very straightforward, and the menu consists of homemade cakes, sandwiches, and soups. Café Retro also serves excellent coffee, and out front is a marvelous veranda with a fantastic view of the harbour.

Búrið Delicatessen (Grandagarður 35). This quirky cheese shop offers the best in cheese from around the world, along with a great selection of jams, cured meats, olives, chutneys, and other tasty nibbles. 

 

Coocoo's Nest.

Museums:

Víkin Maritime Museum (Grandagarður 8). Icelanders have long depended on fishing for survival, and as a result, the country has a long and interesting maritime history. The Reykjavík Maritime Museum gives excellent insight into this history. The main exhibition showcases the development of the fishing industry from the use of rowboats to modern trawlers, as well as the construction of Reykjavík harbour. 

Aurora Reykjavík – Northern Lights Centre (Grandagarður 2). This is a fairly new museum which, as the name suggests, revolves around the magnificent Aurora Borealis.
The latest advances in multimedia technology are used to bring the brilliant Northern Lights to life. For anyone who didn’t catch a glimpse of the real Northern Lights, this is without a doubt the next best thing.

Saga Museum (Grandagarður 2). The waxworks museum portrays Iceland’s Viking history – all the gory details of it. 

Víkin Maritime Museum. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

Places of interest:

Kría cycles (Grandagarður 7). Kría was the first workshop in town that custom built bikes for bike enthusiasts. The two owners (a Brit and an Icelander) live and breathe the sport. Anyone cycling around Reykjavík or Iceland is advised to drop by, grab a coffee, and gather some local expertise on interesting biking routes.

Þúfan/The Hillock (Western-most point of Reykjavík harbour). This eco-friendly sculpture is the work of artist Ólöf Nordal. It resembles a small hillock and is 8 metres (26 feet) high. A narrow stone path will lead visitors to the top of the hillock where the view across Faxaflói bay is nothing less than breathtaking.  

Þúfan/The Hillock.

Shops:

Hús fiðrildanna (Hólmaslóð 4). This small boutique carries retro furniture and knick-knacks. It’s a lovely little place to browse around in.

Farmers Market (Hólmaslóð 2). This is the flagship store of the Icelandic fashion brand Farmers Market. Located in what used to be an old fish factory, the store is a world of its own. The brand was founded in 2005 by designer Bergþóra Guðnadóttir and musician Jóel Pálsson. The idea was to produce a collection made from organic and recycled fabrics with references to the brand’s Nordic roots. 

STEiNUNN (Grandagarður 17). This is designer Steinunn Sigurðardóttir’s boutique and workshop. Steinunn worked for fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Gucci for many years before founding her own label, STEiNUNN, in 2000. Designer Calvin Klein has described Steinunn as one of the most talented designers he has had the pleasure to work with. This is Icelandic design at its best, so be sure to pop into her workshop when in the area.  

Ellingsen (Fiskislóð 1). The store was founded in 1916 and sells outdoor gear and equipment such as tents, fishing rods, hiking boots, and clothing. 

Bónus (Fiskislóð 2). A chain of low price grocery stores, easily recognisable by its logo: The pink pig with a black eye. This is the best place to shop when on a tight budget. 

Krónan (Fiskislóð 15). This is another low price grocery store. It is more spacious than Bónus, but also a bit pricier. 

Nettó (Fiskislóð 3). A handy grocery store open 24/7—good in case of emergencies. 

Steinunn design store. 

 

Related content

Editor's Picks