Mining Tourism – 19 Sites in Europe Revealing the Rise and Fall of Mining Industry

It’s been the bread and butter of many generations, but today mining belongs to the museum. Mining industry heritage sites are becoming more and more popular as tourist attractions. After the mines have been shut down, those regions need the boost mining tourism can give them in order to survive.

This post showcases a collection of 19 places in Europe which once were thriving mining sites – from slate mining, mercury, coal and salt mines, to marble quarries and tin pits. I have asked 18 travel bloggers to share places that they have visited and to recommend museums and tours connected with the mining history. I am also sharing with you the history of the place where I live, which is also a former mining site. Most of the places in this post are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Get off-the-beaten track in Europe and visit those mining industry heritage sites!Click To Tweet

a yellow building which served as an entrance to an old mine shaft, Nulland Shaft in Kerkrade, Netherlands
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Eastern Mine District in South Limburg, the Netherlands

by Daniela, the author of this blog

It’s been already almost 1000 years ago when the first coal was dug by the monks who built the Rolduc Abbey in South Limburg. Since then a lot has changed in the area but the role coal had played in everyday lives of people is still important. During the industrial revolution the coal brought unthinkable wealth to the region. People were coming from all over the Netherlands and even abroad, mostly from Italy, to work in the mines. This changed the cultural landscape in Limburg for good.

In the heyday of the mining industry in the Netherlands, there were 11 mines in South Limburg and there were plans to open more. In 1965 everything came to an end. It was announced that the mines were closing and the last mine stopped in 1974. Closing the mines had an enormous impact on the region. There was simply no more work. People moved to other parts of the country. Today, the chimneys and the factories are gone. Lots of houses just stay empty, others are in ruins.

Still South Limburg is a popular destination for local and foreign tourist alike. After all, it’s got this beautiful landscape with rolling hills. Today, you can visit the Dutch Mining Museum in Herleen. Tickets cost 6 EUR for adults and 3 EUR for kids aged 4 – 12 years. The museum is open from 10:30 to 16:00 on Mondays – Friday, and from 10:30 to 14:00 in the weekend. Another museum that tells the story of the mining industry is the Coal Mine Museum in Valkenburg. Tickets cost 9,80 EUR for adults and 7 EUR for kids aged 5 – 12 years. The Museum offers individual guided tours. You can find the starting times on the museum’s website.

some structures from a mine - national coal mining museum for England
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National Coal Mining Museum for England, United Kingdom

by Clare from I live 4 travel

The National Coal Mining Museum for England is located just outside a little village in Yorkshire, in the north of England about 1 mile from where I grew up.

Originally known as Caphouse Colliery, the site has been open as a coal mine since 1791 in an area known for coal mining. At its peak in the 1920’s around 1.2 million people worked in the industry and now there are no deep coal mines operating in the UK. By 1985 all the coal had been removed from the Caphouse Colliery and it was converted into a museum in 1988.

Nowadays, when you visit the site, you can put on a hard hat and take a trip 140 m underground into the mine shaft and chat with former miners who will tell you how the mine has worked over the centuries. You can see replicas of shafts that children worked on in the mine and the different animals that lived and worked underground and the machines that eventually replaced the animals. There are also galleries and buildings that show you the history of coal mining in the UK and you can meet the pit ponies in their stables. It is a great day out and very interesting to learn about something that was such a huge industry in the UK.

Author Bio: Clare left England 7 years ago to start solo travelling around the word. She spends most of her time now living in a little surf town in Peru and writing all about her travels on Ilive4travel. You can follow Clare on Facebook.

a upright rock with and entrance to an old mine amidst blue sea, Port Flavia in Sardinia
photo by Gianni Alvito – Teravista, courtsey of

Porto Flavia, Sardinia, Italy

by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World

Porto Flavia is one of the most unique places to visit in Sardinia. The mine is located on a promontory that dominates the area of Masua, in the region of Sulcis. The tunnel is about 600 meters long and it was dug out of the rock and ends up in a cliff right at the sea. From this cliff there are stunning views of the Pan di Zucchero sea stack. 

The area, where the mine is located, was in use in the 19th century but the actual mine was built between 1922 and 1924 to help load minerals directly onto the ships that would then sail to foundries in Northern Europe. This was meant to reduce the cost of transportation. The mine was designed by the Italian engineer Cesare Vecelli, who named the harbor after his daughter Flavia. 

Since the 1930s there has been a slow but steady decline in the mining industry in Sardinia, which led to the complete closure of Porto Flavia mine. This is now part of Parco Minerario, a UNESCO site that can be visited on strictly guided trips. 

The views of the harbor from the sea are absolutely stunning. If you plan to rent a kayak when spending a day at the beach in Masua Pan di Zucchero, make sure to take a camera or a go pro with you because you will want to capture those views.

You can buy tickets to Porto Flavia online. This is the website to buy them. Tickets cost 10 EUR. The site is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 15:30 to 18:30 pm (in the winter) or from 16:00 to 20:00 pm (in the summer).

Author bio: Claudia Tavani is a former human rights lawyer who abandoned her academic career to follow her true calling. Through her blog, she strives to share tips and inspiration for other travelers. You can follow Claudia on Instagram.

reddish structure of a tower with a wheel and some other buildings belonging to an old mine, Big Pit in Wales
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Big Pit Coal Mine in Blaenavon, Wales, United Kingdom

by Juergen from Dare 2 Go

Most coal mines in Europe have been closed for good, only recognisable by scars in the landscape and slowly rusting ruins. Some, like the Big Pit Coal Mine in Blaenavon in Wales, now allow visitors to experience the harsh circumstances our forefathers had to work under.

Coal was, and still is, providing the energy and power for many industrial processes. It’s a dirty but cheap resource, which explains its popularity – despite all the environmental concerns. The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s would have not happened without coal.

A visit to the Big Pit can be a very captivating experience because it was decided to preserve the site as the National Coal Museum directly after its closure in 1980. The mine has been kept in working order, including the lift into the deep mine shaft, which will be the highlight of your tour. Above ground you can see many of the interesting bits and pieces, which were day-to-day equipment of the former miners. From the lamp room to the canaries, from the blacksmith to the engine room of the shaft lift. Everything is preserved as if it would be used on the next working day – which has long passed. On top of the complex you can inspect the former canteen and bathhouse of the mine.

The Big Pit Coal Mine is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Blaenavon Industrial Landscape”, which includes a number of other attractions. Entry to the mine museum is free, but it is advisable to spend 3 GBP to reserve a time slot for the popular Underground Tour. Blaenavon is around 45 km (28 miles) north of Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

Author bio: Juergen Klein travels with his wife, Yasha Langford, in their self-built camper, slowly, taking side roads, and stopping in out-of-the-way places. Their website is a respected resource for road trip ideas. You can follow their adventures on Facebook.

three boards indicating direction to the Marathi ancient marble quarries on Paros in Greece
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Marble Quarries on Paros Island, Greece

by Sandra from Greece Travel Secrets

Paros is a beautiful island in the Cyclades not far from Mykonos. It is a fantastic destination for people of all ages and budgets and offers a lot to see and do.

One of the many fascinating historical places of interest on the island is the Marathi marble quarries. Situated between the villages of Lefkas and Marpissa, these ancient quarries date back to the 3rd century and were believed to be mined by up to 150,000 slaves during Roman times. They were thought to produce some of the finest marble in the world and, at the time, it was also the most expensive. The Parian marble was considered by the Greek sculptors to be of superior quality due to its fine consistency and transparency.

It is believed Parian marble was used to sculpt and construct many famous ancient artifacts and buildings including the Venus De Milo statue, The Acropolis, the temples at Delphi and even Napoleon Bonaparte’s headstone. The French in fact were the last people to hold a mining lease at the quarries. Today, the quarries are abandoned but can be visited on foot. It is possible to explore deep into the mine shaft but great care is required.

Author bio: Sandra Papas is an Gen X Australian travel blogger based in Brisbane. She has several websites and her prime focus is her destination website on Greece. After a lengthy corporate career in HR and Project Management and extensive travels to over 50 countries she also wrangles teenagers in her spare time.

ruins of old mine structure on a cliff, Botallack mine in Cornwall, UK

St Ives and Botallack Mine, Cornwall, United Kingdom

by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours

St Ives is a small town of about 10,000 people, located in Cornwall on the south-westernmost point of England. But though it is small, St Ives’s importance to English mining history cannot be underestimated. Some say the Bronze Age would never have begun in England if it weren’t for the tin and copper found in the mines of St Ives and other places in Cornwall. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, mining was the major industry in the area.

Though all of the mines around St Ives are closed today, you can still see evidence of them. One example is the color of the doors in St Ives. The three main professions in the town were mining, farming, and fishing. Each profession painted its door a different color. So if you see a black door, you know that a miner lived there.

Nowadays mining related tourism is popular in St Ives. Just a short distance from the town, you can visit the Botallack Mine or do Mining Walking Trail, to explore the mining heritage of Cornwall, enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site. But even more tourists come to see the St Ives filming locations for the popular Poldark series. The Poldark series tells the tale of a fictional and very dashing mine owner named Ross Poldark. The Cornish mines are almost the most important character in the series. Fortunes are made and lost in the mines, and major characters even die in them. So thanks in part to Poldark, the mines of St Ives won’t be forgotten.

Author bio: Stella Jane teaches travel planning at her website Around the World in 24 Hours. Her passion is writing travel itineraries that are informative and entertaining at the same time. You can find her on Facebook too.

a wooden tower remaining from a closed mine, Magdalena mine in Gorlice, Poland
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Gorlice, Poland

by Veronika from Travel Geekery

You couldn’t tell at first sight of the cute Polish town of Gorlice and its green surroundings, but it’s right here where at the beginning of the 19th century the first crude oil mines were dug! Even though several hundred years before that locals already dug holes and wells reinforced with wood, only in the 19th century the most sophisticated method, which is in use all over the world until this day, was discovered. It uses masts, tripods and pumpjacks, the sight of which we associate with any oil mine today.

Other than that, the whole region of Gorlice hides a lot more ‘secrets’. It became a strategic point in the famous Battle of Gorlice in the First World War. The area is dotted with beautifully constructed, yet eerie, military graveyards.

Not to forget, the city of Gorlice in itself is tiny, but charming. The city center features a city hall with a tower with views far away. A pharmacy used to be right in the building of the city hall, where the world’s first kerosene lamp was invented in 1854. And locals couldn’t be prouder of that fact.

The region of Gorlice is such an interesting area full of diverse stories. You just need to stop and listen. It’s definitely worth at least a day trip.

Author bio: Veronika Primm is a travel blogger based in Prague, Czech Republic. She writes about travels mainly in Europe and Asia on her blog Travel Geekery. She’s most excited about city escapes, adventures in nature and searching for authentic travel experiences. Follow he adventures on Instagram.

a blue door with some wooden structures around leading to a underground mine, Lochnell Mine from Wanlockhead Mines in Scotland
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Wanlockhead, Scotland, United Kingdom

by Susanne from Adventures Around Scotland

Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland and an old mining village. The nearby mines in the Lowther Hills operated from the late 17th century until 1934. During that time the mines produced around 85,000 tonnes of lead, several other minerals and a quantity of zinc in the final years of operation. In 1876 it was recorded that at least 274 men and boys were employed in the mines surrounding Wanlockhead, however a decline in the economy eventually led to their closure.

The landowner took an interest in the well-being of the miners and did what he could to minimise the problems associated with the industry, including making sure the smelting stages took place away from the village. He was also one of the patrons of the Wanlockhead Miner’s Library which is the second oldest subscription Library in Scotland and indeed Europe. It was built to encourage ‘self-improvement’ in the miners.

Today, you can find out all about Wanlockhead’s history at The Museum of Lead Mining in the village. The visitor centre is housed in the former Smiddy and you can view the exhibition about the story of mining in the area. You can also join a guided tour of Lochnell Mine which was in use for 150 years from 1710 to 1860. Other attractions open to the public include a miner’s cottage, a beam engine and the original miner’s library which opened in 1756.

Author bio: Susanne Arbuckle is the founder of the Adventures Around Scotland travel blog. She writes about hidden gems in Scotland and places that are off the beaten tourist track. She also provides a Scotland travel planning and itinerary service. You can follow her on Facebook.

a big underground lake with rotating platforms and boats made as an attraction, Turda mine in Romania
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Turda Salt Mines, Romania

by Jeff and Kristen from Our Passion for Travel

Located approximately 45 minutes from Cluj-Napoca, you’ll find the mines of Turda. Salt was first produced from these mines as early as the 11th century, before production and mining ramped up significantly in the 17th century. The Turda mines helped drive industry in this part of Romania with much of the population through this era having some connection to the mine through family or employment.

There are a number of impressive rooms for visitors to see. The Iosif mine is some 112 m deep. A fun if not slightly annoying thing to do in this room is letting out your loudest yell. You can expect an echo of up to 20 times in here. This room was used as a helpful and efficient communication chamber to transport messages throughout the mine.

The Terezia mine, also 112 m deep, is a popular attraction for visitors. After being disused, an underground lake formed, complete with an island made of salt. Today, this mine is an indoor, underground theme park. Complete with a ferris wheel, table tennis, bowling and the chance to row on the underground lake. It has become one of the most visited tourist attractions, particularly for locals who can enjoy the underground activities no matter what the weather is outside. Renovated and reopened in 2010, the Turda salt mines are an absolute must visit on a Romania road trip.

Author bio: Jeff and Kristen Miller are an Australian married couple who have temporarily ditched their 9-5 to explore the world. Together, they’ve visited 70+ countries together. Road trips, trying new local food and seeking obscure sights are their travel jam. You can follow them on Instagram.

an underground space - an entry to a salt mine in Hallein Austria
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Hallein Salt Mine, Austria

by Ivan from Mind the Travel

Hundreds of years ago, before Salzburg became famous for ‘The Sound of Music’, it was a huge salt market. The white gold has played a prominent role in determining the power of the city because the rock salt mined under the Austrian Alps was as valuable as the real gold at the time.

There are two main reasons that make the Hallein Salt Mine such a unique place to visit: a detailed replica of Celtic Village where you can immerse yourself in the daily life of the Celts and the unique underground border crossing with Germany. You can take cool photos in front of the border crossing sign, ride down the miners’ slides, and even take a boat ride. Like the salt mines in Hallstatt and Berchtesgaden, the one in Hallein also has an underground lake.

The Hallein Salt Mine is a great place to learn more about Salzburg’s history and how it came to its wealth. It takes about 30 minutes to get from Salzburg to Hallein Station by train and then after a 5-minute layover, it is 10 minutes on bus #41 to the Salt Mine and Celtic Village. To reach the Salt Mine you can either hop off at Knappensteig Bus Stop or Salzbergwerk Bus Stop. The Luge is less than 10 minutes further on Bus #41 at the Zinkenwirt Gmerk Stop.

Salt Mine Tour Hours: Mid-March through October daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; November-Mid March daily from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The tours last 70 minutes. Salt Mine Tour Cost: adults – 23 EUR; kids -11.50 EUR; family – 48.50 EUR (2 adults + 1 kid, every additional kid 10,50 EUR). The ticket includes entrance to the Celtic Village and bonus tickets also include the luge. Seasonal Luge Hours: runs May-Mid Oct around 10:30 am-5:00 pm. The luge and lift only run during fair weather. During the winter months, the lift and luge offer nice, easy skiing.

Author bio: Ivan Tannenberg is a solo traveler, history junkie, and a techno-geek. Having traveled the world out of a backpack for a year and a half non-stop, he is now based in Vietnam aiming to explore new and mind-blowing destinations. Go and check his travel blog for more of his journeys around the world. Follow him on Facebook.

a rusted cable car hanging against some green hills and old building, mine in Chiatura, Georgia
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Chiatura, Georgia

by Emily from Wander Lush

In its heyday, the small town of Chiatura in Georgia’s Imereti region was one of the leading sources for manganese and iron in the Soviet Union. The mines have long since shut, and today, the town is but a shadow of its former self. There is however one thing that continues to attract intrepid tourists: Chiatura’s infamous network of cable cars, otherwise known as ‘Stalin’s Rope Roads’.

Chiatura has a distinct topography of precipitous cliffs and sinking gorges. The main town – which dates back to the 1800s when precious metals were first detected in the area – sits at the bottom of a deep basin, with the mines and some apartment buildings towering above. In 1954, a network of aerial tramways was erected to make commute times between the mines and the town faster for the workers. Some say the cable cars were installed on the direct orders of Stalin himself. At least 17 of the cable-car lines are still in use today – a reminder of the town’s mining heritage. Instead of ferrying mine workers, they now carry locals and their grocery shopping up and down the sharp hills.

When I visited in 2017, I was able to ride in a few of the original rusted carriages (nicknamed ‘iron coffins’). At the time of writing, however, the carriages are currently out of service while they’re being upgraded. While you wait for the lines to re-launch, you can still visit Chiatura’s Soviet-style cable-car stations. One of the main stations boasts a touching mural by local street artist Dr. Love dedicated to the miners of Chiatura.

Author bio: Emily Lush is a travel writer and blogger from Brisbane, Australia. Her site, Wander-Lush, focuses on cultural and responsible tourism in the Caucasus and Southeast Asia. Follow her travels on Instagram.

brightly colored in all shades of red, orange and gold rock with some green trees scattered around, Roussillon in France
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Ochre Mines in Provence, France

by Nadine from Le Long Weekend

These days, Provence’s former mines are a tourist attraction, but they used to be heavily relied on for another reason – ochre. This rich red pigment is found beneath many villages throughout the Luberon, and was once a hot commodity. From the late 18th century through to the early 20th century, ochre was mined and used in everything from a dye in the textile industry to painting local houses. The village of Roussillon hosts the most famous former mine. The site now attracts hoards of tourists who can walk a looped track around the ‘Ochre Trail’ and take in the spectacular scenery. Rust red cliffs contrast against the lush green vegetation and create a truly unique experience. Another former mine sits slightly less developed in the nearby village of Rustrel. Here, the former quarry is nicknamed le Colorado Provençal for its likeness to the American state. It’s free to wander around (there is a charge for parking or a guided visit) and it’s breathtaking on a grand scale.

Between the two aforementioned mines lies another quarry, this time where the hand of man is more obvious than before. The Bruoux Mines, in Gargas, open up to reveal an underground labyrinth of alleyways through ochre cliffs, and the effect is mesmerizing. A tour here is the perfect respite from the heat in summer, but be sure to book in advance if you want the English version!

Author bio: Nadine Maffre is a New Zealander who swapped lattes for lavender when she fell in love with the French countryside. She now lives in Provence with her family and ever-growing collection of animals. Read more at Le long weekend and follow the adventure at Facebook.

a wooden structure with a tower belonging to an old tin mine, Geevor Tin Mine in Cornwall, UK
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Geevor Tin Mine, Cornwall, United Kingdom

by Lee and Stacy from One Trip at a Time

Tin has been mined in Cornwall for over four thousand years and Cornwall was the biggest supplier of tin in the world in the 19th century. Today, tin mining in Cornwall has become uneconomic, though the landscape is still dotted with the remnants of the industry.

Geevor Tin Mine mined its last tin in 1990 but remains open today as a tourist attraction. Visitors can tour the plant where the ore was separated from the rocks, head underground to an 18th-century mine, and visit the site museums.

The plant tour guides are often former workers, so they have great knowledge of the plant and the process for extracting tin. Much of the equipment in the plant was left when the mine closed as it had no value. This means that you can get a real sense of how the plant operated. Parts of the plant look as if people have just left, especially the locker rooms where personal effects and overalls remain.

Entering the 18th-century mine allows you to see how tin mining was done for millennia. Back-breaking work in terrible conditions in confined spaces. The difference modern equipment has made was incredible, though mining is still a tough job to do. Throughout the rest of the site, there is quite a bit of mining equipment displayed, large and small, including the original steam and more modern engines that drove the plant.

Author bio: Lee and Stacey, a Brit and a Canadian, love to travel and explore new places. They are always keen to maximise their vacation days in order to spend as much time as possible on their road trips. They love seeking out new sights and experiences and seeing more of the planet… one trip at a time. Follow them on Facebook.

underground hall with big lit-up chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a small group of people in the middle, Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
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Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

by Kris from Nomad by Trade

The Wieliczka SaltMine, located just a few minutes outside of Krakow, Poland, is one of the most unique mines you’ll find anywhere. Salt was mined in this location for centuries before commercial production ended in the 1990s. Nowadays, the mine operates as a tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors to see its unique sculptures and learn about its history.

During the main tour, you’ll learn about the legend telling how the mine was discovered and see statues that miners carved out of the rock salt over the years. These statues commemorate several notable individuals who visited the mines in the past. You’ll also get to enjoy a light show in one of the larger chambers.

The highlight of the tour is a visit to the underground St. Kinga’s Chapel which features incredible reproductions of famous religious paintings like Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper‘ carved right into the salt walls. The chandeliers are even made from white salt crystals. Services and special events like weddings can be held in this unique chapel far below the ground.

The main tourist route requires you to descend several flights of stairs at the beginning of the tour, but you do get to ride elevators on the way back up. Visitors looking for a more intense challenge can take the Miners’ Route tour that is a bit longer and takes you into less polished areas of the mine to perform some of the tasks real miners would have.

Author bio: Kris is a lifelong traveler that spends most of her time living out of her suitcase. She specializes in covering destinations in her native United States and favorite destinations in Europe and South America on her blog Nomad by Trade. You can also follow her on Pinterest.

a castle with a clock tower against cloudy sky, Idrija - Slovenia
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Idrija, Slovenia

by Stephanie from Sofia Adventures

One of the most interesting places to visit in Slovenia is Idrija, the UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to the history of mercury mining. The city is paired with Almaden in Spain as one of the two most important historic mercury mining sites in Europe. According to UNESCO’s site inscription: “The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. Together they represent the two largest mercury mines in the world, operational until recent times.”

In Idrija, mercury mining began in the late 15th century, and it still shapes the town to this day. Even though mercury mining is not conducted there anymore, tourists still come to learn about the history here. There are several places to visit. I suggest starting with the Idrija Municipal Museum, which is housed in the Gewerkenegg Castle. The architecture of the building alone is enough reason to want to visit, but you’ll also learn about both the science of mercury mining and the cultural and historic impact the industry had on the Slovenian people in the region. Afterwards, take a tour of Anthony’s Shaft Mining Museum to see what it was like for workers to be physically down in the mines day in and day out. Though this part is not for the claustrophobic!

Author bio: Stephanie Craig is a Balkan travel expert. She currently lives in Sofia, Bulgaria, and writes about the Balkans on the website Sofia Adventures. For more, check out the site’s Facebook page.

a huge long and narrow opening in a solid rock, an entrance to the manmade cave the Ear of Dionysius in Syracuse Sicily
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Latomia del Paradiso, Syracuse, Italy

by Annabel from Smudged Postcard

The Syracuse Archaeological Park in south east Sicily is home not only to some incredible Greek and Roman ruins but also to extensive limestone quarries, the Latomia del Paradiso which have been mined for over two millennia.

The quarries were used to build the Ancient Greek city of Syracuse complete with its impressive amphitheatre. The area has seen a certain amount of recycling: while the Greek amphitheatre remains relatively well intact, the site’s Roman amphitheatre was plundered by the Spanish in the 16th century when it was used to fortify the waterfront city of Ortigia (now part of today’s Syracuse).

The quarry is fascinating not just for its mining heritage but also for the uses made of the quarried areas. A man-made cave called the Ear of Dionysius was used as a prison and the emperor was said to have listened to the wails of his prisoners using the impressive acoustics. Even today, visitors to the cave will be able to hear strong echoes as they walk through the high narrow passage. The Syracuse Archaeological Park along with its adjoining museum is an excellent place to visit during a holiday in Syracuse and south east Sicily.

Author bio: After 10 years working in the travel industry specialising in family travel and holidays to Italy, Annabel now writes about cultural and off the beaten track family holidays with a particular interest in low impact travel experiences. Follow Annabel on Facebook.

a castle with towers and some mountains at the backside, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

by Rai from A Rai of Light

Central Slovakia and the Banska Bystrica region in Europe is well known for its rich and world-renowned mining history. It was a member of the exclusive trio of the richest central Slovakian mining towns, with the main resource being copper. This metal was extracted in the Starohorske vrchy mountains near the town in the 14th century. The economic structure of Banská Bystrica changed in the 18th century. Extraction of copper ore was replaced by extraction and processing of iron and the riches of forests surrounding the town were more intensively exploited.

In the mid-20th century, the town became the centre of the Slovak National Uprising. The second largest insurrection against the German Nazi regime took place here. While the town’s mineral wealth was drained by the 20th century, Banská Bystrica continued to develop as an industrial centre for the manufacture of paper, textiles, metals, and cement. The economic importance of tourism increased for Banská Bystrica, which nowadays is a popular holiday resort. The heart of the old city is the Námestie SNP, dating back to the 13th century where there is an abundance of renaissance and Jugendstil buildings. A visit to Banská Bystrica should include the Harmanecka cave, the church of Hronsek, and Kovacova.

Author bio: Founder of A Rai of Light, Rai left the safety of the corporate world behind and has been travelling the world for over 4 years in pursuit of adventure and destinations that are off the beaten track. Follow his adventures on Instagram.

blue sea and blue sky with some sand hills and structures like houses, remnants of old mines, Milos in Greece
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Milos Island, Greece

by Ioana from The World Is My Playground

The Greek island of Milos in the Cyclades is still fairly off-the-beaten-path, unlike its famous neighbours. Plagued by volcanic activity and considered a mining powerhouse in its prime, Milos has a special mining history that can be traced back thousands of years. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other natural disasters made the island what it is and created some of the most distinguished volcanic rock that can be seen everywhere around the island.

Today, apart from tourism, mining wealth is still one of the island’s primary sources of income. The main minerals still being mined today are bentonite, perlite, pozzolan, siliceous stones, kaolin and baryte.

Historically, the black glass ‘obsidian’ was used for cutting tools and weapons but today can mostly be found at the Milos Mining Museum and on hiking trails, especially on the western side of the island which remains largely undeveloped and inaccessible.

There are a number of abandoned mines on the island including a manganese mine on the north-western tip of the island, and a sulfur mine on the south-east coast. The sulfur mine at Paliorema, built in 1861, is surreal but cool to visit as its close to the amazing and remote Thiorichio Beach.

Take a geological tour of Milos and explore the rich history the island has to offer.

Author bio: Ioana Stoica helps people fall in love with hidden corners of the world. Having recently left the corporate world, Ioana now freelances and authors The World Is My Playground, a culture and adventure travel blog that follows her travels around the world. You can follow Ioana on Instagram.

grayish stony landscape of some hills and gray clouds hanging low, Blaenau Ffestiniog Slate Mining in Wales
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Slate Mining in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales, United Kingdom

by Bec Wyld from Wyld Family Travel

I remember the first time I saw Blaenau Ffestiniog. We were on a train in a beautiful green part of Wales when we suddenly went through a tunnel. On the other side it was like we had entered a new world. There was hardly any green and the mountains were as gray as they could get with slate left over from the days where it was mined here.

To Wales slate mining was everything and an extremely important part of life especially in Blaenau Ffestiniog (North Wales). There were many slate mines around the town and it was where many miners and their families called home. They would walk up the steep mountains and then descend into the deep dark mines to mine for the slate. It was then taken up to other workers who trimmed it and sent it off to be used on house roofs all over the world.

You can learn about the slate mining right here with a Deep Mine Tour which takes you deep into the old mines or a Slate Mining Adventure Tour which takes you high up the mountain in a truck to see where it was trimmed. Both of these tours are fantastic and they give you a true look into how hard the miners worked here. In the nearby town of LLanberis is the National Slate Museum which gives you a very detailed look into the rise and fall of slate mining in Wales.

While the slate mining in the area is not as prominent as it once was with cheaper imports being a huge contributing factor the mines are now home to visitors looking to learn about the days gone by. You can tour the mines, zip line over the mines, jump on a trampoline in them and even have glamping experience right next to them. It is a great way for them to now play another important part in Wales.

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four places in Europe related to the mining industry with overlay text Mining Tourism - Off-the-beaten path Europe

About Daniela

Daniela is the creator and writer of this travel blog. A writer by nature and occupation and traveller by heart, Daniela will take you to all forgotten corners of Europe and even beyond. She travels with her partner, but his only role is to be the greatest fan of this blog. To learn more, check out the About section.

3 thoughts on “Mining Tourism – 19 Sites in Europe Revealing the Rise and Fall of Mining Industry”

  1. What an interesting perspective to take reviewing travel destinations and a fascinating insight into each of them. You’ve highlighted history that’s neither old or new but such a significant part of everyday life in each of these places. Fabulous!

  2. Very cool article! We recently began taking tours into mines and absolutely live it! Only visited Canadian and Bolivian Mines. So glad to have this article saved for future travel!


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