Going to the Grandi area is one of the best ways to spend a day near Reykjavík’s city centre. The harbour area has undergone a transformation in the last couple of years, transitioning from an industrial area to a melting pot of food and culture. Even though most fishing companies moved over to Skarfabakki harbour, a slight smell of fish lingers over the area as a portion of Iceland’s fishing fleet still brings their catch to shore there. A beautiful row of white houses with aqua-coloured doors which used to be fishermen’s quarters now play host to a vast array of delicatessen shops and designer workshops.
A great place to start out the day is at Coocoo’s Nest, as the place provides one of the best brunch menus Reykjavik has to offer, served every weekend from 11-16. Omelettes, breakfast burritos, eggs Florentine, you name it! It’s a cosy place that can get crowded quickly, so be there on time. Or head to Bergsson Mathús, open from 07:00. They offer several brunch options, as well as sandwiches, and yoghurt bowls. For lunch options, check out Matur or Drykkur, offering traditional Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist.
If you have a sweet tooth
Head to 17 Sortir for the best cakes and cupcakes in Reykjavík. Cupcakes are their speciality, and they have all thinkable combinations: vanilla with blueberries and a lemon glaze, chocolate and mocha, salted caramel with vanilla and daim, and vanilla-flavoured cake with raspberries and a strawberry glaze, to name just a few. At Valdís, you will find some of the finest Italian-style ice cream Iceland has to offer, with flavours ranging from unconventional (liquorice ice cream, anyone?) to mouth-wateringly delicious. We recommend walking, Turkish pepper ice cream in hand, to the shoreline and experiencing the beautiful Icelandic sunset. Chocolate-lovers should pay a visit to the chocolate factory of Omnom. Go on a chocolate tour and see how this super tasty Icelandic chocolate is made.
Learn something new
When you’re all fuelled up, a museum is the perfect next stop. Lucky for you, the Grandi area offers an abundance of them. In an astonishingly small radius, you can find Reykjavík’s top-notch Maritime Museum, Aurora Reykjavik: The Northern Lights Centre, Whales of Iceland, an exhibition of life-size whale models, as well as the Saga Museum, where you can experience key moments from Icelandic history.
There are other places of interest close by, such as Þúfa (Hillock), an art piece which offers a great viewing platform for the Reykjavík harbour area. From the top, you can view the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall. The brilliant glass building stands in sharp contrast to the fish-drying hut on top of the hill, complete with fish heads hanging out to dry. On your way around Grandi, look out for one of the most peculiar statues you will find. A monument was erected there in honour of all the players of the online video game EVE Online, with their usernames written on the base of the statue. The headquarters of the company behind the game, CCP Games, is also located in Grandi.
We are not at a loss when it comes to dinner options in the Grandi area. A great option for dining is in The Marshall House, which was recently transformed from a fish processing plant to an art lover’s dream. Aside from the fantastic Marshall Restaurant + Bar, the building also houses the Living Art Museum, Kling & Bang art gallery and Danish/Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson’s studio, so getting there early for dinner is a great idea. Grandi Mathöll is a street food hall offering something for everybody, from Korean street food to chicken burgers, and from vegetable soup to fresh coffee. It’s located in a refurbished fish factory, and from the food hall you have a nice view over the harbour area. Feeling more like fresh Neapolitan pizza? Then head to Flatey Pizza for traditional pizzas made with simple, flavourful ingredients. Or step in next door at Lamb Street Food, for filling, hearty falafel or lamb wraps filled to the brim with fresh veggies.
Spend some cash
If you want to go shopping, there are a couple of neat little stores in Grandi. Check out Búrið for local and exotic delicatessen. Close to the Omnom chocolate factory, you will find the sustainable fashion store Farmers Market which specialises in wool clothing. There is more shopping to be done at clothing design workshops such as Steinunn, Krínólin, and Sifka. Want to leave Iceland with a book or two, then check out Forlagið Bókabúð, the bookstore of Iceland’s biggest publisher.
Restaurant and bar Bryggjan Brugghús offers a great mix of different dishes, but the best part is the fact that you will find a brewery on site. You can take a tour of the brewery, where the brewers will personally introduce you to the world of Icelandic craft brewing. It’s a surprisingly vibrant scene, considering that beer was banned in the country until 1989! Can’t get enough of beer? Then head to craft brewery Ægisgarður. There you will learn how beer is made, how to taste it, the history of beer in Iceland, and as finale, you will get to taste their beers.