Information about Hekla

Hekla is easy to see throughout much of South Iceland.Hekla, nicknamed ‘the Gateway to Hell’ in the Middle Ages, is one of Iceland’s most explosive, unpredictable and powerful volcanoes. It has erupted twenty to thirty times since settlement, and remains active to this day.

Geography of Hekla

Hekla is located in the south of Iceland, just north of the country’s most famous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which last erupted in 2010, causing planes to be grounded and reporters to be tongue-tied for weeks. A dominant peak, standing at 1,491 metres tall (4,892 feet), it can be seen for miles around.

Hekla is part of a 40 kilometre (25 mile) rift, the most active part, called Heklugjá, being under the volcano itself. There are many craters at the peak, two of which are known to erupt more than the others.

Unlike Eyjafjallajökull and Iceland’s other most active volcano, Katla, Hekla does not sit underneath any significant glacier, meaning its eruptions should not cause ash clouds to the same degree. In spite of this, some have been so great that the ash produced was still enough to change the climate of the northern hemisphere for years.

Hekla has also produced one of the greatest lava flows of this millenium of any volcano in the world, at eight cubic kilometres. Approximately 10 percent of Iceland’s landmass was brought up by lava from Hekla.

History of Hekla

The first recorded eruption at Hekla was in 1104, and it was so great and significant that it drew attention across Europe; the effects it had on the weather, on people’s breathing, and on agriculture lasted for years.

This, however, was not the first time it had done so; undiscovered by man, it had contributed to a third of all volcanic ash across northern Europe for the past seven millenia.

It would not significantly erupt again until 1300, although it had been recorded going off several times in between; one of the most notorious things about Hekla is its unpredictability, sometimes exploding within a decade of its last eruption, sometimes laying dormant for nearly a century.

For this reason, the farms around it were largely abandoned, partly explaining why today there are few settlements in Iceland’s south.

Further serious eruptions occurred in 1693 and 1845 with international consequences, but none as significant as the one that began in 1947. Lava bombs weighing over 20 kilograms (44 pounds) landed 32 kilometres away; some as large as 50 square metres (538 square feet) were thrown a kilometre. It took just 52 two hours before the enormous cloud of ash was covering Helsinki.

It would be thirteen months before the eruption stopped, ebbing and flowing with power, but constantly pouring ash into the atmosphere, poisoning crops and livestock.

It is likely many died of respiratory problems as a result, but Hekla even directly killed one person. A scientist filming the great lava flows from the crater, some of which were 15 metres (49 feet) tall, was struck by a block of lava.

Hekla erupted again in 1970 for two months, but since has only gone off for a few days at a time, in 1981, 1982, 1991 and 2000.

Though the 2000 one seemed inconsequential, it was later discovered that it proved that Hekla was even more frightening than was already thought. The remains of a pyroclastic flow, the most dangerous element of an eruption, where searing ash and rock travel at enormous speeds and raze all they meet, had occured for over five kilometres (three miles).

Hekla today

Hekla, stood behind two resting Icelandic horses.

In spite of its volatile nature, Hekla can still be considered a safe place to visit; there are hiking opportunities all around it, and some tour operators embark in super jeeps journeys to its slopes. Visitors should not be afraid of the volcano’s potential, just aware of it.

Of course, before heading to Hekla if travelling without a guide, ensure you check the meteorological office’s website to ensure that there are no alerts that an eruption may be imminent. The volcano is monitored constantly.

In spite of this, Hekla remains as unpredictable as it ever was, and visitors are warned that in spite of every good measure, there is always a chance an eruption could start without being noticed.

Volcanologists also warn that it is overdue, and due to this volcano’s patterns, the warning time between knowing an eruption is imminent and it occurring will often be just an hour or less.

Services near Hekla

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Hekla

Krakatindur

  Krakatindur is a 858 m volcano in Rangarvallasysla in South Iceland. The volcano is located in the Nyjahraun lava field and belongs to ...

View

Hjálparfoss

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: Bromr Hjálparfoss is a waterfall (or, officially, a pair of waterfalls that conjoin) in south Icela...

View

Þjórsárdalur

Thjorsardalur is the easternmost valley of Arnessysla in South Iceland. The valley is lush and contains amazing natural and cultural attractions. Thj...

View

Þjóðveldisbærinn á Stöng

At Stong in Thjorsarsalur valley in South Iceland you can see the Thjodveldisbaer, a reconstructed viking turf house based on the ruins of the old man...

View

Faxi

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Kkaefer. Faxi is a wide, serene waterfall in South Iceland. It can be found in the Tungufljót Ri...

View

Hólaskógur

  Holaskogur is an deforested area (despite the name, 'skogur'='forrest') in Gjupverjaafrettur in the mid highlands of Iceland.&...

View

Háifoss

Háifoss ('High Waterfall') is a waterfall in Fossárdalur valley, innermost of Þjórsárdalur valley in south I...

View

Tindfjallajökull

Located in south Iceland, Tindfjallajökull ('The glacier of peak mountains') is a stratovolcano that is covered by a small glacier of 19 ...

View

Landmannaleið

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Pietro Landmannaleið, or the F225, is a highland road that leads to the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and t...

View

Þríhyrningur

Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Milan Nykodym.  Þríhyrningur (‘Three Peaks Mountain’) is a mountain found in Katla Ge...

View

Brennisteinsalda

  Brennisteinsalda (ca. 855 m) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar National Park, in the south highlands of Iceland. Brennisteinsalda ...

View

Torfajökull

Torfajökull is the name of both a stratovolcano and a complex of subglacial volcanoes, north of Mýrdalsjökull glacier in South Icelan...

View

Dómadalur

  Domadalur is a valley east of Kringla (Landmannahellir cave) in the south of the Icelandic highlands. The valley has a little shallow lake a...

View

Stórasúla

Stórasúla is a distinctive, cone-shaped mountain found in the southern highlands of Iceland. The mountain has an elevation of 693 m (2...

View

Markarfljótsgljúfur Canyon

Photo Credit: Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Borvan53. Markarfljótsgljúfur is a canyon in Iceland's southern Highlands, west of ...

View

Laugavegur hiking trail

The Laugavegur is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland. The scenery is breathtaking in its beauty and extremely varied, displaying example...

View

Fjallabak

Fjallabak may refer to Fjallabak Nature Reserve, or two highland routes, South Fjallabaksleid or the North Fjallbaksleid. The name 'Fjallabak...

View

Bláhnjúkur

  Blahnjukur (a.k.a. Blahnukur) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar, in the south highlands of Iceland.  Blahnjukur's name (&#...

View

Frostastaðavatn

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Gestumblindi. Frostastaðavatn is a highland lake renowned for its vivid blue and green colouration ...

View

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar, the People's Pools, is a vast area of stunning and unique beauty in the heart of Iceland's southern Highlands. Throughout t...

View

Tours near Hekla

Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano Super Jeep Tour

Discover one of Iceland's natural gems, the Landmannalaugar geothermal area, on this......

View

8 Day Summer Package | Best Attractions

Join this summer holiday and enjoy eight days of adventure in Iceland! During a single trip, you......

View

1 Hour Horseback Riding Tour From Flúðir in South Iceland

Enjoy the classic Icelandic experience of horseback riding through the stunning countryside of......

View

Landmannalaugar Day Tour | The Pearl of the Highlands

Visit the wilderness of Iceland and join this tour of hiking and bathing in a geothermal hot......

View

Ultimate 10 Day Adventure | Highlands in Winter & Ice Caves

Experience Iceland at its wintery best with this 10-day trip. This package offers you the chance......

View

Landmannalaugar | Super Jeep Tour

Join an incredible seven-hour Super Jeep tour across the kaleidoscopic hills of......

View

10 Day Winter in Depth Self Drive | Snaefellsnes, Northern Lights and the South Coast

Join this 10-day self-drive tour to experience the greatest sites of Iceland within a winter......

View

Landmannalaugar & Mt Hekla Jeep Tour

Don't miss out on this adventurous day tour to the surreal, yet sublime, Landmannalaugar, one of......

View

Volcanoes & Glaciers Helicopter Tour

Take flight and witness the spectacular sites of Iceland's South Coast on this incredible......

View

Mountains and Rivers ATV Tour | Þríhyrningur Mountain & Fiská River

Hop on this exciting ATV tour to Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes, making a number of stops......

View

South Coast and Northern Lights | Live Tour with Audio Guide in 10 Languages

Jump aboard this modern and exciting bus tour, to see the incredible South Coast of Iceland and......

View

Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano | Private Super Jeep Tour

Experience the Highlands of Iceland on this private day tour from Reykjavík City, visiting hot......

View

Super Jeep Landmannalaugar Tour | Hot Pools, Waterfalls, Lakes & Valleys

Jump aboard a Super Jeep and explore the crown jewel of the Icelandic Highlands,......

View

Essential Iceland Helicopter Tour | Golden Circle & Highlands

Witness the highlights of Iceland’s incredible landscapes in the most exciting way you can, with......

View

Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano | Small Group Super Jeep Tour

Hop on this super jeep excursion to the Highlands for an unforgettable adventure out in the......

View

Landmannalaugar & Hekla Volcano | Private Super Jeep Tour

Come along on an adventure to the highlands on this private super jeep tour. Travel through lava......

View

ATV Day Tour in the Highlands

Come along on this revitalizing ATV tour exploring the Icelandic Highlands, untouched and unseen......

View

Super Jeep South Coast Tour | Reynisfjara Beach, Vik & Waterfalls

Jump aboard this Super Jeep tour to discover the stunning sights of South Iceland. This magical......

View

Landmannalaugar Oasis | Super Jeep tour to the Highlands

Come aboard this intrepid day tour to the delightful Landmannalaugar Valley, found in the......

View

3 Day Winter Adventure | Golden Circle, Highlands, South Coast, Glacier Hike, & Ice Cave

Come along on this 3-day winter highland adventure where you'll also get to experience the......

View

Iceland Midnight Sun Photography Workshop

Bring your photography skills to higher levels by joining this 12-day summer workshop chasing......

View

Landmannalaugar Geothermal Area | Super Jeep Day Tour

Explore the Landmannalaugar geothermal area on this amazing super jeep day tour. Landmannalaugar......

View

Volcano Explorer Helicopter Tour

Feel the burn with this sizzling helicopter tour, exploring some of Iceland's most incredible......

View

Diamond Helicopter Tour | Landmannalaugar and Eyjafjallajokull

Discover the diamond in the rough with this incredible helicopter flight around some of......

View

Conquer Eyjafjallajokull! | Highlands Snowmobiling Adventure Tour

Hop on to this full-day tour snowmobiling in Iceland's beautiful Central Highlands and......

View

Capture the Colours | Laugavegur Photography Tour

Take a thrilling super jeep ride into the colourful Highlands on this nature photography tour,......

View

Super ATV Tour | Highlands Custom Route

Join this exciting super-sized ATV tour for a rip-roaring afternoon in the Icelandic highlands,......

View

The 'Full Monty' Private Helicopter Tour

Visit Iceland's most astonishing natural highlights with this private helicopter tour of......

View

Trek at the Doors of Hell | 4-Day Hiking Tour to Landmannalaugar

Come along on this four-day trek of the barren Icelandic Highlands. Travel alongside the volcano......

View

Volcano Explorer Private Helicopter Tour

Experience the heat with this fantastic helicopter flight visiting Iceland's most......

View

Mt. Hekla and Landmannalaugar | Private Super Jeep Tour

Join this fantastic tour discovering the kaleidoscopic landscapes of Landmannalaugar, as well as......

View

Discover Landmannalaugar | 2-Day Snowmobiling Tour

Don't miss out on the chance to join this phenomenal 2-day snowmobiling tour exploring the......

View

Wildcard Super Jeep Tour | 7-Hours of Exploration

Join us on an exciting trip in beautiful South Iceland that is not dependent on the weather,......

View

Hekla Volcano & Sydra Fjallabak Super Jeep Adventure

Come along on this Super Jeep excursion to some of Iceland’s most ethereal attractions, where......

View

10-Day Untouched Tour | Circle of Iceland with Glacier Hiking & Ice Caving

Come on an adventure of a lifetime and circle the entire island of ice and fire with this 10-day......

View

Landmannalaugar Winter Break | A Night in the Highlands

Come along on a 2-day winter tour to the barren and beautiful Highlands of Iceland. This is the......

View

South Coast Sightseeing | Glaciers, Waterfalls & Black Sand Beaches

Explore Iceland's picturesque South Coast to the fullest with this fantastic sightseeing tour,......

View

Helicopter Tour | The South Coast, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & The Highlands

Join this memorable helicopter tour of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the black sand beaches of the......

View

Secrets of the South Coast | Sightseeing & Glacier Hiking Day Tour

Experience the joys of both sightseeing and glacier hiking on Iceland's picturesque South Coast......

View