The port north and west of the old city, built from 1913 to 1917, was the largest construction project to that point in Icelandic history. (Before then, most ships had to drop anchor well out to sea and transport goods in by rowboat.) Dredged rocks were hauled away by a locomotive, which is still on display along the shoreline east of the harbor. Today, most boat traffic has moved east to Sundahöfn port, but the old port isn’t a museum yet.
Traditionally, the area most visited by tourists has been the eastern pier, where Reykjavík’s puffin and whale-watching tours depart. The western piers have seen a considerable amount of development in recent years, including trendy shopping boutiques, a chocolate factory, a food hall, and museums. This is where you will also find the most fishing vessels, as well as the Óðinn, a grey Coast Guard vessel with a vertical stripe in blue, white, and red. The Coast Guard is the closest thing Iceland has to a military, and it defends the country’s territorial fishing waters. The Coast Guard were sent out to slice British fishing nets in the so-called “Cod Wars,” which date back to 1432 but culminated in the 1970s, when Britain broke off diplomatic relations. (Icelanders like to say this was the only war the British Navy ever lost.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.