Thrill and beauty await on a visit to Iceland’s active volcanoes, and you can trust that safety is a top priority for Icelanders. Advanced monitoring systems and emergency response plans are in place to ensure your well-being while you admire these natural wonders. In this blog article, we will list the top volcanoes to visit in Iceland and make sure to add them to your bucket list. Not only are these volcanoes breathtaking to behold, but they also hold valuable knowledge and insights for us. Start planning your trip and get ready to explore some of Iceland’s most impressive volcanoes.


Bláhnúkur, also known as the Blue Peak, is a stunning volcano located in the geothermal wonderland of Landmannalaugar in the southern highlands of Iceland. Surrounded by volcanoes, glaciers, and colorful mountain layers, Bláhnúkur stands out with its unique coloring and beautiful form. This popular volcano can be hiked with a winding trail leading to the top, offering breathtaking views of vast open landscapes and an array of naturally occurring colors. While not as active as its sister volcano, Brennisteinsalda, Bláhnúkur last erupted in 1961. Brennisteinsalda is known for its range of red, orange, and pink tones, as well as a dark lava pillar on one side. It is often the first mountain hiked on the Laugavegur trail.


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The Mount Fagradalsfjal area has recently experienced a volcanic eruption in the Geldingadalur valley, marking the first time in 6,000 years that this long-dormant volcano has erupted. The eruption, known as Geldingadalsgos, began on March 19, 2021, and features a small fissure in the ground spewing lava. The eruption area is less than 1km2 (0.4mi2) and the lava has been continuously flowing for days, potentially continuing for weeks depending on the amount of magma beneath the surface. Based on historical data and lava flow patterns, it is possible that this type of seismic activity on the peninsula could lead to intermittent eruptions lasting over 100 years. While the volcano is still active, it is safe to visit and offers a unique opportunity to take a guided tour and witness the event firsthand.


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Eldfell is a volcano located on the island of Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) off the southern coast of Iceland. It last erupted in 1973, causing the evacuation of the island as lava flowed and eventually enlarged the island. The famous Elephant Rock is thought to have been formed during this eruption, which also saw several houses on the island buried under cooled magma. This eruption marked the first time that an eruption was stopped with the use of sea water, a technique suggested by one of the island’s residents. Today, about 4,500 people live on the island, which is also known for its volcanic activity, including the creation of the island of Surtsey in 1963. The Eldfell eruption and its effects can be explored at the Volcano Museum in the Westman Islands, a must-visit destination for anyone interested in volcanoes.


On August 3, 2022, a volcano in the Reykjanes Peninsula erupted following days of increasing earthquake activity. The fissure on the side of the Fagradalsfjall mountain was initially 300 meters (984 feet) in length, but has since shortened to approximately 100 meters. There is a possibility that magma may also break the surface in nearby locations. This eruption occurred 25 km (15 miles) from Reykjavik and 15 km from Keflavik International Airport, in an area known for its seismic and volcanic activity. It is important to always follow safety guidelines and listen to the advice of local authorities when visiting areas with active volcanoes.


Herðubreið may initially appear to be a beautiful, solitary mountain, but this volcano holds a powerful and impressive history. Located in northeastern Iceland, this tuya-type volcano last erupted during the Pleistocene era, approximately 2.58 million to 11,700 years ago. While it is not currently considered an active volcano, locals still associate it with Iceland’s famous outlaw, Fjalla-Eyvindur, who lived in the area with his family for 20 years. Standing at a towering 1,682 m (5,518 ft) with steep slopes, Herðubreið was not climbed until 1908, despite the mountain being well-known to locals. The knowledge of its past eruptions adds to the awe-inspiring nature of this stunning volcano.


Hekla, known as the “Queen of all Icelandic Volcanoes,” is the most active volcano in Iceland, with over 20 documented eruptions since 874. Located along the South Coast and visible from Selfoss, Hekla is an extremely powerful volcano. In 1159, an eruption released 7.3 cubic meters of ash into the atmosphere, causing a cooling of the climate in Europe and crop failures. Due to its destructive potential, Hekla was given the nickname “The Gateway to Hell” in the Middle Ages. It is also mentioned in an 11th century English poem, in which Judas is said to be kept in the volcano. Hekla’s last eruptions occurred in 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2000, and it is difficult to predict when the next eruption will occur.


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Grímsvötn, meaning “Grím’s lakes,” is a volcano caldera located in southeast Iceland within the Vatnajökull ice cap, the largest glacier in Europe. It has the highest eruption frequency of any volcano in Iceland and is known for its magma chamber beneath the surface. Grímsvötn’s most famous eruption occurred in 1783-1784, when the Laki fissure opened, creating a system of volcanic craters and having a significant impact on the climate in Iceland and Europe. Due to its location beneath a large glacier, Grímsvötn’s eruptions often lead to significant flooding along the south coast of Iceland. In the 21st century, Grímsvötn’s most memorable eruption took place in 2011, when an eruption on May 21st at 7:25 pm caused a 12 kilometer (7 mi) plume to rise into the sky, followed by a series of earthquakes that led to the cancellation of flights in Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom.


Öræfajökull, pronounced “OH-reh-fai-yoh-kuhl,” is a stratovolcano located within the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland. It is also home to the tallest mountain in the country, Hvannadalshnúkur, which stands at a height of 2110 meters or 6,920 feet. Despite being part of the Vatnajökull glacier, Öræfajökull is also a glacier in its own right, similar to Grímvötn and Snæfellsjökull.

The last eruption of Öræfajökull took place in August 1727 and continued into the following year. Another smaller eruption was recorded in 1362, but little is known about it. Eruptions from Öræfajökull have historically caused floods, but the most destructive event was the explosive eruption in 1362. This eruption released a large amount of tephra, which, along with the floods, completely destroyed the surrounding region and caused devastation to farms and homes. The ash and fumes from the eruption also reached Europe, causing damage to farmlands. The fumes were so thick that sailors across northern Europe struggled to navigate through them. The area around Öræfajökull remained completely uninhabited for 40 years after the eruption.


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Askja and Víti are two of the most well-known calderas in Iceland, located in the northeastern part of the country near the geothermally active region of Mývatn. They are easily accessible and are must-see attractions for anyone visiting the north or east of Iceland. Askja is particularly popular with photographers due to its bright blue waters, which are especially stunning in any season.

Although Askja’s last recorded eruption occurred in 1961, the most significant and tragic event took place in March 1875. This eruption caused heavy ashfall that killed livestock and contaminated land and water. The ash was also carried by strong winds to Scandinavia, but fortunately the impact was not as severe. The 1875 eruption led to a significant emigration wave from Iceland, with many people moving to Canada, Australia, and even Brazil.


Snæfellsjökull is a stratovolcano (a volcano topped with a glacier) located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in west Iceland. It gained fame through literature, specifically the French novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, in which the stratovolcano is described as the entrance to the center of the earth. The book has been adapted into scripts and films, including one starring Brendan Fraser and Icelandic actress Anita Briem. On a clear day, Snæfellsjökull can be seen from the capital city of Reykjavik and is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts due to its accessibility and beautiful glacial top. It stands out prominently on the otherwise lava-covered peninsula.


Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano located in south Iceland, about an hour and a half drive from the capital city. It gained international fame in 2010 when it erupted, causing widespread disruption to air travel due to the large volume of smoke it produced. This eruption, which lasted from the end of March to the end of May with some less active periods in between, was unusual because Eyjafjallajökull typically erupts after its neighbor, the Katla volcano. Its last documented eruptions were in 920 and 1612.

Despite the disruption caused by the 2010 eruption, Iceland actually saw an increase in visitors after the event, perhaps due to the widespread media coverage it received. Eyjafjallajökull is located beneath a glacial ice cap and is the source of the waterfalls Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.


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Katla is a well-known volcano in Iceland that is home to a stunning year-round ice cave. It is located beneath a glacier and is named after the Icelandic word for “kettle,” which is fitting given its reputation as a volatile and ready-to-erupt volcano. Katla is one of the largest sources of volcanic carbon dioxide emissions in the world, believed to be responsible for up to 4% of global volcanic CO2 emissions. However, in recent centuries, it has mostly experienced smaller eruptions. From the time of settlement until 1918, 16-20 eruptions of Katla were documented, but since then, only minor eruptions have occurred. The last known eruption of Katla took place in 1918, and there are even photographs of this event that have survived to this day.


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Experience the beauty and power of Icelandic volcanoes while staying safe with these tips. Volcanoes are a natural part of life in Iceland, and it’s not uncommon for the country to experience some level of volcanic activity in any given year. The government, search and rescue teams, and the police force have emergency response plans in place and a proven track record of safely handling volcanic eruptions and glacial floods. When unusual geological activity is detected, geologists work with officials to develop a customized Civil Protection Plan. These plans may vary depending on whether the volcano is located under a glacier, which could lead to a jökulhlaup (glacial flood).

Stay up-to-date with local news while planning your visit to Icelandic volcanoes. Follow local news channels, often available in English, to stay informed about any potential risks of eruption. If there is any risk, it’s best to avoid the area and visit other parts of Iceland instead. Despite its volcanic activity, Iceland has a strong safety record when it comes to handling eruptions. With a little planning, you can enjoy a safe and memorable visit to these awe-inspiring natural wonders.