Welcome to the land of fire and ice—Iceland.
In this blog post, we’re going to share the 9 BEST Iceland volcanoes! We’ll go over their characteristics, what you can expect, and if the volcano is open to visit! It’s up to you to decide if said volcano is visit- and INSTAGRAM-worthy!
We’ll also give you recommendations for the best and most professional TOUR OPERATORS that offer packages to visit the volcanoes!
Let’s get started!
Below, you can find our nine absolute favorite volcanoes in Iceland!
Let’s start with the most famous volcano in the world: Eyjafjallajökull. We believe that it is also one of the best Iceland volcanoes. Check out below why!
Can you visit Eyjafjallajökull?
Yes, you can visit Eyjafjallajökull! Hiking up Eyjafjallajökull can be an AMAZING experience, offering beautiful views of the green landscape all around.
The hike starts by going up a small mountain and follows an old trek, which is mostly gravel and moss. The beginning of the hike is steep, but after every hill, there is a flat area where you can rest.
The trail for hiking Eyjafjallajökull is a 10.7-mile loop near Skógar, in Southern Iceland. This trail is generally considered HIGHLY CHALLENGING, so it’s recommended only for experienced hikers.
One popular route starts from Skógar, leading to Þórsmörk between two glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. This trail takes hikers past mighty WATERFALLS and through newly formed landscapes.
A tour to the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue is also a great way to experience Icelandic nature, especially if you’re not up for a full hike up the volcano.
You can climb Eyjafjallajokull all year round, but late spring or early summer is the ideal time for INEXPERIENCED mountaineers.
Ever want to experience volcanoes differently? BOOK A HELICOPTER TOUR! Helo Helicopter offers trips to the Reykjanes Peninsula, just 15 minutes flying from Reykjavik! You’ll be able to witness steaming lava!
Sidenote: This tour is sometimes not available due to eruptions in the area!
- Size and Structure: The mountain itself stands at 1,651 meters (5,417 feet) at its highest point.
- Eruption History: Eyjafjallajökull is known for its 2010 eruption, which caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe. REMEMBER from on the TV news channels?
- Ice Cap: The volcano is completely covered by an ice cap that feeds several outlet glaciers. The name Eyjafjallajökull translates to “the glacier of the mountains of the islands,” referencing these glacial features.
- Effect on Climate and Agriculture: The 2010 eruption resulted in high levels of ash being thrown into the atmosphere, which blocked sunlight and affected agricultural production in some areas of Iceland’s volcanoes.
One of the biggest and most active Iceland volcanoes is called Katla.
Can you visit Katla?
Yes, you can visit Katla! However, hiking to the top of Katla is NOT a typical TOURIST activity due to the EXTREME CONDITIONS and potential dangers associated with its status as an active volcano.
Hiking on the glacier that covers Katla, namely Mýrdalsjökull, is a popular activity. You can join tours that offer a 3-hour glacier hike above Katla Volcano in Sólheimajökull for breathtaking views of ice and volcanic ash-covered land (see below for tour options). Also, some excursions take you through ICE CAVES, blue glaciers, and black sand beaches.
If you’re looking for a challenging hiking route, the Katla Geopark G8+G9 Loop near Mýrdalshreppur, Southern Iceland, is a 9.5-mile trail that generally takes an average of 5 hours and 32 minutes to complete.
The tour to the Katla ice cave is considered easy walking, though it involves some bending down through the cave and a bit of climbing and leaping.
- Eruption History: Katla has had at least 20 recorded eruptions since the ninth century, making it one of the most active volcanoes in recorded history. Usually, these eruptions take place every 40 to 80 years. Despite lesser eruptions in 1955, 1999, and 2011, the last significant eruption was in 1918.
- Impact of Eruptions: Katla’s eruptions often result in significant FLOODING due to the melting of the glacial ice cap, known as a jökulhlaup. The 1918 eruption extended the coastline by 5 km due to the massive amounts of floodwater carrying sediment to the sea.
- Current State: Today, Katla is closely monitored due to its potential for explosive eruptions. Despite this, the area around Katla offers popular hiking routes and stunning natural beauty.
- Geothermal Activity: There’s significant geothermal heat under the glacier, resulting in large ice caves that attract tourists and researchers. These caves are unstable and can be dangerous due to the risk of collapse and sudden floods.
Laki, or Lakagígar, is a volcanic fissure located in the south of Iceland.
Can you visit Laki?
Yes, you can visit the Laki volcano!
The Laki visitor’s trail is an EASY and SHORT walk amidst old lava and small craters created during the Laki eruption in the late 1700s. The trail passes through one of the craters, and the start of the visitor trail is marked by an information sign where visitors can pick up a guide leaflet.
From the car park, it’s a pleasant walk up the mountain Laki, which stands 200 m above the surrounding area. The mountain can be climbed from the car park at Laki. At the top of Mt. Laki, you are rewarded with excellent views of the crater row and the Vatnajökull glacier in the background.
- Size and Structure: The Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano system together form one of the largest volcanic systems regarding Iceland volcanoes. The Laki segment itself is about 25 km long.
- Eruption History: The most famous eruption occurred in 1783-1784, known as the Laki or Skaftár Fires. This eruption produced about 14 cubic km of basaltic lava.
- Environmental Impact: The 1783-1784 eruptions had severe environmental consequences, leading to a DROP in global temperatures, as sulfur dioxide was released into the Northern Hemisphere. This caused CROP FAILURES in Europe and may have caused droughts in India.
- Current State: Today, Laki is closely monitored due to its historical activity. Despite its potential for eruption, it’s a popular tourist attraction with hiking routes for visitors to safely explore the area.
Did you know:that at Vestmannaeyjar, you can experience the contrast between volcanic stones and green grass right next to the sea? With the last eruption of Eldfell in 1973, the island got 2 square km bigger. The people living on the island feared that the lava would close the entrance to their only harbor. So they tried to cool the lava down with water to secure the future of their important fishing port.
Eldfell is one of the most fascinating Iceland volcanoes located on the ISLAND of Heimaey.
Can you visit Eldfell?
Yes, you can visit the Eldfell volcano in Iceland.
There are several ways to experience Eldfell.
- You can take a guided Puffin and Volcano Tour (see below for recommendations).
- You can also hike up the volcano independently. The hike to the top takes around 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your pace. There are many different walking tracks available for exploration.
- Eruption History: The most notable eruption of Eldfell occurred on January 23, 1973. This eruption was catastrophic, causing significant air travel disruption and land destruction. The eruption lasted for about five months.
- Accessibility: The volcanic cone of Eldfell is just outside Vestmannaeyjar, the main town, and is accessible by a loose ash path up to the 221m crater. The GROUND IS STILL WARM in certain places due to the geothermal heat.
- Impact: The 1973 eruption destroyed several hundred homes and the displacement of the island’s residents. However, it also led to an increase in the island’s size and the creation of a new mountain.
- Current State: Today, Eldfell stands as a reminder of the power of nature. Visitors can hike to the top of the volcano and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active and fascinating Iceland volcanoes.
Can you visit Hekla?
Yes, you can visit Hekla, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes.
A hike to Hekla’s summit, which is 1491 meters high, is often placed on many adventurers’ BUCKET LISTS. The trail is generally considered challenging and is typically a 4.1-mile point-to-point trail. Despite its reputation for eruptions, a trail has been re-established since the 2000 eruption, leading most of the way up the mountain.
The best route for the hike is usually up the Northern part of the 4 km-long mountain ridge. From Raudaskal crater parking, there are many walking tracks, with the easiest ascent of Hekla.
- Type of Volcano: Hekla is classified as a stratovolcano, which is characterized by its large size and symmetrical shape. It’s also known for having a mixed morphological type between that of a fissure vent and stratovolcano sited at a rift-transform junction.
- Location: Situated in the south of Iceland, near the southern end of the country’s eastern volcanic rift zone.
- Size and Structure: The volcano’s ridge stretches about 40 km (25 miles) long. The mountain itself stands 1,491 meters (4,892 feet) tall. It features a 5.5 km (3.4 miles) long fissure called Heklugjá, which is active along its entire length during major eruptions.
- Eruptive History: Hekla is notably active and has a history of regular eruptions, particularly throughout the 20th century. Significant eruptions occurred in the years 1947, 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2000.
- Current State: Today, Hekla remains one of the most active Iceland volcanoes. Its eruptions can occur along various fissures, and they don’t always originate from the same fissure. This volcanic activity is typical of Iceland’s volcanoes.
- Historical Significance: Historically, Hekla has been referred to as the “Gateway to Hell” due to its frequent and explosive eruptions. Despite its reputation, it attracts many visitors each year who are drawn to its unique geological features and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
- Notable Features: Hekla’s structure is considered intermediate between a crater row of Laki-type and a stratovolcano of the Vesuvius-type. It’s built on a 5 km-long fissure system.
In northeastern Iceland, in the Mvatn region, sits the caldera known as Krafla.
Can you visit Krafla?
Yes, you can visit Krafla. Its highest peak reaches up to 818 m and it is 2 km in depth.
To get there, you can drive on the Ring Road (Road 1) towards Mývatn and then take a turn onto Road 863 which will take you directly to Krafla. Please be aware that due to weather conditions, parts of the area may be inaccessible at times, especially during winter.
- Eruptive History: The most notable eruptions occurred in a cycle between 1975 and 1984, known as the “Krafla Fires.” This period was characterized by nine volcanic eruptions and fifteen uplift and subsidence events. Before this cycle, the last confirmed eruption at Krafla was in 1729.
- Geothermal Activity: Krafla has significant geothermal activity. The Krafla Geothermal Power Station, which harnesses the energy from the volcano, is located nearby.
- Current State: Today, signs of geothermal activity, including fumaroles, MUD pools, and HOT SPRINGS, are visible around Krafla. Despite its potential for volcanic activity, it’s a popular tourist attraction with marked hiking trails for visitors to safely explore the area.
- Significant Features: One of the remarkable features in the Krafla area is Víti, a large explosion crater about 300 meters in diameter filled with a bright blue geothermal lake.
Askja is a fascinating and active volcano located in the remote central highlands of Iceland.
DID YOU KNOW: Askja is known for its dramatic eruptions and stunning natural landscapes. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland!
Can you visit Askja?
Yes, you can visit Askja! The name Askja refers to a complex of nested calderas within the surrounding Dyngjufjoll Mountains.
Hiking to Askja and Víti the from Vikraborgir car park towards Víti and Öskjuvatn is relatively easy and will take you about 20-40 minutes one way.
Please note that Iceland’s highlands are remote and can be challenging to traverse, so it’s recommended to check the road and weather conditions before you go! Be safe!
- Eruption History: Askja is mainly a basaltic volcano with effusive eruptions both at the caldera and further afield. The most notable eruption occurred in 1875, causing the formation of Öskjuvatn, a DEEP lake that fills the smaller of the two visible calderas.
- Lake Askja: Lake Askja, also known as Öskjuvatn, is the deepest lake in Iceland with a depth of more than 200 m (656 ft). It formed in 1875 when a powerful eruption occurred in the south of the caldera.
- Current State: Presently, Askja is closely monitored due to its activity. Despite its potential for explosive eruptions, it’s a popular tourist destination offering spectacular views and hiking opportunities.
- Significant Features: One of the remarkable features in the Askja area is Víti, an explosion crater filled with warm, blue-green water suitable for bathing.
- Geothermal Activity: The area around Askja is geothermally active, with HOT SPRINGS and fumaroles.
Our 8th recommendation is the volcano CLOSEST to Reykjavik, onlkm0 kms from the city! Thrihnukagigur is a unique and dormant one of Iceland’s volcanoes.
Can you visit Thrihnukagigur?
Yes, you can visit Thrihnukagigur!
It is unique as it’s the ONLY VOLCANO IN THE WORLD where visitors can take an ELEVATOR and safely descend into the magma chamber. The site offers a unique experience of going inside a volcano, allowing visitors to explore its large magma chamber. Please note that visits are typically only available during the summer season.
Please check below for local tour operators about visiting Thrihnukagigur.
- Size and Structure: Thrihnukagigur has three peaks, with the northeastern one being the highest, standing about 35 m (100 ft) taller than the others. The name Thrihnukagigur translates to “Three Peaks Crater” in English.
- Eruption History: The last eruption of Thrihnukagigur occurred over 4,000 years ago.
- Inside the Chamber: The inside of the magma chamber is marked by stunning colors, a result of the cooling of different minerals in the magma. The enormous chamber has the ground space equivalent to nearly three full-sized basketball courts, and the height can comfortably fit the Statue of Liberty.
- Tourist Attraction: The volcano is currently dormant and is considered safe for guided tours. It’s a part of the popular “Inside the Volcano” tour that allows visitors to descend 120 meters (400 feet) to the bottom of the crater.
Surtsey is a notable volcanic island located off the southern coast of Iceland.
Can you visit Surtsey?
Surtsey is NOT open to general tourism. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been declared a nature reserve for scientific research.
Access to Surtsey is strictly limited to a small group of SCIENTISTS who are studying the process of colonization by plant and animal life in new land environments. This means that hiking to the top of Surtsey or exploring the island in any capacity is not permitted for the general public.
- Size: The island initially had an area of about 2.7 square kilometers (1 square mile). However, since the end of the eruption, the island has been steadily eroding and now has an area of about 1.3 square kilometers (0.5 square miles).
- Eruption History: The eruption that formed Surtsey was a major event that lasted for four years. This eruption was notable for being a rare opportunity to observe the formation of a new island.
- Current State: Surtsey has been a protected nature reserve since its formation. It provides scientists with valuable information on how plant and animal life colonize new land.
- Biodiversity: Despite its relatively young age, Surtsey hosts a variety of plant and animal life. As of now, over 60 different plant species have been found on the island, along with numerous species of birds and seals.
Tour Packages for Iceland Volcanoes
Family and Friends Travel Iceland: They are a small tour operorganizationation in Iceland that provides tour packages for friends and famitravelinglling together. They tailor every tour to your needs and provide tours through the Golden Circle, airport transfers, and, of course, volcano tours. Definitely check them out!
Troll Expeditions: Known for their adventure tours, Troll Expeditions is one of the recommended companies for Fagradalsfjall volcano tours. Prices are available upon request.
Glacier Heli Iceland: They provide helicopter tours from Reykjavik. It’s a different way to experience a volcano, and prices vary based on the package.
Private Hire Iceland: They are known as one of the largest Luxury Private Tour Operators in Iceland. They offer very unique ways to experience Iceland from a different perspective.
Want a private volcano tour?
If you want a private volcano tour, then you should definitely take a look at this tour package from Friends and Family Travel Iceland.
The tour explores the Reykjanes Peninsula, which is located a short drive from the capital, Reykjavík. The peninsula is situated on the fissure line of the mid-Atlantic ridge, which is the cause of all the eruptions, earthquakes, and other seismic activity in the region.
The highlight of the tour is, of course, the visit to the eruption sites at Fagradalsfjall and Meradlir volcanoes situated in the Geldingadalir valley, Iceland´s most recently active volcano.
How To Get To Iceland Volcanoes
Traveling around Iceland’s volcanoes can be achieved through various means. Here are some of the popular transportation options:
Renting a Car: This is a favored option for many travelers as it offers the most flexibility and convenience.
We always rent our cars through Rentalcars.com, they have so many different options from small cars to big SUV at the most competitive prices. The website has offerings from many companies, ensuring you get the best deals.
Public Bus: The public bus system in Iceland, operated by Strætó, can be a cost-effective way to travel, especially within Reykjavik and its surrounding areas. A single-ride ticket costs around $4.
Domestic Flights: For longer distances or to reach more remote parts of the country quickly, domestic flights can be a good option. Air Iceland Connect and Eagle Air offer flights to various destinations within Iceland.
Taxis: Taxis are readily available, especially in larger towns and cities. They can be a convenient but more expensive option for shorter distances. A typical fare starts at around $6, plus about $2 per kilometer.
Accommodation near Iceland volcanoes
Hótel Kría is located near the famous Katla Volcano, Hótel Kría offers five-star luxury accommodations with stunning views. The hotel has a restaurant onsite as well as free parking.
Welcome Holiday Home offers lodging with free WiFi, free private parking, and views of the mountains. Seljalandsfoss is 24 kilometers away from the vacation house.
Guesthouse 46 is located near the Askja and Herðubreiðarlindir volcanoes in North Iceland and provides quality accommodation at an affordable price. The guest house offers comfortable rooms with shared bathroom facilities. The guest house also has an on-site restaurant serving a variety of local dishes as well as international cuisine.
Looking for accommodation near your favorite volcano?
We book all our accommodations with Booking.com, they have the best variety for all price ranges. You can easily find the best gems near the volcanoes you will visit!
That’s it! That was our list of the best Icelandic volcanoes!
From guided volcano hikes to exploring colorful magma chambers, there’s no shortage of AMAZING experiences to be had.
Let us know in the comments which Iceland volcanoes you will be adding to your itinerary!