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Top 10 Volcanoes in Iceland | Otherworldly, impressive and active

Surrounded by the wild waters of the North Atlantic, is Iceland a very geologically and volcanically active country with many breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Being on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the island is dotted with volcanoes; about 30 of them are active. Volcanoes in Iceland are often nestled amid vast lava fields, beneath glittering glaciers or hidden among rocky peaks.

It is a joy to explore the dramatic and diverse landscape of the country. Splashing geysers and simmering hot springs can often be found around the spectacular stratovolcanoes† Home to a total of about 130 volcanoes, Iceland's many volcanic landscapes are among the most immersive in the country, attracting hordes of tourists every year.

Also read: 10 fun things to do in Iceland

10. Snaefellsjokull

One of the most famous and most photographed volcanoes in Iceland is Snaefellsjokull, located at the tip of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, with icy water everywhere. Formed hundreds of thousands of years ago, the ancient stratovolcano is topped by glittering glaciers with crumbling cones, jagged craters, and landscapes with lava scars that can also be seen.

Snaefellsjokull
Snaefellsjokull

In addition to its extraordinary beauty, the 1446-meter-high Snaefellsjokull is also known for its cultural importance: it features in a number of Icelandic sagas and literary works. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Jules Vernes' journey to the center of the earth. Located in a beautiful National Park of the same name, in the far west of Iceland, Snaefellsjokull is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country.

9. Hverfjall

Known as both Hverfell and Hverfjall, this small extinct volcano is one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Iceland. This is because the volcano is just outside the ring road and is not too difficult or time consuming to hike. You can easily clamber up the 420-meter-tall tephra cone and amble around the kilometer-wide rim in just an hour.

Hverfjall
Hverfjall

The crumbling and circular volcanic walls of Hverfjall look very much like a crater on the moon and lie amid a desolate and unforgiving landscape. The stocky volcano tuff is often visited along the shallow waters of Myvath which lie nearby.

8. Oraefajokull

Located on the southeastern coastline of the island, Öræfajökull is both the largest active volcano in Iceland and the highest peak in general. Covered by a bright white glacier, the sprawling mountain reaches 2110 meters at its highest point. The view from the top is fantastic.

Oraefajokull, volcanoes in Iceland
Oraefajokull

From above you look out over the coastal cliffs with black sand beaches in the distance. Located in Vatnakojull National Park, Öræfajökull is very popular with hikers because of its prominent and picturesque peak and all the beautiful scenery that surrounds it.

7. Askja

Askja and its huge caldera, located in the wild and remote interior of Iceland, can only be reached by traversing the rugged terrain of Odadahraun. Odadahraun is the island's largest lava field and volcanic desert. It's easy to get there. Askja herself makes for an awe-inspiring sight; it has two beautiful lakes that stand out beautifully against the dark landscapes that surround it.

Askja

The larger of the two is Oskjuvatn. This lake is usually frozen. The other lake called Vit is very different, it is often even warm enough to bathe in because of the bubbling hot springs. The Dyngjufjoll Mountains surround the 1.516 meter high Askja caldera, making it an additional panoramic volcano. It is not without reason that the Askja volcano in Iceland attracts thousands of visitors every year. It is home to many dramatic canyons and gorges. The appearance of the area is so otherworldly that NASA has sent astronauts here to prepare for their lunar missions.

6. Krafla

Located in the north of the island, Krafla is a beautiful caldera surrounded by steaming vents, boiling mud pools, and bubbling hot springs. In contrast to its fiery and frequent geothermal activity, the crater is home to a cold-water lake known for its delightful emerald-blue color.

Krafla, Volcanoes in Iceland
krafla

Although it is only 818 meters high, Krafla's otherworldly appearance makes it worth checking out. Many people visit it next to the nearby Myvatn Nature Baths.

5. Prestahnukur

Located in the highlands, the colossal presence of Iceland's Prestahnúkur volcano looms over the drab, low-lying and nearly lifeless landscapes that surround it. The dark and desolate look of the volcanic desert surrounding the volcano is due to millennia of lava flows and eruptions of ash that mixed with the earth.

Prestahnukur, volcanoes in Iceland
Prestahnukur

Bare and rocky itself, Prestahnúkur has a gloomy and heavy feel with its 1220m peak. In the past, many people thought it was inhabited by ghosts. The name in Icelandic means 'peak of the priests', named after two men of the book who explored the mysterious mountain but could not find any ghosts.

4. Grimsvotn

Grímsvötn is known to be the most infamous volcano in Iceland. Over the course of its history, it has erupted at least 60 times. The last one took place in 2011, disrupting international aviation for days.

Grimsvotn
Grimsvotn | Image Credit & Copyright: Björn Oddsson

The volcano seems small at first glance, but it still has awe-inspiring power. This is because most of the 1.725-meter volcano lies beneath the large Vatnakojull Ice Sheet. Because of this, you only see part of its caldera and crater sticking out above the ice. It is a unique piece of landscape of ice and snow in Vatnakojull National Park.

3. Hekla

Because of its frequent and fiery eruptions, Hekla is responsible for much of Iceland's appearance. Over the millennia, it has covered its environment with lava and tephra. It was the rambunctious nature of the volcano that led to it being nicknamed "Gateway to Hell" in the Middle Ages.

Hekla
Hekla

Since the last eruption in 2000, Hekla is now a very popular place for hiking. In general, it takes about four hours to reach the peak of 1.488 meters. The long ridge of the stratovolcano somewhat resembles a fallen boat. It is dotted with craters and is often covered with snow and small glaciers. Rising above the desolate and devastated landscapes that surround it, Hekla is one of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland.

Do you like untouched nature? Read also: The 10 most beautiful National Parks in New Zealand

2. Katla

Located in a remote part of southern Iceland, Katla is partially obscured by the glistening Myrdalsjokull Glacier. This hides the fact that it is actually one of the largest and most powerful volcanoes in the country. Katla, with a height of 1.512 meters, has a ten kilometer wide caldera, which is normally covered with hundreds of meters of ice.

Katla, volcanoes in Iceland
Katla

In the Katla area are several unreal ice caves to explore. The mighty mountain has erupted explosively numerous times throughout its history, although the last violent event occurred in 1918. Due to its proximity to Eyjafjallajökull, many believe its neighbors are geologically related.

1. Eyjafjallajokull

After the gigantic eruption in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull . acquired international fame because of the disruption and chaos it caused during air travel in Europe which lasted for a week. The dramatic plumes of smoke and ash that blew into the sky marked the volcano's most powerful and devastating eruption since 1823.

Eyjafjallajokull, volcanoes in Iceland
Eyjafjallajokull

Located just west of Katla, Eyjafjallajökull is completely covered by a gleaming ice cap. The crater rim of the stratovolcano is bordered by three peaks, of which the 1651 meter high Hamundur is the highest. It is noteworthy that the south side of the mountain used to be part of Iceland's coastline until the sea retreated. As such, the cliffs are now dotted with spectacular waterfalls, the most famous of which is Skogafoss. With so much incredible scenery to see and such an explosive recent history, Eyjafjallajökull is one of Iceland's most amazing volcanoes.

Also read: World wise: The safest and most dangerous countries in Europe

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