When people hear Keflavik they immediately think of Keflavik airport. It is the largest airport in Iceland and the one where most international visitors give their first steps on to Iceland soil. But did you know that Keflavik is an actual town in the Reykjanes region? Don't rush to Reykjavik right after arriving at the airport in Iceland. Instead, explore the things to do in Keflavik first.
After reading this article, you’ll know all about the various attractions and activities the town has to offer. They might make you want to visit Keflavik sooner rather than later.
The Town of Keflavik
Keflavik is situated in the southwest of Iceland, a mere 47 km from Reykjavík. The town is the 5th most populated town in Iceland and has a population of just under 16 000. The town was established in the 16th century by Scottish entrepreneurs in the fishing industry. And what we now know as Keflavik International Airport was actually an Allied military base during World War I.
Things to Do in Keflavik
If we’ve sparked your curiosity, and you’ve decided to make Kefllavik a stopover, here are some of the things you can look forward to:
Rock n Roll!
Many who ask “what is Keflavik known for?” are surprised to learn that this little fishing town has the nickname “The Beatle Town”. This is because the town became a rock n roll hub in the 1960 and 70s. In fact, many Icelandic musicians would continue to take the rest of Europe by storm during this musical genre boom on the island. Today, you can still go and visit the Icelandic Museum of Rock n Roll to reminisce about this magical time.
Have Fun With the Kids & Giganta at Giantess Cave
Giganta is a popular character in Icelandic children’s stories. But whether you know of her or not, visiting the Giantess Cave is an experience that will keep the kids talking about it for a long time to come.
The community created a life-sized sculpture of Giganta inside the Black Cave (aka Giantess Cave). The cave is a full-fitted giantess home. Complete with a bed, kitchen, and rocking chair where she sits with her buck teeth and a huge grin on her face staring out at Keflavik Bay. Kids are encouraged to go and play beside her, but you need to warn the kids; it’s believed that she snores a lot and lets out big farts.
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Appreciate the Art
If you are an art lover, the Reykjanes Art Museum is definitely not to be missed. The art consists of local residents’ as well as other Icelanders’ work and is themed around life on the island and other similar subjects. And if you’ve been there before, there’s no reason not to stop by again. The exhibition at the gallery changes each year.
Dive Into the Rich Seafaring History & Culture
If you consider yourself a bit of a boat fanatic, we highly recommend a visit to the Reykjanes Maritime Center. At Keflavik, you can witness the Icelandic passion for the ocean and sea-faring through over 100 model boats. These were crafted by a local skipper named Grimur Karlsson.
Have Some Family Fun at the Waterpark
You don’t need to head out to those natural hot springs just yet. Keflavik has its very own heated waterpark called Waterworld that promises hours of fun for young and old. The water park consists of a 50-meter indoor pool, four hot tubs, and a 25-meter outdoor pool. There are also tons of fun water features for the kids, such as shallow water pools, inflatables, and slides.
Admire the View from the Keflavik Fishing Pier
The Fishing Pier is situated on a small section of the coastline. It extends into the sea and provides visitors with views of the ocean, surrounding shores, and nearby towns of Vogar and Njardvik. If nothing else, this is the perfect place to find that moment of peace and commemorate it with a photo or two.
Have a Bite at Kökulist Bakery
This is other thing in Keflavik you can do. This establishment has been around for decades – and with good reason. Pick and choose from freshly baked goods, gourmet sandwiches, ice cream, and other sweet treats.Kökulist Bakery is definitely a local favorite and it’ll soon be yours too.
Fishing charters are a popular and unique activity in this town with a strong fishing industry foundation. But when it comes to the Arctic, we recommend that you save this activity for the summer months. You’re on holiday and not shooting a survivalist series, after all.
Things to Do Near Keflavik
Since Keflavik airport is so close to Reykjavík, people often get confused. Some would even ask, “what are some of the things to do near Reykjavík airport?” Because of the incredibly convenient short distances between the airport, the town of Keflavik, and the capital city of Reykjavík, there are plenty of things to do and see in the region. Some of the things worth mentioning and adding to your Iceland trip itinerary are:
Visit Viking World
Explore the history of the ferocious Vikings by visiting Viking World in the nearby town of Njardvik. See their boats up close and discover more about their culture and history.
The Bridge Between Continents
This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Walking on a small footbridge from one continent to another, crossing a massive fissure in the earth. The bridge can be found at Hafnir (another neighboring town, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík).
The Bridge is 15 meters long and runs across the mid-Atlantic rift. It runs through Iceland and connects the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Visitors to the island actually have the option of diving or snorkeling in the clear glacier water of the Fissure. But if that’s not your cup of tea, the Bridge is another way of immersing yourself in this phenomenon.
Go Soak in the Healing Waters of the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is on the way to Reykjavík (approximately a 50-minute drive, to be precise) and it's one of the things to do near Keflavik. The Blue Lagoon is probably one of Iceland’s most famous hot springs and has been featured in numerous movies, such as Hostel and Star Trek.
Here you can soak in the warm waters, rub some of the silica-rich mud on your skin or relax in the spa. It is this silica-rich mud and mineral-rich water that makes the water so attractive to those with ailments such as skin conditions, muscle, and other aches and pains.
To Sum Up; Is Keflavik Really Worth Visiting?
As you can see, there are many things to do in Keflavik and the surrounding region. Whether you stop over on your way from the airport or on your way to the airport is up to you. But we’d definitely recommend that you allow sufficient time to take in and appreciate all this town has to offer.