New Volcano Route Aims to Boost Tourism in Iceland Skip to content

New Volcano Route Aims to Boost Tourism in Iceland

By Ragnar Tómas

Photo: Golli. Hikers admiring lava from the Reykjanes eruption.

Visit South Iceland, in collaboration with Visit Reykjanes and local businesses, has developed a new volcano route to increase tourist stays in South Iceland and Reykjanes. The route features eight volcanoes, highlighting their historical impact, and aims to boost local economies by extending tourist visits to the surrounding areas.

Misleading articles in foreign media

To increase overnight stays in South Iceland and the Reykjanes peninsula, Visit South Iceland, in collaboration with Visit Reykjanes and numerous private companies in the area, has developed a special volcano route, the so-called “Volcanic Way.”

“Misleading articles in foreign media have led to a certain apprehension about travelling to Iceland,” Ragnhildur Sveinbjarnardóttir, Executive Director of the South Iceland Marketing Office, stated in an interview with Vísir

“The distinctiveness of these areas lies in their volcanic activity, which generally shapes Iceland’s landscape. While we’ve observed that tourists are concerned about this, it’s important to note that Icelanders have coexisted with volcanoes for centuries, making it a fundamental part of our culture and history.”

Eight volcanoes guide the way

The volcano route, detailed on the website of Visit South Iceland, highlights “eight volcanoes that guide the way through the history of their impact on the land and the people.” The volcanoes featured on the route are Fagradalsfjall, Hengill, Hekla, Eyjafjallajökull, Eldfell, Katla, Lakagígar, and Öræfajökull. 

The route can be viewed here.

Climbing volcanoes not the idea

As reported by Vísir, the Volcanic Way is not yet an organised tour that tourists can book, although it has garnered significant interest from companies in the tourism industry.

“We (Visit South Iceland) are not vendors; we are creating the groundwork so companies can seize the opportunity. There is currently a lot of interest. The companies have been involved in this development. It is shaped by locals, and we emphasise that,” Ragnhildur stated. 

She clarified that the route’s purpose is not for tourists to climb each volcano but to attract tourists to the surrounding areas, thus extending their stay and supporting local businesses.

“Many people visit Reykjanes but don’t stay there despite the numerous exciting attractions. This is also true for the South, where about 90% of tourists visit, but only 50% stay. We’re highlighting that there’s no need to rush.”

Route predates Reykjanes eruptions

According to Vísir, there has been significant discussion about the recent negative impact of volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula on tourism in Iceland, with the country’s popularity among foreign travellers appearing to decline.

Ragnhildur points out that the project is not a response to these trends – as it began before the first eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula in 2021: “This has been in development for a long time. When eruptions began on Reykjanes, we had been working on this in the South for a long time, and we thought it was ideal to include Reykjanes back then. By doing so, we can form a connection all the way from the Keflavík International Airport to Höfn í Hornafirði in the east.” 

“We are formally launching this now to spark interest in volcanic activity and how it plays into the lives of Icelanders,” Ragnhildur continued. “I sometimes say that our experiences with volcanoes are embedded in the Icelanders’ genes. We have lived with these experiences over the years, and nature is always throwing something at us. We always need to be in a certain state of preparedness.”

The original interview with Ragnhildur in Vísir has been edited for length and clarity.

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