Welcome to Hell

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Hell, Norway

Yes, you can visit Hell in Norway! The small village near Trondheim draws the eye on a map. But what's the place really like? Let's take a look.

It's a source of great amusement to non-Norwegians (me included!) that there's a teeny village named Hell right next to Trondheim Airport Værnes. So close in fact, that when checking in on Facebook at the airport, you are offered the opportunity to select “Hell International Airport”…

A tiny village in central Norway

The village is only really known for two things: its train station which must be the most photographed in Norway despite its tiny size, and the annual Blues in Hell festival (this September is the next instalment!)

I'd been wondering if there's any more to this place for quite some time, so booked my one-way ticket to Hell (wahey!) to check it out.

The name Hell stems from the Old Norse word hellir, which means “overhang” or “cliff cave”. It has a more used homonym in modern Norwegian that means “luck”. The Old Norse word Hel is the same as today's English Hell, and as a proper noun, Hel was the ruler of Hel. In modern Norwegian the word for hell is helvete – Wikipedia

Commercial centre

The most visible part of Hell is the Rica hotel and shopping centre thanks to their “look at me” signs screaming at everyone driving past along the E6. But the thing is, neither the hotel or the shopping centre are actually in Hell. They are the wrong side of the river! Still, Sandfærhus Shopping Centre doesn't have quite the same ring to it, so Hell it is.

I took the opportunity for a peek inside the shopping centre, which was much bigger than I expected, with a Rema 1000 supermarket, gym, Jerna, InterSport, Mix (selling the famous “Hell frozen over” postcards) and even a cafe.

Yes, I bought an ice-cream in Hell!

Hell Shopping Centre

Hell Bru

Hell Bru, built in 1959, crosses the Stjørdalselva river into the village proper. Not only is there the sign on the bridge, there's also one high up in the hills, which I'd never noticed before.

If only it glowed red…

Hell sign

The Hell railway station

My first port of call was of course the train station, to grab the obligatory photos. The sign “Gods Expedition” is an old Norwegian spelling meaning the freight handling operation.

The station is also notable for being the point at which the line from Trondheim splits off, one continuing on all the way to Bodø and one peeling off into Sweden, to Åre and Östersund.


Gods Expedition

Despite its proximity to the E6 motorway and an international airport, the village itself is remarkably peaceful. Typical Scandinavian wooden houses, well-kept gardens, lots of cyclists, kids playing in the streets: not what I expected at all!

Hell village

Rock carvings in Hell

After a pleasant walk around I was all set to head back up towards Værnes when a sign caught my eye – “Helleristninger 0.5km”. So I followed the deceptively steep trail through another residential area and into overgrown forest. Still with no idea what to expect I delved deeper into the forest and found… rock carvings!

Two reindeer with some smaller animals are clearly visible. They date back to the Stone Age, were discovered in 1895 and apparently are some of the most famous rock carvings in Norway. Who knew!

Rock carvings


And all most people come to Hell for (me included) is to take a photograph of the train station…

My visit wasn't over yet though. I've long admired two churches in close proximity to Hell and Trondheim Airport: Lånke and Værnes. As I was in the walking mood I decided to head on out to Lånke Church for a look-see.

Lånke Church

Pretty! On the way, I passed more of Hell's amenities, including a Coop and a grill, and spied more houses up in the hills. There's even what looks like an old folks home. I don't need to make the in-laws joke do I!?

Hell Grill

Hell isn't exactly somewhere I recommend you visit, but it offered up far more than I was expecting: in particular the rock carvings that I stumbled upon quite by chance.

So that my friends, was the day I went to hell… and back.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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13 thoughts on “Welcome to Hell”

  1. Very informative article, thank you David.

    We went through a similar reaction as the train from the airport to Trondheim station was going through Hell (!) and we were taking the obligatory photos of the station and having the typical tourist comments and reactions.

    Fast forward to next morning, at the hotel’s crowded breakfast room and we could not help overhearing the main topic of discussion of the guests at next table was… Hell.

    A very observant lady pointed out Hellman’s mayonnaise. This name has the same root but sounds ordinarily normal to English speakers.

    At that point I made the realisation it is the logical semantics wh make this village a (relative) tourist attraction.

    I think next time I am in Hell, I will visit the wall

  2. My family immigrated to Minnesota from Hell. My father moved to Oregon many years ago. Our last name is Hellie. My mom was a genealogist and wrote a book on all the Hellie families in America they had a family reunion in Minnesota and relatives flew over from Hell. Thanks for your tour of Hell.

  3. My uncle and grandparents (father born in Canada) immigrated from Hell Norway. Last name Hansen. I would love to know more about my family. I have not had much luck tracing lineage.

    • Norway has a digitalarkivet (archive). It is a website the government runs. It has all types of governmet records. Good luck.

    • We also have family on our grandmothers maternal side from Ydstines:
      Olaf Andreas Lorentsson, NESS Ydstines, Stjordalshalsen, Nord-Trondelag, Norway married to
      Beret Eriksdatter BJORGUM

  4. I wanted to see where the: “Road to no where” is and I found out it is located in Iqaluit (NunaVut) in Canada and I went and it is very rare experience to the road exists but it goes around and you come back where you started and it is the biggest tourist attraction and funny part is the sign of Road to No where is often missing and the culprits are mostly tourists. However now you can buy T-Shirts, post cards and frig magnets but town Hell seems to be more funnier and I love to go, I was in Trondheim but did not know about it at that time. There is a small town called “Nowhere Else” near Tasmania, it would great story to visit to see towns like these.

  5. Hello Karyn, we also have family on our grandmothers maternal side from Ydstines:
    Olaf Andreas Lorentsson, NESS Ydstines, Stjordalshalsen, Nord-Trondelag, Norway married to
    Beret Eriksdatter BJORGUM

  6. I thought Hell railway station was Albury Station when you had to change trains when travelling from Sydney to Melbourne or vice versa

  7. As a US Marine I visited your town several times during the 80’s & 90’s and was really shocked to find Hell frozen over. Yes I bought many post cards and mailed them from Hell. The roundabout in down town Hell can be crazy on a Friday night because some of the teens / young folks were partaking of some spirits turned the roundabout into a slip and slide on ice it was crazy.


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