Exploring volcanic landscapes might sound like a task for only the most intrepid of explorers, but all across Europe there are easy-to-reach places where even the most comfort-craving among us can embrace our adventurous side. From the shores of Sicily to the little-known rock of Nisyros in the Greek islands, Europe boasts plenty of jaw-dropping vistas to enjoy without the need for a backpack full of camping gear.
Pico del Teide – Tenerife
Though described as an active volcano, Pico del Teide hasn’t erupted in more than 100 years. Sat within easy reach of Puerto de la Cruz, this volcano forms part of Teide National Park – a scenic UNESCO World Heritage site. Currently ranked as the eighth most visited natural park in the world, excursions to the volcano are easy to book if you don’t fancy going it alone. Choose from sunset strolls, cable car sightseeing or a straight and simple hike to the top on one of more than 30 possible trails. There’s even a mountain refuge where you can stay if you’re planning on going the slow way, but with plush resorts only a short drive away it’s easy to make this an afternoon adventure, before retreating to the comfort of your hotel room.
Cumbre Vieja – La Palma
The picturesque island of La Palma is popular for its year-round sunshine and unusual black sand beaches, but a visit to Cumbre Vieja during a stay here is not to be missed. Reaching from the centre to the south of the island, this volcanic range is home to all manner of protected species of flora and fauna. Popular with cyclists and trail runners, there are a range of scenic routes you can take to venture through the area without exerting yourself too much. If you’re staying in Los Cancajos, around half an hour away, you’ll get some of the most dramatic views of the volcanoes from the comfort of a poolside lounger. Not bad.
Etna and Stromboli – Sicily
Sicily is known for its lush lemon groves and endless vineyards, but it also houses two of the most well-known volcanoes in the world; Etna and Stromboli. Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe, with small eruptions happening quite regularly – but posing no threat to the surround area. To reach the summit you’ll need a professional guide, but you can explore the first few thousand feet unattended. Decent trekking shoes are recommended, but if you’re here for the views and not the physical activity you can settle down for some al fresco dining in nearby Catania or Taormina instead.
The most popular way to see Sicily’s other major attraction, Stromboli, is by boat. While there are settlements on this separate volcanic island now, there’s little to do once you’re done taking in the views. Sunset boat trips are recommended, when you can look out for bright flashes of lava spurting from the volcano’s mouth.
Pico Alto – Portugal
The island of Santa Maria isn’t as well known or as popular as Madeira or Porto Santo, but it’s easily reached thanks to a small coastal airport. Part of the beautiful Azores islands, you can spend a holiday in this part of the world whale watching, diving with manta rays and exploring the inside of volcanic craters – now lined with lush green foliage. For some top-notch dining and drinking while you’re away, stay on neighbouring Sao Miguel and visit the Pico Alto volcano for a day trip.
Tapas starts at around €1 a plate and there’s often no shortage of live music to keep you entertained in the evenings.