Keflavík: sights and the unique nature of Iceland
“First we do it, then we like it.” (Icelandic motto)
Keflavík, the sixth largest city in Iceland, is an important port city in both senses of the word. In addition to the picturesque sea port of Keflavik with impressive historical buildings from the 19th century, there is also the port for aircraft from all over the world: Keflavik International Airport was expanded for the third time in 2015 and is also a NATO military airfield. The approach to the airport, named after the Icelandic explorer Leif Eriksson, the “lucky one”, leads over the wide lava fields of Iceland’s “Rauchspitze”.
The name of the largest city on the Reykjanes Peninsula means “driftwood bay” – based on the story of the first settler Ingólfur Arnarson. With him the colonization of Iceland by the Vikings began. 500 years later, Keflavík was already an important trading center and fishing location – numerous historical buildings tell of the importance and prosperity of the city, which is only 40 km away from the capital Reykjavík. Since 1994, Keflavík and the localities of Njarðvík and Hafnir have jointly formed the municipality of Reykjanesbær.
Landing at Keflavik Airport begins an exciting journey across the world’s largest volcanic island – the region around the “Driftwood Bay” offers fascinating cultural and breathtaking experiences of nature.
Nature and culture – arrival at the “hidden people”: “Water that flows under lava is fertile.”
Every study trip through the land of fire and ice is accompanied by the “hidden people”, the trolls, fairies and elves, as well as the four guardian spirits of the country – because the magical world of fairy tales and myths has been part of the culture of this island for centuries. One of the stories that every visitor to Keflavik should know is the legend of “Kjartan from Keflavík”, who was allowed to see the elven dwellings on the fjord on the other side. On this side of the driftwood bay, the visitor sees a picturesque harbor promenade with expressive historical buildings. One of the most famous is the red house of the Danish merchant Peter Duus.
The Duushúsis located in the old port of Gröfn and houses the Byggdasafn Sudurnesja museum with almost 60 different ship models. Also in the sign of the maritime tradition, the fisherman’s monument is very close – a work of the pioneer of sculpture in Iceland Ásmundur Sveinsson.
The white and blue lighthouse Vatnsnesviti was also in the service of seafaring and the Vikingaheimar Viking Museum, where the replica of the legendary Viking ship Íslendigur is presented, tells of adventures at sea.
The mass on Sjómannadagurinn, the “Seaman’s Day”, is celebrated in the small church Keflavíkurkirkja, built in 1915.
In addition to the seafaring tradition that has been cultivated over the centuries, a trip through the surroundings of Keflavik reveals another, albeit completely different, connection to the wet element.
The blue lagoon
Not far from the city, the ” Blue Lagoon ” near Grindavik offers its visitors attractions such as a waterfall, steam baths, a lava cave and a sauna between lava fields and black sandy beaches. The “Bláa Lonið” lava basin, which is filled with one third of fresh water and two thirds of salt water, is a unique natural phenomenon. The Gunnuhver volcano rises to the west of the small fishing village of Grindavík and anyone who drives further across the Reykjanes Peninsula can stand on the “bridge between the continents” with one leg in North America and the other in Europe.
A sailing tour in Faxaflói Bay also promises to be a very special experience – with a little luck you will find it in the company of minke and humpback whales, White-beaked dolphins, puffins and gannets. Of course, we also recommend a city tour in nearby Reykjavík or a trip to the spectacular lava waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss – but an eventful day between the culture and nature of Keflavik and the surrounding area should end with traditional Icelandic food culture: with island specialties such as fish, Lamb or reindeer and with a strong sip Íslenskt Brennivín to finish off. Skál!