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Incredible Iceland Volcano Hike (Tour Near Grindavik with a Geologist)

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If you’re looking for an active way to learn about the local geology, an Iceland volcano hike could be a great fit for your trip.

During my recent two week road trip across the Reykjanes Peninsula and Southern Coast of Iceland I made sure to carve out some time to check out the Fagradalsfjall volcano hike near the town of Grindavik with GeoAdventures.

I was a little apprehensive about organizing a hike like this in the middle of winter, since my trip took place during February. But after spending a few hours with our guide Giuseppe and tour group, I’m so happy that I decided to brave the cold and learn about Iceland’s geology first hand!

I had rented a camper van for my trip so I elected to meet the group at the trailhead instead of doing their complimentary shuttle service out of Reykjavik. This meant I could continue on in the direction I wanted after our hike, since I was moving on from Reykjavik and working towards Thingvellir National Park that night.

Man hiking to Fagradalsfjall volcanic site during winter in Iceland
Even volcanic activity from recent years is warm to the touch, causing the snow to melt away

One thing to keep in mind with this tour, or generally any other volcano oriented tour in Iceland, is that you probably aren’t going to see flowing lava. This occurrence usually only lasts for a brief period of time after an eruption and can be difficult to approach safely.

The lava fields you visit during this activity are from eruptions that occurred in recent history, like the past few years or so. Even the lava fields created years ago can be quite hot just below the surface. Which means during the winter these areas of the ground will be exposed since the snow can’t survive here.

Volcano field steaming in Iceland during the winter
You can still see steam escaping the lava field shown here

While the hiking weather during summer months for this activity will be more pleasant, it was really cool to see the contrast between the lava fields where the snow had melted away and the rest of the terrain.

My favorite part of this guided volcano tour is that your guide is an educated geologist who can speak in great detail about how these eruptions occur.

Our guide discussed the tracking that goes into providing residents of Iceland early warnings against volcanic activity and how the volcanoes have influenced and created the terrain we see today.

Volcano hike guide showing a map in Iceland
Hiking to Fagradalsfjall with a guide is much more engaging than hiking it alone

In this post I’m going to highlight a number of important things to know before taking on this unique Icelandic adventure. Preparing properly for this activity is especially important if you’re planning to visit during the winter months when hiking conditions are less favorable!

You’ll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I’m still happy you’re here! 

What is the story behind GeoAdventures?

The founder of GeoAdventures, Jasmin, is a geologist from Germany, specialized in volcanology, who moved to Iceland in 2020. After spending her first year working a warehouse job to make the transition, she eventually started offering geology based tours of the Golden Circle during the weekends.

Volcano field near Grindavik Iceland during the winter
Despite cooling for years, the lava field shown here is still warm enough to melt away any snow that touches it

The interest in tours focused on Iceland’s geology really came into focus following the March 2021 volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, leading to increased demand for her activities. Soon after this eruption, she was able to quit her warehouse job and focus solely on offering geology based tours.

By 2023, GeoAdventures Iceland had expanded to include two more geologists — Fransie from Australia, and Giuseppe from Italy. Giuseppe was the guide during my volcano hike and I have nothing but great things to say about him. He was a ton of fun and super knowledgable!

The company’s tours have a focus on education and emphasize small groups for personalized interactions. I had a great experience during my activity and think this is a really good option for anyone looking to do some hiking while learning about what makes Iceland such a unique place.

Where does the Iceland volcano hike start?

The volcano hike with GeoAdventures to the Fagradalsfjall eruption area begins at the P1 parking lot near Grindavik. To get here by car, budget about an hour if you’re traveling from Reykjavik. When I drove here in the winter, the roads were covered with snow and it took me the full hour.

Keep in mind that GeoAdventures does offer roundtrip transportation for this activity. If you request a pick up when booking, they’ll provide specific instructions on where to meet.

Windy road cutting through the Icelandic countryside during winter
Driving through Iceland during the winter is a beautiful experience

The perk of driving yourself is that you can also visit places like the Blue Lagoon, which is nearby, after your hike instead of being shuttled back to Reykjavik.

It’s important when traveling across Iceland, especially in the winter, to monitor road conditions to ensure there aren’t any closures along your planned route. You can check road conditions at Safe Travel Iceland via their website, or through their app.

Where should I stay when visiting Iceland?

A lot of travelers will stay in the capital city, Reykjavik, for at least a couple nights when visiting Iceland. Its convenient location, near the Keflavik International Airport, makes it a practical starting or ending point for your trip.

Spending a night or two here will make it easy to access activities like this volcano hike, the Reykjavik walking food our or whale watching in Reykjavik Harbor.

If you haven’t booked your accommodations yet, you can browse deals on hotels in Reykjavik here. You could also check out the Reykjavik Lights Hotel, one of the better reviewed hotels in the capital.

Although I spent two nights in Reykjavik, I had a camper van and spent them at the Eco Campsite. While Reykjavik is a lot of fun, to get the most out of your Iceland trip, you’ll need to travel far outside of the city. A camper van is a great way to accomplish this!

Man standing in front of a camper van in Iceland
My camper van rental with Go Campers allowed me to explore Iceland’s south coast over the span of two weeks!

For my big two week roadtrip across Iceland I went with a Go Campers camper van. My rental had a great heater system that kept me plenty warm during the chilly winter nights and tons of extra options (like bonus pillows) that made van life way more comfy than I ever imagined it could be.

What months are best for volcano hikes in Iceland?

I enjoyed the volcano hike with GeoAdventures during the winter, in February, and had a great experience. If you dress properly, especially when it comes to your feet and hands, the cold isn’t an issue.

Rocky Icelandic landscape covered in winter snow
There are pros and cons associated with hiking in Iceland during the winter

However, summer brings warmer weather and longer daylight hours which is going to make for a more pleasant outdoor experience.

While the hiking itself will be more pleasant in the summer, there are some really cool tradeoffs to visiting in the winter. During the winter months, the years old volcanic fields are still warm to the touch. This means that they’re devoid of snow, steaming, and a nice place to sit and warm up during your adventure!

Snowy mountains in Iceland during the winter
I can’t wait to return to Iceland during the summer to see how different the landscapes are

In summary, this activity can be enjoyed year round and the views will vary significantly depending on when you visit. If you’re up for a snowy adventure, put it on your winter itinerary and don’t look back.

What should I bring on my volcano hike?

To properly prepare for this hike you’ll need to factor in the season you’re visiting and check the weather forecast. Regardless of season, be mindful that weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and change quickly.

Whenever you’re hiking in Iceland it’s a good idea to bring a waterproof raincoat, cover for your hiking backpack and a sturdy pair of hiking boots to navigate the rocky terrain. During the winter, hiking with crampons is almost always a good idea.

Man wearing a Venustas heated winter coat while hiking in winter Iceland
My heated Venustas coat made enduring the Icelandic winter cold super easy

If you’re visiting with GeoAdventures, they’ll provide you with crampons (micro spikes) that fit over most boot types.

You’ll want to bring water and a snack or light lunch to eat as well. Winter hikers will probably want to wear two pairs of socks and definitely bring a sturdy pair of gloves. If it’s windy the day that you visit, a neck gaiter or scarf and sunglasses can be extremely useful for protecting your face from the wind.

Snowy Icelandic terrain with cloudy skies near Grindavik
Iceland’s landscapes are beautiful when covered in snow

Consider skimming through my day hike checklist to see if there’s anything else you might want to pack for your volcanic adventure.

Keep in mind that severe weather or volcanic gas conditions can cause this activity to be cancelled, so it’s best to keep an eye on your e-mail the morning of your scheduled activity!

How long does the activity with GeoAdventures last?

The hiking portion of this activity will last about 3 hours. Think of it as about 2 hours of actual hiking and then about 1 hour of breaks, lectures and time to inspect recent lava fields.

Rocky terrain covered in snow during a winter Iceland hike
You’ll traverse snowy and rocky terrain if you book your volcano hike during winter

Visitors arriving to the trailhead from Reykjavik (with or without GeoAdventures) should anticipate about 1 hour of driving in each direction.

Are there bathrooms available during this activity?

When you arrive at the main parking lot you’ll encounter some basic bathrooms that you can use. Once you start out on the trail, you won’t encounter any additional places to use the restroom.

Keep in mind that you’ll be hiking through open terrain, so you won’t have any trees to leverage for privacy if you need to go while you’re out on the trail for this one!

Can you a hike a volcano in Iceland on your own?

It is possible to hike the lava fields surrounding the Fagradalsfjall eruption site on your own. The trailheads for this area begin at the P1 parking lot near Grindavik.

Map of the Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption site
This map near Fagradalsfjall highlights some of the volcano hike options in the area

However, if you do the hike on your own you’re going to miss out on learning about Iceland’s volcanic history and the significance of each eruption site that you pass by. Not only that, but our guide Giuseppe was a ton of fun and made the hike a really memorable experience.

How likely are you to see lava in Iceland?

If you’re trying to see flowing lava up close in Iceland, you might want to reconsider. The opportunities to do so are usually very short lived in the days following new eruptions, despite what social media might lead you to believe.

Colorful volcanic rocks sitting in a lava field near Grindavik Iceland
You’ll encounter lava rocks like this, but it’s hard to find flowing lava in Iceland

Not surprisingly, going up to flowing lava can be extremely dangerous. And not just because it’s really hot. These eruptions create a lot of toxic gases, and without proper gear (like gas masks), or experience, you could get yourself seriously injured or killed.

Check out these other great activities available near Reykjavik Iceland!

Looking for more ways to fill out your trip itinerary to Iceland? Be sure to check out the list of activities below from GetYourGuide.

Is doing a volcano hike in Iceland worth it? 

My experience hiking to Fagradalsfjall with a geologist was well worth the time. There are so many different things to see in the Reykjanes Peninsula that most travelers won’t have enough time to cover everything.

Man watching sunset during a volcano hike in snowy Iceland
Photos don’t do the magnitude of these Icelandic landscapes justice

I think what really sets this activity apart is doing it with a geologist who can educate you on your surroundings, volcanoes and Iceland’s geology in general. Without the informational element that GeoAdventures was able to provide, this hike wouldn’t have been so high on my to do list.

You can book a volcano hike with a geologist on their website, or browse some of their other guided offerings.

Part of experiencing a new place to its fullest involves learning about its culture, people and what makes it unique. You wouldn’t visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower or sampling their wine and you shouldn’t visit Iceland without learning about its unique volcanic features.

If you’re looking for other unique winter Iceland activities, considering reading the post about my experience snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure at Thingvellir National Park. Or explore another unique winter Iceland experience by taking an ice cave tour at Vatnajokull Glacier.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions about this Iceland volcano hike near Grindavik!

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