Grandi in Reykjavík – A Guide

Many years ago, on vacation, my partner and I passed through what I now know is the neighborhood of Grandi in Reykjavík. I remember it so clearly because the houses are so cute. They’re built with corrugated metal siding and painted in cheerful colors, featuring trim and details that are a nod to historical design trends.

This post is part of a paid series for Pursuit Collection but all opinions and images are my own.

Revisiting Grandi in Reykjavík

So when I recently found myself on assignment in Grandi for The Pursuit Collection, I was thrilled to discover the neighborhood is beloved by locals. And it’s so much more than just the cute houses that I remembered.

Though why there are so many in Grandi – and in Reykjavík in general – is a story worth reading. Check it out on Bloomberg!

Grandi houses by Kirsten AlanaA Grandi house by Kirsten Alana


In fact, Grandi has become a part of the city that locals love. Which does make me feel a little guilty in writing about it now. After all, I never want to be part of any negative effect on a place I visit. But I’m also not one to believe my little blog is going to be singlehandedly responsible for an increase in tourism anywhere. AND I know my readers are savvy enough to operate responsibly when they visit other countries and to be respectful of those who live where they visit.

A Guide to Grandi in Reykjavík

However, keeping in mind a sense of balance – this should by no means be looked at as a complete guide to Grandi. Rather, this should be your starting point in which to get to know this perhaps up-and-coming part of Reykjavík. Always with respect to it being a place people live and work.

A Most Surprising Activity in Grandi

…for me, was: FlyOver Iceland. Part of it could be called a ride because you are strapped into an apparatus that takes you for a ride.

For this reason, it may cause you to struggle if you have motion sickness. I do but I took Dramamine and that made it a pleasant experience for me.

FlyOver Iceland exterior by Kirsten Alana

In every sense, though it is something that has to be experienced to be understood. The ride portion makes you feel as if you are literally flying over Iceland’s most beautiful landscapes. But they’re captured at the most optimal times and on the most optimal days of the year. They look better than they ever could in any other scenario. Many of the locations featured are inaccessible. So you would never be able to see them, except via FlyOver Iceland.

sitting inside FlyOver Iceland before it starts photographed by Kirsten Alana

looking at the map of what we saw during FlyOver Iceland film photographed by Kirsten Alana

It’s So Good

…that what kept it in business during the pandemic was locals. Icelandic people went multiple times, so they could appreciate the beauty of their country that they would otherwise never see. I know that because completely unprompted in half a dozen interactions with locals, I was told that. And if the locals love it isn’t convincing enough for you, I don’t know what would be.

But I said, “Holy sh*t!” during the film and “I want more!!!” when it was over.

And when it was, we all spent time in the gift shop that features Made in Iceland gifts.Closeup on an Iceland Sweater by Kirsten Alana A Handmade gift for sale at FlyOver Iceland by Kirsten Alana

Then we enjoyed the café where Tony and his colleagues make excellent cocktails and coffee drinks like an Icelandic take on the Irish coffee. Which was far and away the best “Irish Coffee” I have ever had.

Tony the bartender handing over a cocktail at FlyOver Iceland photographed by Kirsten Alana

Tony the bartender at FlyOver Iceland photographed by Kirsten Alana


Other Things to Do in Grandi in Reykjavík

Walking tour with Marteinn Briem of CityWalk

I was so entertained by all that Marteinn shared. And impressed that his tour was free. As a small business owner myself, I don’t know how he can afford to do that. However, Marteinn and CityWalk also offer private group tours that do cost and I would highly recommend that for those visiting Reykjavík as part of a group.

I supported Marteinn by buying one of his homemade cozies that is perfect for keeping your hands warm while drinking a cold beverage!

Marteinn Briem of CityWalk photographed by Kirsten Alana

Crocheted drinks cozt by Marteinn Briem of CityWalk photographed by Kirsten Alana

Paint Pottery

Noztra is a warm and inviting space right on the harbor in Grandi. In it, you have your choice from hundreds of styles of undecorated pottery that you can sit and decorate as the boats go in and out. My mother was once involved in a small venture just like this and I can’t tell you how lovely it is to sit and do this. Even if you don’t consider yourself “artistic.” It makes for a nice personalized gift or a great souvenir to take home.

Visit the Museums

The Maritime Museum, Museum of Photography, Art Museum and Saga Museum are all in Grandi. Visiting them will help you understand more about Iceland and Icelandic culture.

Exterior of Reykjavik Maritime Museum by Kirsten Alana

Go on a Harbor Cruise to see Puffins or Whales

My friend Jackie and I did this straight off the plane. It was a great way to combat any jetlag and to stay awake before our first group activity. And it was a nice way to see the town from the water. We did not see any puffins or whales. Which we were told happens less than 5% of the time on these cruises. Especially in May which is part of the season for whale watching. But, alas, it does happen. Just set your expectations accordingly. It’s a nice boat ride either way! Lots of options are available in Grandi. Find them via the wood huts along the harbor. Walk over and choose a place that looks good to you.

View of Reykjavik from the water with a boat by Kirsten AlanaView of Reykjavik from the water by Kirsten Alana

Marshall Húsið and Þúfa

This historic herring factory has become an arts hub. It was updated by Kurtogpi Architects. Their Instagram is a good source for current programming. While you’re there, take a walk past the current fishing facility to Þúfa. It’s a hill with a spiral pathway leads visitors up to a petite structure. It’s by artist Ólöf Norda and not unlike FlyOver, has to be experienced to be fully understood!

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

As Harpa is one of Reykjavík’s more well-known landmarks, it probably needs no introduction from me. It is a remarkable structure by Henning Larsen Architects. Even if you don’t go for an event, go inside the building when it’s open to enjoy its architecture. That’s what I did this time with my friends Codie and Jackie.

Interior of HARPA in Reykjavik by Kirsten Alana

Where to Eat and Drink

Héðinn Kitchen & Bar

Héðinn is the lobby restau