ver the centuries, the waterfront of Grandi has been anything but grand. The harbourside area has housed industrial things such as fishermen’s dwellings, boathouses, fish-working facilities and so on, and generally people wouldn’t go there except for fish-related reasons.
In recent years, this has been rapidly changing. The whole area seems to be caught in an upswing that shows no signs of letting up. It still retains its dockside charm and there’s still a strong presence of the fishing industry, but scattered amongst them is a steadily growing number of museums, hip restaurants and artisan’s workshops, making Grandi one of the hottest spots in the city. It would be hipsterish if it weren’t so authentic, with real-life fishing boats on land for repairs and out in the bay as they bring in the catch of the day.
The museums that have made their mark in the area include the innovative Saga Museum, which brings the Sagas of the Vikings to life with wax sculptures, the Whales of Iceland, the largest whale museum in the world which houses many life-sized models of whales, the Aurora Museum where you can see the Northern Lights all year round, and the Maritime Museum, which documents the monumentally important role of fisheries throughout the history of Iceland.
On the restaurant front, the area is distinguished by smaller, innovative, and often more nature-focused eateries. Established institutions feel grounded in the past, such as Kaffivagninn, which has served “home-style” food on the waterfront since 1935, while new and innovative places like Matur og Drykkur serve as a meeting of past and future, with traditional cuisine served in a creative nouvelle cuisine fashion. You will find creative familyrun restaurant Coocoo’s Nest, which made its mark with sourdough pizzas and taco Tuesdays, and hit ice-cream store Valdís.
Amongst this interesting flora of culture and cuisine is a smattering of small workshops and quirky stores, such as the clothing design workshops of Steinunn, who worked with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Gucci for many years, Krínólín and Sifka, which honours the history of the area with clothing and designs made of fish-leather. Up the road you will find Delicatessen Búrið, which offers cheeses, jams, cured meats and olives from around the world, goldsmith Jens Gullsmiður, cycle workshop Kría and public art piece Þúfan (the Hillock) where you can climb up for an awesome view.
And the progress continues: Matarbúrið, the first specialty store with only 100% farm-traceable meat, artisan’s bakery 17 Sortir which will specialise in mini-cakes, macaroons and cupcakes, and seafood restaurant Bergsson, and artisan chocolate maker Omnom are only a few of the places planning to open up in the very near future.
It will be exciting to see how the waterfront will develop as these quirky and creative places gain traction, what kind of store or workshop will pop up next, and how its history will affect its future. But in all this one thing seems certain – Grandi is certainly worth stopping by and strolling around, and it will definitely continue to be so for years to come. So stop by, try some innovative food, pick up some unique design and take in a fantastic museum, you won’t be bored with a day at Grandi.