The extinct volcanoes of Europe

Do you dream of climbing a volcano, but at the same time you are afraid of eruptions? Don't be afraid - extinct and dormant volcanoes that you can explore and be absolutely certain that they won't wake up are scattered all over Europe.

From leisurely walks through alpine meadows to challenging climbs on trails that lead to rocky peaks, these stunning natural wonders offer you a range of unique hiking experiences. And your reward will be beautiful views, excellent photos on social networks and the knowledge that you were - no less - on top of a volcano.

Spain: Visit the small church inside the Santa Margarida volcano

Spanish extinct volcano Santa margarida - which last erupted 11.000 years ago - hides a small and modest chapel.

This small church in Catalonia is first mentioned in a text from 1403. The original chapel was destroyed in a medieval earthquake, and the current building dates from 1865. The church is mostly empty, but on the feast day of Saint Margaret of Antioch, the whole area is flooded with people. On this holiday, which is celebrated on July 20, hundreds of people walk up the 700-meter high volcano and make a pilgrimage to the holy place.

Around the Santa Margarida Volcano There are several hiking trails, but the most popular route is the 3,5-kilometer circular trail that circles the crater of the volcano.

France: Hike to the Puy-de-Dôme, an ancient pre-Christian holy site

Puy de Dome is the highest point of the Chaîne des Puys, a chain of more than 80 volcanoes in central France, and at a height of 1465 m it offers a panoramic view of the rest of this impressive landscape created by a volcanic eruption 10,700 years ago.

Trail Sentier des Muletiers – which is actually an ancient Roman road – runs along the southern part of the mountain and is popular with hikers. It will take you about an hour to cross it, but if you are looking for an easier way to climb, you can take the train Panoramic of the Domes. And once you're at the top, explore the ancient Temple of Mercury, a third-century Roman sanctuary.

Italy: Head to the Alban Hills for a caldera swim

Not all extinct volcanoes are dramatic rocky peaks. If you head into the rolling hills Alban which lie 20 kilometers southeast of Rome, you can explore the regional park Castelli Romani, charming towns dotted with beautiful scenery and at the same time enjoy local specialties.

The dominant peak of that region is Cable Mountain, on which there are two small calderas – depressions created during the eruption – and Lake Albano and Lake Nemi spread out between them. In addition to bathing in these volcanic lakes, from Lake Albano you can also admire the nearby village of Albano Laziale, where the Pope's summer palace and papal gardens are located.

Portugal: Gaze into the Algar do Carvão volcanic vent

Located in the beautiful Azores, a magnificent natural wonder Algar do Carvão it's a little farther than the other places on this list, but it's well worth the trip.

This fascinating volcanic vent located in the central part of the island of Terceira can be explored as part of organized weekly tours during the summer, from May to September. Visitors can walk inside the ancient volcanic vent that plunges 50 meters from the surface caldera down to the lagoon that lies at the deepest point of the vent and is fed by rainwater.

Opening hours vary by season, so check for current information. Tickets cost €6-9 per adult to visit one or two caves, and children under 12 enter for free with an adult.

Wales: Hike Mount Snowdon and marvel at the view

Snowdon or Yr Wyddfa it is the highest mountain in Wales and used to be incredibly eruptive. Scientists claim that the strongest eruption - which they estimate took place several hundred million years ago - could be heard up to 5000 kilometers away.


Nowadays, this beautiful mountain is a popular hiking destination. On a clear day, the 1085-meter-high peak offers a view all the way to Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

Spain: sunbathe on the black beaches of La Gomera

Like Algar do Carvão, i La Gomera is a slightly more distant destination - it is located on the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. If you head there, you'll need to fly to Tenerife and then catch a ferry to La Gomera, the smallest of the Canary Islands.

This entire island is the remnant of a heavily eroded shield volcano that stopped erupting approximately three million years ago.

And when you're there, dive into the Atlantic, sunbathe on the volcanic black sand beaches or explore the Garajonay National Park located in the center and north of the island. It is named after the rock formation which is also the highest point of the island, and the mountain got its name from the legend of the unfortunate lovers Garai and Jonay, the Canarian Romeo and Juliet.

The park is a more dramatic example of an ancient laurel forest, a humid subtropical vegetation that once covered most of Europe, and today, apart from La Gomera, it can only be found on the islands of Madeira and the Azores. Because of this misty magical forest full of lush springs and streams The national park is Garajonay entered on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

Scotland: Enjoy a picnic with a beautiful view of Edinburgh

From the location Arthur's Seat there is a beautiful view of the city of Edinburgh. This Scottish hill has long been popular among tourists, but few know that it is actually the remains of a dormant volcano.

It is more than 250 meters high and has long served as a lookout point. The top lies about a kilometer and a half from Edinburgh Castle, and the climb to it is very easy.

Some say it is where Camelot, King Arthur's castle, once lay, hence its name. Another theory about the origin of his name claims that it came from a Scottish Gaelic name Árd-na-Said which means "height of the arrow", and which over the years moved to Arthur's Seat.

Cover photo: Pixabay, Author: Ondřej Šponiar

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