Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of great seismic activity, the Indonesian archipelago is the one with the most volcanoes in the world. Of the country’s approximately 17,000 islands, there are around 150 volcanoes, many of which are still active.
With their smoldering calderas, sparkling crater lakes and towering peaks, these volcanoes are certainly an awe-inspiring natural spectacle. Such is their majesty, that many of them have been revered and adored by the locals for centuries. These magnificent mountains and their glorious natural surroundings have become popular tourist destinations and allow for fantastic excursions and outdoor adventures, as long as they don’t burst …
1. Mount Bromo
With one of the most impressive and iconic landmarks in Indonesia, Mount Bromo sits in an absolutely divine location, surrounded by majestic mountains and smoky volcanoes. Named after Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, the 2,329-meter-high peak rises dramatically from a low plain that is gloriously known as the “sea of sand.”
The best view of Mount Bromo and its spectacular backdrop, Mount Semeru, and other volcanic peaks, is from Mount Pananjakan Viewpoint, which sits across a sandy plain. Watching the sunrise slowly over the magnificent stage is an unforgettable experience and this is the main reason why Mount Bromo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in East Java.
Moreover, the national park in which it is located also has a delicious desert which can be explored alongside the magnificent crater of Mount Bromo, which also offers fantastic panoramic views.
2. Mount Agung
One of Bali’s most famous tourist attractions, Mount Agung, fills the island’s skyline with its towering presence. This conical-shaped stratovolcano, reaching 3,031 meters, has long been revered by locals, who believe their ancient ancestors and the gods themselves inhabit their higher realms. For this reason, many temples and shrines have been built on its slopes, the most important of which is Pura Besakih.
Although the majestic mount looks stunning from below, many choose to hike the volcano at night to watch the sunrise from its summit. Watching the sunrise over Bali after a strenuous but rewarding trek is an unforgettable experience, with breathtaking vistas from all sides.
Besides being notable for its beauty, Mount Agung is also famous for the many eruptions that took place between 2017 and 2019, which disrupted and interrupted flights and filled the sky with plumes of smoke and ash. To date, hiking on this volcano is prohibited due to ongoing activity, but can be seen from nearby Mount Batur.
With not one, not two, but three colorful lakes in the crater, it’s no wonder Kelimutu is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Located in the incredible national park of the same name, the 1,639-meter-high volcano is home to a multitude of sheer cliffs and craggy boulders that surround its sparkling lakes, the park’s defining feature.
These three lakes, which change color regularly, magically stand out against the desolate landscapes that surround them, and many people come to see the sunrise over their waters. Located on Flores Island, Kelimutu and its enchanting lakes are worth a visit if you get the chance.
Between the huge islands of Java and Sumatra lies the tiny island of Krakatoa, one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. Its fame dates back to 1883, when its explosive eruption triggered seismic shocks and tsunamis, killed countless people, and cooled Earth’s climate. Additionally, it reduced Krakatoa and the volcanic archipelago that surrounded it to the caldera we see today.
Although considerably smaller than before, the Krakatoa is still an epic sight with the sparkling waters of the Sundra Strait surrounding it. It is now a popular tourist destination, and many who visit the volcano hike its lower slopes or snorkel in the surrounding waters, which are teeming with marine life and are home to colorful coral gardens.
5. Mount Sinabung
After sleeping for centuries, Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra erupted violently in 2010 and has been active ever since. Rising dramatically above its surroundings, this colossal mountain rises to 2,460 meters and has four volcanic craters near the summit.
Although huge plumes of smoke and ash have been seen spurting from the volcano too often, Mount Sinabung makes for wonderful excursions, as long as it is not erupting, of course.
6. Mount Merapi
Mount Merapi, which means “mountain of fire” in Indonesian and Javanese, is one of the most active mountains in the country. Due to its periodic eruptions, gushing lava flows, and plumes of smoke, the volcano can be quite dangerous for hiking. Making your way through the charred and lava-scarred landscapes is an unforgettable experience.
From the top of the 2,910-meter mountain, five other volcanoes are visible in the distance. A multitude of myths and legends revolve around this mysterious mountain, and many locals continue to make offerings to the spirits and gods they believe to reside on Mount Merapi.
Although the Ijen and the various cones, craters and volcanoes that surround it offer an astonishing view, the highlight is its magnificent turquoise lake. It’s said to be one of only two sulphurous lakes in the world, and its acidic waters are now a popular tourist attraction.
The lake is especially striking when smoke and flames of sulfur emerge from the water in the morning. Nestled at the eastern tip of Java, the Ijen is fascinating to explore. The highest point of the volcano is 2,769 meters above sea level.
8. Mount Tambora
Mount Tambora, once one of the highest peaks in Indonesia, now stands at 2,850 meters after its colossal eruption of 1815 reduced its size. It was the biggest eruption in human history; its discharge of volcanic ash not only caused a large number of deaths, but also changed the temperature of the Earth for years.
Now calm, secure and permanently guarded, the mighty mount has a huge caldera for visitors to explore, with many magnificent views to admire from above. As it is located on a remote peninsula on Sumbawa Island surrounded by tropical rainforest, Mount Tambora is a must see, but well worth it for its fantastic wildlife and nature.
Located east of Java, the most populous island in the world, Kelud is an active stratovolcano known for its frequent and violent eruptions. The last of them happened in 2014, when rocks and ash were propelled up to 500 kilometers. When it is not covered with molten lava, the Kelud allows fantastic excursions, as its summit rises to 1,731 meters.
From its rim, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the landscape, which is particularly impressive during the rainy season when the crater fills with water.
10. Mount Semeru
Named after the mythical mountain that stands at the center of the world in Hinduism, Mount Semeru is certainly a breathtaking sight and is often referred to by locals as “the great mountain”. At 3,676 meters, it is the highest peak in Java and dominates the coastal plains that surround it.
The spectacular stratovolcano is fortunate to have ecosystems: savannas and flowery fields coexist with arid and rocky landscapes. This makes it a very popular hiking destination, with the beautiful Ranu Kumbolo Lake as one of its many highlights.
Besides its features, the conical Mount Semeru is also known for the impressive columns of smoke and vapor that it regularly releases from its crater.
11. Mount Rinjani
The second highest volcano in all of Indonesia, Mount Rinjani, overlooks the enchanting national park of the same name and is located on the island of Lombok. While its 3,726-meter-high summit looks majestic against the sky, the views from its summit are simply astonishing.
Walking in the national park is a delight: numerous hills and valleys surround the mount, with lush forests and sparkling waterfalls. Among its many attractions, the turquoise lake of Segara Anak Crater is the highlight, as it is surrounded by the picturesque and secluded rim of the volcano’s caldera.
12. Mount Batur
Boasting some of the best views in Bali, Mount Batur is one of the most popular volcanoes for trekking in all of Indonesia. While that does mean its trails can get quite crowded, watching the sunrise from its 1,717-meter-high summit is undoubtedly a memorable experience.
That’s because it sits in the middle of two concentric calderas, with a sparkling lake in the crater below and the mighty Mount Agung looming in the distance. With lush jungle covering its lower slopes and plenty of pristine nature to look at, Mount Batur will delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.