Reykjavík Harbour refers to the Old Harbour and is located close to the centre of the city. It is the main port of departure for whale and puffin watching tours, as well as Northern Lights cruises.
The original purpose of the old harbour was for fisheries and trade; the consequences of the latter is why Reykjavík has such a disproportionately high population when compared to the rest of the country, and why it became the capital. These industries, while still important have given way to tourism in recent years.
Many tours leave from Reykjavík Harbour, some going on throughout the year. The most notable of these are the whale-watching tours. Leaving multiple times a day, the vessels cruise into Faxaflói Bay, where an abundance of creatures dwell. Year-round, harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins reside, with the occasional Minke Whale that forgot to follow its migration route. In summer, these are much more abundant, alongside Humpback Whales.
It is also possible, but not common, to see Blue, Fin, Sei and Beaked Whales on these tours, as well as the magnificent Orca (which, unlike the others, prefers to visit in winter).
In summer, puffin watching tours are also available. These go to the isles of Lundy and Akurey, just offshore, where they nest in the thousands. These tours come with binoculars for a close-up view and can sometimes be added onto whale-watching excursions.
In winter, Northern Lights Cruises can offer some of the best opportunities to see the aurora borealis in complete peace and darkness. If visiting over New Year, it is also possible to take a boat out to see the incredible fireworks over Reykjavík.
Sea anglers can also take tours from the Old Harbour, and there are rod rentals on the pier for those who would rather stay routed on lands. Some of the nearby fish restaurants will be happy to cook up your catch for you.
Not only do many tours leave from the Old Harbour, but it is close to many of the city’s most popular museums. The Reykjavík Maritime Museum, for example, is a perfect place to learn about Iceland’s seafaring history and the brave and brutal men and women who populated the island. The Whales of Iceland exhibition, meanwhile, allows guests to better understand the two dozen species of cetacean that call the waters here home.
These museums are all perfect for children, and many are discounted or free with a Reykjavík city card.
The views the Old Harbour are some of the best in Reykjavík. Across Faxaflói Bay, passed the docked sailing boats, are a wealth of natural landscapes. To the north is the flat-topped Mount Esja, the most popular hiking spot in the country, and in very clear weather, you’ll be able to see the stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula and its crowning glacier.