Hella is a small town in South part of Iceland, where you can accommodate yourself first or last night of you trip and make a base for exploring the best attractions of south coast of Iceland.
Hella in Iceland is close to many of famous waterfalls, one and half hour far away from Golden circle and also good place to watch Northern light. Let´s see, what to do nearby, where to eat and find recommended hotels.
As a local, who lived in Hella and nearby places almost 3 years, I can recommend you some things and attracations, you can find in or around Hella. But what should be the first reason, why visit Hella in South Iceland?
Hella can be your first stop, if you start your journey through Iceland. It´s not very far away from a famous Golden circle, so after you visit Thingvellir national park, see geysir Strokkur and mighty Gullfoss, you just drive more south and check-in to your accommodation in the evening.
It could seem, there is nothing to do around this spot, but even if you stay in Hella for days, I think you can find satisfying things to do for one or two day trip. Just check our recommended trip´s itinerary in the end of this post.
How to get there
Town Hella is very easy to find. You will drive through if on your trip on ring road. If you heading from west (from Selfoss), you´ll hit Hella after 30 mins.
If you drive from east, it will follow 10 mins after driving out of Hvolsvollur.
Best restaurants in Hella and where to eat
When I recommend to visitors of Hella, where to go for a dinner, I have just a few tips, because the town is small and not so touristy.
- If you want to go for best, book a table at 4 star hotel Rangá. According the reviews on Tripadvisor, meals are fine but could be a bit overpriced.
- Most likely not dissapointing dinner would be at hotel Stracta bistro. I´ve personally never been there, but hotel offers good service and reviews in general are fine, so that´s a place I would choose.
There are 3 more places to eat in Hella. Sorting by most recommended:
- fast food at Olís gas station
- restaurant Árhús
- restaurant and guesthouse Kanslarinn
If you don´t mind to drive a bit far away from town, you can check also restaurants at hotel Laekur, hotel Vos or nearby town Hvolsvollur.
Day tours from Hella
As I mentioned before, Hella is a great place where to stay in you want to explore south coast of Iceland. If you choose to stay here for a few days, congratulation, you did a good decision!
You can book tours in Hella from few tour agencies, which provide services in that area. In next town you can find Midgard Adventures, there is also company South Coast Adventures and horse back riding places.
Examples of self drive day tours
If you have a rental car, I always recommend to explore Iceland on your own, if the weather allows you (and you are not going to drive to highlands). You can make a trip to 3 directions from Hella, west, east and north.
The most popular location where to go if you stay in Hella is definitely Landmannalaugar and Thorsmórk.
These highland areas are accessible only in bigger 4×4 cars and only when the rivers are calm, so speak to your hotel receptionist or ask in tourist info. Don´t forget to check road and weather situation on road.is and safetravel.is
Trip to Golden circle from Hella is another favourite way, how to spent a day there. You can start your journey visiting waterfall Urridafoss, afterwards take a turn north, stop by at Faxi waterfall or Bruarhlod canyon.
Gullfoss waterfall is the one place, where you definitely want to spent little bit more time and maybe refresh yourself in nearby village Geysir.
You probably already know, that next stop on your trip will be geothermal area with famous geysir Strokkur, eruptin every 10 mins.
If you would have more time left, you can make a small hike to waterfall Bruarfoss and then decide if you want to end your day visiting volcanic crater Kerid and soak yourself in hot tubs in swimming pool in Selfoss, or relax in natural hot spots (for example hot springs Secret lagoon).
You could be interested in: Is Secret lagoon better than Blue lagoon?
Valley of waterfalls and ponds
In case, you stay in Hella for two night and want to explore some off beaten path places, I have some hidden gems for you.
I really hope, you have a 4×4 car with bigger ground clearance, because you definitely have to visit second highest icelandic waterfall Háifoss.
You can get there driving same road as to Golden circle, but probably after 40 mins of drive, you take a turn left along a river.
First stop will be at waterfall Hjalparfoss, which is unique by two streams falling down in one pool.
At the same are, there is a typical viking farm and house (used in Game of thrones), amazing “elvish” valley Gjáin and on the hill my favourite waterfall Háifoss, much less touristy then most of the waterfalls along the ring road.
There is not much to offer, when goes to shopping. The town has one supermarket grocery store, bakery, gas station and liqour store Vinbudín.
Swimming pools and gym
For all of you, who like to enjoy hot tub in the end of a day after hours of travelling, I have good news.
You can find a swimming pool in Hella just behind gas station in “town centre”, so even if you don´t have a accommodation with hot tub, you can be satisfied.
For the work out enthusiast, there is also new gym build in Hella, which you find in a same building as swimming pool.
Campers can find place to build there tents or park campervans in two areas in Hella. Restaurant and guesthouse Arhús offers camping place along the river Rangá and behind the hotel Stracta on big field, there is another spot where to camp.
Best places to stay
When I stayed Hella for a few times, I´ve booked a room at hotel Laekur, small country hotel probably 10 mins far away from the town centre. It always had a very good reviews, location is great and prices are still fine.
In centre of town, you can find big hotel Stracta with 200 rooms, where you can stay if other places are overbooked (especially in the summer time).
There are also some nice cottages and cabins, which you can rent nearby and I would definitely think about them, if you are group of more people and staying more then one night (in that case, check out offer at bungalo.com).
Is Hella a good place for northern lights?
Hella is a good place to watch for northern lights, because light polution of town is not very strong and there are no greenhouses in the area.
If you want to look for northern lights, it´s always better to drive a bit out of the town, maybe along the river Rangá direction to ocean (drive out of town direction to Selfoss and turn left after Caves of Hella), or you can just use parking lot with tourist info which is 1 min from Hella by car, direction to Hvolsvollur.
Things to do in Hella
I have already mentioned few of attractions, you can visit if you stay in Hella.
But let´s explore some hidden gems and top notch places.
First of all, there are two waterfalls in Hella on river Rangá (that´s the one you will cross if you drive from west/Selfoss direction). They are called Aegissídufoss and Árbaejarfoss, so don´t forget to check them out.
Heading to east, you should visit one of the most famous waterfalls Seljalandsfoss (and Glúfrábruí), Skogafoss and Gluggafoss.
Driving west, you can check Urridafoss, very massive waterfall and in north you´ll find Gulfoss, Fáxi, Hjalparfoss and Háifoss.
Recently there was open a new attraction in the town – Caves of Hella, offering tours in old caves under the town and there are many horse back riding tours in that area.
Winter and summer in Hella
Is better to visit Hella in summer or winter? Hella has something to offer all year long, but because of distance from Landmannalaugar, people enjoy it much more in the summer time, where they can drive to highlands (roads there are open just from June til September).
In the winter time town calms down, it´s easier to find accommondation and it has very nice atmosphere, if covered under the snow and it´s good place, where to stay if you want to watch for northern lights.
Would I stay in Hella?
Hell yes! Hella is a perfect location for exploring the first part of south coast of Iceland, so I would book at least one night there just after heading out of Reykjavik and beginning the ring road trip.
I recommend to do the same for you, now you know what to do in Hella, so take advantage of that don´t miss any hidden gems!
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