One of Iceland’s nicknames is the land of Fire and Ice. It has earned this moniker due to the dramatic contrast of its landscapes. You will find icy glaciers sitting atop fiery volcanoes, black basalt columns next to mossy, green rocks, and much more. Fire is ever present in Iceland’s volcanoes. While the small Nordic nation has a whopping 130 volcanoes, what’s even more impressive is that 30 of them are active. You read that right. 30 active volcanoes in a country the size of Kentucky or Scotland.
You may have already heard about Iceland’s famous, or should we say Infamous, volcanoes. Remember back in 2010 when European airspace was shut down for a week? 20 countries stopped all commercial flights, and around 10 million travelers were displaced. That was Iceland’s doing. The country’s powerful Eyjafjallajökull volcano made its presence known by spewing smoke and debris into the air. Its sprawling volcanic ash cloud reached as far west as North America and as far east as Russia. Most people were not able to pronounce its name, but they were definitely able to feel its effects.
So what are some other famous volcanoes in Iceland? Which ones can you visit and which ones should you steer clear of? Let’s find out.
Iceland’s Katla Volcano
This large volcano in southern Iceland is one of the country’s more consistently active ones. The last time it exploded was in 1918, and with eruptions approximately every 13 to 95 years, it seems as if we are due for another volcanic event soon. You can keep an eye on things with the Katla cam at livefromiceland.is.
Iceland’s Hekla Volcano
This is another powerful, unpredictable beast that has been known to erupt violently and without warning. It earned the nickname “the gateway to Hell” back in the Middle Ages if that tells you anything. It’s a favorite among hikers, so visit at your own risk.
Iceland’s Grímsvötn Volcano
Grímsvötn is yet another Icelandic volcano that disrupted European airspace. Its 2011 eruption shut down flights in Europe for a few days in May. This volcano is also special because, like many in Iceland, it sits below a glacier. This means that when it explodes, its force is strong enough to break through the ice cap. Pretty cool stuff, right?
Iceland’s Askja Volcano Crater Lake
This caldera and former volcano should definitely be a stop on your Icelandic itinerary. The area is actually a complex of crater lakes caused by volcanic eruptions. Essentially what happens is the volcano explodes with such force that it collapses in on itself. The remaining indentation gets filled with water and voila! You have a caldera or volcanic crater lake.
Iceland’s Awe-Inspiring Volcanoes
We think you’ll agree, Iceland’s volcanoes are pretty out of this world. Knowing that these sleeping giants could wake up at any moment adds just the right blend of excitement, adventure, and danger to your trip. So be an intrepid adventurer and explore Iceland’s volcanoes. But do so at your own risk.