Information about Keflavík

Keflavík (meaning “Driftwood Bay”) is a town in southwest Iceland, positioned along the Reykjanes coast, 47km from Reykjavík. In 1995, Keflavík merged with Njarðvík and Hafnir to form the municipality of Reykjanesbær, which has a collective population of 15,500. The town is referred to as both Keflavík and Reykjanesbær.

History

Founded in the 16th century by Scottish entrepreneurs, Keflavík developed on account of its fishing and fish processing facilities. Today, it is the fifth most populated town in Iceland but is often unjustly skipped by visitors, who pass the town only whilst travelling from the airport to Reykjavik.

In 1940, during World War II, US forces stationed in Iceland built what would later become Keflavík International Airport. At the time, the airstrip served as an important Allied military base, denying Germany a strategic hold on Iceland and serving as a crucial stopover for refuelling and logistical support. This base would become known as Naval Air Station Keflavík.

Throughout the Cold War, the base was used by NATO forces as a monitoring station for marine and submarine traffic in the Atlantic Ocean. This operation was later expanded by the US Air Force, who added radar capabilities, in-flight refuelling and marine rescue. Soon, Naval Air Station Keflavik was, by all accounts, a 5000 strong settlement. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US began to peel back its operations until finally closing the base in 2006. The former barracks are now used as student accommodation.

Culture

Some have argued that the United States’ involvement in Keflavík had consequences of a more artistic nature. In the seventies, Keflavík was renowned for being home to Iceland’s best musicians, having been introduced to the Americana rock n’ roll scene by US military personnel. This led to the nicknames “the Beatle town” and “the Liverpool of the North”, firmly making the town Iceland’s “Capital of Rock n’ Roll”. 

The Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll goes into the history of Icelandic music as a whole, incorporating punk, pop and folk exhibitions, as well as information boards about native musicians like Björk, Sigurrós and Of Monsters and Men. The museum has its own cinema dedicated to the country’s music scene and shows documentaries such as ‘Screaming Masterpiece’ by Ari Alexander, which explores why Iceland—a country whose artistic reputation was predominantly built on its literature—became known the world over for its enchanting musical ability. 

One cannot mention museums in Keflavik without also discussing “Viking World.” Five exhibitions teach visitors about the history, traditions and customs of the Vikings, delving into their exploratory heritage, the Norse religions and their intrinsic connection to Iceland. A real-life Viking ship is available to walk around and observe from every angle. There is also a settlement zoo which displays the animal breeds Vikings would have reared, as well as a traditional Icelandic turf house. 

Services near Keflavík

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Keflavík

Reykjanes

Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity. Volcanic & Geot...

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Keflavik International Airport

Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is Iceland’s only international airport and the port of arrival for the vast majority of visitors ...

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Eldvörp

  Eldvorp is a crater row of scoria and spatter cones located northwest of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula in Southwest Iceland. The area...

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Miðnesheiði

Miðnesheiði is a heath on the Reykjanes peninsula. Keflavik airport is located on this heath, as well as the abandoned American military base....

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Eldey

Eldey is a small island southwest of the tip of Reykjanes, and situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (see continental drift). Another island was formed f...

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Njarðvík

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Marek Slusarczyk. Njarðvík is a town located on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the southwestern ...

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Hvalneskirkja

  Hvalneskirkja is a beautiful stone church in Hvalnes on the Reykjanes peninsula, built in the years 1886-87. The church's altarpiece is ...

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Sandgerði

  Sandgerdi is a village on the Reykjanes peninsula, covering the western shore of Midnes to the northernmost part of the peninsula, Gardskagi. ...

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Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa found on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland. The Blue Lagoon is the single most popular visitor a...

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Svartsengi

  The Svartsengi Power Station is a geothermal powerstation on the Reykjanes peninsula. Its energy, as of 2007, measures at 76.5 MW, with abou...

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Sandvík & Continental Bridge

Sandvik, by the southwest tip of the Reykjanes peninsula, is a popular destination for travellers, best known for its continental bridge. The Reykjan...

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Grindavík

Grindavík is a fishing town on the south side of the Reykjanes peninsula.   The town has one of the most active fishing industries in the...

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Hópsnes

Hopsnes (a.k.a. Thorkotlustadanes) is a small peninsula in Grindavik in Southwest Iceland. Many ships have stranded at Hopsnes and can be seen from t...

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Búri

Buri, in the Leitahraun lava field on the Reykjanes peninsula, is widely considered to be the most spectacular lava tube in Iceland. This lava tube w...

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Gunnuhver

  Gunnuhver is a collective name for an impressive and colourful geothermal field of various mud pools and fumaroles in the southwest part of Re...

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Keilir

Mt. Keilir is a volcanic mountain, southwest of Hafnarfjörður, and is the most recognisable landmark on the Reykjanes Peninsula. For vis...

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Reykjanesviti Light House

Reykjanesviti is the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, located on the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula.  Originally built in 1878, it was damaged be...

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Selatangar

Photo from: The Ruins of Selatangar.  Selatangar is one of the few coastal fishing stations that still exists in Iceland, found in the south of ...

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Spákonuvatn

Spákonuvatn is a beautiful crater lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula, surrounded by the haunting lunar landscapes that define this region. Loca...

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Ögmundarhraun

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Reykholt Ögmundarhraun is a lava field on the southern side of the Reykjanes Peninsula, which was for...

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Tours near Keflavík

Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik

Jump aboard this whale-watching excursion to see the incredible wealth of marine wildlife just......

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Blue Lagoon Bus Transfer from Reykjavik

Relax in the beautiful, revitalising waters of the Blue Lagoon. This transfer makes visiting......

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