Every tourist that comes to Iceland sets foot in Keflavík, but they rarely stay there—staring at the town instead through the windows of the Flybus. Not wishing to sugar-coat it: Keflavík has a questionable reputation. It’s not necessarily a place most Icelanders would visit in their free time. When I asked friends who had lived there for recommendations, most laughed: “Uh, leave?”
Iceland 4 real
But, not to be deterred, I approached my visit to Keflavík with no bias, and I’m happy I did, because I found it to be a delightful little city with a charm of its own. Unlike Reykjavík, dotted with Puffin Shops and tourist information centres, Keflavík feels more like a real town. There are coffee shops, hair salons, and an optician. It’s kind of refreshing, especially for those who’d like to see the “authentic” side of life in Iceland.
I started my day at Kaffi Duus. Armed with a cup of coffee, I sampled the buffet, which had a selection of fish, meat, and soup. The meal was satisfying, but I wouldn’t necessarily choose the place as a culinary destination. Rather, it was the location that made this place worthy of a visit. The café sits right on the harbour, with a beautiful view of the rugged sea and colorful fishing boats. We often think of lava fields and volcanoes when thinking of Icelandic scenery, but the coastline of Keflavík is a treasure. Mother Atlantic is harsh and unrelenting, yes, but she’s also incredibly beautiful. There’s a path along the shore from Kaffi Duus that was absolutely marriage-proposal-worthy. I didn’t get a chance to walk it, but I certainly fantasised.
A Sleeping Giant
Attached to Kaffi Duus is the Duus Museum. There are a few collections housed in the museum, each vastly different than the other. The first contains a number of model ships, but the word “number” fails to do it justice. The guide tells me that only one fifth of Grímur Karlsson’s work lies in this particular museum, which is insane, as there are model ships literally as far as the eye can see.
There are also two temporary exhibits at the moment—one by Íis Rós Söring and another by Elinrós Blomquist Eyjólfsdóttir. I was particularly fond of Elinrós’s flowers, made in kind of an O’Keeffe-rococo style. I was instantly in love.
But walk down the road from Duus, and you’ll come across something unexpected. After a path sprinkled with massive footprints, a haphazard stone house comes into view. This is Skessuhellir—the home of a giantess. Inside, fast asleep in a rocking chair, a massive lady lies. I’m not going to lie, I found the whole thing kind of creepy. But it was definitely an experience I’ll remember—no magic beans required.
So while you might not put Keflavík onto your must-see list in Iceland, you could definitely spend a lovely day there. Stop by the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll, enjoy a coffee on the coast, check out some beautiful art—what more could you ask for?