Information about Keflavik International Airport

An Icelandair flight arriving at Keflavík. Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Simon Law

Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is Iceland’s only international airport and the port of arrival for the vast majority of visitors to the country. In 2016 alone, almost seven million passengers went through its gates.

The History of Keflavík International Airport

Keflavík International Airport is a relic from the ‘invasion of Iceland’ in World War II, when Allied troops took over the island nation following the defeat of its colonial ruler, Denmark, at the hands of the Nazis.

The British laid out a landing strip in the town of Garður, but considering Iceland’s incredibly strategic position in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, one strip was not quite enough.

After taking control of the ‘occupation’, US troops constructed and opened two airfields for military purposes in 1942 and 1943. Though they returned the property after the war, the United States reclaimed it in 1951 after a controversial defence alliance with Iceland.

This pact, and the general joining of NATO in 1949, caused decades of national protest, comparable to the ‘Women’s Day Off’ marches in 1975 and the ‘Kitchenware Revolution’ which followed the 2008 economic crash. The circumstances of it, however, also allowed decades of development at Keflavík Airport.

The airport first started to separate civilian and military use in 1987, with the opening of the Leifur Eríksson Terminal. Named after the first European to settle the Americas, it would go on to handle all the guests coming to or leaving Iceland.

The arrangement that the US would provide Iceland’s defences continues to this day, but their permanent bases at Keflavík were left at the expiration of the treaty in 2006. The airport was thus moved into full control of Icelanders and has expanded as a civilian hub ever since.

Keflavik International Airport Today

The northern lights over the Reykjanes Peninsula, where Iceland's International Airport is located.

Keflavík International is located on the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland’s south-westernmost region. The drive to the capital city of Reykjavík is only about forty-five minutes, and there is a bus service that continuously runs between the locations, day and night.

This service provides guests with the option to stop at the Blue Lagoon en route in either direction, the iconic health spa renowned for its healing azure waters. The lagoon sits between the airport and the capital, refreshing guests after a long flight, or revitalising them in preparation for one.

The airport itself has all the modern amenities one would expect from a port that experiences so much traffic. It has restaurants, bars and cafés, banks and money transfers, car rental options available, a smoking area and, of course, many options for duty-free shopping.

Considering the price of and lack of availability of alcohol in Iceland, it is the best place to stock up on any tipple desired for your trip. Otherwise, you will have to locate specialist alcohol shops, which have limited opening hours, are sparse in the remote regions of the country, and have high taxes and duty.

The main airlines that arrive at and depart from Keflavík are the two national carriers, the prestigious Icelandair and budget airline WOW. Over thirty different carriers have chartered flights to the port, however, which head to over ninety different destinations. This is only ever increasing, with new travel routes emerging as Iceland’s popularity continues to skyrocket.

 

Services near Keflavik International Airport

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Keflavik International Airport

Keflavík

Keflavík (meaning ‘Driftwood Bay’) is a town in southwest Iceland, positioned along the Reykjanes coast, 47 kilometres (29 miles ...

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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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Bridge Between Continents

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo by Chris 73 The Bridge Between the Continents is a bridge on the Reykjanes Peninsula that connects the North Ameri...

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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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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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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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Bridge Between Continents

The Bridge Between Continents (Miðlína) is an attraction found on Reykjanes peninsula, not far from Keflavík international airport. ...

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Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa found on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland. It is the most popular attraction in Iceland drawing...

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Reykjanes

Reykjanes is a peninsula in south-west Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and heightened geothermal activity.   Volcani...

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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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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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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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Grindavík

Grindavík is a fishing town on the southern side of Reykjanes Peninsula. It has a population of approximately 3,300 people. Industry and Cul...

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Brimketill lava rock pool

Brimketill is a coastal rock pool on the Reykjanes Peninsula, renowned for its differing beauty between the seasons and its folklore. Folklore at B...

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Gunnuhver

Gunnuhver is the name of an impressive and colourful geothermal field of various mud pools and fumaroles in the southwest part of the Reykjanes Peni...

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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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Reykjanesviti Light House

Reykjanesvíti is the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, located on the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula. History of Reykjanesvíti Lighthous...

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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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Selatangar

Photo from: The Ruins of Selatangar.  Selatangar is the ruins of a coastal fishing station in Iceland. It can be found in the south of the Reyk...

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