Are you traveling to Iceland soon? Then you should not confuse Reykjavik Airport, Iceland with Keflavik Airport. It can cost you some extra money in transfers and booking accommodation in the wrong location.
No, they are two different airports. Like almost every other country in the world, Iceland is not home to only one airport. For convenience, along with the Keflavik international airport, Iceland also contains several domestic airports. This can be a source of confusion for international travelers, who assume they are flying into Reykjavik Iceland airport.
However, Reykjavik domestic airport is far too small to accommodate the dozens of large planes that fly into Iceland daily from abroad. And so, international flights land at Keflavik airport (KEF).
Keflavik is a small town located 50km west of Reykjavik and is itself a wonderful place to visit. But since Reykjavik is where the action happens, travelers generally journey straight there after exiting Keflavik airport. There are several companies that offer a bus transfer to Reykjavik city center; this takes about 45 minutes. Alternatively, for those who are renting a car in Iceland, they can be picked up at Keflavik airport and the road adventure can begin straight away.
Despite being Iceland’s main airport, Keflavik airport is fairly small and easy to navigate. You can indulge in tax-free shopping once you pass through security and choose from a host of places to eat. That’s on your way out of Iceland, but when you arrive the scene is a little different. Once you collect your luggage and exit the terminal, your options are limited. There is only one food outlet, and the arrivals lounge is small.
Fortunately, this means it is a simple task to spot a pre-arranged pick up; just look for the sign of your chosen company. If you haven’t booked a transfer to Reykjavik, all major transfer companies and car rental firms have an office located in the arrivals lounge. Most of them offer a 24-hour service so it doesn’t matter what time you land. You will be directed to the car park and towards a certain area, either to collect your car or to hop on a bus.
As I mentioned before, the journey takes 45 minutes and the buses will drop you at one of several terminals depending on the company. Alternatively, you can pay extra and be dropped off at your hotel or the closest bus stop to wherever you are staying. The buses are comfortable, warm, and offer free Wi-Fi. Don’t forget to keep checking out of the window for Icelandic wonders.
The great thing about Iceland is that you can see mountains in the distance no matter where you are. As you near Reykjavik, see if you can spot Hallgrímskirkja, the famous church that is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. Mount Esja is also easy to see, and on a side note, it is well worth hiking to the top.
You wouldn’t want to land your international flight here; your huge plane would career off the end of the short runway. Reykjavik airport (RKV) is generally reserved for short domestic flights to and from the various towns around Iceland. These flights travel to and from places such as Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, and Ísafjörður. Most flights are organized by Iceland Air, Iceland’s main airline. They also operate flights to Greenland and to the Faroe Islands, both of which are under the jurisdiction of Denmark.
A flight to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and oldest town, takes about 3 and a half hours from Reykjavik. The Faroe Islands are around an hour and a half flight from Reykjavik and have a similar climate and geography to Iceland. They are renowned for their beauty and abundance of wildlife and are well worth a visit.
If, during your time in Iceland, you want to hop to the other side of the country, jump on a domestic flight from Reykjavik airport. The airport is conveniently located about 2km south of the city center and is easy to find. Just follow the planes that are dipping low overhead. From here you can unlock the rest of Iceland with short, easy flights.
So, to reiterate, if you fly to Iceland from abroad, your scheduled flight will be landing at Keflavik International Airport or KEF. This airport is a 45-minute journey from Reykjavik city center and getting to and from the airport is easy. Car rental in Iceland is available within the airport area, or if you’d prefer to wait, the car rental companies also have offices in downtown Reykjavik. If you are in Reykjavik and want to fly to Greenland, the Faroe Islands or within Iceland itself, head to Reykjavik Domestic Airport, or RKV. This airport is located very close to the city center.
No, you cannot fly from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik airport, as the flight would take about five minutes so it’s not worth the hassle, right? Grab yourself a bus transfer or a car, head to Reykjavik, and let the fun begin.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.