Can I see a volcanic eruption in Iceland?
Every 6 years or so we have a volcanic eruption in Iceland so the answer is: Sometimes. At the time of writing the latest volcano to erupt in Iceland was Holuhraun in 2014. A few local volcanos are due to erupt but the exact time eruption will take place is really impossible to predict. So our advice is: Don´t count on it.
It goes without saying that approaching an erupting volcano is rarely possible. But sometimes eruptions are relatively stable and safe to watch from a distance. To see if there is volcanic activity or an eruption going on in Iceland at this very moment follow this link to an interactive map of all of Iceland´s active volcanoes.
However, volcanos don´t necessarily need to be erupting to be impressive. If you visit Iceland you have a great opportunity to witness some of the inactive volcanoes and learn about how Iceland’s volcanoes have shaped it´s landscape, history and culture.
Where can I see volcanoes in Iceland?
There are over 30 active volcanoes in Iceland and even more inactive ones. The one that is considered the most active is Hekla and there are numerous ways to enjoy her beauty! This recent review took us on a super jeep tour to Hekla and Landmannalaugar, a nearby geothermal area where you can bathe under the open sky! If you want to book the tour you can follow this link.
Or would you want to get introduced to the source of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in historic times? Then we can recommend a trip to the notorious Laki rift. The last eruption in 1783 killed up to a quarter of the population and half of all the livestock in Iceland! You can read all about the tour here and after, feel free to book this epic super jeep tour to Laki right here!
If you are up for some serious volcano touring this 2 day tour might be up your alley. It features a trip to the still-warm lava of Holuhraun eruption as well as the beautiful Askja crater. It also takes you to the geothermal hotspot at Kverkfjöll. A truly wild, unforgettable experience in the highlands of northern Iceland.
Yet another option we can recommend is seeing it all from above! Numerous helicopter tours offer the birds view of craters, lava fields and volcanos in the vicinity of Reykjavík. Check out this article we wrote on the unforgettable geothermal tour from Norðurflug. You can book it following this link if you think this tour is the one for you.
What if the weather is too bad for a volcano expedition?
The weather in Iceland is usually quite unpredictable and the higher above sea level you go, the worse the weather will usually be. Bad weather, with low visibility and dangerous road conditions can easily prevent you from enjoying your volcano expedition.
But If you still want to learn about Icelandic volcanoes and their effect on our landscape, culture and history we can whole heartedly recommend a visit to Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur. A great interactive exhibition on everything remotely connected to volcanos. Tickets can be booked directly here.
In the Southern town of Vík they have an exhibition called The Icelandic Lava Show. You can read the review here. You get to witness an ,,eruption simulation” where molten lava is actually poured into a room for you to observe!
And If you are stuck in Reykjavík, Volcano House hosts an hourly volcano documentary as well as a local mini-exhibit featuring stones and minerals created in the violent heat of an eruption.
Can I go into a volcano in Iceland ?
A few tours allow you to peek INTO volcanoes! The tour we reviewed, that arguably took us the closest to a volcano in Iceland, took us deep inside one! Read the review we did a few years back right here. Guests are descended into an enormous magma chamber some 150 meters deep! Visiting it makes for an absolutely humbling experience like no other as the volcano is surprisingly colourful with beautiful rock formations featuring on the walls inside the crater. So if you feel like standing deep inside an Icelandic volcano that erupted some 4000 years you can book your “Inside the Volcano” tour here.
Another option we recommend is a local tour into the Lava tunnel called Raufarhólshellir! Here is a review on a tour there and you can book it following this link if you think you would like it. The tunnel was formed in an eruption not far from Reykjavík a few centuries ago.
Víðgelmir is another massive cave formed by a huge eruption in the West of Iceland. Check out the video below to see our trip there in 2019. You can book a trip to the “Great serpent” cave right here.The tour includes a visit into a glacier via the largest man made ice tunnel in Europe!
What other things do I need to keep in mind?
The weather in Iceland can be quite treacherous and travellers need to very aware of the dangers posed by the the weather especially in winter. Always make sure to check the forecast before heading out for an expedition of any kind. Even if winds seem calm and the sun is shining, a storm might be heading your way.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the roads in Iceland are dangerous. Many of them are narrow, gravel roads that can pose a danger to even an experienced driver. Always check road conditions at Safetravel.is and stay alert to closures due to heavy snowfall, wind or icing.
Who are we?
We are your local experts from the Reykjavík Grapevine! We have been publishing travel articles and reviews since 2004. Our main goal is providing our readers with the best local advice and recommendation available so they can enjoy Iceland as much as we enjoy it. Feel free to follow us on social media for Icelandic news, travel features and food reviews. You can also check out these articles on northern lights, whales and glaciers for advice and local recommendations!
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