In July 2022, elevated earthquake activity and ground deformation were recorded on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, indicating a new volcanic eruption could be on its way. On August 3, after weeks of high anticipation, Fagradalsfjall awoke from its six-month slumber, and spectacular eruptions of lava fountains finally made their grand entrance.
Just 32km (20 miles) from Reykjavík, the Reykjanes Peninsula had previously been a volcanically dormant area. However, in March 2021, a long fissure opened in the Geldingadalur Valley, heralding the arrival of the first volcanic outburst in the area for over 800 years. By September 2021, this volcanic activity had subsided, and the site returned to being inactive…
Early indications reveal that this latest eruption, close to the cone created by the 2021 volcanic outburst, already has a higher intensity, will continue to grow in size over the coming months, and should be long-lasting. This is exciting news for volcanists and tourists alike, but also highlights a need for greater caution when visiting the site.
Here’s all you need to know to plan a visit to the breathtaking Fagradalsfjall eruption site, stay safe, and get the most from your trip.
What to take
No services are available at the eruption site, so you will need to take everything you need for your trip, including suitable footwear and clothing.
The hikes can be challenging, and the weather constantly changes, so make sure you’re fully prepared. You’ll need a map, sturdy hiking boots, layers of warm clothing, plus waterproof and wind-resistant outerwear. Hiking poles can also be beneficial.
The hiking trails typically take 6+ hours, so take a rucksack with a packed lunch/energy bars/snacks, water, first aid kit, charged mobile phone, headlamp or torch, camera, and any personal medication.
*If you are driving to the site, you can always stop at the small town of Grindavík to pick up any last-minute supplies before setting off on your hike.
How to get there
The Fagradalsfjall eruption site is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, close to Grindavík. The eruption site is a one-hour drive from Reykjavík and a half-hour drive from Keflavík airport.
BY CAR FROM REYKJAVÍK: Take Route 41 towards Keflavík. Then, turn left onto Route 43, driving south towards Grindavík. Finally, turn left onto Route 427 and follow this road until you see the marked parking lots.
BY CAR FROM KEFLAVÍK: Two options are available from Keflavík, both of which take you through Grindavík. They make a nice round trip if you combine them.
Option 1: Take Route 41 towards Reykjavík. Then, turn right onto Route 43 towards Grindavík. Finally, turn left onto Route 427 and continue until you arrive at the marked parking lots.
Option 2: This option takes you along the coast. First, take Route 41 towards Reykjavík, turning right onto Route 44 towards Hafnir. Continue on Route 425 towards Grindavík, and then follow Route 427 until you arrive at the parking lots.
*Car hire services are available from Reykavík and Keflavík.
BY BUS: There is currently no public transport available to the volcano eruption site, but several tour operators offer a return transfer by bus.
BY HELICOPTER: Several companies offer a helicopter/small plane service, allowing you to view all the action from a unique angle! These air trips typically last about an hour, weather conditions and air traffic control permitting!
*Weather, construction projects, traffic, or other disruptions may cause conditions to differ on these journeys, so you’ll need to check on the day and plan your route accordingly. For your own safety, you must follow official signs and safety instructions regarding your route at all times.
If driving, parking along Route 427 is forbidden. Instead, you must use the clearly signposted, official parking areas. There are currently two parking options:
Parking P1: https://www.parka.is/pay/geldingadalir/
Parking P2 (Stóri-Leirdalur): https://www.parka.is/pay/volcanoskali/
There is a small parking fee – 1000 ISK (= 8 USD) – valid for 24 hours. This can be paid electronically at https://parka.is/en/ or by scanning a QR code at the parking lot. There are clear signs at both parking lots with all the instructions you’ll need.
There are no facilities in the parking areas or along the trails.
The volcano eruption site is currently open 24/7 to all visitors.
However, this is a new eruption and is subject to rapid and unpredictable change. In the event of adverse weather conditions or other unforeseen hazards, the authorities will close the area until it is deemed safe again. As such, checking volcano trail conditions on the day of your trip is essential to avoid disappointment: https://safetravel.is.
The hiking trails to the new eruption site are approximately 7km (4.4 miles) each way, with an elevation gain of 300m (990 feet). You can opt for a self-guided hike or pay a tour guide. Visit The Icelandic Tourist Board for a list of licensed guides available.
Depending on the conditions, there are three hiking routes – Path A, Path B, and Path C. All three paths have challenging terrain, and ‘an average hiker’ should plan to spend at least 6 hours just on the hiking (round trip). Of course, you can add as much time as you like to this, to take in the spectacular scenes.
Path A is the easiest and most used path. It follows the graded path leading to the crater formed in 2021 and then progresses on to the new eruption site via a less developed (but well-marked) trail.
*Children under 12 years of age are currently not allowed at the new volcano eruption site due to safety precautions.
The Icelandic authorities are keeping a close watch on the changing conditions in the area and have asserted that it is currently safe for members of the public to visit the eruption site.
Members of ICE-SAR remain on site to keep visitors informed and safe.
It is recommended that hikers take extra precautions due to the unpredictability of the new eruption site and stay informed on weather and volcanic gas emissions updates.
- Check the daily weather forecast on the Iceland Meteorological Office website.
- Follow the guidance of SafeTravel before setting off on your hike.
For more guidance on staying safe, please visit our blog: Volcano Tourism: A Quick Guide to Visiting Iceland’s Volcanoes Safely.
People from all walks of life have been gathering to witness the spectacular scenes at Fagradalsfjall and to watch in awe as the fiery fountains and flowing rivers of lava forge new landscapes.
Don’t miss out on this unbelievable adventure! Book your trip, rent a car, and prepare to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Keep reading our blog for more travel tips and ideas for visiting the beautiful island of Iceland.Back