W e wish we could tell you something positive about the Ring Road pit stop called Hella. But in spite of racking the brains of the whole team of Total Iceland and even others we cannot. There is nothing to recommend.
You don´t have to take our word for it neither. Take a look at top attractions for Hella on TripAdvisor and you´ll find five horse rental agencies, a skydiving experience and a beautiful rocky shoreline. Problem is, Hella is far inland and nowhere near any fancy coast rock formations. Horse rental is certainly available but this is about as ugly as surroundings can get in the country.
Hella is also relatively void of natural beauty
But we need not have bothered checking TripAdvisor. Locals in Iceland have for years simply driven through here in way somewhere else and it is considered a national event if someone stops here for anything other than a quickie toilet trip and perhaps some ice cream for the kids.
All the above does not mean you cannot in good conscience spend an hour or so here without getting bored out of your wits. If we cheat a little bit there are a couple of decent museums nearby. At Gunnarsholt ten minutes away you´ll find a special exhibition called Sagnagardur. This translates as a Garden of Stories which is a grand name for a small show about soil and vegetation degradation in Iceland. Not bad if you are into soil erosion in foreign lands but otherwise of no interest. Lastly, but most importantly are Hella caves. Turns out an ancient, by local standards, tunnel system is found nearby and some of which are open to the public. Certainly worth a check if you are into ancient dwellings.
The second one also has a grand name. The Hekla Centre is incidentally a part of a small country hotel also roughly ten minutes away from Hella. Here folks have gone all out for tourist dollars and even set up their own “tourist” shop along with tour guides, accommodation and a restaurant and whatnot. Hekla itself is not too far away and if you have no idea what Hekla is this article could throw some light on the matter. Suffice it to say the Centre itself is worth a look if a dormant volcanic mountain makes you shiver with excitement but otherwise this will not make your journey more joyful.
While Hella village will not win any contests the setting of the town along the river Ranga is quite nice. Ranga is one of the major salmon fishing rivers in Iceland and it river runs tranquilly by the village. The campsite is right next to the river but sadly there is much noise from the Ring Road that divides the campsite and the village itself. Not the greatest spot to enjoy local nature.
Hella is also relatively void of natural beauty around it. Apart from Hekla mountain far away this area is mostly flat and unmemorable farmland.
Within the village you´ll find a couple of fast food restaurants and a couple of gas stations. A decent swimming pool is also in town. That´s all she wrote.
De facto: This area of Iceland is very popular with horsemen as evidenced by at least five horse rentals around Hella. Once in awhile a large national horse competition takes place here drawing crowds of thousands.
Getting here: That could not be simpler. Follow the Ring Road, no 1, southward and you drive right through. Just remember to stop.
Our humble opinion: This is a pit stop at best. The local river winding through town, Which is exactly what locals themselves use this place for en route somewhere nice.