Keflavik International Airport rejseguide
Learn about Keflavik International Airport (KEF), also known as Reykjavik Airport, the main airport of Iceland. This article tells you everything you need to know about flying to Iceland.
Go here to find flights to Iceland. If you have already booked your flights, you can find the cheapest and fastest Flybus ride from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik city here. If you are returning to Keflavik airport from your hotel in downtown Reykjavik, this is the highest-rated Flybus ticket from hotels in Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport.
Before heading to your hotel in Reykjavik, consider visiting the world-renowned Blue Lagoon of Iceland. Hop on this bus that will take you to the Blue Lagoon from Keflavik Airport or this bus transfer from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon. Both transfers include a Comfort admission ticket. You can either return to Reykjavik or the airport without making another reservation.
See also this page to hire the cheapest car rental from Keflavik Airport. All self-drive tours in Iceland start with pick-up from Keflavik airport. Continue reading this article to learn everything else you need to know about the airport in Iceland.
About Keflavik International Airport
Keflavik International Airport (KEF), locally known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur, is the biggest airport in Iceland. Almost seven million passengers arrive here annually. It serves as the gateway and the central hub of transportation for international travelers in the land of fire and ice.
The single-terminal Icelandic airport is open all year round to over 90 destinations and is operated by Isavia, a government enterprise for the Nordic country’s aviation industry.
Where is Keflavik Airport?
Keflavik International Airport is located at the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula, the country’s southwesternmost region. The distance between Keflavik Airport and downtown Reykjavik is 31 miles (50 kilometers), and it takes about 45 minutes to drive.
Is Keflavik Airport the Same as Reykjavik Airport?
Although it serves the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, Keflavik Airport (KEF) is different from Reykjavik Airport (RKV). While the former lies in the town of Keflavik, the latter is located in Reykjavik city.
In addition, Keflavik Airport caters to international flights from territories outside Iceland, while Reykjavik Airport only handles domestic and private aviation, plus Greenland and Faroe Islands. In particular, the domestic airport services flights to Akureyri, Egilsstadir, Husavik, Grimsey, and more local town airports in Iceland.
Flights and Airlines Operating in Keflavik International Airport
Keflavik Airport provides daily, weekly, and seasonal international flights to over 90 cities and countries in Europe and North America. These are a combination of both nonstop and connecting flights. According to flight statistics, Copenhagen, London-Gatwick, Amsterdam, and Paris are the busiest routes connected to Keflavik.
|Direct flights to Iceland via Keflavik airport|
|Faroe Islands||Atlantic Airways||1:30||Denmark|
|London Heathrow||British Airways||3:20||UK|
|New York JFK||Icelandair||6:00||USA|
|New York Stewart||Play||5:40||USA|
With its expansion over the years, the Icelandic airport added more locations to the mix, including Tel Aviv, Alicante, Prague, Nice, and Barcelona. New travel routes are regularly added as Iceland’s popularity and tourism industry skyrocket.
A total of 28 international airlines provide aviation services to millions of passengers at Keflavik Airport yearly. The leading airlines that fly here are the prestigious Icelandair and budget airline Play. Icelandair is the national carrier of Iceland, while Play is a new low-cost air carrier founded in 2019.
Keflavik Airport Amenities and Facilities
Although relatively small, KEF Airport is modern and offers the same facilities you’ll find at large airports worldwide, only on a smaller scale. The airport has restaurants, bars, cafes, convenience stores, banks, a smoking area, duty-free shopping, and a VIP Lounge.
The airport, with a total area of 10 square miles (25 square kilometers), has a single terminal divided into two buildings.
The main building features the arrivals and departures hall, customs, currency exchange and tax refund, car rentals, bus ticket terminal, and a wide selection of shops and restaurants.
The south building houses the border control facilities and additional stores.
As you go around the airport, whether for business or pleasure, you can access its free and unlimited Wi-Fi. Families with small children can also take advantage of the airport’s dedicated play area and strollers.
Keflavik Airport Arrivals Hall
The arrivals hall is one of the largest sections of Keflavik Airport, located on the first floor or ground level. Upon arrival, you can use the airport’s free Wi-Fi and the ATMs available in the hall or baggage claim area.
Duty Free Iceland is also available in the arrivals area before the gates. Considering the price and the lack of availability of alcohol in Iceland, it’s the best place to buy your preferred drink for the trip.
Otherwise, you’ll have to locate specialized alcohol shops operated by the government, which have limited opening hours, are sparse in the country’s remote regions, and have high taxes and duties.
You will also find money exchange services and a convenience store where you can buy a local SIM card. However, if you have a SIM card from anywhere in the EU/EEA, it will work in Iceland as it does at home.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo by Antony-22.
Keflavik Airport Lounge Area
Icelandair, the national carrier of Iceland, manages the VIP Lounge of KEF Airport called Icelandair Saga Lounge.
Inside the Icelandair Saga Lounge are comfortable sofas, recliners, and a dining area with food, tables, and chairs. The lounge’s Nordic design features a fireplace and large windows that provide a panoramic view of the tarmac and the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Other facilities of the VIP Lounge include shower rooms with toiletries and a kids’ play area.
Apart from Saga members, Icelandair Saga Lounge accepts non-Business or First Class passengers at a cost. The facility also welcomes passengers from other airlines who hold a high loyalty status.
Lost and Found
Lost luggage and items can be reported at the airport’s Lost and Found area, open from 08:00 to 16:00. If you lose your luggage at KEF Airport or on any Icelandair and Play flight, you can also report or claim from the Securitas website.
Assistance will also be provided for persons with disability or reduced mobility. You only have to notify your aircraft operator or travel agency at least 48 hours before the flight departure time about the need for assistance.
Arrivals and Departures at Keflavik International Airport
Like any airport worldwide, arriving early at Keflavik Airport is recommended if you want to beat the queue. You can arrive at the airport two to three hours before your departure.
Check-In at Keflavik Airport
Passengers can check in at the terminal’s departure hall on Level 1 of the main building. You can do online and self-check-in to make the process smoother and faster. Most airlines that operate with Keflavik Airport allow online check-in through their websites and apps.
Meanwhile, there are over 60 kiosks available for self-check-in at the airport. You just need to prepare your passport and booking number for the process.
Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by Jeff Hitchcock. No edits made.
Passport Control at Keflavik Airport
Travelers within the Schengen Area don’t have to present their passports at the border control. However, bringing your passport is still highly recommended, so you have a document proving your identity upon request.
On the other hand, foreign nationals not from the EU, EEA, and EFTA member states must present a valid travel document issued in the last 10 years.
Customs at Keflavik Airport
Icelandic customs at KEF Airport allow travelers to bring duty-free imports such as clothing and food, provided they are for personal use and consumption. For personal luggage and traveling gear, these items must be suitable for the length of stay and purpose of visit in Iceland.
Meanwhile, travelers can import food products and items not exceeding 22 pounds (10 kilograms) and ISK 25,000. However, dairy and meat products not from the EEA are prohibited.
For more information, you can visit Iceland Revenue and Customs.
Shops at Keflavik Airport
Besides the four Duty Free stores in the arrivals and departures areas, Keflavik International Airport boasts 60,000 tax-free products in 14 different sectors. You can pay cash or credit cards while shopping in these stores.
The 66 North, locally known as 66 Nordur, is a shop for outdoor clothing. You can buy weatherproof jackets, pants, and weather accessories like hats from the Icelandic store.
The Blue Lagoon sells skincare products like mud masks and serums made from silica, algae, and minerals. The store shares the name of the famous geothermal spa where the products are processed from.
Are you looking for a new pair of headphones to use in Iceland? Stop by Elko electronics store’s selection of mobile phones, gadgets, video games, and other gadget accessories from different international brands.
Epal is a popular designer store in Iceland with high-quality local and Scandinavian furniture. You can order chairs, shelves, and simple home decorations from Epal.
Another specialty shop in Keflavik Aiport is Jens, home of handmade jewelry and souvenirs. The rings, necklaces, and bracelets of Jens feature Icelandic stones with gold and silver designs.
Kormakur and Skjoldur
Formal suits, outdoor clothing, and knitwear made of tweed woolen fabric are the main items of Kormakur and Skjoldur. The clothing shop also carries other known brands like Barbour and Hansen.
Knitting is an Icelandic tradition, making knitwear a fantastic souvenir.
Keflavik Airport’s Optical Studio offers prescription glasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses. The store also conducts optical measurements using the most advanced equipment in optometry.
Penninn Eymundsson is the place to visit for travelers who want to get the latest book releases and magazine editions in several languages. Souvenirs and travel equipment like suitcases are available in the store.
Rammagerdin - Iceland Gift Store
As one of the oldest gift shops in Iceland, Rammagerdin is an excellent place to shop for souvenirs and handicrafts. Woolen sweaters, scented candles, and ceramics are the most common items to see here.
Cafes and Restaurants at Keflavik Airport
For travelers strapped for time, dining at the cafes, convenience stores, and restaurants at Keflavik International Airport is ideal. Besides, these food places offer different options, from Icelandic dishes to ready meals.
10-11 Convenience Store
10-11 is a convenience store and grocery with a wide selection of food items, from ready meals to bottled drinks and chips. Hygiene products can also be found on 10-11’s shelves.
Hja Hollu is a popular restaurant in Keflavik Airport serving wood oven pizzas. There are also healthier options like fresh salad and fruit smoothies if you’re conscious of your calorie intake.
Joe and the Juice
Joe and the Juice is a juice bar and coffee shop excellent for having light meals. The menu has fresh fruit juices, shakes, coffee and tea, and sandwiches.
If you’re looking for a bar with a good ambiance before hopping on your flight back home, Loksins Bar is the place to go. Icelandic beer and Brennivin are must-tries in this local bar.
Travelers searching for healthy light meals will find the acai bowls of Maikai restaurants most appealing. Acai bowls are nutritious meals and snacks made of acai berries topped with other fruit like bananas, strawberries, seeds, and peanuts.
Mathus food house is a family-friendly, self-service restaurant with a wide variety of menus, from breakfast to dinner. The interior design of Mathus takes inspiration from the famous turf houses of Iceland.
Icelandic and Scandinavian dishes are the highlights of Nord restaurant’s menu. You can also buy light and heavy meals at Nord, from sandwiches and croissants to seafood courses.
To beat the cold weather of Iceland, consider buying a cup of coffee or tea at Segafredo cafe. If it’s not too early in the day for you, liquor-based drinks are also available, along with sandwiches and pastries.
All these restaurants and cafes are available at Keflavik Airport’s departure area, while only the 10-11 convenience store and Joe and the Juice are located at the arrival area of Keflavik Airport.
Transportation at Keflavik Airport
Traveling to and from Keflavik International Airport is relatively easy, even for first-timers in Iceland. Public and private transports are available just outside the airport’s main building.
Car Rentals in Keflavik Airport
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Ray Swi-hymn. No edits made.
Your first option to travel from Keflavik to Reykjavik is to rent a car. You can choose from the four car rentals in Keflavik Airport operated by Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Hertz.
Car rental in Iceland is ideal for travelers who want more privacy and mobility. Just make sure to bring your valid driver’s license, book in advance, and check the service desk hours of the car service you chose.
Coaches and Buses at Keflavik Airport
Another convenient and fast option for transport at KEF Aiport is a coach or bus service. This option is popular for travelers who want to be taken to their hotel in Reykjavik with only a few stops along the way.
You can find the buses just outside the terminal exit. There are also assistance and information desks that will help you buy tickets or check you in for the travel.
You may book online in advance if you want a more seamless traveling experience. For example, this premium airport direct transfer from Keflavik to Reykjavik or this express airport bus transfer from Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport will conveniently take you between these two locations.
Public Bus Transportation at Keflavik Airport
If you want a cheaper yet still efficient transfer, you can take the Straeto public bus that operates on scheduled routes. Just look for the Bus 55 sign outside the airport’s main building, and it will take you to the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik.
Taxi Services at Keflavik Airport
Your last option is to take a taxi to and from Reykjavik and KEF Airport. Although they are available 24 hours a day, they can be expensive, ranging from 125 to 180 USD, so ask the driver about the price before riding one.
Parking at Keflavik Airport
Short-term and long-term parking are available in the car parks of Keflavik Aiport. Parking is free for pick-up and drop-off for parking not exceeding 15 minutes.
P1 for short-term parking is just 98 feet (30 meters) from the main building, while long-term parking in the P3 area costs 1750 ISK a day.
Hotels Near Keflavik Aiport
Most travelers to the land of fire and ice arrive at KEF Airport and go straight to Reykjavik or other top attractions in Iceland. However, you may choose to walk a different path and stay in the town of Keflavik for a quick rest before starting your sightseeing tour in Iceland.
In addition, some flights at the airport land late at night or depart early in the morning. So you may not want to go through the 45-minute drive right away. If this is the case, there is a wide selection of top hotels near Keflavik Airport that you may consider.
Courtyard by Marriott
Courtyard by Marriott is the closest major hotel to Keflavik International Airport, just less than a mile (1.3 kilometers) away. The four-star hotel boasts state-of-the-art rooms and facilities for travelers searching for a luxurious stay in Iceland.
Each room of Courtyard by Marriott has a private bathroom, flat-screen television, and free Wi-Fi. Guests will also have access to the hotel’s restaurant, fully-equipped gym, and shared lounge area.
One of the closest Icelandic hotels to KEF Airport is the Hotel Keflavik, just 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers) away. Fortunately, the hotel is located in a place where the airport noise will not bother you.
Hotel Keflavik has standard and deluxe rooms with a modern interior accommodating up to three people. There are also rooms available for bigger groups, families, or those who want a more luxurious stay.
Hotel Berg by Keflavik Airport
Another hotel close to Keflavik International Airport is Hotel Berg, a four-star boutique hotel with a heated pool on its rooftop overlooking the coastline. The accommodation and airport are 2.8 miles (four kilometers) apart.
Guests at Hotel Berg can choose from double and twin rooms. Its excellent amenities include free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant serving traditional Icelandic cuisine.
Travelers looking for a more affordable stay without compromising quality will find staying at Guesthouse Keflavik a good deal. The guest house is 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) from the airport.
Apart from its comfortable rooms, this guesthouse in Keflavik is near town amenities like supermarkets, restaurants, and the coastal walkway.
History of Keflavik International Airport
Keflavik International Airport is a relic from the “invasion of Iceland” in World War II when Allied troops took over the island nation following the occupation of its colonial ruler, Denmark, at the hands of Nazi Germany.
The British laid out a landing strip in the town of Gardur, but considering Iceland’s incredibly strategic position in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, one strip was not quite enough.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Superjet International. No edits made.
After taking control of the operation, US troops built and opened two airfields for military purposes in 1942 and 1943. After returning the property at the war’s conclusion, the United States reclaimed it in 1951 following a controversial defence alliance with Iceland.
This pact, which saw Iceland joining NATO in 1949, caused decades of national protest. The circumstances, however, also allowed decades of development of the main international airport in Iceland.
The airport first started to separate civilian and military use in 1987, with the opening of the Leifur Eriksson Terminal. Named after the first European to reach the Americas, it would go on to handle all visitors coming to or leaving Iceland by air.
Attractions Near Keflavik Airport
Upon arrival at the Keflavik International Airport, don’t miss the chance to visit nearby attractions. After all, the area is home to some of the most beautiful and popular attractions in Iceland.
Blue Lagoon from Keflavik Airport
Outside Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most visited tourist spot. The world-famous geothermal spa is the best place to experience a geothermal bath because of its mineral-rich and milky blue waters.
While staying at the Blue Lagoon, you can access its restaurants, spas, sauna rooms, in-water bars, and more. You can visit the Blue Lagoon by purchasing this Comfort Blue Lagoon admission or this Premium Entrance to the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon is 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the airport along the route to Reykjavik.
Fagradalsfjall Volcano from Keflavik Airport
The start of the hiking trail at Grindavik is only 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the international airport. The hike covers eight miles (13 kilometers) of easy to challenging rugged terrain, which already covers the return hike.
Fortunately, the views that await you at the eruption sites are enough distraction from the exhausting trip. Fresh lava fields, geological formations, and a panoramic view of the Reykjanes Peninsula await you on top of the volcano.
You can experience a thrilling hike to the Fagradalsfjall volcano by joining this eight-hour hike to the Meradalir valley and Fagradalsfjall volcano or this northern lights and Fagradalsfjall hiking combo tour from Reykjavik.