The district was created in 1815 when the Eifel became part of Prussia. As most of the local industries had their traditional markets in France, the district fell into a severe economiccrisis. The construction of a railroad in the second half of the 19th century helped it to recover. The construction of the Nürburgring in 1927 was also an infrastructural project that helped the local economy. The district was enlarged significantly in 1970-1971, when the districts Mayen and Prüm were dissolved and parts were added to the Daun district.
On January 1, 2007 the district Daun was renamed Vulkaneifel, the name of the landscape.
The district is located in the Eifel mountains, containing volcanic lakes called Maar. The largest river in the district is the Kyll.
The Vulkaneifel consists of three regions: Vulkanische Osteifel (municipalities of Brohltal, Vordereifel, Mendig, Pellenz), Vulkanische Hocheifel (municipalities of Kelberg, Ulmen, and the village of Nohn), and Vulkanische Westeifel (remainder of the municipality of Hillesheim, and municipalities Obere Kyll, Gerolstein, Manderscheid, Daun).
Places of interest in the Vulkaneifel include the maar lakes around Daun, and Manderscheid, as well as the caldera lake of Laacher See at the abbey of Maria Laach, which is the largest, and the youngest within the region. Hiking and cycling trails dot the region.