6 underground European attractions to beat the heat this summer

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Europe is facing record heatwaves this summer and the heat will be here for a while longer. The UK recently recorded its hottest day on record, with a temperature reading of just over 104 F° (40 C°). Spain even became the first country to start a naming system for heat waves, like hurricanes. The same record-breaking heatwave in the UK was dubbed ‘Zoe’, which brought temperatures of over 43C to Seville, Spain. Some speculate that heat waves will begin to alter even the typical European tourist season. As the temperatures rise, one of the best places to escape the heat is the basement, where temperatures are consistently milder. We’ve put together a list of six of the best underground European attractions to beat the heat this summer.

Derinkuyu Underground City – Derinkuyu, Turkey

Woman in Derinkuyu underground city looking up

Imagine knocking down a wall in your house and discovering an entire underground city. In 1963, this is exactly what happened to a man in Nevsehir Province. After finding a room behind the wall of his house, his curiosity prompted him to dig further, where he discovered many tunnels and rooms that formed the underground city of Derinkuyu.

Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey

The exact age of the tunnels is unknown, with various experts placing their origin between 1500 and 700 BC.

  • Visitors today can enter the city for a fee of 60 Turkish Liras (about $3.35 USD) or opt for a guided tour at a higher cost.

The Real Mary King’s Close – Edinburgh, Scotland

the real mary kings closed entry sign

Beneath the busy streets of the Royal Mile are some less busy streets, where much older roads await. The houses and alleys have remained almost untouched since the 17thu century, offering a unique glimpse into the past. As the city expanded, Edinburgh wanted to build a Royal Stock Exchange and decided to build where Mary King’s cronies sat.

Instead of knocking down all the buildings that were already there, they removed the top floors and used the lower ones as foundations for the new Royal Exchange. Now, visitors can tour these historic streets and buildings and enjoy costumed tour guides playing the roles of the historical residents of Konto.

  • Adult tickets are £19.50 ($23.50 USD) and children’s tickets are £12.95 ($15.60 USD).

The Basilica Cistern Museum – Istanbul, Turkey

Royal tank in Turkey

One of the city’s most impressive historical monuments, the Basilica Cistern, is located opposite the beautiful Hagia Sophia mosque. The impressive structure is 140 meters (460 feet) long and 70 meters wide. It has 336 columns 9 meters high each and holds 100,000 tons of water.

  • Admission to this historical wonder costs 190 Turkish Liras (US$10.60) and the Cisterna is open to the public every day between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Berchtesgaden Salt Mine – Berchtesgaden, Germany

Visitors entering the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine by train

After taking a train to enter the mine, descend 130 meters (426 feet) below the surface and cruise on a raft across the 100-meter-long, 40-meter-wide Mirror Lake. Dazzling lights highlight the cave’s salt crystals as you pass over the water. Average temperatures at the mine are around 12 C° (45 F°), making it an ideal escape from the summer heat.

  • Adult tickets are €21 ($21.38 USD), while children’s tickets are €10.90 ($11.10 USD).

Catacombs of Rome – Rome, Italy

Catacombs of Rome

Rome is home to more than 60 catacombs that stretch many kilometers underground. Five are currently available to visit. The Catacombs of San Sebastiano, The Catacombs of San Callisto, The Catacombs of Priscilla, The Catacombs of Domitilla and The Catacombs of Sant’Agnese. The largest and most visited catacombs are the Catacombs of San Callisto, stretching over 12 miles.

  • Visitors can only enter with a guide and it is included in the entrance fee (€10 / $10.18 USD).

The Paris Catacombs – Paris, France

Catacombs of Paris

France recently ended all Covid restrictions, making it the perfect time to visit the Paris Catacombs. Visitors will descend a 130-step spiral staircase to begin their tour. During their stay in the catacombs they will see intricately placed human bones, carvings and inscriptions. Cameras are allowed, but guests are not allowed to touch anything.

  • Tickets for adults are €29 ($29.50 USD) and include an audio guide. Children’s tickets are €5 ($5.09 USD) and do not include an audio guide.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions subject to change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact the consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your entry nationality and/or any changes in travel requirements before you travel. Travel Off Path does not endorse travel against government advice

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