Where was 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 August of 2022. That latter eruption lasted only 18 days, but scientists continue monitoring the area, believing it might start up again.
Is the Volcano in Iceland Still Erupting?
Currently, the volcano is not erupting.
Do I Need a Tour to Visit the Volcano in Iceland?
You do not need a tour to visit the Fagradalsfjall Eruption Site. 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 Site
You can visit the Reykjanes Volcano Site 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 eruption site and the route to it 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 an Active Volcano in Iceland
Seeing an active volcano is an experience of a lifetime. However, next time a volcano erupts, make sure you consider a few things before you run off to the site.
At the Eruption Site
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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
- Hot water, coffee, tea or chocolate
- Extra food
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.