Travel Update


Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption in Iceland: Your Guide

By: Max
Last Updated: 29/08/2022

The Fagradalsfjall volcano is Iceland's hottest attraction. After almost a year of laying low, Iceland’s newest active volcano started erupting again on 3 August 2022. It’s one of the country’s must-see destinations you can experience. 

Don’t worry if you missed out on the March 2021 eruption, you still have the chance to witness a volcanic site first-hand. Follow the latest advice to access the site easily and safely. 

Plus, unlike the well-known 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the Fagradalsfjall volcano is not expected to cause any disruption to air travel. In fact, you may even catch a glimpse of the fresh lava fields from your plane as you descend into Keflavík Airport!

Where is the Fagradalsfjall volcano located?

The eruption site at Fagradalsfjall is located in an uninhabited area of the Reykjanes peninsula. The nearest town is Grindavík on the southwest coast. It’s approximately 32 kilometres (20 miles) from the capital, Reykjavík.

You’ll see most of the freshest lava fields in the Meradalir valley (or “Valley of the Mares”). But the eruption that started in 2021 was at a slightly different site, the Geldingadalir valley.

Orange lava at the volcano eruption site in Meradalir, Fagradalsfjall

When did the last volcano start erupting in Iceland?

Volcanic activity at Fagradalsfjall began back in March 2021, after some intense seismic activity. Finally, lava breached the surface of the Earth and started to fill Geldingadalir valley.

The 2021 eruption lasted for around 6 months. If you visited then you might have seen lava flowing from the volcano’s gaping caldera.

As before, the 2022 eruption started after a series of earthquakes shook the region’s tectonic plates. At first, scientists weren’t sure if the lava would break free. But then glowing molten rock started spewing out of the ground on 3 August.

Experts predict that volcanic activity will continue in the region for some time. Because the eruption is constantly changing, it makes for an exciting stop on your Iceland trip.

Is it worth going to see the eruption at Fagradalsfjall?

Definitely! The eruption site offers you a unique opportunity to see a fresh lava field forming up close. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the molten lava fountains with your own eyes.

Visitors at the Meradalir eruption site

How do you hike to the Fagradalsfjall volcano?

There’s a marked trail leading from the main car park to the fresh lava fields forming in Meradalir valley. Following the markers for Route A will take you alongside solidified lava from the 2021 eruption.

You’ll hike for about 7 kilometres (4.5 miles) one way on rolling, and at times steep terrain, to arrive at the edge of the new eruption site. The round trip takes around 4-5 hours, depending on your level of fitness. And this doesn’t include the time you’ll surely spend soaking up the spectacle once you arrive at the volcano. 

There’s also a trail that’ll take you up Langihryggur ridge, from another car park, near the main one.

From Langihryggur you can get a birds-eye view of the 2021 eruption site. This includes lava fields in Nátthagi valley and the caldera (the hole in the volcano peak where molten lava erupts from). That said, this hilly trail is only recommended for those with a good fitness level.

Can you walk on the lava in Iceland?

Touching or walking on solidified lava is extremely dangerous so you should not attempt to do so. Make sure you enjoy the spectacle from a safe and comfortable distance.

Is it safe to walk to the Reykjanes volcano site?

The volcanic activity at Fagradalsfjall changes from day to day. And while scientists aren’t sure how long the eruption will last, it could go on for some time.

Because of this, the local authorities have put critical infrastructure in place. This includes car parks and hiking trails, allowing visitors to access the site as safely as possible. 

Safety teams on the hiking trail to Fagradalsfjall volcano

That said, the local authorities may also close the site for civil protection when they think it’s best for people to keep away. So it’s worth checking to see whether or not the trail is open before setting out to see the eruption. You can stay up-to-date on the Iceland Safe Travel website.

Having said that, it’s considered safe to visit the eruption site when it’s open. Just stick to the hiking trails and enjoy this natural wonder from a respectful distance.

Please note that if you have a condition that affects your breathing – such as asthma – you may not wish to visit the eruption site. And children under 12 are not allowed to go. This is due to the potentially irritating sulphur gases given off by the volcano.

Pollution levels do vary though. So we advise checking the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s gas dispersion forecast when planning your visit.

When is the best time to visit the Icelandic volcano?

The eruption is a natural phenomenon, like the northern lights. So when planning your volcano visit, it helps to be open-minded and flexible.

No one can predict when the lava will flow and how long for. Activity levels at the site vary from day to day and could change with little or no warning. But getting to see fresh lava fields and new land forming is a very cool experience in itself, with or without molten magma.

So how do you know the best time to go? Well, there’s no time like the present!

We recommend keeping a close eye on both the weather forecast and updates from the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency

Molten lava erupting from the Fagradalsfjall caldera © Rüdiger Sopp
Molten lava spews out of Fagradalsfjall © Rüdiger Sopp

How do you get to the volcanic eruption site in Iceland?

The car parks for Fagradalsfjall are around a 1-hour drive from Reykjavík and 25 minutes from Keflavík Airport. It’s also not far from the famous Blue Lagoon.

We recommend travelling by car, as this will give you the most flexibility. Driving will also allow you enough time to hike the whole trail if you wish and enjoy visiting at your own pace.

The most convenient way to see the volcano eruption is on a self-drive tour of Iceland. You could drive to Fagradalsfjall on the way to the south coast from Reykjavík.

Or head there on the last day of your trip, en route to the airport. After your volcano hike, you'd drop off your rental car at Keflavík Airport, before flying home. This would be a full day of around 9 hours in total, so it works best if you have an afternoon or evening flight out of Reykjavík.

Hiking to see the volcano eruption at Fagradalsfjall

Parking near the Meradalir valley eruption site

There are parking lots near the start of the trail, which is accessible by the 427 road. This route traces the south side of the Reykjanes peninsula.

It’s worth noting that the car parks may fill up quickly if viewing conditions look good on the day you’ve chosen to visit. And sometimes the car park can be quite muddy, so take care when choosing a space.

You can get directions to the car parks for both Meradalir and the older eruption site on the Visit Reykjanes hiking and parking page.

What should I pack when I visit the Iceland volcano?

Good hiking boots are of course recommended. As on any hike in Iceland, weather conditions can change quickly, so bring a waterproof jacket. It’s best to dress in layers for warmth, but also so you can cool down if you work up a sweat on the way.

As the hike can take several hours, it’s a good idea to bring a water bottle along with a snack or small picnic. 

Lastly, you’ll want to bring a decent camera. Whilst any lava flow can be captured by smartphone camera, an SLR with a zoom lens will offer you the best quality shots. This is because the viewpoint is some distance from the fissure.

With that in mind, you might also want to bring a pair of binoculars for a close-up view of the action.

So to recap, your Reykjanes volcano trip packing list should include:

  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Walking poles, if you feel you need them
  • Waterproof jacket and light layers
  • Water bottle
  • Snack or small picnic
  • SLR camera
  • Pair of binoculars

Lava flowing from the volcano eruption into Meradalir valley

Can you help me plan my visit to the Fagradalsfjall eruption?

Of course! Learn more about Fagradallsfjall on this Iceland volcano eruption page, where you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions and the latest updates.

Ready to start planning your Iceland volcano trip? Nordic Visitor will put together the perfect itinerary so you can experience the Fagradallsfjall volcano and many more of Iceland’s natural wonders.

Your Reykjavík-based travel consultant will take care of everything for you. They can customise your tour and will reserve all your accommodation, local transport and activities. All you need to do is book your flight and enjoy your trip!

And at every step of the way, you can contact us with any question, no matter how small. You even get access to our 24/7 helpline once you arrive in Iceland.

For up-to-date travel advice from our local consultants and expert help planning your perfect Iceland itinerary, get in touch.

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Post by: Max

After a stint studying and working in Iceland, Max made his nest in Scotland. Whilst he’s left Iceland, the country hasn’t quite left him. When he’s not writing about his favourite places or visiting them, you’ll find him in the kitchen, at the pool or on a skateboard.

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We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.