10 Epic Volcanoes that you NEED to put on your Bucket List


Shakespeare once ever so eloquently wrote that ‘The Earth has music for those who listen’. Standing atop a volcano – whether active, dormant or extinct – it’s impossible to ignore this music which reveals itself to us through the harmonies of the natural environment; as the atmosphere appears to dance perfectly in rhythm with the heartbeat of the Earth, as if just another member of the Earth’s orchestra. Constantly seeking to hear another of the Earth’s songs, I find myself seeking out a volcano to summit on each of my adventures – with none yet singing the same song. What follows is a bucket list of volcanoes that you can and should visit around the world to hear some of the most beautiful songs of the Earth’s fiery origins…

1. Mt Tongariro, New ZealandTIY_Tongariro1

Comprised of 19.4 kilometers of old lava flows, beautiful water-filled explosion craters, steaming vents,  hot springs, and stunning views of the iconic Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom for my Lord of the Rings fans out there), the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which traverses Mt. Tongariro is that rough-around-the-edges but ever-so-addictive Johnny Cash track that is forever stuck in your mind and will inspire you to go adventuring for many, MANY years to come. To find out what it’s like to hike the Tongariro Alpine crossing click here.

2. Mt Batur, BaliTIY_Batur2

Witness the natural world perform one of Beethoven’s most perfectly crafted symphonies atop Bali’s second tallest volcano, Mt Batur. As you stand 1717 metres above sea level (and above the clouds!), it will become perfectly clear as to why this mountain is held sacred according to Hindu legend as the home of Brahma God (i.e. the God of Fire).

3. Kilauea Volcano, HawaiiTIY_Kilauea

At the Kilauea volcano located on the Big Island of Hawaii, the living pulse of the Earth plays it’s grandest giant drum solo (think Andrew Neyman’s performance in the final scene of Whiplash!) – it’s electrifying; it’s exhilarating; it’s inspiring! This prolific volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, making it one of the most active volcanoes in the ENTIRE world! To put it into context, Kiluaea produces enough lava each day to resurface a 32-kilometre-long, two-lane road daily.

4. Thrihnukagigur, IcelandTIY_Thrihnukagigur

Located just 30km south of Reykjavik, sits the one-of-a-kind volcano of Thrihnukagigur with it’s unusually empty and open magma chamber. The anomalous feature of the volcano is the result of a violent eruption that took place 4,000 years ago. The geological pressure associated with this particular eruption is believed to have vented through various tunnels and arteries deeper in the earth, preserving an opened chamber safe for mankind to wander without worry of being swallowed up by magma or suffocated by gases.  Today between the months of May and October, tours are run from the capital of Reykjavik that send you 120 meters down the throat of the once fiery abyss on board an open cable lift, usually reserved for the task of cleaning the exterior windows of skyscrapers! For more on this experience click here.

5. Mt Etna, SicilyTIY_Etna


Mt Etna stands on the east coast of Sicily as Europe’s highest active volcano. Etna’s longest eruption began in 1979 and went on for thirteen years; its latest eruption began in March 2007, and is still ongoing. You may have witnessed Etna’s lava shows on the news in the recent years. So what did I decide to do back in 2015? Take a tour up to the volcano’s summit during a lightning and hail storm! Maybe it was just the meteorologist in me, but there was a certain sense of serenity awarded to me as I stood over 3 kilometers above sea level as the storm gods ravaged down on us with no other humans in sight. I was 100% sure that I had been transported into a magic school bus story, and I am now 100% sure that this experience was one of my absolute favourite from my entire 25 years of existence.

6. Mt Eden, New ZealandTIY_MtEden

Mt Eden is an extinct volcanic dome that makes up one of the region’s 48 volcanic cones and the highest natural point in the city of Auckland. It is said to have last erupted a whole 15,000 years ago! As a result, this volcanic dome is not only mesmerizing to anyone with an interest in geology but makes for the most amazing vantage point to people watch over Auckland. Oh and did I mention local dog owners love to take their dogs for walks here, so be prepared to see some ridiculously happy dogs during your visit.

7. Mt Vesuvius, ItalyTIY_Vesuvius

The Eiffel Tower of volcanoes, Mt Vesuvius is one of the world’s most well-known AND most dangerous volcanoes. This complex stratovolcano is most famous for the 79 AD eruption which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and may have killed more than 16,000 people. Volcanologists suggest that Vesuvius has an eruption cycle of 20 years, however the last eruption was way back in 1944. Therefore today the volcano represents a great danger to the cities that surround it, especially the busy metropolis of Naples which it looms over.

8. Mt Fuji, Japan


As the country’s tallest peak, rising to 3776 meters above sea level, and an active volcano with the most idealistic shape, Mt Fuji stands as one of Japan’s most iconic symbols. The stratovolcano has been dormant since its last eruption back in 1707, but is still generally classified as active by volcanologists. The grandiosity of the volcano has led to it being considered one of Japan’s 3 sacred mountains and a popular hiking track in the Japanese summer. To find out 5 of the best places to view Mt Fuji when the summit hike is closed click here.

9. Santorini, GreeceTIY_Santorini

Did you know that the island group of Santorini in Greece is actually a volcano? I kid you not, everybody’s favourite Greek island is actually part of the Hellenic Volcanic Arc; a very complex stratovolcano that is dominated by a large, sea-flooded caldera . Although Santorini is presently registered as dormant, you can witness its volcanism manifesting as fumarolic activity and hot springs around the island.

10. Mt Ngauruhoe (i.e. Mt Doom!), New ZealandTIY_Ngauruhoe

Cue the Lord of the Rings theme music and follow in the footsteps of Frodo to the ever intimidating volcano of Mt. Doom. Despite logic trying to overrule you reminding you that Lord of the Rings a piece of fiction – and thus Mt. Doom a fictional place – seeing this perfectly shaped stratovolcano up close, it is impossible to not be starstruck.


Are you a fellow hunter of songs of the Earth’s fiery origins? I’d love for you to submit your own additions to this bucket list of epic volcanoes to visit around the world below so I can add them to my 2017 adventures!


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Elle is a world-wanderer, star-gazer, dog-lover and meteorologist in the making. When she’s not busy studying the Earth’s climate, she’s off experiencing it first hand all around the world. Over the past 3 years, Elle has traveled to 31 countries across Europe, Asia, Oceania and the United States and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. You can follow her colorful adventures on her Instagram, Facebook and at thisisyugen.com.




  • Reply
    October 15, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Santorini also has some of the most unique beaches in the world, as well. Due to past volcanic activity, Santorini has different coloured beaches – Red Beach, White Beach, and Black Beach. They may actually have official names to them, but I can’t remember as it was years ago that I was here. But, it is really cool to see the different coloured sand at all three beaches.

    • Reply
      October 16, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Wow – I didn’t know that Ray! Hopefully one day soon I can get back there and see all these beaches. Thanks for sharing the knowledge :)

  • Reply
    October 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    New Zealand is out of this world!

    • Reply
      November 1, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Don’t I know it Neni! I’m totally addicted. I’ve flown over 4 times in the past 12 months – one of the few travel-related benefits to living in Australia. :)

      Thanks for your comment, Elle

  • Reply
    Natalie Le Sueur
    October 17, 2016 at 6:01 am

    hey darling, great work! Are all of these pics your own?

    • Reply
      October 17, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Natalie! My name is Elle and I wrote this piece for Polkadot Passport. All the pics are mine – I really like to chase volcanoes :) x Elle

  • Reply
    October 25, 2016 at 2:39 am

    And Lanzarote has a great volcanos and views too!

  • Reply
    October 25, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Add Lassen National Park (USA) to the list. It is an amazing volcanic park with gorgeous scenery. Do the cinder cone hike (a 4 mile hike up and into a volcano with stunning views of the rest of the park) and the hike to Bumpass Hell for all the geothermal activity. Check out pictures from our recent trip here: https://hopepostkidsdotcom.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/lassennp/

    • Reply
      Bridget (Nutty Hiker)
      October 25, 2016 at 10:44 am

      I’m checking out your link now! I have never heard of Lassen National Park!

  • Reply
    Bridget (Nutty Hiker)
    October 25, 2016 at 10:42 am

    OMG! Those look amazing! Definitely adding them to my bucket list. I love traveling to unique places and am always on the lookout for destinations! Thank you for sharing!
    Bridget | http://nuttyhiker.com

  • Reply
    Rachel Sorenson
    October 25, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Another awesome volcano – Pacaya in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s still active and erupts periodically, and you can roast marshmallows on hot lava!

  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    October 25, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    These volcanos look absolutely incredible. What a wonderful experience you’ve had to explore all these beautiful volcanos.

    • Reply
      November 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks Natalie! Glad you enjoyed the piece. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to see these earthly wonders up close. – Elle

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Yay can’t wait to do Mount Tongariro this summer! wheeeeee!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I would also recommend White Island, New Zealand!

    • Reply
      November 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      I’m literally dying to visit White Island Sonya! I was actually booked to visit last February when I was in Rotorua but due to severe weather affecting the area the tour was cancelled for all three days I was there! I’m planning to go back as soon as I have the time and money to give it another go. It looks completely surreal!

      Thanks for your comment, Elle

  • Reply
    Charlotte Wilkinson
    October 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Should add a few more Indonesian volcanoes to your list – Kawah Ijen and Bromo in East Java and Rinjani on Lombok. All 3 very active but very claimable. With Kawah Ijen being home of the most sulphurous lake in the world and where miners collect solid suplphur for $1 per 10kg!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I would add Mt Yasur in Vanuatu. It is an acting volcano. You can get straight to the top and see the eruption. Vanuatu is quit close Australia, so it would be a problem to get there.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2017 at 2:21 am

    No love for Central/South America?
    You’ve got to make your way over! There are some beasts – Ecuador and Guatemala both immediately come to mind.

  • Reply
    Heather Haney
    February 13, 2017 at 3:37 am

    I skipped the volcano when I was in Iceland but now I wish I hadn’t! It looks beautiful!

  • Reply
    Mas Dillah
    June 14, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Well, i think, the most romantic volcano is merapi mountain in Selo, Boyolali, Central Java Indonesia.

    I have great sunset pictures at merapi peak, and its so romantic and you will loved it! Damn, i loved Indonesia!

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