Iceland Volcano Tours: 4 Great Picks
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There’s nothing quite as powerful and awe-inspiring as a volcano. A quiet beast that suddenly erupts into life, affecting everything from its immediate surroundings to countries on the other side of the world. For those wanting to witness the quiet power of a volcano, Iceland is the place to go. With approximately 130 volcanoes, 30 of which are still active, Iceland has numerous amazing volcanoes. Getting up close and personal with these natural wonders has never been easier - or more fun. Many Iceland tours are available that offer plenty of things to do. For adventurous tourists that wish to experience the beauty of volcanos, here’s our pick of the best!
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1. Snæfellsjökull Volcano Tour
In 1864, Jules Verne chose Snæfellsjökull Volcano as the entryway for his classic novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth.’ Nowadays, it’s actually possible to explore Snæfellsjökull and its lava caves on a volcano tour. The tour will take you 35m underground into a lava cave, accessible by a narrow, spiraling staircase. The cave travels approximately 200m into the Vatnshellir lava tube. Visitors will experience two levels of the cave. The first features striking lava statues. The second, accessed by a second staircase, takes you lower into the bowels of the Earth. Here visitors will be faced with complete quietness and darkness if you’re brave enough to turn the flashlights off!
The volcano is in the Snaefellsjokull National Park in west Iceland. The national park is only 200km from Reykjavik and can be reached by car in 2.5 hours. Once in west Iceland, public transport company Strætó operates year-round and stops at all major sites. The tour can be done year-round. All participants should wear walking shoes and warm clothing and will be provided with a safety helmet and flashlight.
2. Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour
If journeying down into the depths of the Earth sounds like your kind of tour, take it one step further with the Thrihnukagigur Volcano tour. This long-dormant volcano gives you the chance to explore its drained magma chamber which descends to 120m below ground. The complete tour includes a 3 km hike to reach the opening, then a descent into the heart of the volcano by a cable lift. Visitors will normally spend up to an hour in the magma chamber and, once finished, will walk back 3km over its lava field. Experienced, qualified guides are with you at all times to ensure your safety. Participants are expected to not leave any footprints behind.
Due to its proximity to Reykjavik, it’s very easy to reach Thrihnukagigur by car or public transport. The journey should only take around 30 minutes. The best time to complete the tour is between May and October. Normally, you will need a total of approximately 3 hours to hike around and explore the volcano. Participants must normally be over 12 years of age to participate. For a more seasonal overview, check our travel guide on the best time to visit Iceland.
3. Volcano Askja and Crater Lake Viti
Take a dip in Hell, by visiting Viti (which literally translates to ‘Hell’) - a lake within a crater of the stratovolcano Askja! An active volcano, Askja last erupted in 1961. Surrounded by a desolate landscape that will make you think you’re on the moon, the lake waters of Askja are a shocking opaque teal color that will lure even the most stubborn visitors into its warm embrace! The tour takes place in two stretches: take a trip in a 4x4 and then take a 2.5km hike to the crater lakes. Once there, those brave enough can take a dip!
Askja is located about 100km off the ring road no.1. Due to the elevation, this area is only accessible by 4x4 and from the months of June to October. This tour is best for adventurous hikers.
4. Helicopter Volcano Tours
While the necessity for hiking or long car journeys can sometimes be impossible for visitors with health issues, it needn’t hinder the possibility of fully experiencing Iceland. A truly amazing tour experience, a helicopter ride above the land of fire and ice will show you the beauty of Icelandic volcanoes from a new perspective. Black sand beaches, ash-covered glaciers, lagoons, and some of the world’s largest craters. Some helicopter tours include landings on both glaciers and volcanoes, a true fire and ice experience.
Helicopter tours are available year-round, but weather dependent. Flyers are advised to wear warm and comfortable clothing and tours are generally open to adults and children. The length of a volcano tour with multiple stops can be approximately 2.5 hours. Prices can vary greatly depending on the specific tour.
Iceland is made up of a landscape that is raw and rugged yet still extremely beautiful. After all, you don’t get the name ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ for nothing. A perfect oxymoron, Iceland has stunning glaciers, majestic volcanoes, and luring hot springs located next to each other. When exploring its volcanoes in all their vast glory, don’t be put off by the challenge presented by these majestic natural monuments.
If you need ideas on other things to do in Iceland, take a peek at our other travel guides on where to see the Northern Lights, which glaciers to visit, how to plan a road trip for the Ring Road, which national parks to explore, where to go whale watching, which Icelandic food to try, and which waterfalls to discover. We recommend at least a week in the country if you want to witness all the must-see highlights in the country. However, if you have fewer days on your hands, spending at least 3 days in Iceland would give you a satisfying glimpse of those highlights