Last update: 4 February 2022
Mount Etna on Sicily is Europe’s most active volcano, and it’s in a constant state of excitement. There’s always some activity going on around the slopes of Etna, the largest volcano in Italy. When it’s quiet, you can do many beautiful hikes around the summit area.
Most active volcano in Europe
Often it’s just quietly steaming away, sometimes even producing pretty smoke rings. But when it erupts it can cough up large rivers of lava, fissure fountains, strombolian fireworks, fuming ash clouds and everything inbetween from its various craters. Etna is even more active than any of the Iceland volcanoes.
In 2011 Etna went through a particular active phase, with nearly 20 outbursts within one year. I went to see it in October that year, and it was vigorously steaming from all its top craters. It was a fascinating sight, but unfortunately it also meant that a walk along the crater rim was out of the question.
Just over a week later, it went off again in one of its many spectacular paroxysms.
About to go off… just over a week later!
Mount Etna summit hike
On another trip to Sicily in 2015 I did a longer walk around the Etna summit area. One moment it was clear and sunny, and the next moment swirls of mist would appear out of nowhere. Sometimes you couldn’t even see more than a few metres ahead.
And then the fog suddenly lifted, to reveal a breathtaking view into one of the gaping craters near the top.
View into the gaping Southeast crater.
Bocca Nueva crater with Etna in the background.
Varying heights of Etna
Apparently the exact altitude of the Etna has to be recalculated on a regular basis. It varies with volcanic activity and changes constantly with so many outbursts… The general consensis is around 3357 metres – give or take a few more.
Mount Etna area map
This handy interactive map shows the locations in the pictures above and around the Etna summit area. You can also click on the icons, and zoom in for more details of the walking tracks.
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(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
Mountains & Volcanoes – Mount Etna, Sicily
This post was originally published as NaturePic Challenge: a series of pictures of epic nature and places that will induce a natural high 😉
Etna activity 2020 and 2021
Meanwhile, Etna is still going at it. See the steaming slopes, spectacular eruptions and lava flows from the Voragine crater in this video. And it continues to produce lava fountains throughout 2021!
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