Thursday, March 10, 2011

Traveling with kids: Keflavik Airport, Iceland

Sculptures in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Usually the reason you end up at Keflavik Airport is either that you're going to Iceland, or that you're passing through while traveling with Iceland Air between North America and Europe.

Flying via Iceland might seem like it's out of the way, but really it's not. Most flights between North America and Europe fly right over Iceland, so it makes absolute geographical sense. Iceland Air is also a nice airline, even though they do charge for food, so that's another plus.

My family's experience with Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik was nothing but positive, as I've mentioned before on this blog. Keflavik is actually an especially great airport when you're traveling with kids.

  • It's a smallish airport, which means less endless walking when you're catching a connecting flight.
  • It also means shorter lineups at the security checkpoints. Plus, the security personnel here seem just a tad more friendly, without being at all negligent, than in many other airports.
  • If you're flying Iceland Air through Keflavik, your connecting, outgoing flight is usually arranged to fit with your incoming flight which is nice since it cuts down on wait times in the airport.
  • Also, Iceland Air offers free layovers in Iceland. So if you would like to take a day or two to look around the place, and see some of the sights, then you can do that without paying extra.

Facilities at the airport
The airport itself is clean, modern and feels bright and spacious. There are lots of stores, snack shops and restaurants. We ate at the Bistro Atlantic when we were there. It's a cafeteria style restaurant with a wide selection of hot and cold dishes, burgers, sandwiches and lots more. This is a great eatery when you're traveling with kids, because everyone should be able to find something they like.

There's also a nice Icelandic gift shop called Rammagerðin (get used to the Icelandic alphabet!) with a good selection of locally crafted products. And there's a Blue Lagoon gift shop selling skin care products featuring ingredients from the local hot springs. They have some really great stuff, but it isn't exactly cheap. Does make a nice gift though.

There are several hotels at Keflavik, though if you're staying for a night or more, I'd recommend heading into Reykjavik, just because you'd get to see a little bit more of Iceland that way.

Going to Reykjavik
If you want to go to Reykjavik from the airport, there are cabs and buses available and the ride takes about 45 minutes.

Seeing the landscape of Iceland, even on that short ride to and from the airport, is an experience in itself. Iceland is a starkly beautiful place, in a harsh and unforgiving kind of way. If that makes any sense.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon
You can also take a tour bus directly to the geo-thermal spa at the Blue Lagoon from the airport. The ride takes about 20 minutes, and it is a very nice place to visit. (My kids loved it.) However, be aware that the waters of the Blue Lagoon, while very soothing and relaxing, are also kind of smelly. Even after a shower, some sulfur odor might linger (especially in your swim wear), so do consider that before you make the trip.

Personally I think it's worth it, regardless of the smell, if you have the time.

Read more about my family's experience in Iceland:

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