Despite being the 2nd smallest continent on earth, Europe never ceases to amaze us with its richness in culture and natural beauty. From the vast forests in Germany to the Portuguese seaside or the Icelandic surreal landscapes, the possibility for beautiful hikes is endless.
But what if you could truly awaken your adventurous spirit by hiking on an active volcano? Are you and your friends brave enough to hike alongside smoking craters and volcanic rock, only to be gifted with the most amazing panoramic view at the top?
Here’s a list of the best volcanic hikes in Europe to plan your next group holiday around.
Most Europeans will remember the 2010 air travel chaos caused by the volcano whose name not even the most experienced newscasters could pronounce. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano – say that three times fast – has since settled down a little and is known for its beautiful four-mile hiking trail leading up to the top. Make sure to bring appropriate gear on this hike though, as you will have to cross glacial ice fields on the way up. Make a full holiday out of it by visiting these other gorgeous Icelandic locations and catch some northern lights while you’re there too!
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
This volcano alone is responsible for the demise of the infamous city of Pompeii. Mount Vesuvius is currently dormant, which means it is safe to hike on for now. This hike is fairly easy, as you can also drive up to 1000m and park your car on the side of the mountain. Make sure to take the Gran Cono trail and see the crater from all angles, while enjoying the Italian countryside as well as a beautiful ocean view. Due to the fertile volcanic soil, you can also eat amazing fruits and vegetables in the surrounding areas, which are cultivated by the friendly locals who are very confident in Mount Vesuvius’ safety.
Mount Pico, Azores, Portugal
Mount Pico is technically not in continental Europe, as it is located in Portugal’s Azores archipelago, but it is well worth the visit. The volcano is the highest peak in Portugal at 2351 m (7700 ft.) and is currently dormant. The hike can be a challenging experience so it is best for experienced hikers. This is due to the variety of rock formations you will encounter that require scaling as well as the changing weather conditions due to altitude of this volcano. You can also book an experienced guide to help you reach the top, although this is not a requirement. Anyone taking on the challenge and wants to go any higher than 1200 m needs to check in at the Casa da Montanha where they are given GPS tracking devices for safety. Are you and your friends up for this challenge?
Mount Etna, Italy
Sicily’s Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe at 3329 m. A holiday hike to this geological landmark can be as easy or as challenging as you’d like, as there is quite a bit of public transportation to take you to the top, but you can also follow a hiking trail from the Rifugio Sapienza. Be aware that from an altitude of 2070 m you will need to be accompanied by a guide, and that depending on the volcano’s activity you may not be allowed to go all the way to the top.
Mount Teide, Tenerife, Spain
Mount Teide is Europe’s tallest volcano at 3718 metres and is located in the Canary Islands. It is inactive now as its last eruption occurred in 1909, making it safe for climbers and hikers. It is best to take on this challenge in spring or autumn as the summer heat would make it too dangerous to climb.
It is recommended that you hike during the The Tenerife Walking Festival which takes place once per year in spring. The expedition takes from 5 to 7 hours and the view at the top is simply breathtaking, making all of your efforts worthwhile.
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