Many travelers who arrive at Iceland’s international airport (Keflavik or KEF) head straight to Reykjavik, either by rental car, airport shuttle (Flybus) or private transfer. If you have the time, we recommend making your first few hours in Iceland more memorable by following some of the suggestions outlined here.
Explore Reykjanes Peninsula
After picking up your rental car at Keflavik, initially, follow the route towards Reykjavik. After about 5 km / 3 miles, head right on Route 44, leaving the main road to Reykjavik and its many tour buses.
On this scenic route, you will pass interesting geological features, like the bridge between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates, and Gunnuhver Hot Springs, which has seen increased geothermal activity in recent years. You can also stop at Reykjanesviti lighthouse, which stands on a hill providing a first taste of the many epic views Iceland has to offer.
From there, head to Reykjavik, or continue to the small fishing village of Þorlákshöfn where you'll find a small, quaint coffee shop called Hendur i Hofn.
Pro tip: If you are up for coffee and a quick bite before hitting the road, we recommend Keflavik Cafe located about 2.5 miles / 4 km from the airport in the town center of Keflavik. The address is Hafnargata 28. (Closed Mondays, opens at 9am on other weekdays and 10am on weekends).
Beat your Jetlag in the Blue Lagoon
For better or worse, the Blue Lagoon has become one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions. While it’s a unique place, it does feel a bit like a mass market attraction that, to some, looks better on pictures, than it does in reality. Travelers who choose to see what the fuss is all about often visit upon arrival since the Blue Lagoon is conveniently located between the international airport and Reykjavik. If you have a rental car, it’s easy enough to just drive there. Flybus also stops here. If you have luggage you can easily store it at the Blue Lagoon for a small fee. Just make sure you have reservations, since it books out often.
Tip for early morning arrivals:
If your international flight arrives very early in the morning (as many do), the cafe at the Blue Lagoon opens at 7:30 for breakfast. If you are staying at the nearby Silica Hotel , they serve early morning breakfast. starting at 8. You can check luggage at the Blue Lagoon for about $5 USD/bag if you are traveling by flybus transfer.
Early morning in Reykjavik
If you decide to head straight to Reykjavik, call you hotel or apartment and ask if you can check in early. If they can accommodate this, drop your bags and embark on an exploration of early morning Reykjavik. On clear mornings, take a stroll to the Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic), a statue on the shoreline in downtown Reykjavik. For early morning coffee and breakfast, we recommend Sandholt (opens at 7 am).