Iceland’s North Atlantic location makes it a convenient place for transatlantic flights to stopover. But if you find yourself with some time to kill at Keflavik Airport, there are better things to do than sit around the airport and wait for your flight. Keflavik is the biggest airport in Iceland, but it’s not huge by worldwide standards, so it’s not too difficult to navigate. Bear in mind, though, that the airport is quite some distance from the city it serves. It takes around 50 minutes to drive from the airport to central Reykjavík. There is a Flybus service that connects the airport with the city, dropping passengers off at the central bus terminal in the city. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to get to the airport to the city and back again, and make things easier on yourself by dropping off your bags at a luggage storage in Reykjavík. Traveling light will make it much easier to get around, especially if your time is limited.
6 hour layover in Reykjavík
On a six-hour Keflavik layover, you won’t have a ton of time to explore. At least two hours will be eaten up by traveling from and to the airport, and you also need to allow yourself time to clear customs. As a result, you may only have an hour or two in the city.
If you arrive in the city by bus, you’ll be in the perfect place to take a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Tours depart from the same bus terminal that the airport bus calls at, so you’ll be able to jump on the next available tour. The full tour of Reykjavík takes around an hour and will show you some of the city’s most significant locations plus explain a little bit more about their history and importance. It’s a great way to sample the city when you’re pressed for time.
- Make sure you leave yourself enough time to get from the airport to the city and back again.
- A bus tour is a good way to see a lot of the city in a limited timeframe.
- Bus tours leave from the same terminal as the airport bus.
8 hour layover in Reykjavík
If your Reykjavík layover is a little longer, you can see more of what the city has to offer. The hop- on hop-off bus tour is a good way to get a glimpse of what interests you among the city’s top attractions, and you can jump off the tour at any point to further explore the locations it visits.
One iconic location that is not too far from the bus station is the Hallgrimskirkja. This impressive cathedral is the largest church in Iceland and one of the country’s tallest buildings. Opened in 1986, the strikingly modern building is the spiritual heart of the city, and the views from the top of its tower are unforgettable.
- Get a stunning view of Reykjavík from the tower of the city’s cathedral.
- The cathedral is easy to reach from the bus station and is a location on the hop-on hop-off bus tour.
10 hour layover in Reykjavík
With a couple of extra hours to kill, you can visit the National Museum of Iceland. This museum offers a comprehensive overview of Iceland’s history from the very first Viking settlements to the present day. As well as seeing some of the nation’s most important historical artifacts, an ever-changing series of temporary exhibits will help you explore other sides of Icelandic culture. Your interest in history will determine how long you spend at the museum, but anywhere from an hour to two hours should be enough.
- Explore Icelandic history at the National Museum of Iceland.
- The museum can be quickly visited in an hour or explored completely in around two hours.
12 hour layover in Reykjavík
With a longer layover in Reykjavík, you can drop your bags off at a Reykjavík luggage locker and allow yourself to explore the natural side of Iceland. Reykjavík is a small city, meaning it won’t take long to get across town to the harbor. From there, you can embark on a whale watching tour to see some of the wildlife that lives in the waters of the North Atlantic. Tours in speedy RIB boats can take as little as two hours, and you have an excellent chance of spotting whales in their natural habitat, along with seabirds, seals, and other Icelandic wildlife. It’s an excellent way to get some fresh air and some outdoor adventure even on a layover.
- Take a bus, taxi, or walk across town to reach Reykjavík harbor
- Embark on a whale watching tour that can take as little as two hours. See whales, seabirds, seals, and other marine life while enjoying the rugged scenery of Iceland.
24 hour layover in Reykjavík
With a full 24 hour long layover, you can see many of Reykjavík’s top attractions. Plus, an overnight layover lets you enjoy the nightlife of the city. And dropping off your bags at a luggage locker in Reykjavík makes it easy to maximize your time in the city.
Kill two birds with one stone by catching a concert at Reykjavík’s famous Harpa concert hall. This building is famous for its sleek modern architecture and the hot springs outside, but the best way to experience the building and its impressive acoustics is by catching a performance there. Alternatively, you can enjoy the natural bounty of Icelandic fishing and agriculture at Fish Company, one of Iceland’s top restaurants.
The next day, you could delve into Iceland’s Viking history at the popular Saga Museum. Or you could visit the iconic Blue Lagoon, which is outside Reykjavík and on the way back to the airport. Soaking in the striking geothermal waters is one of the most popular activities in Iceland, and will rejuvenate you before your flight. Expect to spend 2 to 3 hours at the Blue Lagoon, or possibly even longer if you really enjoy a relaxing soak.
- Catch a concert at the famous Harpa concert hall to see one of Reykjavík’s most famous buildings and listen to some great music.
- Enjoy Icelandic and international cuisine in some of Reykjavík’s top restaurants.
- Visit the iconic Blue Lagoon and enjoy soaking in the rejuvenating mineral waters.