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The Top Must-See Locations around Iceland

International visitors arrive at Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport. Your only transport options from the airport are by car, shuttle, or bus to your destination. Arrange for a car rental in Keflavík and you’ll be ready to start exploring the island in any direction. The pristine natural wonders of Iceland that draw visitors from around the world are easier to reach with a 4x4 car rental.
 
Here’s a list of the top must-see locations within easy driving distance of major cities and towns when you rent a car in Iceland.

Reykjavík

The capital city of Iceland, Reykjavík is a short 45-minute drive from the Keflavik International Airport, and is its largest city. Besides a thriving, well-known nightlife and music scene, it offers wonderfully varied daytime options.

  • The Golden Circle – create your own tour with an Iceland car rental, or join a private day tour to do the full 185-mile (300k) circuit. Experience the island’s most extraordinary glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes, side by side in this land of ice and fire, stopping to walk inside a deep, glacial ice cave (be sure to prepare for temperature extremes and bring food and water; guide recommended for a cave visit).
  • Harpa Concert Hall – the extraordinary architecture is worth a visit. Include it in your walking tour of the city center, to see the sparkling all-glass walls inside and out, or better yet, to enjoy a live concert.

Reykjanesbaer
Reykjanesbaer and the Reykjanes Peninsula are known as the gateway to Iceland. Towns include Keflavík and Njarðvík, and villages of Hafnir and Asbru.

  • Geopark – here, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes ashore, giving rise to an unrivaled display of active volcanic and geothermal sites.
  • Víkingaheimar – a Norse exhibition center along the Njarðvík waterfront is as much an architectural wonder as a site for fascinating cultural heritage.
  • Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll – new to the lineup of interesting museums, it showcases the tremendous contributions of Icelandic musicians, ranging from Björk to Of Monsters and Men.

Kópavogur
Iceland’s second largest city and just south of Reykjavík, it is only a ten-minute drive away.

  • Borgarholt – near the Natural History Museum, take the short walk/hike uphill to the town’s highest spot. In this protected natural preserve you’ll view evidence of the last Ice Age glacial retreat, and marvel at a spectacular view of the region.
  • Gerðarsafn Art Museum – features an extensive collection by Icelandic sculptor and stained glass artist, Gerður Helgadóttir, plus an extraordinary collection of 20th century Icelandic art.

Hafnarfjörður – a great zone for experiencing all aspects of Icelandic culture, it’s a short drive from Reykjavík through this village to road #41 along the north shore and on to Keflavík International Airport, where you can conveniently turn in your car rental in Iceland.   

  • Geothermal Pools – locals strongly recommend a visit to one of three large, warm geothermal swimming pools for a uniquely healing experience in the mineral-rich waters.
  • Hidden Folk and Elves settlement -- the town is famous for its rich folklore, centered around legendary elves, dwarves, and others, referred to as “Hidden Folk.” There are several themed parks and gardens, some offering guided Elf walks.
  • Viking Village – get a real taste of Viking culture with a Viking feast, or just tour the interesting exhibits of Viking life and heritage on the island.
  • Ishestar Riding Center – offers daily Icelandic horseback riding tours all year round, a fun way to see the natural beauty of otherwise hard-to-access locales.

Sources:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g189970-Reykjavik_Capital_Region-Vacations.html
http://safnabokin.is/museum/arbaer-museum
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/keflavik-njardvik-reykjanesbaer
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/keflavik-njardvik-reykjanesbaer/sights/museums-galleries/icelandic-museum-rock-n-roll
http://safnabokin.is/museum/kopavogur-art-museum-gerdarsafn
http://www.visithafnarfjordur.is/activities-and-leisures/news/nr/96
http://www.visithafnarfjordur.is/activities-and-leisures/elves-and-vikings