Things to Do

Things to do near Keflavik Airport

Keflavik, Iceland” by Nick is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When you arrive in Iceland, you will fly into Keflavik airport. Unless you’re flying in from Greenland, I guess, where you could land at the much smaller Reykjavik city airport. And most visitors seem to think there are only two choices for what to do next: either rent a car and head to Reykjavik or buy a bus ticket and go to Reykjavik.

But Keflavik is close to two other towns, Njarðvík and Hafnir. In 1995, these towns decided to … merge? … and create a new place called Reykjanesbær. In 2006, Reykjanesbær also annexed another town, Ásbrú, which used to be the location of a US Naval base.

None of that really matters. The point is that, if you combine all of these towns together (which seems like cheating), Reykjanesbær is the 5th largest municipality in Iceland.

I guess that doesn’t really matter either? What really, really matters is that there are several worthwhile things to do within 20 minutes of the Keflavik airport. Maybe you want to kill some time before heading into Reykjavik. Or maybe you want to do one last thing before heading home. If you rented a car, there are some options.

kef airport museum map

© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap

Option 1: Head Northwest about 10 minutes to the town of Sandgerdi (Sandgerthi / Sandgerði). There you will find the small Sudurnes Science and Learning Center. Watch the operating hours, though- they are only open 1-5 PM on summer weekends, and 10-4 on summer weekdays and 10-2 on winter weekdays. They have stuffed wildlife, live fish, and a family treasure hunt. Cost: 600 kr for adults, and 300 kr for kids 6-15, 1000 kr for the family treasure hunt.

Across the street is Vitinn, a seafood restaurant with fish tanks out back. Yes, these fish could be your lunch. There’s no kid’s menu, but you’ll find fish and chips, a hamburger, and pizza on the menu in addition to the many fish options. Hours are 11:30-2:00 for lunch and 6-9 for dinner every day, except closed Sunday.

Option 2: Gardur  / Garthur / Garður. 8 minutes up the road from Sandgerdi, or 10 minutes from the airport. There is a folk museum here, The Garðskagi Folk Museum. Admission is 750 isk per adults, and free for kids 16 and under. So for about $12 for the entire family, you get both a maritime museum and a local history museum, including a collection of old motors.  Open April through October, 1-5 PM.

Also included for your $12 you get to climb a lighthouse, which is walkable from the museum.  There are actually two lighthouses, both called Garðskagaviti. (Viti means lighthouse.) The older smaller one was built in 1897, and replaced by the newer taller one in 1944. Get the key from the museum and climb to the top of the lighthouse—the tallest in Iceland!

After climbing (and returning the key!) head to you can grab a snack in the smaller lighthouse, which grants you admission to the top of that lighthouse. Or try the cafeteria Flösin in the Folk Museum.

If you need a place to stay, the Guesthouse Garður is in the same area, and has 6 guesthuses . One of them holds 7 adults; when it’s available, it can be as little as $208 a night.

Option 3: Downtown Keflavik / Reykjanesbær.  12 minutes from the airport. Here you’ll find the Duushus Museum. This is actually multiple museums in adjacent buildings: The Reykjanes Art Museum, Heritage Museum, Maritime Center, and Geopark visitor’s centre. Open 12-5 PM weekdays, 1-5 PM weekends. Note that they now charge an admission fee.

Nearby is a Ásmundur Sveinsson fishermen sculpture, suitable for the kids to climb on.  Also nearby is the Giantess sculpture / cave, also known as the giantess in the mountain. Apparently, this is based on an Icelandic children’s book- a large sculpture of a giant that actually snores. And burps. What’s not to love? Free.

Option 4: Viking World / Víkingaheimar. 15 minutes from the airport.  This museum has surprisingly long hours for Iceland: 7 AM – 6 PM every day. The 5 exhibits include a model Viking ship, and there is a petting zoo (open 11-5, May through August).

Admission is 1500isk for adults, free for 13 and under. 10% off if you book online. And for a fee of 3000isk per adult, they will shuttle you to and from the airport.  This seems pricey for such a short trip, though it could be an option if you find yourself stuck in the airport.

There’s more we haven’t covered, including the Icelandic Museum of Rock N Roll, 13 minutes from the airport. What else have we missed?

Update: We’ve now visited just about every place on this post! See our “Live from Iceland” posts about the Keflavik area here:

Keflavik Museums: Viking World, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Duushús

Keflavik Fire Museum, Settlement Zoo, Kópavogur museums

You also may enjoy visiting the nearby Reykjanes Geopark.

Things to do near Keflavik Airport was last modified: June 2nd, 2017 by Eric