Volcanoes have fascinated humans for centuries. We’ve seen them as angry gods, as doorways to the underworld, or as emerging places for swimming fire demons. Volcanoes can be instruments of great destruction, but they’re also pretty darn amazing. Take a trip to one of these 17 volcanoes to see Mother Nature in her fiery, awe-inspiring glory.
1. Stromboli — Italy
Just north of Sicily lies Stromboli, a small volcanic island that has been active for over 2,000 years. You can view Stromboli from a distance on a boat tour, or you can take a three-hour hike toward the summit.
2. Mount Bromo — Indonesia
Bromo comes from the Indonesian pronunciation of Brahma, who is the Hindu creator god. Tourists can take a Jeep ride to the top of nearby Mt. Pananjakan to watch the sunrise behind the red plumes arising from Mt. Bromo.
3. Furnas — Azores (Portugal)
When you visit Furnas, you’ll see residents prepare vegetable stew and meats by cooking them right in the hot earth. They also steam ears of corn in the geysers that erupt around Furnas.
4. Kilauea — Hawaii (United States)
Kilauea, which has been active since 1983, is part of a chain that also features Mauna Kea and Kohala. Hike the Crater Rim Trail to see Kilauea’s surface lava flows.
5. Taal — Philippines
Taal is one of the world’s most-closely monitored volcanoes because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to populated areas. While it’s quiet, tourists can cruise by Taal via boat over Taal Lake.
6. Nisyros — Greece
Although Nisyros hasn’t erupted since 1887, tourists can climb to the rim and look down to see the volcano’s smoking vents and boiling mud.
7. Mount Sakurajima — Japan
Mt. Sakurajima, like Taal, is one of the world’s most heavily monitored volcanoes. It’s part of Japan’s Kirishima-Yaku National Park and home to a number of hot springs resorts.
8. Mount Pelee — Martinique
The 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee on the Caribbean island of Martinique killed 30,000 people and built a lava dome called “Pelee’s Needle” 1,000 feet above the mountain’s original height. Visitors can explore the ruins of St. Pierre, and they can enjoy hikes and bathe in hot springs near the mountain.
9. Mount Saint Helens — Washington (U.S.)
Helicopter flights and hikes around Harmony Trail and the Johnston Ridge Observatory reveal the lingering blast damage from Mt. Saint Helens’ 1980 eruption. Geologists also lead volcano climbs up the side of the mountain.
10. Mount Arenal — Costa Rica
Mt. Arenal erupted in 1968, destroying several small nearby villages. The volcano is currently in a resting state after an activity-filled period of 40 years. Visitors can climb partway up the mountain and hike through the forests around its haunches.
11. Volcano Villarrica — Chile
Volcano Villarrica, part of the Andes Mountain range, rises 9,340 feet above the surface. Tourists can take a five-hour hike up its snowy peak to look inside its bubbling lava cauldron.
12. Mount Etna — Sicily
Mt. Etna is Sicily’s dominant geological feature. Hike up the side of Mt. Etna or take a cable car to enjoy the view, especially the descent, which takes you past the spent lava flows of Valle del Bove.
13. Myvatn/Krafla — Iceland
Myvatn/Krafla lies near a primordial-looking city that’s made entirely of black lava. Visitors can take a lakefront road via bike or car to view the steam plumes, mini craters, and hardened lava pillars.
14. Popocatepetl — Mexico
Travelers can take a bus from Mexico City to the base of Popocatepetl. From there, they can hike up the side of the mountain and enjoy a meal in the village of Amecameca.
15. Mount Ruapehu — New Zealand
Mt. Ruapehu is the most active of three volcanoes Tongariro National Park. Guests can walk the famed Tongariro Crossing track, or ski within the park during the Winter months.
16. Shishaldin — Alaska (U.S.)
For a combination of volcano-watching and amazing ski descents, visit Shishaldin on Alaska’s Unimak Island. Because the mountain is so remote, you’ll have to depend on the locals for help with your ascent.
17. Mount Mayon — Philippines
Visitors to Mt. Mayon can hike during the day or take an overnight trek and camp on the side of the mountain. The mountain also features a natural spring where visitors can relax and bathe, but be careful on your adventure. Mount Mayon is prone to sudden eruptions.