ItineraryPlaces to VisitArrival Bliss: Keflavik, Your First Stop in Iceland
group of people boarding an Icelandic plane at Keflavik airport

Arrival Bliss: Keflavik, Your First Stop in Iceland

Who says your adventure doesn’t start at the airport? While many take off and land at Keflavik Airport, they sometimes overlook the surrounding area. We understand Iceland has so much to explore, but spending a half day exploring the Reykjanesbær region before or after your flight is a must! From scenic lighthouses to quirky museums, there is so much for you to do. Here are our top picks for what to do near Keflavik Airport in Iceland.

Reykjanes Art Museum

Take the five-minute drive from Keflavik Airport to Reykjanes Art Museum. The museum sits on the marina providing lovely views. You will then be able to visit all of the unique exhibitions that the art museum has. Here are some of our favorites!

“The Light and Nature of Reykjanes” exhibition displays photographs that portray the landscape and nature of the Reykjanes peninsula. The photographs were taken during different seasons and various times of day in the last couple of years by the photographer Jón Hilmarsson.

“One year in Suðurnes and the Faroe Islands” is another photo exhibition showcasing photographs taken by anyone who lived in Suðurnes. The photographers, both professional and amateur, were able to submit photographs of people or nature on Suðurne. A unique way to learn all about the area and islands.

Then stop by the “Áfallalandslag Landscapes of Trauma: a Reflection on Wonder”. The exhibition is inspired by an article written by Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson and Arnar Árnason, Landscapes of Trauma: a Reflection on Wonder.

The museum is a quick and educational spot, just a five-minute drive away from Keflavik Airport.

Garður Old Lighthouse

Visit one of the area's most famous Landmarks, Garður Old Lighthouse. Which is just a 13-minute drive north of Klefavik on the northern tip of the peninsula. You can rent a car for this quick trip, and it's totally worth it. No need to book a big car, a small car or a medium size car is perfect to reach the lighthouse. You will find two lighthouses here, the older one, Garðskagi, and then a smaller one. The smaller one was once recognized as one of the best lighthouses in Iceland because it stood low and therefore mist was not a problem for sailors.

Panoramic view on Garður Old Lighthouse, surrounded by the ocean

In 1944 the newer lighthouse was built Garðskagi. It stands 91 feet tall and is known to be the highest lighthouse in Iceland. Visitors from all over come to see the lighthouse for themselves. It is an enchanting photo opportunity, especially at sunset.

Olsen Olsen

Traveling can get your appetite all worked up. So after spending hours on a plane, the last thing you want to do is endlessly search for a place to eat. That is why we are recommending a few different foodie spots for you to check out, Olsen Olsen is one of them.

The six-minute drive from the airport will bring you to this popular restaurant that has been around since 1995. It is a family-run company that has always had the policy of making everything from scratch. Their meat, bread, and sauces are all made by their own hands and you will be able to taste the freshness in their delicious menu.

Try their Classic Cheeseburger which has cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, and a special sauce. Or give their signature Olsen Olsen sandwich a try, which has grilled sausage, baked beans, and bacon. A local joint to fuel up at before hitting the road through Iceland’s scenic landscape.

Take A Hike

It always feels so nice to stretch your legs after spending hours on an airplane. That is why we suggest taking on a bucket list hike once you land. We recommend hiking to Fagradalsfjall Volcano in Geldingadalur. The Fagradalsfjall volcano is continuously erupting and is currently active. Scientists have no idea how much longer it will be active, so take advantage of it while you can,

The hike to the new eruption site is not rated as easy and will take a full day to do. It is about 8.4 miles in total, with an elevation gain of 1,984 feet. Even though it is a long hike, it is so worth it. It is on many’s bucket lists to hike to a currently active volcano and you can access the trailhead by taking the 27-minute drive from Keflavik Airport. Please check for more information on before attempting as the volcano paths can be closed due to lava.

The Icelandic Museum of Rock'n'roll

We love Rock’n’roll! If you do too then there is a special spot near Keflavik Airport, The Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This museum allows you to learn about the history of Icelandic pop and rock music throughout the years. This includes all of Iceland’s famous musicians such as Björk and Sigur Rós.

You will even be able to listen to the music with the help of the Rock ‘n’ Roll app on the iPads you will receive during the visit. If you are feeling inspired, check out their Sound Lab where you can sing your heart out in their karaoke booth. Or try an electric drum kit, guitar, and bass to get your rock on. When you're done exploring stop by their Cafe which has coffee, hot chocolate, and books and T-shirts for shopping.

The museum is open all year round except for New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve. Tickets to visit are Adults 1.500 kr or $10.


Take a quick drive over to the small stone church of Hvalsneskirkja. The church was completed in 1887 in a scenic green field. The building is quite striking with a dark exterior and bright yellow door. During the spring you can even see the bright yellow flowers blooming around the church.

Bright morning view of Hvalsneskirkja church among blooming yellow flowers. Splendid summer scene of Iceland

Take a walk around the old graveyard that sits next to Hvalsneskirkja. There is a special gravestone with the name of Steinunn Hallgrímsdóttir. A beloved person who died at a young age in 1649. Steinunn’s father, poet, and Reverend Hallgrímur Pétursson made the gravestone. It was then lost for the longest time and later discovered in 1964. It had been used as part of a walkway leading to the church.

Viking World

Want to see an old Viking ship? Then take a tour of Viking World. The museum features a Viking history replica of a 9th-century ship, Icelander or Islendingur which is the main attraction. The Viking ship sailed to New York in the year 2000 to commemorate Leifur Eiríksson’s journey to the New World.

You can learn all about the story of the Viking expansion across the North Atlantic. The exhibition was produced in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution in the USA as a part of the millennial celebration of Leifur Eiríksson. Then stop by the Fate of the Gods exhibit, which will teach you about Norse mythology and myths.

If you are landing early, you can take advantage of the Breakfast Under The Viking Ship. The breakfast buffet includes a wide selection of oven-baked bread and pastries, porridge, meat products, Icelandic pickled herrings and so much more. You will have to make reservations in advance.


Walk the peninsula near Stafnesviti, which is a captivating small lighthouse that sits on the coast. It is only a fifteen-minute drive west of the airport. This historic place is known for its old shipwrecks that occurred in the area. Read all about them on the informational signs while walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the sea. You can also spot some Icelandic horses if you are lucky. The lighthouse may look familiar since you can spot it right from your airplane when landing at Keflavik Airport.

Issi fish and chips

Grab some fish and chips at Issi. A beloved food truck that provides tasty food to both locals and travelers. Issi only uses fish from Þorbjörn in Grindavík, it is all specially selected and sea-frozen.

This quaint food truck has an interesting story behind it. The grandfather, Jón Kristjánsson, was the first person in Iceland to open a place that served fish and chips. It was then located in Akureyri, at Hafnarstræti 105, and was called the Matarkjallar. It sadly burnt down in 1942. Fast forward to today where the memory lives on.

You can try the famous fish and chips for yourself by stopping at Issi. Be sure to add the extra fish for a few more dollars, you won’t regret it.

plate of typic fish and chips, Iceland

Giantess Cave

If you are looking for a weird stop just five minutes from Keflavik Airport then visit the Giantess Cave. This is the home to the Giantess who is known to have a loving heart. The Black Cave of the Giantess opened its doors in 2008 when the Giantess moved from her mountain to the cave.

So who is this interesting Giantess? She is a character in the story of Sigga and the Giantess from 1959 which was written by the Icelandic author Herdís Egilsdóttir. The story tells a tale of Sigga’s 6th birthday when she meets the Giantess by accident on the mountainside. Sigga grew to love her very quickly and thought she was quite funny, inviting her to her birthday party. From there everyone grew to love the Giantess, which is how she was invited to have her own cave.

Today, you can visit her in the cave where you may hear her snoring in her kitchen chair. It is a great activity for children and those that are young at heart.

Sigurjónsbakarí Bakery

Kick off your Iceland adventure with a homemade pastry and warm coffee at Sigurjónsbakarí. This delicious bakery is locally famous for its unique cakes, fresh doughnuts, and sandwiches. We recommend stopping by and grabbing pink glazed doughnuts topped with multi-color candies.

You can also try a warm flaky croissant paired with their freshly brewed coffee. Grab some fresh rolls and bread for the road. It is the perfect way to start your trip while enjoying some tasty treats along your journey.

Hafnarberg Sea Cliffs

Enjoy a 35-minute drive southwest of Keflavik Airport to enjoy the Hafnarberg Sea Cliffs. Hafnaberg is a long line of sheer sea lava cliffs south of the old fishing hamlet of Hafnir. This is a fantastic place for bird watchers to visit since they love flocking to the cliffs.

View on sea cliffs and the ocean, Hafnarberg, in Iceland

It is also a geosite in Reykjanes Unesco Global Geopark, making it a great location for hikers. Enjoy an optional easy 3-mile hike that will bring you along the cliffs. Then marvel at the waves crashing against the huge cliff walls before continuing along your route.

Blue Lagoon

Your what to do near Keflavik Airport list would not be complete without the famous Blue Lagoon. Which is only a 20-minute drive south of Keflavik Airport. The Lagoon is a favorite stop either right when you land in Keflavik or before you take off.

People relaxing in Blue Lagoon hot spring in Iceland

Float out into the warm healing turquoise water that is heated between 98 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. You can then swim up to the rejuvenating mud mask bar. The basic package includes a Silica Mud Mask, which will deep-cleanse your skin. Swim around the lagoon with your face mask on for twenty minutes and even grab a drink at the lagoon bar.

After, take advantage of the cafe and restaurant located by the entrance. Here they have sandwiches and juices for you to enjoy. We think it is the best way to refresh after a long flight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave the airport during a layover in Iceland?

Yes, you can leave the airport and explore Reykjavik for part of the day. Your layover would need to be 7-9 hours for you to have enough time. Please know once you leave you will have to go back through security so plan extra time for that.

How much is a taxi from the airport to Reykjavik?

A taxi from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik is quite expensive. The price is calculated by a taximeter and can be around 170 US dollars.

How far is Blue Lagoon from the airport?

Blue Lagoon is just 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport and 50 minutes from Reykjavík. We recommend making it your next stop after exploring Keflavik.

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