Whether you take its common nickname, "the land of ice and fire," as an adage for exploration or an expectation for plenty of white-knuckle adventure, Iceland is a place where nature's extremes are on full view. And in terms of its many volcanoes, the description is often literal: This is where magma meets glacier, making for an otherworldly sight that few cameras can truly do justice (but we still think your Instagram should try).
If you're planning on visiting the country's colorful capital of Reykjavik, then we also suggest visiting Iceland's volcanoes while you're there. We found seven that are worth the airfare, from a dormant stunner where it's possible to view its magma to a mythical mountain that's being watched for an imminent eruption. Sure, you might have to go far, far off the beaten path in a few of these cases, but it'll be worth it. Because if you're willing to travel all the way to the land of fire and ice, then you should see that nickname up close.
Set in northern Iceland on the eastern shore of Lake Mývatn, Hverfjall is what's known as a "high tephra explosion" crater—meaning that it has a wide, circular ring at its top measuring more than 3000 feet wide. Visitors are welcome to hike to the rim, which takes about 20 minutes. While at the top, you'll get create views of the nearby lake.
You might remember seeing this volcano's tongue-twisting name in headlines when it erupted in 2010, and since then, it has become one of Iceland's top sightseeing attractions. Although it's one of the smaller ice caps in the country, Eyjafjallajökull erupts relatively frequently. Therefore, it's especially ragged views are worth seeing up close, and we recommend a Jeep tour, too.
You should visit this famed glacier-capped volcano for its age alone: It's estimated to be 700,000 years old. But this volcano also well-known for its lava caves, which can be explored during hour-long hiking tours. Whatever you do, don't get lost.
Located in Southern Iceland and known as one of the largest and most active volcanoes in the country, Katla is a sight to see if you're betting on its next big eruption. The last big eruption was in 1918, so scientists are saying that another event is overdue.
It's not uncommon to feel like you're on a different planet while exploring this caldera (a volcanic crater) in the Icelandic highlands. After all, this area is so remote that it was once used as a training area for Apollo missions. This volcano is somewhat active, but you'll be surprised to see that its lake is usually frozen over.
It’s been about 30 years since this caldera showed any activity, and that hasn’t stopped visitors from exploring its sights. It’s most popular for its steaming vents and craters, making for quite a relaxing dip in the nearby Mývatn Nature Baths.
Known as one of Iceland's most active volcanoes, Hekla is also on scientists' radars for a possible eruption. Set in Southern Iceland, this stratovolcano is worth a visit for its centuries of history and majestic, cloud-covered views.