Discover The Famous Volcanoes Of Iceland In This Guide!
Some people see the word ‘volcano’ and switch vacation destinations, but these enormous lava-erupting forces of nature can be beautiful when they’re not dangerous. Lucky for you, there are plenty of safe volcanoes in Iceland to check out. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any volcanoes you should avoid, though.
Should I be scared?
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’m about to visit Iceland! Should I cancel my trip?’ Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out. Iceland has a ton of volcanoes. Based on the location of your stay in Iceland, this list should help to inform you on whether or not to switch destinations.
How Many volcanoes are there in Iceland?
Iceland has 32 volcanic systems encompassing around 130 volcanoes in Iceland, active and inactive. Some volcanoes are not considered as active volcanoes anymore because they have not erupted for more than 10,000 years and are not expected to erupt again.
The Westfjords is the only part of the country which has no longer any volcanic activity and must heat its water with electricity, rather than using naturally heated water.
Why is Iceland volcanic?
The reason of the volcanic activity is that Iceland is located on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary that separates the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and is one of the places that can be seen above sea-level.
These tectonic plates are divergent, meaning that they are moving constantly and are pulling away from each other. Because of that, magma from the mantle rises to fill the space between them and therefore, created volcanoes.
To see these two tectonic plates, the best places to go are Thingvellir, The Reykjanes Peninsula, and the Lake Myvatn Area. At these places, you will clearly see the walls of the two continents.
How often volcanoes erupt?
Like the weather, volcanic eruptions in Iceland are unpredictable but are quite regular eruptions. On average, a volcanic eruption occurs every four to five years. Since 19th Century, not a decade has gone by without one going off. The most recent ones were the Holuhraun volcano, locates in the Highlands (2014). Grimsfjall volcano (2011) and the most famous one: Eyjarfjallajokull Iceland volcano eruption (2010) which has caused a lot of trouble, but it is thanks to this volcanic eruption that tourism has exploded.
You can run and jump on this one. This Iceland volcano last erupted in 900 BCE, so you’re probably safe. It’s a shield volcano, which means it’s shaped like a dome.
You can run and jump on this one. This volcano last erupted in 1984 and it doesn’t seem likely to explode in the near future. Fun fact, this volcano has a crater on it named Víti, which means ‘hell’ in English. At the very least you should explore this volcano so that you can tell your friends you went to hell.
Self-distancing with this volcano. This volcano is being monitored very closely and has been predicted to erupt in the near future. Unfortunately, this volcano is the largest in all of Iceland, so an eruption from Öræfajökull probably won’t be harmless.
You can run and jump on this one. Laki is a volcanic fissure that last erupted in 1784. Though that eruption caused a drop in global temperatures due to a massive release of sulfur dioxide, the volcanic region is actually quite a beautiful green now and is magical to explore.
You can run and jump on this one. Hengill hasn’t erupted since about 150 CE and isn’t likely to erupt anytime soon. Visit Hengill to explore the various hot springs and fumaroles that the active volcano maintains.
Self-distancing with this volcano. Hekla has erupted six times in the past 70 years, and it looks like it could erupt again very soon. Out of all the volcanoes in the world, Hekla has produced the most lava in the past thousand years.
you can run and jump on this beautifully bright yellow, red and green volcano. Krysuvik hasn’t erupted since 1340 CE. Many tourists enjoy hiking the unusual hills formed by Krysuvik, and safety measures such as wooden bridges and enforced paths are maintained for travelers.
Self-distancing with this volcano. This volcano last erupted in 2010 and has gotten into the habit of erupting frequently over the last 100,000 years. Eyjafjallajökull is currently being monitored for signs of future eruptions.
Self-distancing with this volcano. Katla is considered Iceland’s most dangerous volcano because its eruptions can cause massive amounts of damage and displacement. Katla is expected to erupt soon because it hasn’t erupted in 100 years and has a pattern of erupting once every 13 to 95 years. Steer clear!
You can run and jump on this one! This volcano is a baby. It formed in its first eruption during 1973 and sits at the southernmost end of Iceland. After Eldfell’s eruption, residents used the tephra surrounding Eldfell as a foundation to build 200 houses on.
You can run and jump on this one! Surtsey is a volcanic island just off the southern coast of Iceland. Surtsey will only stay above sea level for another 100 years, so if you have the chance to get out and explore it, you should!
You can run and jump on this one! This volcano last erupted in 200 CE and isn’t likely to erupt in the near future. Explorers can easily reach the top saddle of this volcano just by walking to experience a beautiful green-yellow view of the land.
You can run and jump on this one! You’re safe with this other-worldly volcano, which last erupted around 960 CE. Ljósufjöll is strangely beautiful, a mix of blacks and gray colors from the silica in the rock.
Self-distancing with this volcano. This volcano has the highest eruption frequency in Iceland and last erupted in 2011. Grímsvötn is thought by researchers to be entering an active period, which means the volcano may begin to erupt every 2-7 years.
Self-distancing with this volcano. The last time this volcano erupted was in 2015. The land around Bárðarbunga has been opened up to tourists, but seismic and volcanic activity levels are still relatively high compared to the levels of the past 50 years.
Self-distancing with this volcano. While this beautiful volcano hasn’t experienced an eruption since 1961, rising temperature levels in Öskjuvatn lake suggest an increase in activity for this volcanic area. Seismic activity levels have increased in this area and an eruption seems likely according to scientist Hazel Rymer of The Open University.
You can run and jump on this one. This volcano seems safe by the accounts of residents and scientists. If you’re interested in glaciers, Hofsjökull is a great volcano for you to explore. It is the third largest glacier in Iceland (as a subglacial volcano).
You can run and jump on this one! Langjökull is a beautiful icecap-covered volcano that hasn’t erupted more than 32 times in the past 10,000 years. The blues, whites and greens of Langjökull make this landscape interesting to explore and hike.
What was the worst eruption of Iceland?
The worst eruption through Iceland’s history is called Skaftáreldar (fires of Skaftá) in 1783–84. It occurred in the crater row Lakagigar (craters of Laki) in the southwest of Vatnajökull glacier. The Laki volcano erupted over an eight-month period pouring out an estimated 14 km3 of lava and clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulfur dioxide compounds that killed over 50% of Iceland's livestock population, leading to a famine which killed approximately 25% of the island's population.
How Does Iceland use its Volcanoes?
Iceland is one of the world’s few countries that almost entirely uses renewable sources of energy. Indeed, they are using the volcanoes’ geothermal energy which constitute a big part of Iceland’s economy and infrastructure since it produces about 30% of its electricity at geothermal power-stations. Most of the hot water in the country is pumped from the earth to people’s faucets and radiators.
Iceland tourism industry relies also on volcanoes because of its atypical landscapes and beautiful experiences in the land of Ice and Fire where you can experiment the two sides of Iceland at the same time. The naturally heated water turned into beautiful natural hot springs are also a real benefit for Iceland economy since it brings a lot of tourists who come to enjoy a beer in these beautiful hot springs all year long even during winter.
What can I do at the safe-to-visit volcanoes?
Now that you’re sure you’re headed to a safe location in Iceland, it’s time to visit the beautiful volcanos near you! Activities like hiking, picture-taking and swimming in the hot springs or lakes around the volcanoes are usually allowed around safe natural areas.
The best way to visit these paces is, of course, traveling in style using one of our Kuku Camper Vans. You can choose from one of our smaller fleets designed to hold 1-2 people, or, you can upgrade to a larger one to hold 4-6 friends. Each van comes equipped with a fold-out bed, blankets, a stove for cooking, and lots of pots and pans and utensils. Contact us today for more information on our hotel on wheels or places to travel in Iceland!