Ever wondered about the top things to do in Keflavik? This quaint town is not just a scenic stopover near the airport; it's a gateway to Iceland's wonders. With its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and a vibe that blends tradition with modernity, Keflavik is a treasure trove of experiences.
This place has everything from soaking in the Blue Lagoon to exploring the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll. Keep reading, and let's dive into the charming world of Keflavik and discover its hidden gems together!
Why is Keflavik Worth Visiting?
Keflavik, a historical marvel and a bustling harbor since the 16th century, begs the question: What is Keflavik known for? This town played an instrumental role in military affairs during World War II and the Cold War.
It holds historical significance and birthed a vibrant music culture in the '60s and '70s, hosting iconic musicians and contributing to Iceland's cultural heritage. Today, Keflavik tempts tourists with intriguing attractions. At the same time, its position on the Reykjanes Peninsula makes it a strategic entry point for international explorers.
The town's rich cultural legacy is fully displayed in its museums. The allure of Keflavik is irresistible, making it a must-visit destination on any Icelandic itinerary.
Things to Do In Keflavik
If you're looking for things to do in Keflavik, you're in for a treat! This area is brimming with exciting adventures and unique attractions, just waiting to be explored. Let's look at some of the best activities to try near the airport.
1. Experience the Blue Lagoon
One of the most iconic things to do near Keflavik Airport is to visit the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa, nestled in a lava field just 13 km (8 mi) from the airport, is a testament to Iceland's volcanic heritage.
The lagoon's rich mineral content, derived from geothermal seawater, is known for its healing properties. Visitors can indulge in a unique wellness experience, bathing in the warm, milky blue waters that maintain a soothing temperature of 37 to 40 °C (98 to 104 °F) year-round.
2. Explore Kleifarvatn Lake
Exploring Kleifarvatn Lake is a highlight among things to do in Keflavik. Located 49.2 km (30.6 mi) away, it's not just the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula but also the third largest in southern Iceland, covering about 10 km² (3.8 mi²).
Kleifarvatn stands out as one of Iceland's deepest lakes, plunging to around 97 meters (318 feet). Its southern edge is adorned with hot springs, contributing to the lake's volume. Intriguingly, following an earthquake in 2000, the lake began shrinking, losing 20% of its surface.
This unique volcanic landscape is a magnet for photographers. Visitors can drive to Kleifarvatn, enjoy a peaceful stroll along its beach, and soak in the stunning scenery.
3. Stroll Around Keflavik Harbor
When you visit Keflavik, stroll around Keflavik Harbor, a serene escape just 2.1 km (1.3 mi) from the city center. This harbor isn't just a docking place for boats; it's a picturesque scene straight out of a postcard.
With its calm atmosphere, it's perfect for a leisurely walk. The harbor is dotted with beautiful boats, adding charm to the stunning backdrop. Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional seal basking or swimming near the water's edge.
4. Admire Reykjanesviti Lighthouse
Among the myriad of things to do near Keflavik airport, a visit to Reykjanesviti, Iceland's oldest lighthouse, is a must. Just a 30.2 km (18.8 mi) drive away, this historic beacon is a testament to Iceland's maritime history. Established in 1878, Reykjanesviti braved the elements, surviving a devastating earthquake in 1905.
The surrounding landscape is spectacularly rugged, a stark reminder of Iceland's volcanic origins. Climbing to the top, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the seashore, where waves relentlessly crash against the rocky shoreline, creating a scene of dramatic, raw beauty.
5. Discover the Gunnuhver Geothermal Area
Discovering Gunnuhver Geothermal Area ranks high among the things to do in Keflavik. Located 27.3 km (16.9 mi) from Keflavik, Gunnuhver is alive with geothermal activity. It boasts a vibrant color palette of mineral-rich hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and hissing steam vents, presenting a captivating spectacle of nature's raw power.
This area is also steeped in local folklore surrounding Gunna, a ghost whose spirit is believed to have been trapped within the hot springs, adding a mystical layer to its fascinating geological features. Gunnuhver provides a captivating, unique exploration opportunity for every visitor.
6. Tour Duus Museum
When you visit Keflavik, don't miss the Duus Museum, just a 1.2 km (0.8 mi) drive from the city center. The Duus house is a cultural beacon and an art museum, encapsulating Keflavik's rich maritime history. It houses an impressive collection of over 100 boat models, representing the evolution of Icelandic fishing boats from 1945 to 1960.
More than its exterior suggests, the museum delves into the history of the Reykjanes Peninsula, highlighting its transformation from a fishing town to a military airstrip during World War II. A standout feature is its extensive display of ship models, offering a unique glimpse into Iceland's maritime legacy.
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7. Rock at the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll
For those exploring things to do in Keflavik, the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll is a must-visit, just 1.5 km (0.9 mi) from the city center. Located in Reykjanesbær, this museum, opened in 2014, is a tribute to Icelandic pop and rock music, tracing its roots from 1830 to the present.
Housed in the Hljómahöll concert and conference hall, it offers interactive exhibits showcasing the journeys of iconic Icelandic artists like Björk, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men.
The museum not only celebrates their music but also highlights the remarkable success of these musicians from Iceland's small population, making it a fascinating stop for music enthusiasts.
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8. Step Into History at the Viking World Museum
One of the must-see things to do near Keflavik airport is visiting the Viking World Museum, which is 8 km (5 mi) away. This museum is a journey into the heart of Viking history in Iceland.
Its centerpiece is the Íslendingur, an impressive replica of a Viking ship, showcasing the remarkable craftsmanship of the era. The museum's exhibitions dive deep into Viking history, culture, and their epic voyages. Besides the historical insights, the museum offers stunning sea views, enhancing the experience.
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9. Experience Traditional Icelandic Life at Stekkjarkot
Exploring Stekkjarkot, just 3.9 km (2.5 mi) from Keflavik, is a journey into traditional Icelandic life. This preserved turf house offers a unique glimpse into 19th-century Iceland. Stekkjarkot showcases the quintessential Icelandic architecture of the time, with its grass-covered roofs and simple yet sturdy construction.
Visitors get a feel for the everyday lifestyle of the era, marked by simplicity and closeness to nature. This historical site is a significant part of the Icelandic culture, providing an immersive experience for those seeking to understand the traditional Icelandic way of life.
10. Visit the Giantess in the Cave
When you visit Keflavik, don't miss the enchanting Giantess in the cave, just 2.3 km (1.3 mi) from the city center. This unique attraction brings a local fairytale to life with a large, lifelike sculpture of a sleeping giantess nestled in her cave.
The legend surrounding her adds a layer of mystique, captivating visitors with tales from Icelandic folklore. The cave, a creation of art and imagination, offers an immersive experience, making visitors feel like they've stepped into a storybook. It's a charming and whimsical stop that adds a touch of magic to your Keflavik exploration.
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What are the Best Ways to Get Around when Visiting Keflavik?
The best way to explore the many things to do in Keflavik and beyond is with the convenience and flexibility of renting a campervan in Iceland. This offers a personal, mobile base from which to venture out.
For non-drivers, local buses and taxis provide reliable transportation options around the city. Whether exploring the coastline or diving into local culture, moving around Keflavik is user-friendly and straightforward.
The Essential Things to Do in Keflavik for an Unforgettable Trip
The top things to do in Keflavik range from unwinding in the geothermal bliss of the Blue Lagoon to immersing yourself in the stunning natural landscapes and rich cultural tapestry of the region. With its blend of historical sites, scenic wonders, and cultural experiences, Keflavik offers an unforgettable journey.
So, pack your bags and set off for Keflavik, where unique adventures and memorable experiences await at every turn. It's a destination that promises to enchant and educate, leaving you with stories to tell for years to come.