Active Volcanoes Around the World That Could Erupt at Any Moment

Despite the dangers, tourists continue to flock to these volatile places for incredible views and to take a peek at Mother Nature's temperamental hot spots.
Eyjafjallajokull eruption
Eyjafjallajokull erupting as visitors watch Getty/TrueCapture

Falling ash, running lava and hot gases can create unstable situations for visiting an active volcano, but the views are often breathtaking and the excitement of a possible fire show lures in those seeking an adrenaline rush. Despite the dangers, tourists continue to flock to these volatile spots for the incredible views, and perhaps bragging rights. For those looking to explore these natural wonders, all around the world there are volcanoes you can get up close and personal with (at your own risk, of course).

1. Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

This volcano lies beneath a glacier of the same name and put Iceland on the travel map when it erupted in 2010. Since then, the region has become a popular destination. Either rent a car or for those that are a little bit more outdoorsy, take the two-day Fimmvörouháls trail starting in Reykjavík.

Elevation: 5,417 feet

Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland
Eyjafjallajokull's eruption kept planes out of the sky in 2010, but now draws visitors to see the raw strength of the volcano juxtaposed against the calm terrain. Getty/sumos

2. Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Merapi only erupts every five to 10 years, but when it does, it's a sight. The volcano is near the densely populated city of Yogyakarta and its lava and ash have made the land fertile. The volcano has also been important to the history of sultans and kings.

Elevation: 9,547 feet

Mt. Merapi, Indonesia
Though Merapi is the most active, Indonesia has 127 active volcanoes across the islands. Getty/Deddy Cahyo Utomo

3. Erta Ale, Ethiopia

Though not very tall and imposing, Erta Ale is one of the only volcanoes in the world to have a nearly consistent lava lake. It is located in the Danakil Depression, which is considered one of the hottest places in the world.

Elevation: 2,011 feet

Erta Ale, Ethiopia
Erta Ale is located in the Danakil Depression which has recorded a high temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Getty/Mara Duchetti

4. Mount Stromboli, Italy

One of the most famous and active volcanoes in the world, Mount Stromboli makes up one of the Aeolian islands off the coast of Italy —only accessible by boat. The volcano gained some negative press in 2019 when an eruption killed a hiker.

Elevation: 3,031 feet

Mt. Stromboli, Italy
The picturesque Stromboli volcano in the Aeolian Islands at sunset is deceptively serene. Getty/fyletto

5. Kilauea, Hawaii

The most active volcano in the world is in Hawaii, where volcanoes hold local cultural lore. Kilauea is bordered by Mauna Loa volcano, Kau Desert, Ainahou Ranch and a fern jungle. Nearby is also the Thurston Lava Tube which can be visited, as well as the surrounding lush jungle.

Elevation: 4,009 feet

Kilauea Hawaii
Kilauea draws crowds to the beautiful Hawaiian island to hike the mountain and explore the lava fields. Getty/blagov58

6. Pacaya, Guatemala

Those looking to avoid helicopter flights and long car rides can enjoy the views of Pacaya from their hotel room in Guatemala City. The volcano lets off heat, which visitors have discovered is perfect for roasting marshmallows, so remember to bring your s'more ingredients.

Elevation: 8,428 feet

Pacaya Guatemala
Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in the small country of Guatemala. Getty/ByronOrtizA

7. Mount Etna, Italy

Not only is Mount Etna known as one of the most picturesque places on the island of Sicily, Etna is also the most active volcano in Europe as one of the longest erupting volcanoes, for the past 2,000 years. The ash creates fertile soil that yields excellent wine.

Elevation: 10,810 feet

Mt Etna, Italy
Etna can be seen in the distance from an ancient amphitheater in Taormina in Sicily. Getty/Stefan_Alfonso

8. Sakurajima, Japan

Less than 5 miles away from the city of Kagoshima, Sakurajima erupts almost every day. Visitors can take a hike or visit the observatory, which is the closest spot to safely view the emissions. The lava has created interesting produce, including the world's largest radish and the smallest peelable orange.

Elevation: 3,665 feet

Sakurajima, Japan
Sakurajima volcano can be seen in the distance from Kagoshima, which houses just under 600,000 people on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Getty/gyro

9. Mount Yasur, Vanuatu

1uatu is an island that few know about, but the people there are considered some of the happiest in the world. Near Fiji, in the South Pacific, Mount Yasur became famous when it was observed by Captain Cook in 1774. Visitors should remain alert to warning signs as it can erupt with minimal warning.

Elevation: 1,184 feet

Yasur Vanuatu
Yasur on Tanna Island is next to the larger, dormant Mount Tukosmera in Sulphur Bay. Getty/Stanislav Beloglazov

10. Volcan de Colima, Mexico

Volcan de Colima is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes to visit. It had quite a bit of activity in the 1990s but had a huge explosion in 1913 which blew off part of the crater. Ciudad Guzmán is the closest city to the volcano.

Elevation: 12,631 feet

Volcan de Colima
Volcan de Colima has the highest elevation of the volcanoes on this list, and is located in Jalisco. Getty/DJ Colby

11. Vesuvius, Italy

Arguably the most famous volcano in the world, Vesuvius is currently considered dormant, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. Visiting Vesuvius is less about seeing active emissions and more about Mount Vesuvius's past, particularly the destruction of Pompeii in A.D. 79, which actually occurred during a dormant phase of Vesuvius.

Elevation: 4,203 feet

Vesuvius, Italy
Though technically dormant, Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the high population that would be affected by an eruption, nearly 2 million people. Getty/bluejayphoto

12. White Island, New Zealand

Making headlines recently for an eruption that killed at least five people, White Island, which is uninhabited, is usually a popular tourist attraction. It is also central to New Zealander culture, playing an important role in Maori folklore. To access the island, visitors must take a boat tour, and then can hike.

Elevation: 1,053 feet

White Island, New Zealand
White Island (called Whakaari by locals) has been in the news recently for erupting, killing several tourists and injuring a number of others. Getty/Echinophoria

13. Mount Cleveland, Alaska

Though volcanoes might not be what come to mind when you think of Alaska, this is the site of a volcano that has erupted many times over the past 20 years, most recently in 2016. Mount Cleveland is the only volcano in the U.S. that the United States Geological Survey has listed under "Watch," the second highest warning.

Elevation: 5,675 feet

Cleveland volcano
The Mount Cleveland volcano in Alaska on June 3. Burke Mees

14. Santa María, Guatemala

The first documented eruption of this volcano was in 1902, and it is the site of one of the largest eruptions of the 20th century, with around 6,000 casualties. At the base of the volcano is a group of four lava domes, one of the most active collections of such domes in the world.

Elevation: 12,375 feet

Santa María Volcano
Santa María volcano is near the city of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala. marako85/Getty

15. Galeras, Colombia

Galeras is one of Colombia's most active volcanoes. In January 1993, it erupted and killed three tourists and six scientists who were on a scientific expedition to the summit. They were assessing the volcano's danger to the surrounding population.

Elevation: 14,029 feet

Galeras Volcano
A man looks out at the Galeras volcano in 2010. At that time, authorities had an orange alert on the volcano and evacuated some 8,000 people living nearby. LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty

16. Karymsky, Russia

This volcano is so active that as recently as June the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program noted an eruptive period that lasted about two months.

Elevation: 4,964 feet

Karymsky volcano
The mouth of the Karymsky volcano as seen from a helicopter in 2016. Олег Елагин/Getty

17. Nevados de Chillán, Chile

This volcano is in the Andes mountain range in Chile and is one of the most active volcanoes in the region. Despite its activity, at its base is a ski resort where visitors can hit the slopes. It's located about 50 miles outside the city of Chillán.

Elevation: 10,538 feet

Nevados de Chillán
A ski resort sits at the base of Nevados de Chillán, despite its volcanic activity. Christian-Miranda-Schnohr/Getty

18. Sangay, Ecuador

In early June 2020, the Sangay volcano erupted, leaving many surrounding cities covered in ash and adding to health concerns in the region. Guayaquil, the largest city in the region, was also hit hard by the coronavirus, according to Reuters. Though eruptions have happened in recent months at Sangay, it is not common for the ash to spread in this way.

Elevation: 17,400 feet

Sangay volcano
In early June, Ecuador's Sangay volcano erupted, leaving the surrounding areas covered in ash. joreasonable/Getty

19. Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)

This volcano is quite beautiful to look at from above, thanks to the turquoise crater lake at its summit. Most eruptions have been rather small, including one in mid-June.

Elevation: 3,793 feet

Ebeko
A view of the turquoise crater lake at Ebeko's summit. Getty/Byelikova_Oksana

20. Mount Erebus, Antarctica

This volcano overlooks the McMurdo Station research center, one of the world's most isolated places. It is the southernmost active volcano on earth and has one of the world's only lava lakes, which is a balmy 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire location is a fascinating juxtaposition of freezing cold and scalding hot.

Elevation: 12,447 feet

 Mount Erebus
An iceberg lies in the Ross Sea with Mount Erebus in the background, near McMurdo Station in Antarctica. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

There are hundreds more active and inactive volcanoes around the world that scientists are keeping a watch on every day. Below are more images of some of these epic displays of Mother Nature's power.

This story was updated on June 19 with volcanoes 13-20.

Iceland volcano
Towering ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull crater during it's eruption, spewing tephra and cloud of ashes that drift toward continental Europe on May 10 2010 near Reykjavik, Iceland. Etienne De Malglaive/Getty