6 underground European attractions to beat the heat this summer

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Europe is dealing with record heat waves this summer and the heat will continue for some time. The UK recently recorded its hottest day on record with a temperature of just over 104 F° (40 C°). Spain even became the first country to introduce a system for naming heat waves, similar to hurricanes. The same heat wave that broke records in the UK was called “Zoe”, which brought temperatures of over 110 F° (43 C°) to Seville, Spain. Some speculate that the heatwaves will even begin to change the typical European tourist season. As temperatures rise, one of the best places to escape the heat is underground, where temperatures are consistently lower. We’ve compiled a list of six of the best underground European attractions to beat the heat this summer.

Derinkuyu Underground City – Derinkuyu, Turkey

A woman in the underground city of Derinkuyu looks up

Imagine knocking down a wall in your home and discovering an entire underground city. In 1963, this is exactly what happened to a man in the province of Nevsehir. After finding a room behind the wall of his home, his curiosity led 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 somewhere between 1500 and 700 BC.

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

The Real Mary King’s Close – Edinburgh, Scotland

the real Mary Kings closes the entrance sign

Beneath the busy streets of the Royal Mile, there are some less crowded, much older streets that await you. The houses and streets have remained almost untouched since the 17th centuryth century, offering a unique look at the past. As the city expanded, Edinburgh wanted to build a Royal Exchange and decided to build where Mary King’s relative sat.

Instead of demolishing all the buildings already there, they removed the upper floors and used the lower floors as foundations for the new Royal Exchange. Visitors can now tour these historic streets and buildings and enjoy costumed tour guides who play the roles of historic residents of the Close.

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

Basilica Cistern Museum – Istanbul, Turkey

Cistern Basilica in Turkey

One of the most impressive historical sites in the city, the Basilica Cistern, is located opposite the beautiful Hagia Sophia Mosque. The imposing structure is 140 m (460 ft) long and 70 m (230 ft) wide. It has 336 columns, each 9 meters (30 ft) high and can hold 100,000 tons of water.

  • Entry to this historical wonder costs 190 Turkish Liras ($10.60 USD), and the Cistern is open to the public daily between 9am and 7pm.

Berchtesgaden Salt Mine – Berchtesgaden, Germany

Visitors entering the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine by train

After taking a train to enter the mine, venture down 130m (426ft) below the surface and raft the 100m long and 40m wide mirror lake. Dazzling lights show off the cave’s salt crystals as you make your way over the water. Average temperatures in the mine are around 12 C° (45 F°), making it an ideal place to escape the summer heat.

  • Tickets for adults are €21 ($21.38 USD), while tickets for children are €10.90 ($11.10 USD).

Roman Catacombs – Rome, Italy

Roman catacombs

Rome is home to over 60 catacombs stretching many kilometers underground. Five are currently available to visit; Catacombs of San Sebastiano, Catacombs of San Callisto, Catacombs of Priscilla, Catacombs of Domicilla and 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).

Paris Catacombs – Paris, France

Catacombs of Paris

France recently lifted all of its 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 arranged human bones, carvings and inscriptions. Cameras are allowed, but visitors 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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