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A Comprehensive Guide to Hella, Iceland's Lesser-Known Wonder

You've probably heard of Reykjavík and the Blue Lagoon, but have you ever experienced the tranquil beauty of Hella? Tucked away in the heart of Iceland, Hella is a gem waiting to be discovered.


In this guide, you'll uncover the charm of this lesser-known wonder, making you rethink your Icelandic travel itinerary. Intrigued? Keep reading to embark on an unforgettable journey!



Hella


A Glimpse Into Hella's Past


Nestled on the south coast, Hella in Iceland whispers tales of bygone eras. By the salmon-abundant Ytri-Rangá river, its name echoes from caves where Iceland's earliest settlers, not Norse Vikings but Irish monks, sought refuge before the 9th century.


Their legacy? Ancient man-made caves that stand as silent witnesses to time.

Fast-forward to 1927, Hella's official birth is marked by a store near the river, founded by Þorsteinn Björnsson, whose memorial stands proud in the town.


From an agricultural heartland, Hella blossomed into a tourist haven, serving as a gateway to wonders like the Golden Circle and the looming Hekla volcano.


Navigating Your Way to Hella


Embarking on a journey to Hella reveals some of Iceland's most enchanting landscapes. Situated just 1 hour and 15 minutes from Reykjavík, Hella is both accessible and a world away from the city's hustle.

While a public bus service is available to truly experience Hella and its surrounding attractions, the freedom of a car rental in Iceland is indispensable. Setting out from Reykjavík, you'll traverse Norðlingaholt, climb the picturesque Hellisheiði heath, and meander into the delightful town of Hveragerði. Journey onward past the grandeur of Mt. Ingólfsfjall and through the vibrant town of Selfoss.


A mere 30-minute drive on Route 1 immerses you in Hella's tranquil countryside. With a rental car, every nook and cranny of this Icelandic gem becomes a cherished memory, elevating your adventure to unparalleled heights.



Car rental Hella


Top 5 Things To Do in Hella


Uncover a world of adventure as we delve into the top things to do in Hella, a lesser-known yet incredibly captivating destination in Iceland. Let's explore some of the must-visit attractions!


1. Explore The Caves of Hella


Just a stone's throw away from Hella, a mere 2-minute drive, lies a mystical treasure - the Caves of Hella. This intriguing site hosts twelve hand-hewn caves, four of which are open to the public. As you wander through these ancient structures, you'll be stepping back in time, possibly even before the age of the Nordic Vikings.


The caves are adorned with fascinating features such as carved crosses, intricate wall etchings, and hewn seats, igniting curiosity about their Celtic creators and the purpose of these structures. A tour of these caves will undoubtedly become an unforgettable highlight of your trip.


The Caves of Hella


2. Take The Midgard Adventure Tour


Embark on the Midgard Adventure Tour and let Iceland's raw beauty surprise you. This 'mystery' tour is just a short 15-minute drive away from Hella. The tour is shaped by weather conditions, and expert guidance might lead you into the heart of Þórsmörk, beneath Eyjafjallajökull's roots, or to its summit crater, which erupted in 2010, offering breathtaking panoramas.


Alternatively, you could find yourself amidst the vibrant rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar, soaking in natural hot springs or marveling at the dramatic coastline with its cascading waterfalls, black sand beaches, and shimmering glaciers. Every route promises a unique, Hella experience.



Things to do in Hella


3. Visit The Icelandic Horse World Stable


A mere 15-minute drive from Hella will bring you to a unique experience at the Icelandic Horse World Stable. This venue gives you an unparalleled opportunity to witness the charm and elegance of the Icelandic Horse, a breed that has been preserved for centuries in isolation.


From horse shows and exhibitions to riding tours for all experience levels, the Icelandic Horse World Stable offers immersive experiences that create lasting memories.



Icelandic horse experience


4. Experience the Power of Iceland at the LAVA Centre


Experience the raw strength of Iceland at the LAVA Centre, a must-see on your list of things to do in Hella. Just 10 minutes away from Hella, the Centre offers an immersive journey into the volcanic landscape that shapes Iceland.


Learn about geological wonders, interact with earthquake simulators, and take in stunning panoramas of the surrounding volcanoes from the observation platform. With a visit to the LAVA Centre, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the power that lies beneath Iceland's surface.


LAVA Centre


5. Walk Behind A Waterfall


Just 30 minutes from Hella lies Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland's best waterfalls. This stunning cascade drops 60 meters (197 feet) from ancient sea cliffs into a serene pool below. But what truly sets Seljalandsfoss apart is the pathway that leads behind the curtain of water, offering visitors a mesmerizing perspective and a chance to witness the raw power and beauty of nature from a unique vantage point.



South Iceland waterfalls


Where To Stay in Hella


Hella offers various accommodation options catering to various tastes and requirements. Below are some of the top places we recommend for your stay:


Hotel Kanslarinn


Hotel Kanslarinn, nestled in the heart of Hella along Iceland's scenic Ring Road, is a delightful boutique hotel boasting 21 charming rooms. Guests will find themselves near the natural wonders of South Iceland. With complimentary Wi-Fi, a restaurant, and well-appointed rooms featuring flat-screen TVs, every comfort is provided.


Glass Cottages


Nestled amidst 500 hectares of natural lava fields, the Glass Cottages offer a unique accommodation experience. These glass and wood ecological cottages provide a comfortable interior while allowing guests to feel immersed in the surrounding nature. The eco-friendly cottages are almost self-sustainable, deriving heat from the sun and water from their own well, providing one of the purest waters on earth.


A Must-Visit on Your Icelandic Journey


Hella, nestled on Iceland's south coast, is a harmonious blend of history, nature, and genuine Icelandic charm.


From its ancient caves whispering tales of early settlers to the captivating Seljalandsfoss waterfall, every corner of Hella beckons exploration. As John Muir (Scottish-born American naturalist) once said, 'In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.'


Whether it's horseback riding amidst scenic vistas, delving into volcanic wonders, or immersing in the town's rich tapestry, Hella offers more than just sights—it offers experiences. As you map out your Icelandic adventure, let Hella be a chapter you eagerly dive into.


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