The Reykjanes Peninsula offers the first impression of Iceland for most visitors, being home to its major international airport at Keflavík and the Blue Lagoon, one of its biggest attractions.
In order to reach Reykjavík, its whole length needs to be driven, following Route 41 towards the bright lights of the capital city.
Reykjanes, if compared with the rest of Iceland, isn’t instantly dazzling – but it’s not all as windswept and barren as these first few miles might suggest and there’s more than a few worthwhile detours from the highway to be considered.
Keflavík itself is best considered as an initial base for visitors keen on self drive trips to the rest of the country.
There is the Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll, which offers an interesting tribute to the energetic and innovative Icelandic music scene, with a particular focus on Björk, Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men, amongst many others.
A closer look at the map will reveal Reykjanes has UNESCO status as a Global Geopark (www.reykjanesgeopark.is), protecting its geological significance.
It provides an early opportunity to observe a split in the Earth’s tectonic plates, with volcanoes, lakes, hot springs and miles and miles of ancient lava fields laid out in every direction.
A few minutes away from Keflavík Airport lies Iceland’s most famous hot pot, The Blue Lagoon, which is easily reached by a short detour on Route 43.
The Blue Lagoon is an inevitable and iconic destination for first time visitors to Iceland, drawing great numbers every day and requiring advance bookings as a result.
Garður lies in the other direction on Route 45, right on the tip of the peninsula, marked by a couple of lighthouses and offering potential whale watching opportunities in Faxafloi Bay and bird watching too.
On the coastal Route 425 lies the Bridge Between Continents, where a smallish metal footbridge offers a chance to traverse the visible gap between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Further south on the 425 coastal road is Brimketill, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes dramatically into lava cliffs, creating an unlikely infinity rock pool feature.
Following Route 425 further will soon lead into the GeoPark itself, through entertainingly winding roads that pick their way across stark and dramatic landscapes, in a mostly sealed road loop that leads onto Route 43 and then a straight, undulating road back towards Route 41 and Reykjavík.