Volcanic Craters of Iceland: Names, Facts, and Features

Volcanic Craters of Iceland

Popularly called the “Land of Ice and Fire,” Iceland is rich in volcanoes. Iceland has around 130 volcanoes, and only 30 of them are still active. Most of the inactive volcanoes feature craters that are worth visiting. Some craters are large, and others are small; some require hiking, and others are easily accessible, while there are those that are filled with geothermal water or lakes, thus representing famous bathing spots. Plus, most volcanoes and volcanic craters are surrounded by other natural attractions allowing visitors to see more beautiful landscapes and features with one trip. The biggest volcanic crater in iceland is Hverfjall which, with a diameter of one kilometer, is probably the largest one in Europe. 

Here is a list of the Volcanic Craters of Iceland.

  • Geldingadalir Craters
  • Víti Explosion Crater
  • Stóra-Víti
  • Eldfell Crater
  • Eldborg Scoria Crater
  • Búrfellsgjá
  • Grábrók Crater
  • Kerið Crater
  • Hrossaborg Crater
  • Saxhóll Crater
  • Hólahólar Craters
  • The Purkhólar Crater
  • The Explosion Crater Grænavatn
  • Hverfjall Volcano Crater
  • Krafla Viti Crater
  • Rauðibotn Crater. 

1. Geldingadalir Craters

Geldingadalir Crater in Iceland is located in the southwest of the island. The Geldingadalir Crater’s coordinates are 63.8858° N, 22.2622° W. The last eruption of Geldingadalir occurred on the 9th of March 2021after three weeks of constant earthquakes and shaking. The previous eruption was more than 7000 years ago. Tours and Tour Guides for the Geldingadalir Crater in Iceland are available. The newly formed lava field surrounding the Geldingadalir Crater is quite an attraction for tourists and locals. Plus, the Geldingadalir Crater is within proximity to Reykjavik. 

2. Víti Explosion Crater

Víti Explosion Crater (also known as Víti Hell) in Iceland is located in the central highlands. The Víti Explosion Crater’s coordinates are 65.0111° N, 16.7485° W. The Víti Explosion Crater on Askja has a 15-meters diameter and is filled with whitish opaque blue geothermally heated (25°C) lake named Öskjuvatn. Tours and Tour Guides for the Víti Explosion Crater in Iceland are available. The water in the crater is a popular bathing spot; however, reaching it requires some severe sliding and then climbing as the walls are very narrow and the ground tends to loose gravel. 

3. Stóra-Víti 

Stóra-Víti (Big Hell) in Iceland is located in the north. The Stóra-Víti coordinates are 65.7171° N, 16.7544° W. Stóra-Víti is a colorful explosion crater in the Krafla fissure. The Stóra-Víti Crater was formed in 1974 after a 5-year explosion called Myvatnseldar. The crater’s diameter is 300 meters, and it is filled with azure blue lakes contrasting the bare and brown surroundings. Tours and Tour Guides for the Stóra-Víti in Iceland are available. The fact that Krafla is located where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet makes the Stóra-Víti crater an even more popular destination. 

4. Eldfell Crater 

Eldfell Crater in Iceland is located in the west. The Eldfell Crater’s coordinates are 63.4321° N, 20.2494° W. Situated on Heimaey Island; the maroon Eldfell Crater developed after an eruption in 1973 when both the crater and Eldfell (The Fire Mountain) were created. The lava remnants surrounding the Eldfell Crater are red and yellow, and what is interesting is that they still feature warm spots. Tours and Tour Guides for the Eldfell Crater in Iceland are available. Visiting the Eldfell Crater is a must when traveling to the Westman Islands.  

5. Eldborg Scoria Crater

Eldborg Scoria Crater (Fortress of Fire) in Iceland is located west of the country. The Eldborg Scoria Crater’s coordinates are 64.8700° N, 22.2300° W. Eldborg Scoria Crater is symmetric and perfectly shaped scoria active between 5000 and 8000 years ago. Tours and Tour Guides for the Eldborg Scoria Crater in Iceland are available. Climbing the crater requires some serious hiking, and visitors can use the set chains to make the ascending easier. 

6. Búrfellsgjá

Búrfellsgjá Crater in Iceland is located in the southwest. The Búrfellsgjá Crater’s coordinates are 64.0797° N, 19.8201° W. Búrfellsgjá is a lava gorge and part of the Búrfell Volcano, which erupted more than 8000 years ago. The diameter of the Búrfellsgjá Crater is 140 meters, and its maximum depth is 58 meters. Tours and Tour Guides for the Búrfellsgjá Crater in Iceland are available. Hiking to the Búrfellsgjá Crater is fun and allows visitors to see various attractions like lava formations, fissures, and small caves. 

7. Grábrók Crater

Grábrók Crater in Iceland is located in the west of the country. The Grábrók Crater’s coordinates are  64.7709° N, 21.5375° W. Grábrók is a 160-meters high scoria crater that formed around 3200 years ago. The lava field around the Grábrók Crater, Grábrókarhraun, has been on the Natural Heritage Register since 1962. The area around Grábrók is marked by contrasting attractions and features the serene pond Paradísarlaut and Glanni waterfall. Tours and Tour Guides for the Grábrók Crater in Iceland are available. 

8. Kerið Crater

Kerið Crater in Iceland is located in the south. The Kerið Crater’s coordinates are 64.0413° N, 20.8851° W. Kerið is oval scoria that formed around 6,500 years ago and is part of a row of craters called Tjarnarhólar. Today, the crater is filled with water. The lake within the Kerið Crater is between 7 and 14 meters deep. Tours and Tour Guides for the Kerið Crater in Iceland are available. Visitors can walk to the rim of the crater, and because of the good acoustics, it is popular for concerts to be held in the Kerið Crater. 

9. Hrossaborg Crater

Hrossaborg Crater in Iceland is located in the north. The Hrossaborg Crater’s coordinates are 65.6136° N, 16.2608° W. The name of the Hrossaborg Crater translates to Horse Castle or Horse City as the crater was once used as a natural pen for horses. Tours and Tour Guides for the Hrossaborg Crater in Iceland are available. Hrossaborg was used as a filming location for the Oblivion movie starring Tom Cruise. 

10. Saxhóll Crater

The Saxhóll Crater in Iceland is located in the west. The Saxhóll Crater’s coordinates are 64.8509° N, 23.9246° W. the red Saxhóll Crater formed between 3000 and 4000 years ago. Tours and Tour Guides for the Saxhóll Crater in Iceland are available. Saxhóll is reached after climbing the award-winning steps, which in 2018 won the Rosa Barba Landscape Prize. The climb is demanding, but there is a bench mid-way, and the view from the top is definitely worth the climb. 

11. Hólahólar Craters

Hólahólar Craters (Hills of Hills) in Iceland are located in the west. The Hólahólar Craters’ coordinates are 64.7846° N, 23.9233° W. Hólahólar is a cluster of craters that look like an amphitheater. Old Icelandic tales talk about elves living in the Hólahólar Craters. Tours and Tour Guides for the Hólahólar Craters in Iceland are available. 

12. The Purkhólar Crater

The Purkhólar Crater in Iceland is located in the west. The Purkhólar Crater’s coordinates are 64.7535° N, 23.8059° W. The crater was formed when Purkhólar erupted over 8000 years ago, resulting in a series of lava caves, including the famous Vatnshellir cave. Tours and Tour Guides for the Purkhólar Crater in Iceland are available. 

13. The Explosion Crater Grænavatn

The Explosion Crater Grænavatn in Iceland is located in the southwest. The Explosion Crater Grænavatn’s coordinates are 64.1359° N, 18.7090° W. The hallmark of the crater is the 46-meters deep Grænavatn Lake (Green Lake). The lake is named for the green coloration of its hot spring algae. Tours and Tour Guides for the Explosion Crater Grænavatn in Iceland are available. The Grænavatn Crater is very close to the Seltún-Krýsuvíkurhverir geothermal area allowing visitors to see both attractions on the same trip. 

14. Hverfjall Volcano Crater

Hverfjall Volcano Crater in Iceland is located in the north. The Hverfjall Volcano Crater’s coordinates are 65.6086° N, 16.8717° W. Hverfjall is one of the best-preserved volcanic craters in the world. The crater is symmetrically circular with a 1-kilometer diameter. The Hverfjall Volcano Crater looks like a black ash cone and is between 2800 and 2900 years old. Tours and Tour Guides for the Hverfjall Volcano Crater in Iceland are available. 

15. Krafla Viti Crater

Krafla Viti Crater in Iceland is located in the north. The Krafla Viti Crater’s coordinates are 65.7333° N 16.7833° W. The Krafla Viti Crater was formed in 1724 following a massive eruption that lasted for a total of five years and was popularly termed as the Mývatn Fires. The diameter of the Krafla Viti Crater is 300 meters, and the crater is filled with vividly colored blue water. Tours and Tour Guides for the Krafla Viti Crater are available during the summer months. The Krafla Viti Crater is included as part of the Diamond Circle Tours. 

16. Rauðibotn Crater

Rauðibotn Crater in Iceland is located in the south. The Rauðibotn Crater’s coordinates are 63.8333° N, 18.8333° W. Rauðibotn is part of the massive Eldgjá chain of craters. The Rauðibotn Crater is connected to the still active and terrifying Katla Volcano. Tours and Tour Guides for the Rauðibotn Crater in Iceland are available. Considered as the green emerald of Iceland, Rauðibotn is a must-visit-destination when exploring the Fjalllabak region. 

What are the facts about Craters in Iceland?

The total number of volcanoes in Iceland is 130. However, only 30 of those volcanoes are active while the others are inactive. The 100 inactive volcanoes feature volcanic craters or calderas. Some craters and calderas are popular tourist attractions. Certain craters are easily accessible, while others require hiking. Interestingly, some are even filled with water and allow swimming. Each year, the volcanic craters combined with other natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes attract around 2.000.

How are Craters be Formed in Iceland?

Volcanic craters are formed as a result of outward explosions of volcanoes. Calderas, on the other hand, are formed after inward collapses of magma chambers. Craters tend to be smaller than calderas. Finally, pseudocraters form when lava flows over a boggy area or wetland, causing explosions due to the increased steam pressure. 

Are Craters in Iceland Volcanic?

Yes, the craters in Iceland are volcanic. Out of the over 130 volcanoes in Iceland, only 30 are still active. The other volcanoes are classified as inactive and feature larger or smaller craters. Some of the volcanic craters are even filled with water. The volcanic craters represent a natural attraction and are safe for visits.  

What is the biggest Crater in Iceland?

The biggest crater in Iceland is Hverfjall. Hverfjall is an enormous tephra crater with a symmetrically round crater with a 1-kilometer diameter. Hverfjall is located in the north of the country and a popular tourist destination. The crater is very well-preserved and probably the largest volcanic crater in Europe. 

What is the oldest Crater in Iceland?

The oldest volcanic crater in Iceland is Fagradalsfjall. The tuya volcano is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 40 kilometers from Reykjavik. Fagradalsfjall was formed at some point during the last glacial period. 

What is the prominence of Craters in Iceland’s Geography?

Volcanic craters affect Iceland’s Geography by changing the overall landscape and contributing to the formation of new landforms such as natural pens and lakes. Volcanic craters also affect the economy of the country on several levels, both positive and negative. 

What is the effect of Craters on the Icelandic Economy?

Volcanic craters have a dual effect on the Icelandic economy. Their craters and their former explosions have caused major destruction. Plus, considering the size and massiveness of volcanoes, they prevent certain areas from being industrialized and represent a transportation challenge. On the other hand, volcanic craters are a popular attraction, thus supporting tourism as one of Iceland’s most developed economic branches. 

Are There Geysers in Craters in Iceland?

Yes, there are geysers in the craters of Iceland. One such example is the mighty Strokkur. Strokkur is Iceland’s most popular and frequently visited active geyser. It is also part of the wildly famous Golden Circle together with Gullfoss Waterfall and the Þingvellir National Park.

Are There Lakes in Craters in Iceland?

Yes, some lakes of Iceland are situated in volcanic craters. For example, Lake Viti, Lake Askja, and Kerið are water bodies in craters. Such lakes are a popular attraction for tourists, and some represent famous bathing spots. The whitish to blue color of the lakes is contrasting compared to the bare volcanic surrounding of the craters. 

What are the Crater Tours in Iceland?

Many Tours of Iceland include visiting and exploring volcanic craters. Such tours are popular among both visitors and locals. Depending on the specific crater, it is possible for the tours to be a couple of hours long or last for up to several days. The prices for the tours vary based on destination and length but usually start at around $50. 

What are the Iceland Hiking Tours?

Hiking in Iceland is a popular activity, and therefore there are many different hiking tours. The hiking can take place at various locations and include visiting an array of natural attractions and landforms. Some hiking tours are strenuous and require physical preparedness, while others are easier and more suitable for all age categories. 

Can You See Volcanic Craters in Golden Circle Tour?

The Golden Circle Tour includes three of the most popular Icelandic attractions, the Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Þingvellir National Park. The tour is 300 kilometers long and can be done in one day. Some Golden Circle tours include one more stop, which is visiting the crater-lake Kerið.