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Things to Do in Keflavik + City Guide

19-06-2024

Things to Do in Keflavik

As the site of Iceland’s global airport, all international visitors reach this Nordic island through Keflavik, but how many actually stop to explore the town and appreciate all it has to offer? A charming Icelandic fishing town, Keflavik has a whole range of fascinating museums, wonderful restaurants and a beautiful harbor, plus it’s super close to some famous Icelandic hotspots, including the Blue Lagoon.

Learn all about this underrated Icelandic town, its location, history and top things to do in Keflavik in our complete traveler’s guide – let’s go!

All About Keflavik

Founded in the 16th century, Keflavik is the fifth-largest town in Iceland. Famous for its fishing port and fish processing center, Keflavik, which means ‘Driftwood Bay’, is part of the municipality of Reykjanesbær whose population is 18,920. During the 1960s and 1970s, Keflavik became known in Iceland as a hub for musicians, garnering its other nickname of ‘Beatle Town’.

If you’re wondering ‘what is Keflavik known for?’, the answer is its international airport. Keflavik Airport, also known as Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport, is the largest airport in all of Iceland and the island’s hub for all global travel. Located just west of Keflavik town center, the airport is 50 kilometers south of Reykjavik.

Keflavik things to do

Keflavik was an important base for American soldiers during World War II, with the US military building Keflavik Airport to serve as a refueling stop for planes traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. Then, during the Cold War, the airport served as an important station from which to monitor marine and submarine traffic, as well as flight radar tracking, until the last US troops were withdrawn in 2006.

Where is Keflavik?

Located in the southwest of Iceland, Keflavik is part of the Reykjanes region on the Southern Peninsula. Keflavik is situated south of the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik and lies in between the towns of Njardvik and Gardur. The famous Blue Lagoon is just 23 minutes south of Keflavik by car.

Is Keflavik Worth Visiting?

You might be wondering ‘is Keflavik worth visiting?’, to which we say definitely yes! With a whole host of things to do, we highly recommend considering spending some time in Keflavik during your Icelandic vacation. Particularly when you arrive or when you leave, it’s easy to drive a few minutes from the airport into the town to see Keflavik for yourself. Learn more about the top things to do near Reykjavik Airport with our list of top activities and attractions below!

Keflavik town

Top Things to Do in Keflavik


If you’re planning to visit Keflavik, here are some of the best things you can do and see!

Visit Vatnsnes Lighthouse

Built in the 1920s, Vatnsnes Lighthouse is a wonderful place to visit for the epic views and historical significance. Particularly for those who love the sea and marine history, it’s definitely worth walking to this striking lighthouse.

Keflavik lighthouse

Travel to the Blue Lagoon


A must while in Iceland, bathing in the soothing, mineral-rich waters of the geothermal Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to start or end your Iceland vacation. While in Keflavik, you can easily drive to this geothermal oasis in less than half an hour. Take Route 41 then Route 43 and you’ll be there in no time!

 Iceland's blue lagoon

Walk Along the Fishing Pier

 

Soak in the sea views at Keflavik’s marina by taking a gentle stroll along the harbor. The perfect place to stop, breathe and enjoy Keflavik’s coastal location, the town’s marina will also give you views of the nearby towns and the opportunity to take some beautiful photos.

Fishing pier of keflavik

Taste Local Delicacies

 

We highly recommend exploring the delicious Icelandic cuisine that Keflavik has to offer in the local restaurants and bakeries. Kökulist bakery, for example, is rated very highly by locals. You’ll have your choice of Keflavik’s restaurants, whether you’d like to sample some local dishes or enjoy some fast food (such as Iceland’s famous hot dogs) on your way to the next attraction.

 Keflavik food

Go to the Giantess Cave

 

Keflavik’s landscape is dominated by basalt rock, with a few specific plant and moss species. Among these rocks is the famous Giantess Cave, or Skessuhellir, which is a mysterious cave on the side of Keflavik’s marina where the giantess of the novel Sigga and the Giantess reportedly lives. This attraction is the perfect place to bring children for a fun afternoon exploring the giantess’ house – you can even take a picture with the giantess herself!

Explore Keflavik’s Museums

 

Keflavik has a wonderful array of museums displaying artifacts and telling stories about Iceland’s cultural heritage. Here are a few of our favorites:

 

  • The Icelandic Museum of Rock'n'Roll – Discover Iceland’s fascinating music history with interactive exhibits exploring Icelandic pop and rock music through the years.

  • Duus Museum – This brilliant museum explores Icelandic art, maritime history, and cultural heritage.

  • Listasafn Reykjanesbæjar – Located along the marina, this local modern art museum contains rotating exhibits, so there’s always something new and exciting to see.

Plan Your Own Vacation to the Land of Ice and Fire!

 

Are you ready to embark on your own epic Icelandic adventure? Say yes! Then you’ll need your own Iceland rental car to travel all across our beautiful island, discovering the volcanoes, glaciers, geothermal pools, geysers, waterfalls and national parks. Here’s to the adventure of a lifetime!