The floor is lava!!! That’s pretty much what went through my mind while starting our hike towards Fagradalsfjall. Besides that some other things also flashed through the back of my mind. First of all… Why was I feeling so damn excited about walking towards something so dangerous and deadly? I also regretted not bringing any marsh-mellows and somehow I got stuck with the tune of “Dumb ways to die”.
But, in contrary of what I just said, the hiking trail towards Fagradalsfjall is actually very safe and at all times you’ll be at a distance of approximately 3km from the actual lava spewing crater.
In this guide I will tell you exactly how to reach the best viewpoint over the active volcano near Grindavik and how to prepare your hike. The volcano isn’t always visible and at times it’s also not spewing lava. But with this guide you’ll never end up disappointed at the end of your hike. Instead you’ll leave with an incredible and once in a lifetime experience!
Needless to say, this is one of the most impressive and best one day hikes in entire Iceland at the moment!
Fagradalsfjall Hiking Trail – How To Visit The Active Volcano in Grindavik Iceland
Let’s be honest, it’s not every day that you get to see an actual lava spewing volcano right? One would think that in most cases actually you would run as fast away as possible from it. But that’s not the case with the Fagradalsfjall volcano. Ever since its eruption in March 2021 it has been attracting adventurous and curious locals and tourists. And now it’s actually one of the top attractions and top things to do in Iceland!
And it’s not the first time either that an active volcano puts Iceland even more on the tourist map. Iceland used to be a rather unknown country, one that wasn’t frequently visited and often ignored when planning a holiday. All until 2010 when the absolutely unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull erupted. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, also referred to as the E15, caused absolute mayhem for air travel across Northern and Western Europe. But it also put Iceland on the tourist map all over the world.
Over time more and more movies and tv-shows were recorded in the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland, one of the last ones being Game of Thrones. And so over time Iceland became a bucket list destination for people all around the world.
And honestly, I can’t even blame them. I’ve visited Iceland now 3 times and I would still go back in a heartbeat. Every time that I leave I already start dreaming about my next journey through the land of ice and fire.
But enough of that, let’s start with giving you all of the information you’ll need to visit the Fagradalsfjall volcano.
When to visit the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Geldingadalur
The Fagradalsfjall volcano has remained active ever since its eruption in March 2021 and until this day it is still spewing lava.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind and to look at before you start your hike.
First of all, Iceland is a very temperamental country when it comes to its weather. One day it can be sunny and the next day it be entirely covered in clouds. So it might be possible that when you reach the end of the hiking trail that there is zero visibility. Since the hiking trail towards Fagradalsfjall isn’t the easiest it’s better to avoid such disappointment.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while the volcano remains active it’s not constantly spewing lava anymore.
Preparation is definitely key when it comes to visiting this volcano!
The good thing is that there are several live cams all placed on different spots at the volcano site. The best part? You can simply follow along the entire process on Youtube. You can click here for the live feed of the active Fagradalsfjall volcano. Here you can check if the crater is actually visible in real time or if it’s spewing lava or not.
There’s even a chat box next to it where you can ask any questions if you want.
Another helpful tool is this 10 day seismograph. When the blue, green and purple lines are up that means the volcano is very active and that lava will flow from the crater. If the lines are down it means there’s no burning magma to be seen.
The interval is pretty steady so keep an eye on that graph to see where it’s at.
Another website to check is volcanoweather.is. This one will give you a more general idea of the current weather circumstances.
How to reach the Fagradalsfjall Hiking Trail
The start of the Fagradalsfjall hike is close to Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This is the same peninsula where the international airport is located so it’s most convenient to combine your visit to the volcano with your arrival or departure to Iceland.
There are actually 3 different trails that lead to the volcano but only one of them has a good view over the active crater. While at the start of the eruption in March 2021 you had to follow hiking trail B, now you have to follow hiking trail C which will lead you to two different viewpoints.
One of them is viewpoint N which offers a view over the massive lava field in the valley, the other one is viewpoint L which is higher up the mountain and will grant you a spectacular view over the crater.
BY CAR/ CAMPER VAN
If you’re coming from the airport you’ll first drive through the centre of Grindavik after which you make a left onto the 427. Keep on following this road for a couple of minutes and after a while you’ll see a first parking lot but that’s not the one you want. Instead keep on driving down the road until you see another large parking lot on your left! This is the one where hiking trail C starts.
There’s a small parking fee of 1000IKR since to parking is located on private property.
There’s a bus that leaves from the centre of Grindavik to the eruption site. It operates daily and the first bus leaves at 8am and the last one returns at 10pm.
WITH A TOUR
There are several tours that will take you to the Fagradalsfjall eruption site and I’ve listed my favorite ones below:
- A 5 hour guided tour to Fagradalsfjall from Reykjavik
- A guided hike to the active volcano from Reykjavik
- Hike to the active volcano and a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik
- From Reykjavik: Active volcano hike and Blue Lagoon
Fagradalsfjall Hike Details
Hike Distance – The total hike distance to the viewpoint of the crater and back to the parking lot is 9km (or 5.6 miles).
Hike Duration – In total you’ll probably spend 2 to 3 hours, depending on how many time you’ll stop to take photos. As a reference for me it definitely was 3 hours.
Hike Difficulty – The start of the hike is easy and flat but after passing the lava field it becomes more and more strenuous. You’ll have to climb several hills and at times the incline will be very steep. The trail consists of loose gravel, rocks and small boulders. If you have trekking poles with you they will for sure come in handy and make sure to wear proper hiking shoes, preferably with ankle support.
Hike Incline – The total incline of the hike to the Fagradalsfjall viewpoint is 300 meters.
My Experience on the “Fagradalsfjall Hiking Trail”
After weeks of stalking the live cam on Youtube the day had finally arrived! We landed in Iceland around 3pm and after picking up our 4×4 camper van from Happy Campers we set off on our first adventure in Iceland.
I quickly checked the live cam and the seismograph one last time and everything looked good to make it an unforgettable evening! We parked our van, jumped out of the car, forgot our water bottle out of pure excitement and started walking along the trail.
Out of the corner of my right eye I had already spotted a small food truck and I could already taste my first Icelandic hot dog of this trip. But first things first: hiking up to see the active volcano with my very own eyes.
The trail started on a dirt road made of gravel and yellow sand but we couldn’t see anything yet in the distance. The only thing we saw were the stars in the eyes of the people returning from their visit of the crater. They looked like they had the time of their life and I started to accelerate my pace.
After 15 to 20 minutes walking my mouth fell to the floor for the very first time. We had arrived at viewpoint N and the floor was actually lava! To reach the valley of cold lava we would have to make a small detour so I decided not to risk it and visit it after witnessing the crater. According to the seismograph the volcano would remain active for a while longer but nevertheless I wasn’t going to take any chances!
After admiring the lava field from afar we started hiking up the first hill. The gravel was slippery at times and the incline steep. At one side there was a rope where people were holding onto when shuffling back down. Needless to say that you’ll need proper hiking shoes when starting this hike! Besides our water bottle I had also left my trekking poles in the car. Something I would later on come to regret a lot, especially when hiking back down.
But after reaching the first top we could already see the crater in the distance. Bright orange lava was being sprayed into to dark grey air leaving a hazy glow behind. I immediately took out my camera and started taking photos.
I felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins and didn’t even care about my throat that now started to feel like dried up parchment. We had a couple more hills to climb but every single one brought us closer to this fiery wonder. After every incline the crater came closer and the lava glow became intenser. Until we finally reached viewpoint L and our mouths literally fell open.
There it was, in all of its glory. I had been staring at it through a screen for the past weeks but nothing and I really mean nothing could have prepared me for this very moment. I felt so small and insignificant but at the same time also very grateful that I was lucky enough to see it with my very own eyes.
You can imagine that what happened next was a very elaborate photoshoot!
After spending at least an hour admiring the crater from all possible angles we decided to hike back down. I didn’t fly my drone at the time because the wind gusts felt too strong and after crashing my previous one I didn’t want to risk it ending up in the lava on its very first international flight.
In hindsight I truly regret it but oh well, so be it!
We started hiking back down and decided to now take that short detour to the lava field. It was only when we came closer to it that we realized its magnitude. This wasn’t just a layer of dried up and cold lava. This was a massive thick layer of nearly 2 meters and it looked like something that didn’t even belong on planet earth. In the back we saw some smoke rising up and I was hesitant at first to climb onto it.
After witnessing a bunch of other people attempting it without melting down or bursting into flames. Like who the hell knows what could happen? I figured I could give it a go and it was glorious.
Realizing all of this magma came streaming down only a couple of months ago completely blew my mind and the textures it left behind were incredible.
After our adventure it was time to head back to our camper van and to my surprise the food truck was still very much open! Time for that first Icelandic hot dog, followed by chugging down a gallon of water and heading towards our campsite nearby in Grindavik.
In the far distance I could still see the orange glow in the sky and with a heart filled with utter joy I fell sound a sleep after only 5 minutes.
Where to stay when visiting the active volcano in Iceland
If you’re traveling by camper van the closest campsite is the one in Grindavik. The facilities are clean and it’s only 15 minutes driving from the eruption site.
Another option is to already drive towards the capital Reykjavik. The campsite here is a little more expensive but does have more facilities. The only downside is that if you arrive after opening hours you have to have your tickets booked in advance or you can’t enter anymore.
If you prefer staying at a hotel these are my personal favorites:
- Northern Light Inn – This cute cottage style hotel is located in Grindavik and only 15 minutes away from both the eruption site as the Blue Lagoon.
- Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel – This stunning and originally decorated hotel is located right in the heart of Reykjavik and right next to its main shopping street.
- Hotel Borg by Keahotels – This hotel screams lavish luxury but is also understated with it’s black, white and grey design. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want a more luxurious start or end of your trip.
Iceland Hiking Packing List
A lot of people come to Iceland unprepared for the cold, especially during the Summer months. While it can get warm on a sunny day you also need to be prepared for the cold and typical Icelandic wind. For instance, when we were hiking up this mountain I was sweating a lot but the wind was so cold and so harsh that I had to wear a bonnet to keep my ears warm and pain free.
Below are some items that you definitely want to bring with you if you’re planning an adventurous trip to Iceland.
Hiking shoes – You will definitely need a pair of these. Even that some attractions are located right next to a parking lot you’ll pretty much always have to hike over a rocky terrain. I love my Meindl Mountain Trail Boots for longer hikes and my Danner Mountain Light Boots for daily wear and shorter distances.
Wind Proof Jacket – Never go. toIceland without one! The Icelandic wind can be brutal and extremely cold when not properly prepared. I wore my Fjallraven Vidda Jacket during the entire trip and was super happy that I brought it with me.
Woolen cap – The perfect accessory to protect your ears from the cold and to cover your hair after a few days without a shower.
Trekking poles – These will especially come in handy if you’re hiking in some of the more remote areas in Iceland.
Headlamp – It’s very popular to visit the eruption site in the late evening. When it gets darker the lava lits up the sky and you can see it glistening and burning even more. To ensure your safety it’s best to carry a headlamp with you. This way you can keep your hands free and you can see where you’re walking in the dark. I love this one by PETZL, it’s not too expensive and does the trick.
Back Pack – You’ll want to bring a back pack with you to carry your camera, some snacks and your refillable water bottle. I love the Kanken No. 2 back pack from Fjallraven and pretty much take it with me everywhere I go.
Refillable Water Bottle – The water in Iceland is some of the freshet in the entire world so there’s no need at all to buy plastic bottles. Simply find the nearest stream to fill up your bottle and you’re good to go.
More Iceland Blog Posts
I have visited the land of ice and fire 3 times in 3 years and I loved adventuring and driving around the country. On my blog you can find a ton of free resources to help you plan the perfect trip to this beautiful country.
Below are some of my favorite articles and there’s a lot more to come so keep an eye on this space!
- The Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Iceland – A list of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland that I visited myself, divided by region.
- The perfect winter road trip in Iceland – A day by day guide and retelling of my first time visiting this beautiful country.
- Hidden Gems in Iceland – Of the beaten path places that haven’t been discovered by mass tourism.
- Fagradalsfjall Hiking Trail – How To Visit The Active Volcano in Grindavik Iceland
- 1 Day in Landmannalaugar – The Mount Blahnukur Trail
- Discover Thakgil – A hidden gem in southern Iceland
- Mulagljufur Canyon – Discover a true hidden gem in South Iceland
- 7 Best Places To See in The Highlands in Iceland
- Kerlingarfjöll Hiking Trail – How To See The Hveradalir Geothermal Area in a couple of hours.