Helicopter ride to volcano

Five Ways To Visit Iceland's Volcanoes

With its breathtaking volcanic landscapes, Iceland offers adventure seekers and nature lovers unique opportunities. It's possible to explore Iceland's volcano landscape in various ways.

Depending on the perspective you want, you can book helicopter tours and sightseeing flights by light aircraft to get a bird's eye view of the crater, arrange to hike across a lava landscape, descend into a magma chamber and zoom across the volcano's flanks by snowmobile or ATV.

In fact, thanks to Perlan, you don't even need to leave Reykjavik to get acquainted with Iceland's volcanoes. Here's how to experience the power of nature up close with these five ways to visit Iceland's volcanoes.

1. Fly Over a Volcano in a Small Plane or Helicopter

Helicopter ride to volcano

An air tour of Iceland's volcanoes offers a remarkable and unforgettable experience. While you may have caught glimpses of Iceland's breathtaking volcanic landscapes in drone videos, being in the sky yourself provides a whole new perspective.

Commercial flights into or out of Iceland might provide a distant view of these stunning landscapes, but small planes and helicopters offer an entirely different experience. These smaller, more manoeuvrable aircraft can fly at lower altitudes, allowing you to get a closer look at the volcanic terrains and appreciate the intricacies of their features. It's a more personal and immersive way to explore these geological wonders.

A noteworthy site for this aerial adventure is Fagradalsfjall, a volcano that erupted in 2021 and 2022. Instead of just admiring the silhouette of the volcano from afar during your flight into Keflavik Airport, an aerial tour allows you to notice the unique flowing patterns of the hardened lava and spot the striking contrast of the yellow sulfur deposits against the dark grey of the underlying rock.

Another intriguing aspect of these aerial tours is the possibility of flying extremely close to the crater. During Fagradalsfjall's active periods, this proximity allowed you to witness the fascinating lava lake within its crater.

While it's true that these thrilling volcano flights in Iceland can be pricey, the unique experience they provide makes them worth the investment. Indeed, it's a once-in-a-lifetime journey that promises unforgettable memories and unparalleled views of the Icelandic volcanic landscapes.

2. Hike Across a Lava Landscape

Trail bike ride to volcano

While an aerial view of Iceland's volcanic landscape offers a comprehensive perspective, hiking across a lava landscape brings you closer to the intricate details of this extraordinary terrain. For those seeking an on-the-ground experience of Iceland's volcanic landscape, a guided hike is an excellent way to witness tangible evidence of volcanic activity.

However, avoiding treading on freshly cooled lava is crucial for safety considerations. The surface layer of new lava can be deceivingly thin and may conceal a flowing magma river beneath. Nevertheless, there are usually opportunities to hike near lava flows, where you can observe the textured and contoured surfaces, stark reminders of their origin as viscous liquid magma.

Over time, these hardened lava fields transform. The continuous weathering and erosive forces alter the rock structure, and sometimes, pieces may be dislodged due to wave action. Additionally, life gradually finds a way in these harsh landscapes. Vegetation may begin to thrive, creating vibrant patches of algae, adding colour to the stark black rock.

These places are delicate ecosystems, and as considerate tourists, we must be aware of our impact on these environments. A single misplaced step could potentially harm the developing ecosystem. It's our responsibility to preserve these unique landscapes for future generations.

Hiking across a lava field is not only the most budget-friendly way to experience Iceland's volcanoes but also a unique experience that will enrich your understanding of volcanic landscapes. It is truly a worthwhile adventure for any nature enthusiast.

3. Descend Into a Magma Chamber

Descending into Þrihnukagigur

When planning how to visit an Iceland volcano, being lowered into a magma chamber may not be the first thing that comes to mind. At one location, however, it's not as daft or as dangerous as it sounds - Þríhnúkagígur.

Þríhnúkagígur is the only volcano in Iceland that offers this experience. It's easily accessible, and after a short hike to the volcano's crater, you can enter the lift basket and slowly descend into the volcano.

Unlike other adventurous pursuits that may require physically demanding activities like abseiling, this journey into the heart of a volcano only requires you to don a helmet and step into the lift basket. Gradually, you are taken deeper and deeper into the volcano's interior. Despite its relative physical ease, this journey is still reserved for the truly adventurous.

Indeed, you are venturing into a magma chamber, the very place where molten rock accumulates before a volcanic eruption. It's a thought that requires a certain level of nerve, as does the sensation of being 198 meters beneath the earth's surface. Descending into a magma chamber is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and unique volcano adventures you can undertake in Iceland.

4. Ride an ATV, Trail Bike or Snowmobile

ATV ride around lave terrain

Embark on an exciting journey across Iceland's unique volcanic landscapes on an all-terrain vehicle. Whether you choose an ATV or a trail bike, these robust vehicles are designed to handle the rugged and uneven terrain left behind by volcanic eruptions. Suppose you're venturing into glacier-covered volcanic regions. In that case, a snowmobile becomes the ideal mode of transport, enabling you to glide across the frosty surfaces effortlessly.

Suppose an adrenaline-filled journey across a volcanic landscape sounds like your adventure. In that case, an ATV or snowmobile ride is an excellent choice. The Westman Islands boasts one of Iceland's most impressive volcanoes, Eldfell. An ATV ride around this volcano not only offers a surge of excitement but also provides spectacular views of the volcano and the surrounding coastal landscapes.

For snowmobile enthusiasts, the volcanoes Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull in southern Iceland offer ideal terrain. These snow-clad volcanic landscapes provide perfect settings for snowmobile rides. It's an unparalleled experience to speed around the surface of a volcano, feeling the rush of adrenaline as you explore these unique icy landscapes. In essence, these adventures offer a thrilling ride and a unique way to witness the dramatic beauty of Iceland's volcanoes up close.

5. Visit a Volcano in Reykjavík

Forces of Nature Exhibition at Perlan

If exploring a volcano in the countryside isn't feasible, or if you're simply intrigued about how volcanic activities have shaped our earth, visiting Perlan in Reykjavík offers an excellent alternative. Situated just outside the city centre atop Öskjuhlíð hill, Perlan is easily accessible for visitors.

Constructed initially from converted water tanks, Perlan houses a variety of engaging exhibitions, one of which is called "Forces of Nature." This exhibition comprehensively explores topics such as plate tectonics, earthquakes, and, of course, volcanoes.

The "Forces of Nature" exhibit answers many questions about volcanic activities. Curious about how magma forms or why certain volcanoes emit ash while others expel lava? Wondering about the events during a volcanic eruption or how scientists interpret the warning signs to ensure safe evacuations? This exhibit provides enlightening answers to all these questions.

If you are curious about these subjects and desire to enhance your understanding, visiting Perlan's "Forces of Nature" exhibition is an ideal starting point. It offers an insightful and accessible way to appreciate volcanoes' formidable power and influence on our planet.

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