Gray Line Iceland - How far is Keflavík from Reykjavík

Posted by Admin on 15 Apr 2024

How far is Keflavik Airport from Reykjavik?

First time visitors to Iceland might be a little surprised that their flight to Reykjavik doesn’t land in the Icelandic capital. Let’s take a look at where the airport is located, why it’s not in Reykjavik and how to get between the two.

Inside Keflavík International Airport

Where is Keflavik Airport?

Keflavik Airport is located on the north western tip of the Reykjanes peninsula. This is the region of Iceland that’s south of the capital. In fact, it’s the most south westerly part of the country. It’s situated close to the small town of Keflavik, which contains a few museums, some tourist accommodation and places to eat. But most visitors to Iceland are keen to get across to Reykjavik, which is a much larger base from which to sightsee. Keflavik Airport is about 48km or 30 miles from the Icelandic capital, so you won’t be far from your destination when you touch down on the tarmac.

Getting from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik

Getting from Keflavik to Reykjavik is pretty straightforward. There’s a good road that runs along the north coast of the Reykjanes peninsula, passing Vogar along the way. The town of Hafnarfjördur is the first major settlement that you reach, and before long you loop round and start to see the outskirts of Reykjavik itself. To reach downtown Reykjavik or the old harbour takes about 45 to 50 minutes. The traffic usually runs quite smoothly, particularly if you compare it to major US cities or other European capitals.

Why isn’t Iceland’s main international airport closer to the city?

To understand why, we first need to look at the airport’s early history. In the 1940s, Iceland was valuable strategically for Allied forces as it’s located midway between North America and Europe. But the population of Iceland is tiny and there was little need for major transport infrastructure. The British had a small airfield but it wasn’t sufficient for Allied needs so a deal was struck to place a US airfield on the site of what’s now Keflavik.

What happened after World War Two?

After the war, the military packed up and went home, but their connection to this part of Iceland wasn’t over. In 1951, the Americans struck a new deal and came back to Keflavik to use it as a military base. And that’s how things were for a while. But as civilian air travel increased, a problem arose with the two sharing the same facilities. In the 1980s, a dedicated passenger terminal was built and it’s this – since expanded – that we now know as Keflavik Airport.

So there’s no airport in Reykjavik itself?

Actually no – Reykjavik does have an airport. It’s located just on the edge of the city centre. You’ll see it easily from the viewing platform at the top of Hallgrímskirkja. But this airport is primarily used for domestic flights. If you fly in from North America or mainland Europe, you won’t land here. Instead, you’ll be over at Keflavik. However, if you’re flying from Reykjavik to a domestic destination, perhaps Ísafjörður in the Westfjords or Egilsstaðir over in East Iceland, then you’ll depart from Reykjavik Airport.

How important is it that you know which airport you’re using?

So long as you’re clear where you’re landing, then it really doesn’t matter at all. In fact, as transfer options are concentrated on Keflavik Airport – there are many more flights and thus a much greater number of passengers needing to be served – in some respects you might even say it’s easier to get from Keflavík Airport to the city centre than from Reykjavik Airport itself.

What are your options if you’re arriving at Keflavik Airport but need to get to Reykjavik?

If you need to transfer between Keflavik Airport and the Icelandic capital, there are a number of options. Depending on what you choose to do, they can take from around 45 minutes to an hour or so. Let’s take a look:

· Rent your own car

On paper this is the fastest method of getting between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik city centre. Pop your route into Google maps or a similar app and you’ll most likely be told the journey time is around 45 minutes. But of course, that doesn’t factor in the time you’ll need to spend doing the paperwork when you pick up your rental car and neither does it allow for the time you’ll spend finding a parking space. Having your own vehicle makes sense if you’re planning to visit a lot of the Icelandic countryside, but within Reykjavik, getting around on foot or by city bus is straightforward and works out much cheaper. Taxis are also available at the airport, but they’ll often work out very expensive.

· Use public transport

There are no railways in Iceland – at least for now – so if you’re keen to make use of public transport then you’ll be riding on the bus. There is a public bus route that links Keflavik Airport to Hafnarfjördur and to Reykjavik. It’s the number 55 and it gets you to the BSI main bus terminal. Sometimes you’ll be able to stay on the same vehicle all the way to the main bus station in the capital but at certain times of day you’ll need to transfer between buses. The good news is that this option is very cheap, but it is also the slowest, so your airport transfer will eat in to your sightseeing time.

· Use an airport express transfer service

Gray Line Iceland offers a transfer direct from the airport forecourt to the centre of Reykjavik. It’s called Airport Direct by Gray Line Iceland. Though it works out more expensive than the city bus, you’ll save a considerable amount of time in the process. Not only is the journey time quicker, but frequent departures throughout the day mean that you won’t wait for long before you board. Services run through the night so if your flight is delayed you can be confident that you will still be able to use GrayLine’s airport transfer service, even if it isn’t at the time you originally planned. Many travellers opt to buy a return ticket. You’ll save 15% if you book a round trip, saving you money that can be spent on something fun during your trip.

With online booking, WiFi on the bus and plenty of space for your luggage, not to mention an onward minibus service to get you close to your chosen accommodation, it’s a popular option with foreign travellers. You can also book a bus ticket that goes via the Blue Lagoon, a luxury geothermal spa in the middle of the Reykjanes peninsula. Store your luggage in the lockers while you have a soak and then hop on another GrayLine bus to complete your journey to Reykjavik once you’re done.

As with any aspect of travel, it’s always useful to know what your options are before you leave home. You can make the choice that best suits your needs and if that’s with us, you can relax knowing that you’ve already paid. And if you end up making the short journey from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavík on an Airport Direct by Gray Line Iceland bus, we’ll be delighted to welcome you on board.

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