Located in the northern part of Reykjavik's historic centre, the Old Harbour is one of the most charming areas of the Icelandic capital. As well as being one of the best places to eat in Reykjavik, Old Harbour is home to a number of tourist attractions and, above all, a traditional seafaring atmosphere that allows you to experience authentic Iceland around every corner.
What to see at Old Harbour?
- Harpa: one of the most striking buildings in Reykjavik, rivalling Hallgrímskirkja albeit in a very different style, this auditorium and concert hall was opened in 2011 after delays due to the economic crisis of 2008. Even if you don't have the time or budget to catch a show at the venue, it's equally interesting to visit the Harpa and admire its beautiful glass architecture.
- Reykjavik Maritime Museum: opened in 2005 in a former fish freezing factory, this museum showcases Icelandic maritime and fishing history from early settlement to the modern day. A recent addition to its exhibitions is the Óðinn, a former coast guard ship moored next to the museum and open for guided tours. Entry to both is 2,660 kr (US$ 18.50) for adults, and free for City Card holders.
- Reykjavik Art Museum: this museum is spread across three buildings: Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn near Laugardalur, and Hafnarhús, by the harbour. Housed in a former port warehouse, the gallery contains an extensive collection of Icelandic and international avant-garde art. All are free for City Card holders.
- Saga Museum: delve into Icelandic history exploring the Viking sagas of the past through wax figures and carefully designed sets and learn about Iceland's early settlements in a way that mixes the truth with legends. While it can be interesting, The Settlement Center in Borgarness is more educational. Adults 2,200 kr (US$ 15.30).
- Minør: while Iceland has no public railway system, it is possible to see an old steam locomotive in Reykjavik. The Minør was used in the early 20th century to transport small loads from one side of the Old Harbour to the other.
Whale watching in Reykjavik
Although the most popular area for whale watching in Iceland is Húsavík in the north of the country, it's also possible to enjoy whale watching in Reykjavik. If you're lucky, you may able to see different species of whales and even dolphins or puffins around the capital.
As elsewhere in the country, the best time for whale watching in Reykjavik is during the summer, when better weather allows for comfortable sailing around the island. If you're interested in searching for wildlife on a boat trip from the city, take a look at our Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik.