Within the last year or so, Iceland-based airline WowAir has released some incredibly priced flights from the United States. With this airline, it’s not uncommon to find flights to Europe for under $400, and these flights often include a long layover in Iceland.
[EDIT: Unfortunately WowAir is no longer in business. Click to check flight prices to Iceland on TripAdvisor!]
If you have several hours before your connecting flight, Iceland is a fantastic spot for a stopover. If you don’t want to venture all the way into Reykjavik city, there are plenty of fun things to do near Keflavik Airport. To reach some places, you will need to rent a car for a day, but some you can reach via public transportation.
If you’re planning a long layover in Iceland, here are some fun things to do near Keflavik Airport, on an Iceland stopover!
Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll
If the weather isn’t cooperating during your Iceland stopover, there are a few museums near Keflavik Airport where you can get a taste of Icelandic culture and history, while being sheltered from the wind, rain, and snow.
The Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll showcases the role of rock and pop music in Iceland. Visitors get headphones and tablets to help learn about the music. There’s even a sound lab where you can try your hand at playing popular rock instruments like electric drums, guitars, and keyboards. Spend your layover finally living your dream of rocking out like a true Icelandic superstar!
GET THERE: The Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll is only about a
Viking World is another nearby museum that will get you in touch with your inner Norse Viking. This museum has fascinating exhibits on Iceland’s early Viking settlers, educating visitors on all things Viking life- from their clothes and
GET THERE: Viking World is only an 8 minute drive from Keflavik Airport, and is close to the Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll. You can also take the same Bus Line 55 to reach Viking World, but it will take about 20 minutes to walk from the bus stop to the museum.
Stekkjarkot is an interesting site with old fisherman cottages built from turf, stone, and wood. Cottages like these used to dot Iceland’s coastline, but many have since been abandoned and deconstructed. Stekkjarkot gives visitors a look into Iceland’s
GET THERE: The drive to Stekkjarkot is only about 7 minutes from Keflavik Airport. It’s just around the corner from Viking World, so you could easily see both sites. Bus Line 55 will also get you close to
The Giantess Cave
The Giantess Cave is probably the most kitschy of things to do near Keflavik Airport, but it’s cute and fun for kids. The cave and its large inhabitant were inspired by a series of Icelandic children’s books which tell the stories of a young girl and her giantess friend. Inside the cave, you can see the giantess’ huge bed and the rocking chair where she sits.
Kids can leave letters for the giantess in her giant mailbox. I guess adults can leave letters too. There’s not really any kind of enforcement on who can and cannot write letters to the fictional lady-giant. So have at it.
GET THERE: The Giantess cave sits along a small harbor in Keflavik. It’s only about a
The Blue Lagoon
If you’re visiting Iceland for the first time, there’s a good chance that The Blue Lagoon is on your radar. Probably the most popular of things to do near Keflavik Airport, the Blue Lagoon is a spot that many choose to visit during an Iceland stopover.
Enjoying the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon will take up several hours of your layover, but it’s really a perfect place to visit after a long flight. Even if you don’t want to pay to soak in the waters, you are welcome to walk around the grounds a bit and see the enchanting blue waters for yourself.
GET THERE: The Blue Lagoon is about a
Brimketill Lava Rock Pool
If you have a bit more time to venture away from Keflavik Airport, consider heading to the Southern part of Reykjanes Peninsula to see some of Iceland’s dramatic coastline.
At Brimketill, large pools have formed in the lava rock along the edge of the ocean. According to Icelandic folklore, the pools here are where a giantess used to bathe and do her laundry. I’m assuming this is past-tense because she got swept away to sea. The waves here can be quite cheeky…
During high tides, the waves beat against the cliffs, sending water into the air. Hold on to your valuables, as these sneaky waves like to jump up and remind you that you’re in the splash zone. Not that I had any particular experience with that…(I did.)
GET THERE: From Keflavik Airport, it takes about 25-30 minutes to drive to Brimketill, depending on which route you take. There is no public transportation from the airport.
Gunnuhver is a popular area to visit in the Reykjanes Geothermal Park. According to Icelandic legend, there’s a witch’s ghost trapped here, and She. Is. Ticked. It’s believed by some that the bubbling mud and sulphuric steam released from the ground is the witch’s continued anger from being trapped. But I’m routing for team “Classic Icelandic Geothermal Activity.”
The site of Gunnuhver is interesting to see, with the land changing color due to the acidity of the water and the minerals in the Earth. If you don’t have the time on your Iceland stopover to see any of Iceland’s other geothermal sites, make sure to visit this one to see just how powerful and diverse the landscape is.
GET THERE: Driving to Gunnuhver from Keflavik Airport takes about 25-30 minutes, depending on your route. It’s only about 5 minutes drive from Brimketill Lava Pool site. Make sure to drive slowly as the road becomes rocky and has some large potholes. There is no public transportation that goes to Gunnuhver.
A quick drive from Gunnuhver brings you to Iceland’s very first lighthouse: Reykjanesviti. The hike up the hill to the lighthouse is not difficult
GET THERE: Reykjanesviti is just down the road from Gunnuhver, maybe another 2 or 3 minutes driving. If you’re using a GPS, you may get directions telling you to go back to the town of Grindavik and then turn around. Ignore this, and just follow the signs.
If you continue down the road from the lighthouse, you will end up at on the rocky coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula. This area of jagged lava rock has beautiful views of the ocean and coastal cliffs. There are lots of birds in this area to watch, and even the chance to spot a seal!
Have fun jumping from rock to rock, leaping across the jagged cracks in the earth, and watching the ice blue water crash against the pitch black cliffsides.
GET THERE: Valahnúkamöl is just a
The Bridge Between Continents
One of the really interesting things about Iceland is that it sits directly on the divide between two of earth’s tectonic plates: The Eurasian Plate and the North American Plate. As the plates slowly shift and move apart from
Here at the Bridge Between Continents, you can walk across a small fissure from one continental plate to another. You can even stand on the sand ground in between the plates! If you stop by the Reykjanes Information Center, you can buy a personalized certificate,
GET THERE: If you’re continuing the drive from Valahnúkamöl, it’s only about 11 minutes north of the coastline. If you’re driving from Keflavik Airport, it will only take about 20 minutes. There is no public transportation here.
Tips for Visiting Reykjanesviti Peninsula
Making a stopover in Iceland is a great way to whet your appetite for Iceland’s unique and fascinating landscapes. You can see so many incredible sights without having to follow the major tourist trails into Reykjavik or the Golden Circle. If you’re thinking of hitting up some of these things to do near Keflavik Airport, here is some logistical information to help your planning!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and purchase one of these items, I will get an itty bitty (no, really…) commission at no cost to you! Thanks!
Without a car, there is not much near Keflavik Airport you can do. You can take Bus Line 55 to a few museums and sites, but if the weather is bad you may not want to be out walking from place to place.
If you have a layover of at least 8 or more hours, it could be worth it to rent a car for the day and have the freedom to enjoy some of the more exciting things to do near Keflavik Airport.
Where to Stay
Base Hotel, Reykjanesbaer
Base Hotel in the neighboring town of Reykjanesbaer is one of the best places to stay during an Iceland stopover. If you’ve rented a car, this hotel is only a
The hotel offers both private rooms and shared dorm space for those on a budget. There are large community spaces and kitchens available if you’d like to make your own meals. But most importantly, it’s one of the most budget-friendly hotels in the area.
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