How to Visit the 2022 Volcano Eruption in Iceland

Svanhildur Sif Halldórsdóttir

Svanhildur Sif Halldórsdóttir

Can you visit the erupting volcano in Iceland? What do you need to see the new Fagradalsfjall eruption? Do you need to book a volcano tour, or can you go on your own? Find all about the most recent erupting volcano in Iceland here!

Table of Contents

Red lava flowing from an erupting volcano in Iceland
Photo: Arnar Tómasson

Is the Volcano in Iceland Still Erupting?

It looks like the volcano is not erupting right now. The eruption’s power began decreasing a little over two weeks after it started, and scientists have not detected any activity in the last few days. However, they will continue to monitor the area. You can see for yourself on a live stream here:

Where is the Erupting Volcano in Iceland?

In 2021, an eruption began in Geldingadalir Valley, near the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is approximately 57 km (35 mi) from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. The eruption took a break for a few months before starting up again in 2022. It now looks like that eruption is over as well.

Do I Need a Tour to Visit the Volcano in Iceland?

You do not need a tour to visit the Fagradalsfjall Eruption. However, we strongly recommend that you take part in one. Not only is it safer to visit the site accompanied by a trained guide, but you’ll also get insider tips and information about Fagradalsfjall and other volcanoes in Iceland. Explore our Volcano Tours here.

How to Visit Fagradalsfjall Eruption

Helicopter Over The Erupting Volcano on Reykjanes Peninsula
Photo: Helicopter Tour Over The Erupting Volcano on Reykjanes Peninsula

You can visit the erupting volcano in Iceland in two ways: on foot or on a flightseeing tour. The latter option is, by far, the easiest one. You’ll skip the hours-long hike required and get a unique view of the area. 

The second option is on foot. You can either go accompanied by a trained guide on a Volcano Tour or your own. We highly recommend taking a guided tour since both the volcano and the route are ever-changing. The guide stays on top of all the latest developments in the area and will have crampons and headlamps on hand if needed.

Good to Know Before Visiting Iceland Volcano

Erupting volcano in Iceland at twilight
Photo: Helicopter Flight to Erupting Volcano in Iceland

Seeing an active volcano is an experience of a lifetime. However, before you run off to the volcano, there are a few things you should consider. 

At the Eruption Site

People in a hill looking at red lava flowing from a volcano in Iceland
Fagradalsfjall Volcano

Before embarking on this journey, the first thing to remember is that this is an active volcano! Though scientists are monitoring it and there are Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) workers on site, it is still an unpredictable natural phenomenon.

So, please always keep your safety at the forefront of your mind even when the volcano isn’t erupting. This includes keeping a safe distance from the eruption fissure and knowing that melting lava can stream fast into new places. New volcanic fissures can also open with little or no warning. 

Black lava in Iceland with streaks of glowing red magma coming through
Photo: Hike to Geldingadalur Active Volcano | Small Group Tour

Not only is there red, hot magma pouring out of the volcano, but also potentially hazardous gases. Know that the risk of gas pollution increases when the wind is calm and that gases tend to pool in lowlands, so stay on higher ground. 

Note that the lava field from the 2021 eruption is still hot. It might not look like it, but only a thin crust is cool; underneath is a 1,100°C  (2,000°F) hot lava. This means walking or climbing on the old lava field (or the new one, for that matter) is extremely dangerous. 

Last but not least, listen and follow the instructions of the onsite ICE-SAR team. They are here to protect you.

Is the Eruption Site Open for Visitors?

Glowing red and yellow lava coming from a black crater in Iceland.
Photo: Hike to Geldingadalur Active Volcano | Small Group Tour

The eruption took place in a large, barren valley which leaves you very exposed to all sorts of weather for several hours. For your safety, the Reykjanes police and ICE-SAR close the route to the volcano when the weather is too severe, or the volcano’s conditions are too dangerous.

Check the Safe Travel website to see if the eruption site is open. You can also check the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s site for a weather forecast for the next few days if you are planning a trip. 

If the trail is closed and you’ve booked a guided tour to the volcano, the tour provider will help you rebook on another date. If nothing suits you, they will offer you another activity or a full refund.

Note that if you enter the trail when it is closed, you are risking both your life and the lives of the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team. Not only that, you are also at risk of receiving a hefty fine from the Icelandic government.

Hiking to the Volcano 

Men hiking on rocky mountainside
The hike to the volcano is rocky

There are several routes to the volcano, and the ICE-SAR team decides which ones are open based on wind direction and other conditions. However, all are long, on uneven ground, and can take at least 4-5 hours (not including time spent at the eruption site). 

The shortest route is 7 km (4.3 mi) one way and has an incline of around 300 metres (0.2 mi). Most of the trail is on uneven, rocky, and often slippery terrain, and you will need to travel up and down steep hills. 

Therefore, the hike is unsuitable for young children and people in poor health. Gas pollution can also present difficulties for children and people with lung problems. After a series of incidents where the ICE-SARS had to rescue families with young children on the trail, the Reykjanes Police has banned children under 12 from hiking to the site.

During the hike, please stay on the designated path, which ICE-SARS workers have marked with delineator posts. However, there is no other infrastructure on the route, no artificial light and no bathrooms. Make arrangements for bathroom breaks by either bringing a travel toilet or mentally preparing yourself for going behind a large rock. 

Parking

If you’ve decided to go without a guide to the volcano, note that there are two designated parking areas near the site. Both have plenty of space, so do not park your car roadside, as that can result in a hefty fine for you. Also, remember that off-road driving is illegal —at the volcano and throughout Iceland— and will also result in fines. 

Parking for the volcano is not free. There is a fee of 1,000 ISK (appr. 8 USD), but the payment is valid for 24 hours. The cost is so landowners can create more infrastructure on the hiking route to make it better and more accessible. You can pay electronically through Parka.is. The parking lots are monitored with cameras, and an additional fee is added if parking is unpaid. 

What to Wear to Visit the Volcano

4 people sitting and watching an erupting volcano in Iceland
Photo: Hike to Fagradalsfjall Active Volcano | Small Group Tour

When preparing for a long hike to the volcano, remember that the weather in Iceland is famously fickle. It can change quickly, from sunny to snowy. So you should expect all seasons, even in the summer.

Wearing layers is key, as you can always remove a layer if you get too hot. However, try to avoid cotton clothes. The material absorbs and retains sweat, leading to rapid body heat loss when hit with cold winds. Good hiking boots are also vital, as the route is rocky. 

Below is a list of things to wear when visiting the volcano:

  • A base layer of t-shirt or thermal underwear, preferably wool or synthetic. 
  • A mid layer of wool, fleece, down or synthetic jumper and trousers
  • A warm and waterproof outer layer
  • Warm socks
  • Warm hat, scarf and gloves
  • Good hiking shoes

You should also bring an extra set of clothes, a water bottle and lunch. Hiking poles are not essential but always good to have.

If you travel with a guide, they will bring other necessities. However, those on a self-guided tour to the volcano should also take with them:

  • Headlight or flashlight and extra batteries
  • Fully charged phone
  • Trash bags and toilet paper
  • GPS
  • Hot water, coffee, tea or chocolate
  • Extra food

Summary

Fagradalsfjall Volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula is not currently erupting. However, you can still visit the site to see the fresh lava. Those wanting to go can do so on a guided tour or by travelling themselves. Guided tours include hiking tours and helicopter tours over the volcano. 

The hike to the volcano is long and takes at least 4-5 hours. It is on a rocky, uneven trail which leads up and down hills. It is not suitable for people with poor health or children under 12. Those planning on a visit must wear proper clothes and good hiking shoes. 

Keep your safety at the forefront of your mind when visiting. Never go on the trail when it is closed, take note of your surroundings, and listen to the onsite Icelandic Search and Rescue Team. 

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