The top 20 volcanoes around the world

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Rough Guides Editors
11/6/2020

There are some 1,500 volcanoes around 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. 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. 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.

Where to stay

Best for a luxurious Ryokan stay: Fuji Onsenji Yumedono

Best for a family stay: Lakeland Hotel Mizunosato

What to do

Best for a fun day out with the family: Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park

Best for those short on time: A day tour from Tokyo including a cruise and lunch

2. 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 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.

Where to stay

Best for a remote nature experience: Volcano Huts

Best for a family stay: Hotel Eyjafjallajökull

What to do

Best for the physically active: Superjeep and Hiking Tour in Thormark from Reykjavik

Best for the views: Wild South Waterfalls, Black Beach & Glacier Hike from Reykjavik

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!

3. 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.

Where to stay

Best for views: Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant

Best guesthouse: At the Craters Edge

What to do

Best for first-time visitors: Big Island Circle Tour from Kona

Best spot for your Instagram: Stargazing - Mars and Stars Photo Adventure

4. 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.

Where to stay

Best for views: Casa Monte Etna

Best for a spa experience: Corsaro Etna Hotel & Spa

What to do

Best for those wanting to hike up: Guided hike to the summit, including cable car and jeep

Best for families: Sunset Jeep Tour to Mount Etna

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.

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5. 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.

Where to stay

Best for mountain views: Casa Alcindo

Best for ocean views: Hotel Ocean View & Restaurante Seafood

6. 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.

Where to stay

Best for a comfort wellness experience: Kawilal Hotel

Best for a family stay: Villa El Rosario

What to do

Best for an active trek: 2h-trek of Pacaya from Antigua

Best for a day tour: Pacaya Volcano Tour including hot springs & lunch

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.

7. Mount Vesuvius, 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.

Where to stay

Best for seafront: Puntaquattroventi

Best for a family stay in Naples: Grand Hotel Oriente

What to do

Best for a true Italian experience: Italy is known for its food & wineries - enjoy a superb lunch with 3 wines after your hike up to the crater

Best for a combination tour: Full day tour from Naples or Sorrento to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

Tailor-made trips

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In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.

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

8. 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.

Where to stay

Best for a hostel budget stay: Hostel El Alcazar

Best for families: Hotel Terraza Suite

What to do

Take a day tour with an experienced guide to hike up Villarrice from Pucon. If that leaves you wanting more, explore nearby Quetrupillan volcano the next day.

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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

Where to stay

Best for an Indonesien home stay experience: Cahyo Homestay Bromo

Best for solo travellers: Happy Volcano Backpacker Hostel Dormitory

What to do

Best for a private experience: See the sunrise over Mount Bromo from Surabaya

Best when staying in Bali: Staying on Bali? Take a 3-day tour to Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater with an experienced guide

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.

11. 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.

Where to stay

Best for stunning views: La Sirenetta Park Hotel

Best for a family stay: Agriturismo SoleMar

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.

12. Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

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.

Where to stay

Best for a luxurious stay: Chateau Tongariro Hotel

Best budget option: The Park Hotel Ruapehu

What to do

Best for self-explorers: Guided audio tour of the Tongariro Crossing

Best for reaching the summit: Guided tour to the Ruapehu Crater Lake

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.

13. Cotopaxi, Ecuador

South of Quito and nestling in the Andes range, Cotopaxi is Ecuador's premier volcano. 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.

Where to stay

Best for incredible views: Hacienda Los Mortiños

Best for solo travellers: Cuscungo Cotopaxi Hostel & Lodge

What to do

Best for staying active: Hiking & Biking on Cotopaxi from Quito

Best for families: Full day tour from Quito exploring Cotopaxi

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.

14. 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

Where to stay

Best to meet other travellers: Hostal Galapagos by Bar de Beto

Best for beachfront: Hotel Albemarle

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!

© mikluha_maklai/Shutterstock

15. 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.

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

Where to stay

Best for a cozy Bed & Breakfast: Balay de la Rama Bed & Breakfast

Best for a stay with the family: The Marison Hotel

What to do

Explore the surroundings on ATV and take in the views on this thrilling adventure.

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.

16. 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.

Where to stay

Best if you're in Sumatra: Grand Elty Krakatoa

Best if you're staying on Java: Mutiara Carita Cottages

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.

17. 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.

Where to stay

Best for a stay in nature with amazing views of Agung: Abian Ayu Villa

Best guesthouse in Kintamani: Batur Volcano Guesthouse

What to do

Best alternative trek: Witness the sun rise from Mount Batur with an experienced guide

Best views of Agung: Visit the Mother temple and Lempuyang for amazing pictures for your Instagram

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.

18. Poás, Costa Rica

A bubbling sulphuric pool, exploding geysers and a beautiful blue-green lake around the main crater at Poás, making 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.

Where to stay

Best for views and nature: La Cabaña Poas

Best for staying in Alajuela: Dushi Vida Country Inn

What to do

Best day tour when staying in Jacó: Doka, Poas and La Paz Waterfalls

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.

19. 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.

Where to stay

Best when staying in Portland: The Mark Spencer Hotel

Best when staying in Seattle: The Paramount Hotel

What to do

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

20. 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.

Where to stay

Best for spa treatments: White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa

Best for private beach access: Rockwater Resort

What to do

Best for adventures from Port Vila: Vanuatu Jungle Zipline

Best for a family day out: Kayaking & Waterfall tour from Port Vila

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

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