The top 22 volcanoes around the world

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 21.05.2024

There are some 1,500 volcanoes in the world – but not all are created equal. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting volcanoes of all. Famous for their sheer size, breathtaking views or hiking trails, all our top 20 volcanoes offer a fascinating insight into the power of mother nature.

1. Acatenango Volcano, Guatemala

Located in the Antigua region of Guatemala, the awe-inspiring Acatenango volcano offers one of the best hikes in Central America. So, if you’re looking for an adventure that takes your breath away, climbing Acatenango is a must.

Though the hike to the summit is no walk in the park, it’ll leave you with memories that'll last a lifetime — we're talking breathtaking views of lava flows and explosive eruptions.

The right weather will brighten up your trip even more. Ensure a comfortable travelling experience with our guide to the best time to visit Guatemala. Also for better planning, read our breakdown of how many days are optimal for visiting Guatemala and our Guatemala travel tips.

Tailor-made trips

On this tailor-made trip to the best of Guatemala, you will visit the most popular destinations including the Western Highlands, Tikal and Antigua Guatemala. Enjoy the different types of activities like exploring the Mayan pyramids in the middle of the virgin jungle or having one of the best cups of coffee surrounded by a unique landscape.

Looking for a way to be better prepared for your trip to Guatemala? Start by familiarising yourself with things to know before you go.

2. Mount Fuji, Japan

A perfectly shaped volcano with a conical form and pretty snow-capped peak, Mount Fuji is Japan's most popular and visited tourist attraction, and it's one of the most famous volcanoes around the world. It’s currently active, though last erupted in 1708, so should be safe enough to scale – as many do in summer months. If you’re feeling nervous check it out from the security of a bullet train between Tokyo and Yokohama. Note that you might like to head to Japan during cherry blossom season when all the pretty blooms are out.

Tailor-made trips

Get chatting with one of our professional local experts who will help you design your very own tailored made trip around Japan. If you're a foodie you can enjoy kaiten sushi (conveyer belt sushi) in Osaka or tuck into tempura in Tokyo. If you're interested in culture you can enjoy a tea ceremony or train with a sumo wrestler. It's all up to you!

Things not to miss: Mount Fuji reflected in Lake Yamanaka, Japan.

Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic volcanoes in the world © Shutterstock

3. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

In April 2010, Eyjafjallajökull, one of Iceland's many volcanoes, caused merry hell for the aviation industry. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and thousands of travellers were stranded due to ash clouds. By October, the eruption was officially declared over, though there’s no saying when it might happen again. In May 2011, a nearby volcano called Grímsvötn followed suit…watch this space. There is more to the country than just volcanoes, of course. Check out our things not to miss in Iceland.

Tailor-made trips

There's plenty of things to explore in Iceland, what better way than with your own, personalised trip? Take sample trips like Incredible Iceland and modify them according to your wishes or start with a blank page for your trip, all with the help of our local expert. Once you have agreed on the itinerary, enjoy a hassle-free payment and booking service from our local experts. All you'll have to do is pack your bags!


Eyjafjallajökull, probabaly the weirdest volcano name, Iceland © Shutterstock

4. Mauna Loa and Kilauea, Hawaii

Situated in the appropriately named Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa is the world's largest volcano. It’s outrageously active, chalking up 33 eruptions since 1843 when it had a big blow out. Neighbouring Kilauea is smaller but just as energetic. You can drive around the summit, as long as there are no active lava flows. Not sure which of the islands to visit while travelling there? No need to worry, we have the ultimate beginner's guide to the Hawaiian islands.

Kilauea volcano, Hawaii ©Alex GK Lee/Shutterstock

Kilauea volcano lava running into the sea at Hawaii ©Alex GK Lee/Shutterstock

5. Mount Etna, Italy

Sicily harbours Europe’s tallest active volcano, Etna, just outside the city of Catania. Visitors can make their way to the steaming, smoking summit (in the company of a guide). Be warned that the temperature at the top drops considerably, so take a few layers with you. Mount Etna erupted as recently as in February 2021 and left a shower of ash that reached Catania, adding to the fact that it is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. If you're travelling around Sicily, don't miss out on a trip to Palermo. Here are our reasons why to visit this fascinating city. For more inspiration, we've also rounded-up some some fun facts about Italy.

Tailor-made trips

Discover Sicily and beyond on a tailor-made trip, created according to your preferences by one of our local experts. A Tour of Sicily is a sample itinerary you can modify to fit your preferences or talk to our local experts and start from scratch. From accommodation choices to routes and excursion preferences - everything can be adapted to truly fit your wishes.


Mount Etna on Sicily Island © Shutterstock

6. Pico de Fogo, Cape Verde

Fogo” in Portuguese means fire – an apt description of an active volcano if ever there was one. Local residents still live in the small village of Cha das Calderas, which sits within the 9km-wide caldera itself. It must be evacuated whenever the mountain threatens to blow its top. New to Cape Verde? Here is a beginner's guide to this incredible archipelago.


Relaxing near Pico de Fogo © Anze Furlan/Shutterstock

7. Pacaya, Guatemala

It may attract the touristy hordes but on Pacaya, the smoking volcano standing sentinel above Guatemala’s major city Antigua, you’re almost guaranteed some lava-spotting. The climb to the top is moderately strenuous but the views are simply magnificent, which is why it's one of our top 20 volcanoes. Take your time in the country to explore its fascinating attractions. Here are our top 7 reasons on why to stay in Guatemala for a while.

Tailor-made trips

Want to explore Pacaya and beyond on your own? Get in touch with our local experts for Guatemala or check out the sample trip, Off the tourist trails in Guatemala and Belize.


Pretty sunset view of Pacaya © LouieGA/Shutterstock

8. Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous volcanoes in Italy. Universally acknowledged to be an extremely dangerous volcano, Vesuvius in southern Italy has had a colourful past. In 79 AD the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were completely destroyed, while in 1906 new lava flows resulted in the deaths of 218 people. 1944 marked another eruption and the destruction of nearby towns. Visitors today can hike to the top and peer into the now serene-looking caldera. Appearances, evidently, can be deceiving.

Learn more about Naples, one of our best places to travel to in 2020.

Tailor-made trips

Thinking about visiting the South of Italy? Our sample itinerary The Best of South Italy is a great starting point for ideas on what to do and where to go. Talk to our local experts to modify the itinerary or create a new one together with them.


Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the distance © Canadastock/Shutterstock

9. Villarrica, Chile

A place for skiing in winter and climbing in summer, Villarrica is one of Chile's most active volcanoes. It’s tough going to reach the summit, but to see the sparkling lakes of Calafquen, Panguipulli and Pelleufa from the top is an unforgettable experience. If you're thinking of planning a trip to Chile, do get in touch with our local experts. If you want incredible views of other lakes, read up on our favourite ones from around the world.

Tailor-made trips

Our local experts in Chile would be happy to create and book an itinerary for you including Villarrica. Have a look at our Chile Explored sample itinerary for ideas to plan your trip to Chile.


Hikers on the Villarrica © Krittiya Muenjorn/Shutterstock

10. Shishaldin, Alaska

An ice- and snow-clad behemoth, Shishaldin is an absolute beauty, dominating the remote Alaskan landscape. It’s not especially active and attracts local climbers (rather than tourists) who have normally head back down again atop a pair of skis. If you're looking for more splendour in Alaska, enjoy looking through our gallery of the 15 most beautiful places in Alaska.

    What to do

  • For more outdoor beauty in Alaska, enjoy a tour with a guide and spot the spectacular after-dark display of the Northern Lights.

Snowy Shishaldin peak, a big volcano in Alaska ©

11. Mount Bromo, Indonesia

The ancient Indonesian deities here in East Java were once appeased with live sacrificial victims being thrown into the crater. Now, the offerings still continue, but they are likely not to be alive. Mount Bromo is a spectacular volcano looming over the desolate Sea of Sand, and at sunrise or sunset you might see the incredible red smoke phenomenon. When sunlight hits the smoke directly it turns blood-red. If you're looking for more colour why not head to Raja Ampat Islands too? It's one of our favourite colourful places in the world.

Tailor-made trips

With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia has plenty to offer for everyone, but research can get overwhelming. Get in touch with our local experts today, to get a quote on your own tailor-made trip. Indonesia Island Hop is just a sample itinerary to give you a first taste - modify it according to your wishes and get your quote today.

Rough Guides tip: From beaches to mountains, discover the best of Indonesia in 14 days with our itineraries.


Misty Mount Bromo, a large volcano in Indonesia © szefei/Shutterstock

12. Stromboli, Sicily

It’s a small Aeolian island off the coast of Italy, but Stromboli is big enough to house an active volcano. And to say it’s “active” is an understatement: it’s been spewing molten lava for the past 2000 years. This activity has earned it the nickname of the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” The night is a particularly wonderful time to witness its fiery explosions. For more information on the incredible island of Sicily, enjoy our Rough Guide to Sicily.

    What to do

  • Go on a guided sunset trek and enjoy fantastic views of the beautiful surrounding landscape.

Tailor-made trips

Explore Sicily and Italy with a tailor-made trip. Our local experts are happy to hear from you and quote and book an itinerary according to your preferences.

Beautiful sunrise withe the Stromboli volcano seen from the Salina island in the Aeolian islands, Sicily, Italy © Cristian Puscasu/Shutterstock

Sunrise view of the Stromboli volcano - one of the most active volcanoes in Italy © Cristian Puscasu

13. Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

Mnt Ruapehu is the highest peak on New Zealand's North Island and provided a picturesque and atmospheric film setting for Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings movies. Not only home to a rabble of Middle-earth orcs, hobbits and goblins, but the volcano also has two ski hills. Going further afield in New Zealand? Check out our best routes for an exciting road trip in the country.

Tailor-made trips

New Zealand makes an amazing destination for self-drive trips. This sample trip from Auckland shows just one of many possibilities to explore the North Island. Talk to our local experts today to receive your own personalised itinerary.


The base of Mount Ruapehu, a large volcano in New Zealand © Pi-Lens/Shutterstock

14. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

South of Quito and nestling in the Andes range, Cotopaxi is Ecuador's premier volcano, and one of our things not to miss in country. Its cone shape attracts technical climbers, armed with ice axes, crampons and ropes – as well as a strong stomach for high altitude. Along with those intrepid souls, you might come across the lovely high altitude hummingbird all the way up here.

Optimal weather is essential for both volcano conquest and comprehensive exploration. To get the most out of your trip, start preparing by reading our guide on the best time to visit Ecuador.

Want to learn more useful information before your upcoming trip to Ecuador? Read our tips for traveling in Ecuador. You might also find it helpful to read about what you need to know before traveling to Ecuador.

Tailor-made trips

Mountains, the Amazon, the incredible Galapagos islands, a rich history and an incredible food scene - Ecuador is a dream destination for many reasons. Our Cultural Cities & Galapagos Islands sample trip gives you a first taste what to see in 14 days in the country. Contact our local experts today to get your quote.


© Shutterstock

15. Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Isabela is actually the name of the Galapagos Island that has not one but six interesting volcanoes in residence – Sierra Negra, Alcedo (pictured), Cerro Azul, Wolf, Darwin and Ecuador (Ecuador is not active). Their calderas are studded with wild tortoises – let’s hope they can flee the lava flows fast enough…

Discover why the Galapagos islands made our list of the Best Places to Travel in 2020.

Make the most of the chilled laidback atmosphere in Canoa. Enjoy the sun and fine sand in the area, before the place becomes a party hub after sunset. If you're looking for some adventure, why not try your hand at surfing? Alternatively, culture vultures will love the Otavalo Market. There are plenty of fantastic handicrafts and weavings on show here.

Tailor-made trips

Interested to know what to do on the Galapagos Islands? Have a look at our Galapagos Explored itinerary and get in touch today to plan your personalised tailor-made trip! You can also find more ideas for your future trips in our Galapagos itineraries.


The stunning Isabela Island in Ecuador is a volcanic island © mikluha_maklai/Shutterstock

16. Mount Mayon, Philippines

The picture-postcard shot of the classic conical volcano, Mayon, on the Philippine island of Luzon, has been exhibiting “unusual” behaviour of late – puffing out fumes and showing off a glowing crater. Locals are on high alert, which is sensible, as on May 7 2013, seven people (four of them foreign visitors) were killed while climbing up. If you're looking to explore more, read up on guide to the best islands in the Philippines.

Discover why Luzon made our list of the Best Places to Travel in 2020.

Tailor-made trips

With so many islands to explore, planning a trip to the Philippines can get overwhelming fast. Our local experts are happy to help out and offer their professional advice for your own tailor-made adventure. Our Visayas - Total Immersion trip gives you a first taste of what is possible, don't hesitate to get in touch today to modify this trip to your preferences.


Mount Mayon, a famous volcano on the Philippines, erupting © Adrian Baker/Shutterstock

17. Krakatoa, Indonesia

Had you been in Perth, Western Australia, on August 26–27 1883, you would’ve heard the cataclysmic explosion of Gunung Krakatoa. It was so powerful that the noise travelled all the way from Indonesia. It is recorded as the most violent volcanic explosion in modern history. Krakatoa Island is also home to smaller Anak Krakatoa, which started erupting in 2008. The latest eruption was in 2018 which was massive, triggering a tsunami that killed at least 426 people – the deadliest volcanic eruption in the 21st century. If you're looking to explore more of Indonesia, read our guide to its 14 most unforgettable islands.

    What to do

  • Make sure to explore Baluran National Park. The park measures in at over 50,000 hectares (124,000 acres) and it's inside an eroded volcano cone.

Tailor-made trips

Explore Sumatra and beyond with one of our professional local experts. With decades of experience in the tour operator business, they're perfectly equipped to help you with your Indonesian adventure. They can also give you up-to-date information on Krakatoa Trekking.


A view of one of Krakatoa's eruptions, a spectacular volcano in Indonesia © Deni_Sugandi/Shutterstock

18. Agung, Indonesia

The crater belonging to Bali's Gunung Agung is very deep and very large, even though from a distance the summit looks like quite neat and cone-like. An eruption occurred during 1963–1964, which wiped out over 1,500 people. More recently, towards the end of 2017, Agung erupted five times causing mass evacuation and significant disruption to air travel. The mountain today makes a challenging and beautiful trek. Travelling further afield in the continent and a keen trekker? Take a look at our best treks in Southeast Asia.

Tailor-made trips

While climbing Agung is currently not possible due to a warning issued by the authorities for increased activity, there are plenty of other activities and climbs: Mount Batur and Mount Abang await! Contact our local experts today to create your Bali adventure - from hiking over beaches to spiritual healing sessions, Bali has something in store for every taste.

Main Bali temple Pura Besakih at the foot of the volcano Agung © Yolya Ilyasova/Shutterstock

Main Bali temple Pura Besakih at the foot of the famous volcano Agung © Yolya Ilyasova/Shutterstock

19. Poás, Costa Rica

A bubbling sulphuric pool, exploding geysers and a beautiful blue-green lake around the main crater at Poás, make one of the most visually interesting volcanoes in the world. It’s a great day trip from San José, for visitors keen to experience the surrounding forests and exciting wildlife – as well as to sniff the pongy sulphuric fumes. If you're planning on exploring Costa Rica, read our handy tips for travelling around the country.

Tailor-made trips

Costa Rica may be small, but there's plenty to discover. From Coast to Coast is a great starting point to gather ideas for an upcoming trip. Once you're ready to start planning, contact our local experts for a personalised quote.


Poàs is one of the most fascinating volcanoes in Costa Rica © Michal Sarauer/Shutterstock

20. Mount St Helens, Washington

Mount St Helens is responsible for the most catastrophic eruption in the US: in 1980, the side of the mountain blasted out over miles and miles of expensive timberland, destroying towns, highways and bridges and killing over 50 people. Steam still rises from the ice-laden crater rim, a nervy reminder of its potential force and continuing activity.

Not sure whether to stay in Portland or Seattle? Read our handy guide to help you decide.

    What to do

  • Take a day trip from Seattle in a small group to experience the history and stories of St Helens.

Tailor-made trips

Enjoy talking to one of our local professional experts who can help to guide you when creating your own personalised tailor-made trip around the states.


A looming sunset over Mount St Helens, a famous volcano in the USA © JPL Designs/Shutterstock

21. Mount Yasur, Vanuatu

The last entry in our list of the top 20 volcanoes is Mount Yasur on Tanna Island. Here, you can get very, very close to the furnace-like insides. Seeing the magma bubble and pop deep within the bowels of the earth is an exhilarating though frightening experience. Getting that close can be dangerous, as tourists have found to their cost over the years: projectile debris and scorching temperatures can be lethal.


The volcano Mount Yasur spitting red hot lava at dawn

Top image: Mount Bromo volcanoes taken in East Java, Indonesia © szefei/Shutterstock

22. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia

The climb up majestic, forested Mount Rinjani (3726m), taking in the magnificent Danau Segara Anak crater lake, is the most taxing and rewarding trek on Lombok. Most climbs start from either Senaru or Sembalun Lawang, on the northern slopes. However, two new access points have opened at Aik Berik, near Benang Stokel waterfall, and Timbanuh both on the southern slopes.

Tailor-made trips

Start this tailor-made trip to Java and Lombok in Yogyakarta with its rich cultural past such as the Borobudur temple. From there continue to hike Mount Bromo and explore more of East Java in Malang and Surabaya. End your trip on the dreamy beaches of Kuta/Lombok, dubbed 'the next Bali'.

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