EUROPE
colorful picture of large group of people going into a cave

The Schellenberger ice cave in Untersberg  (MindScape Photography - Michael, 123rf )

European summers can get hot. Without centralized air-conditioning, typical indoor experiences such as going to the movies or shopping can be unpleasant. While Germany is not an easy drive to the beach, it does have many underground experiences you can explore. Here are a few that make an easy day trip to escape the heat.

Near Kaiserslautern /Wiesbaden

Kaiserslautern Underground Historical Tour

Starting in Count Palatinate Hall, the former Casimir Castle where the city now holds official receptions, you will descend into subterranean tunnels for a guided tour.  the 70-meter-long tunnels are adorned with information boards and light displays to help immerse you into the rich history of Kaiserslautern. To book a tour, you can visit Kaiserslautern.de.

The Imperial Bath Ruins, Trier

My spouse and I visited Trier on an exceptionally hot day. This was a daytrip we decided to take with no game plan. As we slowly roasted wandering around the city I was about to ask that we call it a day, when my husband spotted the Roman Bath Ruins. As a history buff, he was super excited to go explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seeing the twinkle in his eye, I mustered my energy and decided I could bear the heat for this one last thing. The second we went underground, I felt like someone had generously given me an ice pack. It was so refreshing and surprisingly breezy just below the ground. My energy restored and we ended up having tons of fun looking at the ruins, figuring out the piping system for the traditional baths and running through the labyrinth of underground tunnels. To book tickets, you can visit trier-info.de

an underground view of the tunnel system of the Imperial bath ruins. light shines through the corridor and illuminates a reddish, sandy stone.

Trier Imperial Bath Ruins Underground (Katie Wells)

The Schlossberg Caves

In Homburg Saarland, the Schlossberg caves are rich with history lying deep within the Homberg Castle ruins. They are the largest man-made sandstone structure in Europe descending 12 levels below ground. Three of those levels are open to the public for viewing the beautiful red and yellow stone. The top three layers were used for mining quartz in the 17th century. However, the stone itself is believed to be dated back to early Triassic times, even before the dinosaurs. You might find unique fossils and footprints along the walls. The caves close in December and January. To find out more, you can visit homburger-schlossberghoelen.de.

Traben-Trarbach Wine Cellars

On the Moselle, Traben-Trarbach quickly became one of the most important wine trading towns in the 19th century. Due to rising demand for Riesling wine exports to the United Kingdom in the second half of the 19th century, Traben-Trarbach built large wine cellars under the town center. Some of the vaults spanned up to 100 meters long. Events including concerts and the annual Moselle Wine Christmas Market are held underground. There is also the Summer Moselle Wine Festival along the shore of the river in July, where you can take a two-and-a-half-hour tour through two of the cellars and taste nine different wines. You can also book year-round tours to go underground by visiting traben-trarbach.de.

Vulkaneifel

200 years ago, the beer brewers from Mendig discovered their local underground treasure-trove for beer storage. If you want to try a truly unique beer, Vulkaneifel is a great place to crack a cold Vulcan Brew. Vulkan Brauerie is the deepest beer storage and fermentation cellar in the world 100 feet below the ancient, volcanic earth of a dormant volcano. The tour into the cellar can be booked for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays here at Vulkan-brauerei.de.

Near Stuttgart/Bavaria

Wimsen Cave

In Wimsen Cave, not only will you cool off by being underground, but also by being surrounded by water. A ferryman takes visitors 70 meters into the cave by boat for a history and geological tour. This is a Geopoint of the UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb due to it being the only show cave in Germany accessible by boat and the deepest explored underwater cave. Researchers have even found human bones in the “treasure chamber” that date back to the Bronze Age. For more information, visit tourism-bw.com.

King Otto Cave

This Bavarian cave is considered one of Germany’s most beautiful, featuring a plethora of stalagmites and stalactites, a water-filled basin and different water level lines. The cave is one of the more accessible ones and can even be partially experienced by people in wheelchairs. You can tour the cave individually or on the weekends with a guide. To learn more, visit erlebniswelt-velburg.de.

Sophienhöhle

For multiple cave experiences, Sophienhöhle is a great place to be. Located underneath Burg Rabenstein, you can stay in the castle then explore the stunning stalactite cave individually or come back in the evening for a cave concert or dinner show. You can view popular stalactite formations such as the giant “millionaire” or “sinter flags.” The remains of a large cave bear are on display. They are the only ones of its kind in the world. For more information, visit burg-rabenstein.de.

a colorful photo of a cave stalagmite formation that looks like a waterfall.

Sophienhole Wasserfall (Rainer Lippert)

Schellenberg Ice Cave

This cave located in the Berchtesgaden Alps in upper Bavaria, is the only ice cave open in Germany. A true journey back in time, you can take a 50-minute guided tour and see halls of impressive ice formations that have formed a permanent ice shell since the last ice age. To find out more, visit Eishoehle.net

Salt Mine Tour Berchtesgaden

While this is Germany’s oldest salt mine in which salt is extracted in the wet, it is also an underground adventure mine. You can take a mine train into the mountain. It was modeled after what was used by workers in the 1600s. There is a miners’ slide that takes you 40 meters down to Mirror Lake, another fun activity that was used by miners to get to lower levels more quickly. You can also take a raft across Mirror Lake and see an audiovisual production in the Magical Salt Room. For more information, visit salzbergwerk.de.

author picture
Katie Wells is a writer and mixed media artist with an MFA in Creative Writing. She is passionate about nature, travel, and yoga. When she’s not writing or getting lost in new hobbies, you can find her cuddling up with a latte and her two dogs Zuko and Baymax and Fern the cat.

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