Iceland, the “land of fire and ice,” is a hotbed of volcanic activity. It’s one of the most active volcanic regions on the planet, yet the Thrihnukagigur volcano has been dormant for thousands of years. Because no recent eruptions have sealed it shut, Thrihnukagigur is the only place in the world where you can safely descend directly into a volcano’s magma chamber.
Thrihnukagigur is a relatively new sightseeing destination. It was only discovered, by an Icelandic cave explorer, in the 1970s and opened up to tourists in 2012. Travelers can experience it by booking a guided tour. It’s about a half-hour south of Reykjavik and tours typically begin with a 2-mile (3-kilometer) hike to the volcano across a lava field. Visitors then board an open elevator for a 6-minute journey that descends 700 feet (213 meters) into the magma chamber. There you are free to explore the dormant volcano's cave floor, its vividly colored rocks, and frozen magma icicles, for usually around 35 to 40 minutes. After returning to the surface, visitors are typically rewarded for their efforts with a bowl of traditional Icelandic meat soup.
Tours involve a moderate amount of walking but helicopter tours are available for those unable to do the hike.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to wear good hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Wearing a warm jacket and outdoor clothing is strongly recommended as it is usually very cold inside the crater.
- Thrihnukagigur is a must-see attraction for geology enthusiasts and nature lovers.
- There is a cozy “base camp” by the volcano with restrooms, coffee/tea, a souvenir shop, and Wi-Fi.
- Tours involve a moderate amount of walking but helicopter tours are available for those unable to do the hike.
How to Get There
Thrihnukagigur is in southwest Iceland, about a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik, via the Golden Circle or Ring Road, or a 50-minute drive from Keflavik International Airport. There is no public transport to the site. You can skip the hassle of driving by booking with a tour that includes pickup and drop-off from Reykjavik hotels.
When to Get There
Tours usually only run during the spring and summer months and take place during the day—check with the operators to confirm. If you want a more personal experience, you can book a private tour, which typically run in the early mornings. Iceland’s long summer days and short nights make getting up early a breeze.
Go Inside Thrihnukagigur Volcano
Iceland is the only place in the world where you can venture inside a volcano’s magma chamber. Thrihnukagigur is easily accessible from Reykjavik and makes for a straightforward day trip, especially if you book a tour that includes round-trip transport.