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Nestled in Iceland's stunning landscapes, Eyjafjallajökull stands as a symbol of the nation's "Land of Fire and Ice" persona. Famous for its 2010 eruption that halted global air travel, this landmark is more than just a volcano; it's a testament to Iceland's raw, elemental beauty. Dive into the captivating tale of Eyjafjallajökull, from its icy façade to its fiery core, and uncover the allure of one of Iceland's most iconic wonders. Visit Eyjafjallajökull and witness how the powerful elements of the Land of Fire and Ice collide!
The view of the ice-capped Eyjafjallajökull volcano during a vibrant sunset
Best time to visit
Summer
Coordinates
63.63321, -19.60782
Distance from Reykjavík
150km (93mi)

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What to know about Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull, with its cone-like shape, is a towering stratovolcano, standing at 1,651 meters (5,417 feet). It’s probably Iceland’s is best-known, which caused international travel chaos back in 2010.

Ice and fire are closely linked in Iceland. In fact, like many other volcanoes in Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull takes the name of the ice cap itself. While this name is well-known around the world, few people know what it means—or how to succeed with Eyjafjallajökull’s pronunciation. It’s simple, really. The name breaks down into three parts: eyja-fjalla-jökull, meaning something like island-mountain-glacier.

Come and visit for yourself, to explore the elemental forces that make Iceland so distinct.

Eyjafjallajökull glacier during sunset

A brief history of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption

It’s fair to say that Eyjafjallajökull is Iceland’s best-known volcano, thanks to its 2010 eruption, which fired millions of tonnes of ash and gases into the atmosphere—and propelled this volcano to international stardom.

The first documented eruption of this volcano is traced to the ninth century. Since Iceland was settled in 874, Eyjafjallajökull has awakened five distinct times: in 920, 1612, and between 1821 to 1823, leaving lasting imprints on the terrain.

The fascinating thing is that in most cases, the neighbouring volcano, Katla, erupted soon afterwards. We’re waiting to see whether that will happen this time too.

Luckily, the 2010 eruption didn’t have significant impacts on human life. A smaller eruption occurred on March 20th at Fimmvörðuháls, between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. It birthed two craters, Magni and Móði, on a popular hiking trail. By April 12th, it released 0.026 cubic kilometres of lava and tephra, drawing tourists and experts. A month later, Eyjafjallajökull erupted for real.

On April 14, the major eruption began, lasting 71 days. The eruption melted its 250-meter ice cap, producing "jökulhlaup" or glacial floods. Its ash plume, rising 9 kilometres, disrupted European air travel, leading to 100,000 flight cancellations and stranding 2 million people. This event triggered global reassessment of volcanic risks in aviation.

This volcanic changed the landscape and local climate. Farms faced ash contamination, communities evacuated, and ashfall posed health risks. Air travel disruptions impacted Iceland's economy, especially tourism. Yet, communities rallied: through resilience, mutual support, and determination, affected communities gradually regained their footing. This eruption served as a reminder of the importance of readiness for future volcanic events and a shift towards proactive risk management.

An explorer taking a picture in Fimmvörðuháls

How to visit Eyjafjallajökull

The magnificent volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, is located at the heart of Iceland’s south coast. Its icy peak stands to the north of the famous waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, and is prominently visible (weather permitting) from the road between Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.

For a thrilling experience of Eyjafjallajökull, consider trekking the Fimmvörðuháls trail. This scenic hike offers close-up views of three glaciers: Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, and Tindfjallajökull glacier. The 25-kilometre (15.5-mile) path takes you high up into the elements, and you'll literally traverse in between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.

As you journey, witness the dramatic aftermath of the volcano's might, including expansive lava fields and craters. The trail doesn't ascend the glacier itself, but it passes by Magni and Modi, two craters birthed during the Fimmvörðuháls eruption, a precursor to Eyjafjallajökull's main eruption. The hike, connecting Skógar to Thorsmörk, can be undertaken from either direction, offering diverse perspectives of the captivating landscape.

Seljalandfoss Waterfall from behind

What to see and do around Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull and its environs are brimming with adventurous possibilities. From exhilarating treks to stunning waterfalls, there's an experience for everyone.

While the 25-kilometre Fimmvörðuháls hike might be daunting for some, plenty of shorter trails allow for exploration on foot. One option is a gentle walk from the parking area to the vantage point overlooking Sólheimajökull, a section of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Here, you can savor distant views of Eyjafjallajökull. However, it's crucial to note: approaching the glacier unguided is dangerous. To safely experience this glacier tongue up-close, consider a professionally led glacier hiking tour.

Another must-visit is Seljalandsfoss, a graceful waterfall fed by the waters of Eyjafjallajökull, cascading down the Seljalandsá river. For an enchanting experience, venture behind the waterfall's curtain.

The area's other standout waterfall is Skógafoss, which marks the beginning of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. If you're not keen on traversing the entire trail, opt for a gentler walk along the river above Skógafoss, continuing until you reach a vast canyon. From there, retrace your steps back down to the waterfall. This hike spans approximately 8-9 km (about 5-5.6 miles) round trip and promises a series of captivating waterfalls and breathtaking vistas.

Additionally, a unique ice cave accessible throughout the year lies nearby. Named after Eyjafjallajökull's neighboring volcano, Katla, this cave is remarkable for the volcanic ash embedded in its ice.

Expand your itinerary by adding nearby attractions. Explore the iconic Reynisfjara black-sand beach near the quaint fishing village of Vík. These sights together make an unforgettable Iceland South Coast trip itinerary!

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