It has become a cliche that Iceland is the ‘land of fire and ice’ – having been formed equally by the frozen winter and the riotous, subterranean volcanic forces that have moulded its breath-taking landscapes. Once you set foot on Iceland, however, this cliche couldn’t be closer to the truth. And one of the best ways to uncover Iceland’s volcanic past (and present) is to take a tour into the depths themselves.
With around 30 active volcanic systems to choose from, there are plenty of opportunities to explore – and the chance to witness an eruption or two. And how you do it is up to you. You could hike through striking volcanic landscapes, take to the skies for a visit via helicopter – even climb down and dine inside one. On one of our bespoke trips to Iceland, the choice is all yours. Whether you wish to incorporate them into a wider tour of Iceland or you’re a lava chaser who wants to see them all, our luxury Travel Experts will plan the perfect Iceland volcano tour specifically for you. Curious? Keep scrolling to discover our detailed guide to Iceland’s volcanoes – and how we’ll help you see them.
Where are the volcanoes in Iceland?
Due to Iceland’s location on the mid-Atlantic ridge, there are multiple volcanic zones you can explore when visiting. And that’s what makes it so perfect. Here, you don’t have to go out of your way or miss out on certain activities if you wish to see volcanoes in Iceland – it’s tantalisingly easy. A top tip? We’d recommend visiting South Iceland so you can combine your volcanic adventure with the captivating Golden Circle. Between thundering waterfalls, geothermal lagoons, and active Icelandic volcanoes, you’ll soon see why this remains one of our firm favourites.
What are the best volcanoes to visit in Iceland?
With so many ranges to choose from, we’ve handpicked some of the best volcanoes to visit below. As ever, if you have a specific trip or volcano visit in mind, our luxury Travel Experts are on hand.
Erupting back in April 2010, this mighty volcano – perhaps the most famous in Iceland – is a glacier-capped behemoth on Iceland’s south coast. The ice cap that covers the volcano belongs to an area of some 100 square kilometres, with numerous outlet glaciers that run from this great frozen mass. Rising 5,417 feet from sea level, the glacier – whose crater is up to 2.5 miles wide – is a phenomenal physical formation. And a spectacular place to explore. Here, we’ll take you into the Thorsmork glacier valley which lies behind the volcano – a stunning natural oasis filled with luscious greenery and rivers of snow, contrasting beautifully with the dark, dramatic colours of the crater’s ash and debris. The perfect spot for some of the best views of southern Iceland.
Another reason to visit? Eyjafjallajokull volcano is also part of the Golden Circle. This means it makes for a great place to stop off at on a greater tour of the area – with one of our expert private guides, of course.
A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, the descent into the Thrihnukagigur volcano lets you walk into its subterranean centre – the chamber that once housed its immense, bubbling store of magma. Led by one of our expert guides, you’ll walk down to the very floor of the magma chamber, descending via the hair-raising open elevator system. While this isn’t one of Iceland’s active volcanoes (and therefore perhaps not for those looking for lava excitement), it’s a spectacular opportunity for up-close exploration, right at the heart of things.
The surrounding area – thick with black lava and ripe, rich moss – reveal the extent to which Iceland can rely on green and sustainable energy. You’ll also confront the result of the spectacular forces which gave shape to this tectonic landscape, which you can also experience by our specially arranged super jeep tours. Speeding past these enormous, immovable landmarks is sure to take your breath away – in the best possible way.
The Westman Islands
An archipelago of just 15 small, scattered, and beautiful landscapes, the volcano-formed islands of the country’s Westman Islands are a must-see on your volcano tour in Iceland. With their green-coated jagged peaks, quaint towns, and abundant wildlife – you’ll explore another side to this captivating country.
Home to Iceland’s largest puffin colony, this is the perfect trip for birdwatchers as you’ll visit Stórhöfði and meet Tóta, the most famous Puffin in the world. History lovers meanwhile, will be drawn to the eye-opening and atmospheric Eldheimar Museum with its exhibit on the excavation of lava engulfed houses destroyed by the eruption of Eldfell Volcano back in 1973. The most fascinating part of this story is that, until January 23, 1973, when the volcano erupted, it did not actually exist. A previously-unknown fissure beneath Heimaey Island opened up and launched bright, curving arcs of magma into the sky above, while spurting out great black plumes of smoke. Today, it is safe to hike up this volcano and to enjoy breath-taking panoramas over the islands and their colourful lava fields. But it remains a reminder that Iceland is truly a product of the natural world.
Our favourite Iceland volcano tours
Inside a volcano tour
This unique Iceland volcano tour takes you right inside a dormant volcano, through the top crater and to the bottom of its magma chamber, once filled with steaming hot lava. Last erupting 4000 years ago, Thrihnukagigur volcano is the only place on earth where a huge volcanic magma chamber is accessible to humans.
After hiking 2.7 km through the lava field, you’ll descend 120 m through the top crater and down to the ground floor of the magma chamber, accompanied by an experienced and specially trained guide. A day packed full of adventure and thrills, this luxury travel experience is great for families to include on a family trip to Iceland. Simply watch your kids’ faces light up with excitement as they embark on their very own Jules Verne-esque Journey into the Centre of the Earth.
Dinner inside Thrihnukagigur
Next up, one of our favourite (and most unusual) things to do in Iceland – dining inside a volcano. Whether you’re looking for a memorable way to end your trip, celebrating a special occasion, or even planning a proposal, this is sure to be a luxury travel experience like no other. Here, you’ll have the rare and exclusive chance to descend into the earth’s crust through the crater of the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano, heading down to the floor of the chamber using an open elevator system (so you don’t miss a thing).
With your feet on the ground, you’ll enjoy a privately guided tour of the vast chasm of the crater, marvelling at its sheer magnitude and the pure, earthy colours to be found here. And set up within the heart of the volcano – your table awaits. Enjoying an exclusive private dinner just for you, you’ll dine on Icelandic specialities as you gaze around at the unique natural phenomenon that surrounds you. Just you and nature. And a range of delicious delicacies.
Tempted? Speak to one our luxury Travel Experts today and they’ll arrange this otherworldly experience down to every detail, specifically for you.
An Iceland volcano helicopter tour
Fancy an alternative perspective? On one of our bespoke trips to Iceland, you’ll have the chance to take to the skies on an Iceland volcano helicopter tour. Afterall, why simply climb near them when you can fly up close and personal with them.
Starting off your adventure in Reykjavik Airport, you’ll head straight to the sweeping frozen landscapes of the Þórisjökull glacier for your first landing, flying over the thundering waters of Iceland’s highest waterfall, Glymur, along the way. Once you reach the glacier, you’ll get the chance to go for a walk on it, throw a snow ball or two, make snow angels, or simply enjoy the breath-taking views as you take a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air. The choice is yours.
Leaving this stunning glacier volcano behind, we’ll whisk you away to Þingvellir National Park – one of the attractions of the famous Golden Circle. Right there, you’ll witness the spectacular continental drift of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates – a sight that’s only fully visible from above.
Next up? A visit to the hot springs and bubbling mud pots of the geothermal hotbed, Hengill. Named after the area’s volcano, this remote valley is only accessible after a few hours hike or by helicopter – we’ll leave that decision to you. But however you choose to get there, with its steaming rivers and rugged mountains, this is a magical place that remains beautiful throughout the year – whether it’s covered in moss or snow. And while you’re there – if part of a family trip – why not add on a Field Trip class, learning how these geothermal wonders have helped make Iceland one of the most sustainable countries in the world.
The ultimate Iceland volcano tour
Packed full of geographical wonders and luxurious stays along the way, on this tectonic adventure you’ll get beneath Iceland’s skin in ways you’ll never forget. Combining all of the above luxury travel experiences – and adding a few new ones into the mix – this is the ultimate volcano-inspired trip to Iceland. And you won’t want to miss it.
Between heading inside the depths of a dormant volcano and swimming between tectonic plates at Silfra in the bluest waters, we’ll amp things up on a private ATV tour across the Krísuvík peninsula – over the majestic Festarfjall mountain and onto the dramatic black sands of Selatangar. Pausing atop Hagafell mountain, you’ll be treated to striking views of the Blue Lagoon and neighbouring Eldey Island. This is natural beauty at its most raw, its most pure.
But that’s not all. Next, there’s Eyjafjallajokull. Climb aboard a super jeep and head for this renowned Icelandic volcano, dashing past space-like landscapes studded with huge formations of recently cooled lava left behind by its eruptions. Or hop aboard a helicopter to see this once smouldering volcano from a unique perspective. As part of your adventure, we’ll also arrange for a scientist specialising in volcanology to accompany you to explain the amazing processes going on both above and below ground. If you’d like us to, of course. Afterall, this is your Iceland trip. And whether you’re hiking across these unique lunar landscapes strewn with moss and lava, or taking to the waters, the skies, or the very depths of the Earth – this is the ultimate volcano tour of Iceland. Hands down. And cameras ready.
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Whenever the time of year or the experience you’re looking for, our trips to Iceland cover everything mentioned here and much more.