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Keflavík may be best known as Iceland's nearest community to the international airport, but that's not all it has going for it. Found on the Reykjanes peninsula, it's also ideally located for trips to the steamy, milky-turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon and further east to the otherworldly volcanic landscapes of the Golden Circle. If you're on a tour of the country's southeast or need a place for the first or final night of your travels, Keflavík makes a handy base.
Hostels in Keflavík include budget places with retro-style private rooms and huge exterior murals, as well as minimalist accommodation with views of the sea. Some spots feature well-equipped self-catering kitchens so you can save cash by eating in. If you're arriving early or late, accommodation with a 24-hour reception is ideal. And a Keflavík hostel that has free breakfast is a good choice when you’re keen to get up and out as early as possible.
Keflavík is a small, quirky settlement of low-rise houses surrounded by lava and moss fields. Useful amenities like supermarkets and bakeries are scattered around town. When the sun shines, you can see all the way over the pretty bay to Snæfellsjökull, a mountain 115km into the distance. Nearby Njarðvík, less than 10 minutes' drive along the coast, is a smaller spot right on the sea. It's home to the Viking World Museum with its replica of a 9th-century ship.
Most travellers head to Iceland with their sights set on the Golden Circle. This includes Þingvellir National Park, a fissured landscape created by the constantly shifting tectonic plates beneath it. There's also Geysir, which shoots hot water out of the ground at dramatic speed, and Gullfoss, a wide waterfall in a striking moss-covered setting. Closer to Keflavík, you can visit the geothermal Gunnuhver Hot Springs area to see bubbling pools of water and steam clouds rising from the ground. If you have some time to spare in town, check out the interactive Icelandic Museum of Rock'n'Roll.
Being so close to the airport, you can take a quick taxi ride or even walk to your hostel in Keflavík. To see the sights, there are plenty of tours to choose from online, especially if you're doing the Golden Circle. If you haven't booked an organised trip, you can rent a car to see Iceland at a leisurely pace – but make sure to check if you'll need gravel protection and insurance for sand and ash coverage. It's a 45-minute drive to Reykjavík, the country's capital, from Keflavík.