A trip down the drain - a guide to the top 5 sewer tours in Europe

7 July, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have affected not only our work and social lives but also our vacation plans for 2020 or for this summer. In case your travel plans have been cancelled or postponed, why not have a “staycation” to explore some cool destinations close to home?
A fun idea to consider is a trip down the drain! We all connect with drains in some way - whether that’s making them, cleaning them, inspecting them or simply using them - but unless you work in drainage, it’s likely that you have never been inside a drain, sewer or storm tunnel. Curious about more details? Let’s have a look over Europe's top 5 drain and sewer tours.

1. De Ruien - Antwerp, Belgium

De Ruien is a unique attraction that takes you on a walking tour through the former canals of Antwerp. This underground adventure will astonish you as you explore the sewers, streams and fortifications that have crisscrossed Antwerp since the Middle Ages. The network of both natural and man-made waterways provided the city water, but also an internal harbour.A visit to De Ruien, its vaults, canals, bridges, sewers and drains, reflects the historic city centre above you, with plenty of interesting facts and curious anecdotes from a distant and more recent past.Opt for a guided walking tour, or discover it on your own with a tablet. If you prefer you can even explore certain sections of De Ruien by boat.

2. Sewer Museum - Brussels, Belgium

Did you know there’s a working sewer network under the City of Brussels? At nearly 350 km long, thousands of m3 of waste water flow through these underground drains and tunnels every day.
Vital to the running of the city, the sewer network is fed by the River Senne. The Sewer Museum provides a unique insight into this hidden side of Brussels. You’ll discover the story of when, why and how the sewers were built, the jobs that people do in this underground world and also learn about the city's water cycle.If you choose a guided tour for your visit, it will be led by an experienced historian or former sewer worker.

3. Stará Čistírna Odpadních Vod – Prague, Czech Republic

If you visit Prague this summer, you must include in your schedule a trip in the underground to visit the city's former wastewater treatment plant. You will have the chance to see the old premises, but also a part of the original technical equipment used back in the day.
The tours are only possible with a guide and the visitors will go through the original (non-functional) sewage system, will see copies of the original sewage plans and old pictures taken during the construction.

4. Der Dritte Mann Tour - Vienna, Austria

Head underground in Vienna on Der Dritte Mann Tour and learn the secrets of the city’s sewer network. A Hollywood destination in its own right, the sewers beneath Vienna were the location of a famous chase scene in ‘The Third Man’ movie.
It is in these very same sewers that Vienna's waste-water enterprise is making history of another sort. Joining the tour gives you more information about the sewers' fascinating past and present.Running from May to October, a trip to this famous destination is one you won't forget.

5. Musée Des Égouts De Paris - Paris, France

Discover the history of the City of Light with a trip to the Musée des égouts de Paris. Detailing the history of the Parisian sewer network, from its inception in the 13th century by Hugues Aubriot, through to the modern-day structure which was designed by engineer Eugène Belgrand. Located beneath the Quai d’Orsay, on the Left Bank, a visit to the museum is a must for anyone who loves unusual tourist attractions or any fans of Les Misérables, a story inspired by the city’s underground sewer network.
During your visit to the Paris Sewer Museum, you’ll discover the role of sewer workers and methods of water treatment used in the city, but also maintenance equipment from the past and present. Explore the museum individually using the guide booklet you’ll receive with your ticket, or alternatively opt for a free guided tour.

Enjoy these interesting trips, but remember to take all the safety precautions needed.