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A Brief Guide to Keflavík Airport

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The importance of Keflavik

In 2018, over 9 million people flew in to Keflavik. Though the numbers have dropped sharply due to the global pandemic, it still receives a greater amount of traffic than other Icelandic airports such as those in Akureyri and Egilsstaðir. Airlines such as easyJet, Wizz Air, Lufthansa, Transavia, Delta and of course Icelandair offer regular scheduled services to and from destinations like London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, New York and Boston.

In recent years, the country’s mid-Atlantic Ocean location has made it popular with visitors from both Europe and North America, with some tourists opting to include a stopover in Reykjavik on the way from one to the other. The national carrier Icelandair is one such airline that has offered stopover packages.

Keflavik’s facilities

Keflavik Airport is well signed and straightforward to navigate. Once you’ve completed COVID testing requirements, you can visit the well-stocked duty free store. Some international visitors compensate for the country’s relatively expensive alcohol prices by purchasing a bottle of spirits to enjoy after parking up for the evening. Try Brennivín, a kind of schnapps and the Icelandic national drink.

At the end of your trip, the same store has a wide range of souvenirs including textiles and scented candles. Keflavik is family friendly, with a play area for kids and free WiFi for teens (and adults). Although many of Keflavik’s restaurants and cafés are currently closed, the self-service restaurant Mathús House of Food is open.

Onward transport

Domestic flights serving destinations such as Akureyri, Húsavík, Ísafjörður, Egilsstaðir and Vestmannaeyjar, as well as connections to Greenland depart from Reykjavik Airport. It’s located in the heart of the capital city, which is a short drive away. The easiest way to reach it is by hire car, though there is a bus service. Journey time is about 45 minutes.

Exiting the arrivals hall you’ll find a number of car hire desks including Budget. Although the airport bus departs at frequent intervals, regardless of your destination nothing beats the convenience of renting your own vehicle. A wide range of models are stocked, from wallet-friendly compacts to spacious SUVs and minivans for larger parties.

It’s advisable to reserve well ahead, especially if you wish to hire a car with all-wheel drive during the peak summer season. Once you’ve completed the paperwork, you’ll find the cars are right outside and so you won’t have the bother of carting heavy luggage across to a distant car park or on and off a packed shuttle bus.

Where next?

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to Reykjavik, even if that’s your ultimate goal. There’s plenty to see for visitors who wish to explore the Reykjanes peninsula immediately surrounding the airport. One of the most popular attractions nearby is the Blue Lagoon. With ample parking, it’s an indulgent stop on the way back from the airport for one last soak in Iceland’s famous thermal waters before departing for home. With the use of fluffy towels and hairdryers included in your entrance ticket, there’s no need to worry about having to fly with wet hair.

Hogging the spotlight is the country’s newest attraction – the Fagradalsfjall volcano. Before lava started to stream down its flanks in March 2021, this shield volcano had been dormant for over 800 years. Though scientists can only guess at future activity, many are predicting that the eruption could continue for some time. To see the incredible sight of rivers of molten lava flowing through the Geldingadalir valley, drive to either the parking lots at Grindavik or those adjacent to the trailhead, but be prepared for a lengthy hike on foot to reach the volcano viewpoints.

While in Reykjanes, it’s also worth making the short detour to the Viking Museum. There, you’ll find an exact replica of the Viking ship Gokstad, called the Íslendingur (the Icelander). Not far away you can step onto Leif the Lucky’s Bridge at Sandvik. It spans Iceland’s famous plate boundary: what appears at first glance to be a dried up river bed is in fact the meeting point of two tectonic plates. The North American and Eurasian plates are slowly pulling apart, but cross on foot and you can accurately claim to have visited the two continents within a few minutes. Now, isn’t that worth a few extra minutes behind the wheel?