Reykjavik-Keflavik International Airport (KEF) is located roughly 50 kilometers southwest of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik – and much closer to some stunning natural landscapes. Given that the airport is generally quite small, those with a layover of over five hours might consider joining one of the tours that venture out to some of the country’s iconic natural landmarks. Though shorter layovers might only have time for a soak in the nearby natural hot springs, those with more time might just catch a glimpse of the northern lights! Check out our guide below for information on what to do on a layover in Iceland – and how to do it!
If your layover in Iceland is less than five hours – or you aren’t entirely in the mood to leave – there are a few things to keep you busy in the terminals. The primary one is likely the duty free shopping, which is sold to both arriving and departing passengers. Items here are up to half the price of regular Icelandic stores, making this a worthwhile place to stock up. Check out our Reykjavik Keflavik Airport Guide for more information.
Below are a few essential sights.
Blue Lagoon Hot Springs
By far the top layover experience in Reykjavik is taking a dip in the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal hot springs. Located just far enough away from the airport to avoid the noise pollution, this natural spa most definitely has that ethereal Icelandic look. Scrub yourself down in silica mud for some skin conditioning, before you slip into the 100-degree Fahrenheit lagoon for some serious mid-flight therapy! Spa treatments are also an option here, for an additional price.
Time Required: How long do you want to soak? With buses departing each hour from the hot springs/terminal, you’ll need to give yourself a minimum of an hour here – less, if you’re traveling by taxi.
How to Get There: The Blue Lagoon is located 20 minutes from the airport (see this Google Map). You can get there by taxi or on the Reykjavik Excursions-operated bus, that departs hourly from the terminal.
Self-Guided Tour of Reyjkavik
Ever wonder what the planet’s northernmost capital city looks like? With a few hours, you can set out into Reykjavik to find out. Known for being a city of coloured roof tops, its well worth making your way up a tall building for a panoramic view. After that, you might want to swing by the Hallgrimskirkja Church or the Sun Voyager sculpture – two other iconic landmarks in the city. And of course, be sure to leave enough time to sample some Icelandic cuisine. Lamb, dairy and fish are prevalent here – and they take their pickling and drying processes seriously!
Time Required: Reykjavik can be explored in anywhere from two hours to a couple of days. Given the length of time required to get in and out of the city, we would recommend a minimum of 4 extra hours for your self-guided tour. This will leave you with enough time to grab a meal and explore a few key sights.
How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options into the capital, and the associated time required.
There are a few ways that you can connect to the city center and elsewhere in the country from Reykjavik-Keflavik. Options include both public and private transport, with the latter being far more efficient if you’re planning to tour the natural sights.
Public transit options include:
- Bus (Departs near P2): Two bus companies connect the airport with Reykjavik numerous times daily. With them, the journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
Private transit options include:
- Reykjavik Excursions: A tour company that offers a variety of tours to the hot springs and other natural sights, some of which depart from the airport
- Taxi (Beside P2): A number of taxi companies service the airport, some of which can be booked online a head of time.
- Car Hire (Beside P2): Most major car rental companies are available, and are located across from the Arrivals Hall
Before You Go: Layover Tips
Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.
- Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
- When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
- What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait-times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time-budget.
- What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Visit our Keflavik Airport Guide for information about Luggage Storage.
Other Useful Resources
Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly:
- Keflavik Airport transportation services
- Tripadvisor’s Reykjavik Travel Forum – Check out past threads to see what other travellers have shared about sightseeing during long layovers at Keflavik Airport or post your own questions.