Planning a trip to an active volcano may seem like planning a one-way trip to your own destruction, but there are plenty of active volcanoes that are open to tourists. It serves as the perfect combination of danger and desolate beauty to ignite the imagination.
Earth has over 1,500 active volcanoes, but these 6 are among the most accessible, with well-established roads, or cable car connections. They also have predictable levels of activity.
1. Mount Aso, Japan
While there may be concern that the famous Mount Fuji may erupt, Mount Aso on the southern island of Kyushu is still Japan’s most active volcano. You can view the pitted landscape of the volcanic caldera via cable car, or walk through Aso Kujū national park.
2. Mount Etna, Italy
At 2920 meters, Etna looms over the city of Catania in Sicily. Despite the near-constant volcanic activity, visitors can climb its peak to see the solidified lava flows and smoking craters. The Rifugio Sapienza (at 1923m) is accessible by road, from where buses and cable cars can take you to higher points.
3. Whakaari (White Island), New Zealand
Off the coast of the North Island, this volcano gets its name from the hot steam that often covers it. Its last eruption was in 2013. You can take a boat right to the island and see the restless volcanic craters, hot springs, an acid pool, and bubbling mud. Gas masks are provided.
4. Kīlauea, Hawaii
Kīlauea may not be the tallest Hawaiian volcano (it’s dwarfed by the 4,169m Mauna Loa), but it is the most active, and the most magnificent. Kilauea means “spewing” or “much spreading,” and indeed it has been spewing crimson lava since 1983. You can also see the lava lake within the Halema’uma’u crater and the beautiful lava fountains that take on an otherworldly glow after dark
5. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Reykjavik, this volcano covered most of Europe in ash in 2010. Eyjafjallajökull is actually the name of the glacier that covers the volcano, not the volcano itself, and visitors can hike across its icy landscape to see the remarkable lava formations or opt for jeep or helicopter tours.
6. Vesuvius, Italy
This is perhaps the most famous active volcano in the world, even though it last erupted in 1944. Located near Naples, roads travel for 1000 meters up Vesuvius. You can climb the remaining 200 meters to the steaming craters, where you also get spectacular views of Naples and Pompeii.